As the saying goes, the talent assembled for the third annual Midcoast High School Basketball Showcase on Saturday, March 24 at Camden Hills Regional High School is, to borrow a phrase, off the charts.

The group includes top players from a bundle of playoff teams, some of which surged to state and regional championship games, a player who tallied more than 1,000 career points, student-athletes who have the athletic ability to routinely dunk and a handful of participants who stand 6 feet 6 inches — or taller.

The Midcoast's version of March Madness — high school-style — is about to take off on one night, four days after the official start of spring.

The teams have been selected/constructed from the 40 student-athletes invited to participate in the fun, laid-back event, which this year is free to the public, although donations will accepted at the door to raise money to donate to area schools' athletic programs.

There will be a girls game at 6 p.m. and boys contest at 7:30 p.m.

The players will practice at Camden Hills the morning of the games. The boys will converge from 11:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., as originally scheduled. The girls, however, will meet from 8:30 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. (a change from the 10 a.m. start previously listed in letters sent to players).

On Saturday, Midcoast high school student-athletes will get their senior moment and final day in — make that on — court.

That, of course, means the area's most talent and experienced high school basketball players will get one final opportunity to showcase their talents.

Forty student-athletes from nine area high schools have been invited to participate in the showcase. The first two showcases were held at Oceanside and Medomak Valley high schools.

Again this year, student-athletes from Knox, Waldo and Lincoln counties will have a day and venue to showcase their impressive court talents one final time for family, friends and fans.

Unlike the first two years, there is no cost to attend this year's event; however, donations will be appreciated and accepted to help raise as much money as possible.

A portion of the proceeds from the event will be donated to the participating schools' athletic departments and used for a variety of sports program needs.

Senior basketball players from Medomak Valley, Oceanside of Rockland/Thomaston, Camden Hills of Rockport, Belfast, Mount View of Thorndike, Searsport, Islesboro, North Haven and Vinalhaven have been invited to participate in the games. Some of the schools did not have senior players on this year's team, thus, will not be represented.

The games will include 20 girls and 20 boys playing in separate court affairs. And, as an added twist, players selected from the same school, who normally are teammates, may be placed on separate teams and pitted against one another for this event.

Area coaches and athletic directors, among others, are invited to coach teams for the games.

The players are selected by the Courier Publications/VillageSoup sports staff after consultation with area coaches.

After a pool of 20 boys and 20 girls were selected from the seniors on all the teams in the area, Ken Waltz and Mark Haskell of Courier Publications/VillageSoup drafted "their" squads, as they did in the first two years of the event. Thus, there again will be two Waltz teams and two Haskell teams.

The White teams, the hosts, will represent Waltz, and the Blue, Haskell's visitors.

After much haggling and hand-wringing — and brash talk back and forth — between Haskell and Waltz during the selection process (think NCAA tourney selection committee), the following are the breakdown of the teams for this year's games:

Team Waltz girls: Belfast's Macy Gale; Camden Hills' Laticia Billings and MiAe DeWaard; Vinalhaven's Déja Doughty, Ashlyn Littlefield and Amber Shane; Medomak Valley's Gabby DePatsy; Mount View's Andrea Crosby and Paula Miller; and Searsport's Brooklynn Alberts. The starters are DeWaard, Doughty, Littlefield, DePatsy and Crosby. Vinalhaven's Sandy Nelson will coach the team.

Team Haskell girls: Medomak Valley's Hallie Kunesh; Oceanside's Gabby Simmons, Camden Hills' Lauren Miller, Nicole Brown, Mya Wiley and Kira Barley; Vinalhaven's Cheyenne Bickford, Gilleyanne Davis-Oakes and Paige Dennison; Searsport's Audrey Walker; and Mount View's Katelin Bennett. Davis-Oakes, Simmons, Kunesh, Dennison and Miller are the starters. Walker and Bennett are unable to participate and one of them has been replaced by Barley. Medomak Valley's Ryan McNelly will coach the team.

Team Waltz boys: Camden Hills' Noah Heidorn and Jesse Fraser; Belfast's Tyler Bartlett and Skylar Perkins; Mount View's Adam Reed; Vinalhaven's Keon Arey; Medomak Valley's Josh Goldrup; Oceanside's Josh Peaco and Leo Reid; and Searsport's Ben Powell and Connor Kneeland. The starters are Heidorn, Goldrup, Reid, Peaco and Arey. Powell is unable to play and has been replaced by Perkins. Belfast's Terry Kenniston, the school's assistant principal and athletic director, will coach the team.

Team Haskell boys: Camden Hills' John Curtin and Daniel Peabody, Oceanside's Michael Norton Jr. and Jack Freeman; North Haven's Brandon Brown; Medomak Valley's Brent Stewart; Vinalhaven's Elijah Ames; Belfast's Stanley Sturgis and Dakoda Doolan; and Mount View's Max Tomlin. The starters are Norton, Sturgis, Stewart, Curtin and Peabody. Camden Hills' Jeff Hart will coach the team.

The officials for the games include Otis Kneeland, Bill Stuart, Chris Barstow, Mike Gamage, John Sprague and Juan Alcala.

There also will be 3-point shooting contests at halftime of each game. Five girls and boys will earn spots in the nighttime competition during the morning practices.

Players invited to participate in the event were notified with a formal letter, sent to their schools, in early March.

A printed program that includes photos of all the players, coaches and officials, along with statistical and other information, will be available at the games and appear inside the March 22 editions of The Courier-Gazette, The Camden Herald and The Republican Journal newspapers.

The games are more informal but there is sure to be plenty of exciting action as players from all four Maine Principals' Association classes — A, B, C and D — play together and against one another.

The games always include a bundle of electrifying passes, 3-pointers and slam dunks. And lots and lots of points.

The boys game usually includes about 175 to 200 combined points by the teams.

Structure often is thrown out the window, for the most part, and the gymnasium becomes another driveway or playground court for fun-filled, pickup games.

Every player appears to walk off the court, after representing their schools for the final time, with smiles on their faces, and perhaps new friendships and new found respect for other area hoopsters.

The games are extended to four 10-minute quarters to get players more court time (official high school games are eight-minute quarters). All other high school rules apply.

Courier Publications' sports staff can be reached by email at sports@villagesoup.com or by phone at 594-4401.