While following the Maine high school and college basketball season as a fan, several highs and lows concerning the players, coaches and teams stood out to me.
My boys’ highlight player is Bangor High’s Matt Fleming, who was named Maine’s Mr. Basketball and the Maine Gatorade Player of the Year after leading Bangor to the Class AA state championship.
He is going to play college basketball on a scholarship at West Point. He’s the best all-around player I’ve seen in the past several seasons because he can play any position.
On the girls’ side, it’s Mackenzie Holmes of Gorham, who is going on a basketball scholarship to Indiana of the Big Ten. She’s Maine’s Gatorade Player of the year, a first-team BDN All-Maine selection and a finalist for Maine’s Miss Basketball.
She’s the highest skilled back-to-the-basket post player in Maine high school girls basketball in a long time. On top of that, she can also shoot the three.
My boys’ highlight team is Bangor winning its first Class AA state title since the MPA went to five classes in the 2015-16 season while the girls’ highlight team is Hampden Academy repeating as the Class A North champion and giving Greely a tough state game after major graduation losses.
My Maine’s college highlight men’s player is the University of Maine’s Andrew Fleming, Matt’s older brother. Before suffering a season-ending injury, Andrew was having an excellent season with a career game of scoring 38 points against the University of Massachusetts Lowell, becoming the first Division I player in the country in 20 years to shoot 90 percent on 20 attempts with 18 made baskets.
The women’s highlight player is a tie between two former Maine high school players from Aroostook County. They are UMaine’s Parise Rossignol of Van Buren and Husson University’s Kenzie Worcester of Washburn.
Rossignol, an outstanding 3-point shooter, broke the UMaine record for 3-pointers in a game with eight and shot 42 percent to lead America East for 3-point percentage.
Worcester, a four-year starter at Husson, averaged 19 points and 3.2 assists per game for the Eagles of Bangor. A guard, she only averaged 2.4 turnovers a game, which is outstanding because she handled the ball on many possessions.
It was another great year for some Maine college teams.
The UMaine women under head coach Amy Vachon repeated as the America East regular season and tourney champions. The Black Bears played in their second straight NCAA Tourney and dominated the individual America East awards.
Husson’s men’s and women’s teams also reached the NCAA Division III national tourneys again by winning the North Atlantic Conference tourneys. They did so with major contributions from Maine high school players.
Veteran coaches Warren Caruso and Kissy Walker did their usual outstanding jobs.
For the UMaine men’s team, its 5-27 record was disappointing but it had to adjust to a new coaching staff while a couple of early season-ending injuries and a late season-ending injury to Fleming certainly didn’t help,
However, the Black Bears did show improvement as the season progressed. They were in many games, losing three in overtime, 11 by nine points or under and several by one or two points.
They need to improve their shooting from the foul line (64.8 percent) and 3-point arc (31.1).
The low side of Maine high school basketball continues to be the use of five classes. The MPA needs to go back to four classes and divide them evenly.
Five classes haven’t been good because there is too much travel for some schools, too many teams in some classes and the loss of some rivalries.
No matter whether it’s five classes or four, some schools are going to be unhappy, but it would be better for the sport to revert to four classes.
This is the last column of the basketball season for the newspaper, but I’ll still post some blogs. A big thank you to all readers and hope you had another enjoyable season as well.