FORT KENT, Me. (WAGM) - Class C boys basketball runs through George Stevens Academy. The Eagles are the three-time defending state champions. The Fort Kent Warriors will lean on team returning eight seniors to make a run at the Gold Ball.
"We've been together, we've lost big games, we've won tournaments, it's just nice, it's really nice to have a core group of guys," Senior forward Caleb Delisle said.
When you have that kind of camaraderie:
"It's the best feeling, you know how they play, you know everything about them," senior guard Camden Jandreau said. "There's a lot of leadership because we've all been through it the last four years, we all know what our coach wants."
And what coach wants is:
"We would like to go in once again as a higher seed than we did last year which was a fifth seed," head coach Derrick Cooper said. "Winning quality games this year and just getting better throughout the season."
Although they brought back a bunch of a players, the one senior who graduated, Jacob Daigle, leaves a pretty big hole, literally.
"He was a six foot six big, you can't replace height, you can't teach that," Cooper said. "So we have to gang rebound, making sure that everybody crashes hard and take good shots because he did help us out on the rebounding end offensively and defensively."
In the absence of Daigle, the Warriors are shifting gears to a new style.
"We don't really have a big down low, so we just gotta get out there run and gun, hit some threes and pressure teams," Delisle said.
"We are a little shorter without him, but we have a lot of fast guards and we're just going to play the best game we can, work hard and play defense," Jandreau added.
Both Jandreau and Delisle played for the Fort Kent soccer team, which lost in the Class C Championship game. A loss which stokes the flames for the basketball season.
"For some of them this is the second state title game they've lost, so I appreciate them coming with some fire and some motivation," Cooper said. "But also for them to be playing at that level in soccer shows that they're used to playing at a high level in athletics so I'm hoping that translates to basketball as well."