Tipping off the season: Bess adjusts to Hampden, Camden Hills tries to return to the top, Butler vs. Irving

We are just days away for tipping off the new high school basketball season so here are 10 storylines in Eastern Maine I’m interested in following…

— The Hampden Bronco boys had one of those magical seasons a year ago, undefeated and defending champs. Is it possible they are better this year with the addition of Isaiah Bess who played at Penquis HS last year? Chemistry can be a fragile thing and I remember it took a while to jell when Graham Safford arrived from Camden as a junior.  The Broncos don’t have that extra year this time. My guess is coach Russ Bartlett will make it work.

— Parise Rossignol (Van Buren HS) is likely to hit the 2,000 point mark this winter, joining dad (Matt) as the first father-daughter 2,000 team. I remember folks wondered what type of Division I player he would be at UMaine once he left Aroostook County. He turned out to have a more than solid career as a Black Bear. Let the same questions start coming about the next Rossignol who is Orono bound.

— What will the Jonesport-Beals boys be like without one Garet Beal? Only three seniors on the roster but I’ll bet coach Gordon Faulkingham gets it done with the young Royals. Plus, there are 3 Beals (Cole,Kasden,Sterling) and 2 Alleys (Jacob,Lucas).

— The return of Camden Hills boys? Did they really go anywhere? The answers are yes and no. There were 8 juniors on that team that went 12-6 a year ago. The Windjammers finished eighth and met eventual regional champ Medomak Valley in the quarter-final. Something tells me Jeff Hart, in his fourth decade as coach, will have his team front and center.

— What will the first tourney week be like at the new Cross Center. When that MDI band starts playing ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ or that huge Houlton band starts cookin’, what will it feel like?

— Mary Butler vs Nia Irving. The new Bangor vs Lawrence rivalry? 6-2 junior Butler is so talented. 6-0 sophomore Irving is so talented. January 4 and February 4 if you want to put it on the calendar.

— The way the calendar worked, guys like Cony’s Ben Lucas was chucking the pigskin and Bucksport’s Josh Gray was catching and running the pigskin through November 23. Will teams like Cony and Bucksport get off to slower starts?

— Wonder who will score the first tournament basket at the new place? Probably won’t be the guy who scored the last point at the Auditorium (Trevor Lyford, Penquis HS). If the MPA sticks to its rotation the first tournament game Friday, February 14 at 5 p.m. will be a Class B game between the No. 3 seed and the No. 6 seed. (I’ll predict Dayne Savage of Caribou!)

— Class B girls division. Presque Isle (Graham, Kingsbury), MDI (the Shaws, Phelps), Nokomis (all underclassmen starters a year ago) plus other teams. This division is going to be fun to watch.

— The race for the first tournament week hotdog? No contest – it’s mine!

— Looking forward to bringing you many of these great storylines on Sports Radio 92.9 The Ticket. It begins opening night, Friday December 6 with the Hampden at Brewer boys/girls doubleheader at the Cross Center.