Bangor High School's Damien Vance dribbles around Portland High School's Pedro Fonseca at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland during the 2019 boys Class AA North basketball semifinals.

Damien Vance, the penetrating senior point guard who helped Bangor High School capture its first state championship in boys basketball since 2011, will continue his academic and athletic pursuits at the University of Maine at Presque Isle next fall.

“We are very excited to have a player of Damien’s caliber and character joining our program,” said UMPI men’s basketball coach and athletic director Dan Kane. “Damien is a great perimeter defender, which is something we have been lacking, and his ability to play out of the pick and roll will translate well within our offense.”

Vance was a Bangor Daily News All-Maine second-team selection after returning from a dislocated ankle suffered during the offseason to average 16.1 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.0 assists last winter for the Rams, who finished 20-2 and won the Class AA state title.

“Offensively Damien is a great ballhandler who can create for himself as well as using ball screens,” Bangor coach Brad Libby said. “He has a great midrange and outside game that I think will cause difficulties for opposing teams to defend.”

The 5-foot-10-inch Vance, who played his freshman year at Brewer High School before transferring to Bangor, also was an All-Class AA North first-team honoree this winter after surpassing 1,000 career points during the Rams’ regular-season finale at Edward Little of Auburn.

He also contributed two steals per game as Bangor allowed just 49.2 points per game during the regular season and 44.3 points per game in its four tournament victories.

“Defensively Damien is a great on-the-ball defender who takes pride in guarding the best player on the other team,” Libby said. “That’s hard to find in a kid these days and will be a nice attribute that he brings to coach Kane’s team.”

Vance, who plans to study business administration, will join an UMPI team that finished 11-15 overall and 5-9 in its first in the NCAA Division III North Atlantic Conference.

The Owls are set to return 11 players next winter.

“I think Damien will have the opportunity to make an immediate impact for UMPI in the NAC,” said Libby, an assistant coach in the North Atlantic Conference for five years at Husson University before becoming Bangor’s head coach last spring.

Vance follows Griffin Guerrette of Presque Isle, who was named to the BDN All-Maine second team in 2018 after averaging 28.4 points as a senior at Presque Isle High School.

Guerrette was named NAC rookie of the year last season after averaging 12.6 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.2 assists for UMPI.

Another key perimeter player returning for the Owls will be All-NAC first-team guard Shyquinn Dix, who averaged a team-leading 17.2 points per game to go with 8.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists per outing last season.

“Being able to get a mixture of the top talent in the state of Maine with talented players from out of state is very important to growing our program and we believe we took another step forward today in our quest for our first-ever NAC championship,” Kane said.

Ernie Clark

Ernie Clark is a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters...