Players from the state of Maine continue to exert their influence on successful Division II men’s basketball teams in New England.
On Tuesday night, former Penquis High and Hampden Academy standout Isaiah Bess helped Stonehill College punch its ticket to the NCAA Elite 8 with a victory over former Nokomis High School star Chris Braley and his Saint Anselm College teammates in the East Regional Final at Holy Family University in Philadelphia.
Bess, a 6-foot-3 guard from LaGrange, has been among the mainstays this winter for Stonehill. On Tuesday, the sophomore posted 14 points, five rebounds, an assist and a steal as the fourth-seeded Skyhawks (23-8) won 82-76 in overtime.
Bess has appeared in 28 games, contributing 7.5 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 20.9 minutes per contest. He appears to be coming on strong of late, having started each of the last six games for coach Chris Krause.
He is shooting 45 percent overall.
Braley, who hails from Newport, started all 28 games for Saint Anselm College of Manchester, New Hampshire. The Hawks (23-9) were the No. 2 seed in the regional.
Braley has been a key contributor for Saint Anselm since transferring from Division I Stony Brook University. The 6-5 junior guard/forward averaged 11.0 points and 7.8 rebounds in 28.9 minutes per game while shooting 57 percent from the field and 48 percent from the 3-point arc for 30th-year coach Keith Dickson.
At Stony Brook, which on Saturday won the America East Conference championship and earned the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division I tournament, Braley scored 62 points in 48 games.
Saint Anselm won both regular-season meetings, taking an 81-76 win on Nov. 21 at Stonehill and winning 71-66 on Feb. 17 on its home court. Bess had a combined four points and seven rebounds in those games, while Braley played only in the second meeting and posted seven points and six boards.
Braley has been well traveled since his junior year at Nokomis, where he averaged 25.5 points and 12.7 rebounds for coach Carl Parker en route to BDN All-Maine first-team honors. He moved on to Phillips Exeter Academy, where he was a first-team All-NEPSAC Class A choice for two seasons and averaged 15 points and nine rebounds his second year there.
Bess was a two-time All-Maine selection, earning a first-team nod as a junior at Penquis Valley High School in Milo, where he averaged 26.5 points, 8.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists to help coach Tony Hamlin’s ballclub win the Class C state title.
During his senior season, Bess was a second-team choice after helping coach Russ Bartlett’s Hampden Academy team claim a Class A state runner-up finish with 12.9 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game.
Editor’s Note: The original version of this story incorrectly listed the 2014 Class A state title. Portland was the champion.