Varsity Maine: Pulkkinen selected as All State Boy’s Basketball Coach of The Year

Boys’ basketball: 2024 Varsity Maine All-State team

Our team of the top boys’ basketball players in the state features nine seniors and three juniors.

PostedApril 6

Steve CraigPress Herald

3 min read


Chad Pulkkinen, Windham: A 2002 graduate of Windham High and former player at St. Joseph’s College, Pulkkinen directed the Eagles to the school’s first boys’ basketball championship. Windham was a well-balanced team with key contributors from its senior, junior and sophomore classes. The Eagles went 19-2, a year after going 5-14, capping the season with an overtime Class AA championship win against Gorham.

Wyatt Benoit, Thornton Academy junior guard: After quarterbacking Thornton to the Class A football title, Benoit averaged a Class AA-best 22.6 points, shooting 50.9% overall, 41.2% from 3-point range (35 of 85) and 82.5% at the free-throw line. He averaged 5.7 rebounds, and had a 43-point game against Bonny Eagle.

Carter Galley, Oceanside senior guard: A repeat Varsity Maine All-State pick, Galley and his twin brother, Cohen, led the high-scoring Mariners to their second straight Class B South title. The 5-foot-11 guard averaged 28.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.8 steals while shooting 54% overall, and was a finalist for Mr. Maine Basketball.

Nate Hebert, Gray-New Gloucester senior guard: A top scorer since his sophomore season, Hebert led the Class A champion Patriots in scoring with 21 points per game and averaged two steals and three assists while increasing his commitment to defense. He capped his career with 17 points in the regional final and a team-high 21 points in the state championship game victory over Hampden Academy.

Ashton Leclerc, Gorham senior guard: Leclerc surpassed 1,000 career points this season, averaging 21.7 points per game for the Class AA South champions. He was a prolific 3-point shooter, making 68 in the regular season on 38.4% shooting. Leclerc plans to play next season at Roger Williams College.

Zach McLaughlin, Hampden Academy senior guard: A strong overall player, McLaughlin led Hampden to the Class A North title by averaging 23 points, five rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. McLaughlin was a finalist for Mr. Maine Basketball.

Chance Mercier, Ellsworth senior guard: An explosive player, Mercier finished with 1,729 career points and was named Mr. Maine Basketball. A repeat Varsity Maine All-State selection, Mercier averaged 22.3 points, 9.2 rebounds, 2.1 steals and 2.6 assists this season.

Gabe Michaud, Gorham senior guard: Named the Defensive Player of the Year in Class AA South, Michaud ran the point for the Rams, who went 18-3 and won their first Class AA South title. He averaged 12.6 points, five rebounds and a league-best 5.8 assists in the regular season, then improved on those marks in the postseason.

Jamier Rose, Noble junior guard: After earning Varsity Maine All-State honors in football, Rose showed his dynamic open-court ability in the Knights’ run to the Class A South final, averaging 20 points, seven assists, seven rebounds and five steals per game.

Chris Simonds, Falmouth senior center: The SMAA Class A Offensive Player of the Year, the 6-foot-8 Simonds was also a defensive stopper at the rim. He averaged 18.1 points, 10.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.7 blocks per game. He plans to play next for Bowdoin College.

Merrick Smith, Messalonskee junior center: The athletic and mobile 6-foot-10 Smith led the Eagles to the Class A North final, where they lost by a point to Hampden Academy. He averaged 25 points and 14 rebounds, and showed his passing skills with 3.8 assists per game.

Evans Sterling, Mt. Blue senior forward: The KVAC Class A Player of the Year was always targeted by opposing defenses, but the 6-foot-3 point guard was able to average 25 points, eight rebounds and three assists per game. Sterling led the Cougars to a 15-3 record, their best mark since 1997. After scoring 1,165 points in his career, he expects to play at a NCAA Division III school in Maine.

Pierce Walston, Orono senior guard: The Varsity Maine Player of the Year’s stats may not be as flashy as those of some members of the All-State team, but he’s the only one with two state titles. Walston’s ability to score (17.4 points per game) defend (4.4 steals) and rebound (5.8) while controlling a game’s pace and setting up teammates (6.4 assists) drew praise from coaches across the state.

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