BDN sports writer Adam Robinson has previewed the 2022-23 North boys basketball season by class.
In this Feb. 25, 2022, file photo, Patrick Dagan (middle) of George Stevens Academy gets fouled on his way to the basket during a Class C North semifinal game. Defending on the play are Central's Simon Allen (14), Will Libby (5) and Ethan Ladd (10). Credit: Joseph Cyr / Houlton Pioneer Times

Maine high school basketball is around the corner once again with a different feel.

Last winter, freshman Cooper Flagg along with twin brother Ace took Maine by storm while leading Nokomis to a Class A title, while JP Estrella carried South Portland to the AA championship. All three have transferred out of Maine, leaving their former teams in tough classes.

Still, there are many strong teams in Maine, including Nokomis, which will look to battle to win Class A North once again behind five returning players.

Here’s our preview of Maine’s 2022-23 North boys basketball season by class.

Class AA

BDN sports writer Adam Robinson has previewed the 2022-23 North boys basketball season by class.
South Portland High School’s Owen Maloney looks to shoot around Oxford Hills High School’s Teigan Pelletier in the Maine Class AA boys basketball championship game at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland on March 5, 2022. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

There is a lot of change happening in Class AA boys basketball this winter.

Last year, J.P. Estrella led South Portland to a state title over Oxford Hills in overwhelming fashion. Since then, Estrella has transferred to Brewster Academy for his senior year of high school and committed to the University of Tennessee.

At the Class AA coaches meeting, Oxford Hills received seven first place votes, while Portland and Cheverus received one apiece.

Oxford Hills, last year’s runner-up, will be trying to get back to the state finals behind the play of 6-foot-7 Teigan Pelletier.

He averaged 17.7 points per game, 7.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists for the Vikings a year ago and will have a bigger offensive load this season with the loss of Oxford Hills’ center Colby Dillingham. Coach Scott Graham said he is 20 pounds heavier after weight-room work.

“He can pass really well and shoot the 15-footer,” Graham said. “He has the chance to be the best player in our league and the state.”

Bangor will take a step back this winter with the loss of Landon Clark, who transferred to St. Paul’s School in New Hampshire.

Cheverus will be a strong contender this year behind senior guard Silvano Ismail as well as sophomores Sammy Nzeyimana and Leo McNabb who spent the summer on Maine United, an AAU team headlined by Cooper and Ace Flagg that played on Nike’s EYBL circuit.

Lewiston lost a lot of senior leadership to graduation but will be led by the dynamic Yusuf Dakane who can make plays and score at all levels. Edward Little lost last year’s Mr. Basketball, John Shea, while Portland adds Deering transfer Remijo Wani to help lead the backcourt.

Class A

BDN sports writer Adam Robinson has previewed the 2022-23 North boys basketball season by class.
In this Dec. 10, 2021, file photo, Brewer’s Brady Saunders passes to a teammate over Skowhegan’s Quintcey McCray during their season opener at Brewer High School. Credit: Linda Coan O’Kresik / BDN

The most obvious change to Class A boys basketball is the loss of the Flagg twins, who led the Warriors to a 21-1 record before transferring to Montverde Academy in Florida. However, Madden White and Dawson Townsend return to a still-strong team looking to stay at the top of the class.

The cream of the crop may be Brewer, however, as Brady Saunders and Brock Flagg will try to advance the Witches past the A North final game after losing last winter to Nokomis.

Skowhegan also will be in the mix at the top of Class A with Adam Savage leading the way for the River Hawks. Savage can score at the rim and from the outside.

Parker Sergent is now a senior and will spearhead a strong Cony of Augusta team that pushed Nokomis all the way to the end of the A North semifinal before falling to the Warriors. Kam Douin also returns, making it a four-team race at the top of Class A that is more open than it was last season.

Class B

In this Feb. 23, 2022, file photo, Ellsworth’s Chance Mercier goes up for a shot as Old Town’s Kyle Paradis defends during a Class B North semifinal at the Cross Insurance Center. Credit: Joseph Cyr / Houlton Pioneer Times

This will be a tight race until the end with many teams vying for the top spot.

