Driving to the basket is Caribou's Sawyer Deprey, right, while guarded by Old Town's Michael Brown during the Class B North semifinal at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor on Feb. 19, 2020. Credit: Houlton Pioneer Times / Houlton Pioneer Times

While the high school basketball season has been unique in nearly all circumstances during the coronavirus pandemic, one area of normalcy will involve the crowning of Mr. and Miss Maine Basketball awards.

Maine Association of Basketball Coaches officials announced the 10 boys and girls semifinalists for the state’s top individual awards in the sport Wednesday during a virtual presentation.

Top seniors earning Mr. Basketball semifinalist status are Sawyer Deprey of Caribou, Cash McClure of Maranacook of Readfield, Wyatt Hathaway of Leavitt of Turner Center, Andrew Szwez of Bangor, Dylan Huff of Brewer, Kobe Gilbert of Piscataquis Community of Guilford, Parker Desjardins of Forest Hills of Jackman, Payton Jones and Dylan Griffin of Thornton Academy in Saco, and Matt Parent of Messalonskee of Oakland.

Miss Basketball semifinalists are Peyton Grant of Dexter, Sophia McVicar of Calais, Emily Archibald of Kennebunk, Glory Blethen of Boothbay, Camille Clement and Mollie Obar of Greely of Cumberland Center, Cassidy Dumont of Oxford Hills of South Paris, Amanda Kabantu and Gemima Motema of Portland and Adele Nadeau of Gorham.

Those presentations won’t be quite business as usual, though. Mr. and Miss Basketball and other postseason honors presented by the MABC at the annual Maine McDonald’s senior all-star banquet will instead be made in virtual fashion on Friday, March 19.

Finalists for the Mr. and Miss Basketball awards will be announced the week before that awards ceremony.

Given that the 2020-21 season has been limited to regionalized competition in an effort to reduce travel and prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the MABC discussed how to proceed with this annual celebration of high school basketball at several levels before deciding to proceed in virtual fashion.

MABC president Peter Murray, boys varsity basketball coach at Dexter Regional High School, said there was unanimity among the MABC executive committee, its general membership and officials of Maine McDonald’s, the event’s annual title sponsor for the past 33 years, to hold what will be the 41st edition of the senior all-star weekend.

“Everybody seemed to be on the same page that yes, we could do this,” he said. “Obviously we weren’t going to be able to have a banquet like we normally would and we’re not going to be able to hold games at Husson University like we normally would, but with the expertise of the coaches and the various leagues around the state, they know the players in those leagues and the coaches felt pretty comfortable that we’d be able to come with a list of names for the all-star teams.”

As for the Mr. and Miss Basketball semifinalists, their teams this winter are playing abbreviated regular-season and postseason schedules, but this season is just part of their four-year high school track records.

“It’s never been really described as a career award but obviously you build your reputation over time,” Murray said. “Generally speaking, when we get down to the three finalists they’re not new names on the basketball scene. These are names people have seen before and have seen in tournament play over the years. In some cases they’ve already played two or three years in the tournament, let alone within their region, so their names are well-known to the general basketball population.”

One difference this year is the ability to see the players at work on the court has been limited because of the state-mandated gathering limit of 50 people for indoor activities.

“We usually like to have people that are part of the selection committee see people live and in action,” Murray said. “Being able to see people this year obviously can’t happen, so we’re just going to have to rely on what people have seen in the past.

“One thing we did do this year was ask each coach of one of the semifinalists to provide some type of write-up and statistical information that we normally don’t ask for, but we thought this might help the committee get a better sense of what these people have accomplished.”

In addition to the Mr. and Miss Basketball semifinalists, the MABC also announced its Classes AA/A/B and C/D North and South senior all-star teams, finalists for the state free-throw shooting contest, and the academic all-state teams.

The regional all-star teams were selected based on ballot returns in a statewide vote of high school basketball coaches conducted by the MABC in January and February.

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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...