As usual, Camden Hills realistically in championship hunt
Rockport — The following is a synopsis of the 2013-14 Camden Hills Regional High School boys basketball team:
Coach/years coached current team: Jeff Hart, 32nd year.
Last year's record/playoff information: 12-6, eighth seed in Eastern Class B. The Windjammers defeated No. 9 Nokomis of Newport 62-46 in a preliminary playoff and were downed by top-seeded Medomak Valley 52-47 in the quarterfinals.
Roster: Seniors Yani Stancioff (6-foot guard), Chandler Crans (6-2 guard/forward), Merrill Hall (6-0 guard), Terron Bailey (6-2 forward), John Hall (6-4 center), Jayson Kuhn (6-0 guard), Connor Graffam (6-4 forward/center) and Colin Morse (6-3 forward); junior Andrew Hall (5-11 guard); sophomores Field Leonard (6-0 forward), Cameron Gushee (5-8 guard), Jack Gallagher (5-10 guard) and Dalton Oakes (6-0 guard); and freshmen Nate Raye (5-9 guard) and Josiah Krul (5-9 guard).
Known graduation losses: Alex Crans and Connor Hart.
Significant impact players: Morse, Crans, Kuhn, John Hall, Bailey, Graffam, Merrill Hall and Stancioff.
Team strengths: Experience, size and overall ability.
Team goals: To improve each week and to be playing their best basketball of the year in February.
Top league opponents: “The [Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B division] is extremely talented and balanced this year,” said coach Hart. “We will need to be ready to play each and every night. Our local rivals should be outstanding, as well as every other team. There are no nights off in this league. Every team has good players, and present unique challenges.”
Outlook: The Windjammers, which typically have been regional championship contenders in recent years, have been snakebitten in the quarterfinals the last two seasons. As the eighth seed both years, Camden Hills lost by a combined six points to the top seeds, which includes falling by one point to No. 1 Mount Desert Island two years ago, a game the Windjammers nearly won on a shot that rimmed out at the buzzer.
This year's team is senior-laden and has a great deal of experience, having lost only two seniors, though one of those was Connor Hart, a first-team all-conference player.
Coach Hart's teams typically are up to the challenge of making a serious run at the regional title, and this year's squad should be no different.
“I think we can be as good as we want [to be],” said the veteran coach. “If we play unselfishly, then I feel like we will have a chance to win every game we play.”