Old Town High School’s girls basketball team beat Hermon in the Big East Class B pod championship game during the COVID-19-abbreviated 2020-21 season, 36-32.
The teams could be squaring off again in a title game this season, only with much more at stake.
Old Town and Hermon are two of the favorites to win Class B North as both have virtually all of their players back off last year’s teams.
The Maine Principals Association-sanctioned tournaments are back and Hermon is the defending champion from the 2019-20 season, with a playoff run including a 47-34 Class B North semifinal win over Old Town.
Hermon lost to Wells in the state final, 34-26 in overtime.
Not only do Hermon and Old Town have a host of veterans, but several of their players are coming off appearances in state title games this fall. Hermon played for the Class B soccer championship and Old Town was in the B field hockey final.
“I like our chances. We should be in the mix,” said seventh-year Hermon head coach Chris Cameron. “We have a lot of kids coming back. This is the most veteran team I’ve ever had. We have a solid inside game and outside game.”
The Hawks will be led by 6-foot forward-guard Maddie Lebel, 5-11 forward Meg Tracy and 5-7 guard Sydney Gallop. Lebel can hit threes or take the ball to the rim and Tracy is a productive inside scorer with a mid-range game as well. Gallop is their best perimeter defender.
They have received a boost from 5-11 senior forward Elizabeth Wyman, who has had an injury-filled career but is finally healthy and has “definitely been one of our bright spots,” Cameron said.
His daughter, Allie Cameron, is a dependable point guard and Charlotte Caron is a 3-point specialist.
But they won’t have Jade Leeman, their scoring leader who averaged 20 points per game last season, because she had knee surgery.
“Old Town will be one of the top teams in B and there are a lot of other solid teams. Presque Isle has [Faith] Sjoberg and [Anna] Jandreau. And you can’t overlook [Mount Desert Island]. They’re very senior-heavy like we are,” Cameron said.
Old Town has to replace point guard and 1,000-point scorer Hannah Richards but she is the only significant loss.
“We have a lot of scorers. It’s just a matter of them learning a new role,” said ninth-year head coach Heather Richards, Hannah’s mother. “We also potentially have 10 floor generals.”
Maddie Emerson is a quick guard who can distribute and shoot; Lexi Thibodeau is a well-rounded small forward and point-producer; 5-11 Saige Evans and 5-10 Sydney Loring are quality rebounders who can also score and Maddie Arsenault and Makayla Emerson are versatile performers.
Kilee Bradeen and Gabby Cote are valuable players off the bench.
“The division is unpredictable. It isn’t going to be a walk in the park for anyone,” Richards predicted.
MDI has four three-year starters in Leah Carroll, Elena Alderman, Elizabeth Jones and Olivia Gray, and Houlton is expected to be improved thanks to returnees Mia and Olivia Henderson and Drew Warman.
Presque Isle’s Sjoberg is an excellent long-range shooter and Jandreau is also a capable scorer.
Caribou is also expected to be better behind Selena Savage, Ashlyn Bouchard and Gabrielle Sutherland, and Waterville and Winslow have been contenders with Winslow having won the state in 2018.
Waterville reached the regional final in 2019 and 2020 and has a new coach in Joy Charles and an exceptional point guard in Kiera Gilman. Gabby Maines and Lawrence High of Fairfield transfers Dakodah Aldrich and Danelle Eldridge will also have key roles.
Bucksport moves up from Class C and John Bapst, Belfast, Ellsworth, Foxcroft Academy, Mt. View of Thorndike, Orono, Maine Central Institute of Pittsfield and Washington Academy of East Machias will look to have competitive seasons.
Oceanside of Rockland/Thomaston moved to Class B South.