Ellsworth went undefeated in the regular season last year and returns Chance Mercier to help the Eagles reclaim the top spot in the region. Ellsworth went 22-1 last year, losing to Yarmouth in the boys basketball state title game.

But the Eagles will face stiff competition from Orono, Foxcroft Academy and Mount View.

Orono will be a team to watch with Pierce Walston and Will Francis being maybe the best duo in the Class.

“I am really excited for our guys,” Orono coach Ed Kohtala said. “We are coming off a summer with good improvement.”

Foxcroft finished in third during last year’s regular season before being upset by John Bapst in the quarterfinals, 56-45, and returns a large group of players including Caden Crocker.

The Ponies bring in many players from the Foxcroft football team that is coming off back-to-back Class D state titles. Crocker was a big part of the football titles and hopes to lead Foxcroft to a basketball championship in his senior season.

“Ellsworth, Orono, Houlton, Orono, Old Town, there’s no night off and if you take a night off you’ll get beat,” Nelson said. “It’s not like some divisions where if you don’t play your best you still have a chance.”

A team to watch this winter is Mount View of Thorndike. The Mustangs’ top player is Wyatt Evensen and coach Jeremy Van Oesen said he is excited for what his team can do.

In The County, 6-foot-4 sophomore Isaiah Ervin is an exciting young player for a Houlton squad looking to build off a 10-win campaign a year ago.

Class C

BDN sports writer Adam Robinson has previewed the 2022-23 North boys basketball season by class.
In this Feb. 24, 2022, file photo, Dexter’s Will Kusnierz (No. 34), Avery Gagnon (No. 11) and George Steven’s Teague Smallidge (No. 21) go up for a rebound during first half action of the boys Class C North championship game at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor. Credit: Linda Coan O’Kresik / BDN

Dexter lost on a buzzer-beater jumper from Charlie Houghton of Dirigo in the Class C boys basketball state title game last March and will look to bounce back and earn the championship this season.

Will Kusnierz returns for the Tigers this year, a top player in Class C North.

Walker Oliver, who scored 64 points in a single game last year, returns for Hodgdon, which was 12-6 a year ago. The Hawks could be one of many teams that take a step up this year, while George Stevens Academy, Central and Fort Kent will all be major players again in C North.

Patrick Dagan, a junior for George Stevens, is a sharp shooter. Dagan scored six 3-pointers in a playoff game last year and will be a real asset for the Eagles who went 14-2 last year.

Central loses Simon Allen this year, a high-scoring guard.

Fort Kent’s Ethan Daigle is a player to watch, as well, in Class C.

Class D North

BDN sports writer Adam Robinson has previewed the 2022-23 North boys basketball season by class.
In this Feb. 25, 2022, file photo, Machias’ Shane Feeney, right, puts up a shot as Southern Aroostook’s Dylan Burpee defends during a Class D North championship. Credit: Joseph Cyr / Houlton Pioneer Times

Southern Aroostook took home its first boys basketball title since 1991 last year thanks in part to a big game from senior Hunter Burpee. Burpee scored 31 points and pulled in 14 rebounds in the state championship game.

With Hunter now gone, younger brother Dylan Burpee will have to step up for Southern Aroostook to repeat as champions.

Other players to watch on the Warriors are point guard Buddy Porter and Graham Siltz.

Machias won its first 17 games last year before falling to Southern Aroostook in the D North final and is a team to pay attention to again this winter.

Van Buren, Wisdom and Bangor Christian finished in No. 3 through No. 5 in the regular season rankings last year and have opportunities to take steps forward with Southern Aroostook losing its top player.

Whichever team takes home the D North crown will have strong competition for the state title as Forest Hills, starring the high-scoring Mason Desjardins, is the top contender from D South.

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Adam Robinson

Adam Robinson is a native of Auburn, Maine, and graduate of Husson University and Edward Little High School. He enjoys sports, going on runs and video games.