Brewer boys' basketball playing Nokomis at Brewer High School on Jan. 12, 2023. Credit: Seth Poplaski / BDN

The Maine high school boys basketball tournament is finally upon us.

There are storylines galore, from teams trying to get back to the championship game to rematches to star players, the North regionals this season will have a little of everything. Playoffs start Tuesday with preliminary games, while teams will head to the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor on Friday for the official start of the tournament.

Here are some of the biggest plotlines this tourney season.

Class B North could be the deepest tournament region this winter.

Led by Chance Mercier, a junior who reached the 1,000-point career milestone this season, the undefeated Ellsworth Eagles (18-0) ran through B North with just a few close games against Old Town, Orono and Presque Isle. Ellsworth reached the Class B state championship game last year before losing in overtime to Yarmouth and the Eagles’ main focus is getting back to that championship game.

Winslow in the second seed is led by Jason Reynolds, who also hit 1,000 points this year and has broken the school record for career points. Reynolds has consistently put up eye-popping stat lines, but the Black Raiders haven’t played any of B North’s top six seeds over their 17-1 regular season.

No. 3 Orono lost to Ellsworth in the B North final a year ago, and the Red Riots are looking to get back to a finals rematch with Ellsworth, while fourth-seeded Old Town came the closest to beating Ellsworth in a 60-58 loss to the Eagles on Dec. 27.

Class A Brewer nearly completed an undefeated season.

Class A is led by Brewer, who went 17-1 in the regular season, losing its second-to-last game to Skowhegan at home, 49-48 on Feb. 3.

Brady Saunders, one of the best all-around players in Maine, makes everything click for the Witches. Saunders lets the game come to him, is unselfish and makes winning plays.

Brewer has a deep team with Evan Nadeau, Ryder Goodwin, Cam Hughes and Brock Flagg playing with Saunders as a top-tier starting five. The Witches lost to Nokomis last year in the A North final and are laser-focused on reaching the A title game this tournament.

The Skowhegan River Hawks (12-6), led by Adam Savage and twins Kyle and Collin LePage, have tons of size that they used to their advantage in their win over the Witches. Skowhegan enters the tournament as the No. 3 seed behind Nokomis (13-5) and Brewer.

Greater Bangor teams face tough matchups in the AA North quarterfinals.

Bangor (2-16) will face top-seeded Oxford Hills in the opening round of the Class AA North tournament. Star junior Teigan Pelletier led the Vikings to a 17-1 record, with the only loss coming on Jan. 5 to No. 3 Lewiston.

Hampden (10-8), the fifth seed in AA North, will face off against fourth seed Cheverus (13-5) in the AA North quarterfinals. Zach McLaughlin recently led the Broncos to a 74-61 victory over Lewiston on Feb. 7 in which the junior scored 38 points. Hampden then lost 70-64 in the season finale to Oxford Hills but will be a dark horse in the AA playoffs.

The reigning Class C North champs have a tough path to defend their crown.

Calais (15-3) leads Class C North into the tournament as the region’s top seed, followed by No. 2 Fort Kent (14-4) and No. 3 Dexter (16-2), last year’s regional champion.

Dexter is paced by Will Kusneirz, a 1,000-point scorer committed to play basketball at Husson University next year. For now, Kusneirz and Dexter are focused on getting back to the Class C title game after losing to Dirigo on a game-winning shot in the state championship a season ago.

Southern Aroostook wants to repeat in Class D.

Southern Aroostook is looking to win back-to-back Class D titles this winter after an 18-0 regular season. Machias (14-4) is the second seed in D North and is coming off a commanding 88-23 victory over No. 4 Bangor Christian (14-4) in the regular season finale on Feb. 7.

The win was a stark difference from its first matchup with Bangor Christian, in which Machias earned a 56-51 win on Jan. 10. Leading Machias is Shane Feeney, a 1,000-point scoring big man who can do it all.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the start date of preliminary tournament games. It has been updated.

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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.