High school boys and girls basketball

Mariners look to bring 'A' games to Class B

Oceanside to play rivals Camden Hills, Medomak Valley only once
By Mark Haskell | Dec 07, 2017

The Oceanside boys basketball team advanced to the Class A regional championship game in each of the past two seasons.

Now, if the Mariner boys or girls hoop teams hope to replicate such success in the future, there will be a different road to traverse.

The Mariners, after being moved to Class A when the Maine Principals’ Association expanded high school basketball to five classes in 2015, will shift back down to Class B for the Maine Principals’ Association’s next two-year classification cycle.

The MPA reexamines enrollments and adjusts schools to their appropriate classes every two years.

Oceanside was dropped to Class B due to its projected 2017 enrollment of 488 students.

Class B schools fall within enrollments of 325-549 students, while Class A falls within enrollments of 550-799.

Thus, should either Mariner team qualify for the Class B North tournament, they would play their games at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor, rather than the Augusta Civic Center, where other area schools such as Camden Hills of Rockport and Medomak Valley of Waldoboro — both of which remain in Class A — will compete in the postseason.

“We really enjoyed our time in [Class] A,” said coach Matt Breen about his Mariner boys, who won the regional title two years ago and advanced to the regional title game last season. “We had great success at the Civic Center and we loved being there. The Cross Center really hasn’t been that kind to us. We’re excited for the challenge that’s ahead of us and there’s some really good teams in Class B.”

Breen and Oceanside girls coach Sam Bragg shared the sentiment that moving down to Class B does not mean the games get easier.

“Class B North has many talented teams in it,” said Bragg. “So, although we don't have to face some big Class A schools, we have our work cut out for us. It will be fun to play new teams. We don't have any preconceived thoughts about them, so hopefully we just go out and play.”

“People think, ‘Oh, you’re dropping down a class it should be easier,’ and it’s not going to be,” said Breen. “[But] the kids don’t even talk about it. I don’t think it matters. They just know that they want to play. It didn’t really matter to them where they’re playing. They just want to get on the court and play whomever is put in front of them.”

The Mariner teams are 0-2 in their short three-year stint at the new CIC before moving up to Class A — and ultimately, to the ACC for tournament games.

Of note, the Mariners boys were the top seed in the 2013-14 season and were upset by Hermon in the quarterfinals, while the Mariner girls losses were to Camden Hills, when the Windjammers still toiled in the Class B ranks.

Medomak Valley remained in Class A by a mere four students (553), which will make it the smallest school, by enrollment, in Class A North. Camden Hills has an enrollment of 667, while Skowhegan (777) is the largest school in the region.

Oceanside athletic director Molly Bishop said “we face a few different teams, though most will be familiar foes.”

The Mariners will play only once against Midcoast-rivals Medomak Valley and Camden Hills. The Mariners will host the Windjammers on Dec. 19 and travel to face the Panthers on Feb. 8 — the final day of the regular season.

Typically, Oceanside plays both teams twice in the regular season.

Breen said, “It’s disappointing that we’ll only get to play them once.”

“They’re rivalry games that everyone’s come to enjoy,” he said. “The atmosphere, that ‘Anything can happen in a rivalry game’ kind of deal. I don’t like the fact we only get to play them once. It’s nice to have a home and home with each team. The different atmosphere of going to their gym and then having them come to our gym.”

“While I’m disappointed that we only play CHRHS and MVHS once during the regular season, we realize that in order for most schools to end up with ‘competitive schedules’ based primarily in the assigned classification some give and take has to happen,” said Bishop. “We picked up two very competitive games with [Mount Desert Island] and Hermon, which will give us a better idea as to what all of Northern Class B will look like in February.”

On the boys side, Mount Desert Island is the defending state Class B champions, while Hermon is being lauded as one of the teams to beat this season in Class B North. The Mariners will host the Trojans on Friday, Dec. 15 and travel to face the Hawks on Saturday, Dec. 23.

“They’ll definitely show us where we are early on in the year and what we need to do to get to where we want to be,” said Breen of the early-season clashes with the Trojans and Hawks.

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