Depth will make PI boys a contender in the Big East

2 years ago

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — The Wildcat boys enter the 2021-22 campaign with plenty of optimism thanks to having a tight-knit group and what Terry Cummings said could be the most depth in his 11 seasons as the head coach.

“I really like this team as most of the guys have been playing together since second grade, so they are very close and are hungry to make the tournament and see what they can do,” Cummings said.

The coach projects a starting lineup consisting of seniors Xavier McAtee, Noah Yarema and Jackson Maynard along with juniors Malachi Cummings and Jack Hallett. 

McAtee is considered a matchup problem for most teams because of his ability to play any position on the floor. He was PI’s leading rebounder last year and was second on the team in scoring and assists.

“Xavier is a proven leader and I think he’ll be one of the better players in Class B this year,” Cummings said.

Yarema has length, can shoot the 3-pointer and will be a rim protector on the defensive end of the floor, and could be a breakthrough player for the Wildcats, according to the coach.

Maynard is the type of player Cummings said every team needs “because he does a little bit of everything and he knows his role and plays it well.”

Malachi Cummings will be another top player in Class B with his ability to score at all three levels – on layups in transition, from the perimeter and from the foul line. He runs the point but can also post up down low when needed and is PI’s leading returning scorer while being tops in assists and second in rebounding a year ago.

Hallett is a strong presence inside at 6-3 and has continued to improve.

The Wildcats boast a veteran crew off the bench, including junior Brady Castonguay, a scoring threat from the perimeter with good speed. Sophomore Jack Buck is a threat to break into the starting lineup thanks to his 6-5 frame and ability to run the floor. Junior Michael Langley is a hustler and one of the hardest workers on the squad. Dawson Beaulieu, another junior, is an outside shooting threat, while sophomore Jenson Sargent provides defensive intensity at the guard position. Wyatt Young, another sophomore, gives PI another perimeter scorer.

The two newcomers are Ben Turner, a junior transfer from Washburn, and senior Aiden Hanks. Both can play multiple positions and are very athletic, according to coach Cummings.

After playing an entirely Aroostook County schedule a year ago, Presque Isle returns to its Big East Conference slate, including non-conference tilts against Winslow. Ellsworth, Houlton and Orono should be the Wildcats’ strongest league opponents, according to Cummings.

“Look for us to play an uptempo style and let our defense generate our offense,” he said. “They’ll be an exciting team to watch this winter and I’m happy for the players that there will be fans in the gymnasium this season.”

Greg Whitaker is back as the top assistant coach, while Dave Whitaker will also be an assistant while also being in charge of the junior varsity program. Olivia Boardman is the Wildcats’ manager.