The end of the girls basketball game between Nokomis and Skowhegan on Saturday afternoon looked a lot closer to a tournament atmosphere than a preseason game in November.
The game was part of the Bulldog Classic Tourney at Lawrence High School and, in the final minutes, fans on both sides jumped and cheered and players came off the bench on big plays. There was even a technical foul late in the 55-48 victory by Nokomis.
“When we played Skowhegan, it used to be just intense as that,” said Warriors coach Michelle Paradis, a 2003 Nokomis grad. “So I was super-happy that we would be playing them. It’s just a rivalry that keeps going on, and I think it’s great for the girls to have that type of experience.”
The two schools are about a 35-minute drive apart and have not played in the regular season since Nokomis moved to Class B before the 2009-10 season.
“Nokomis is a good team. We’ve got a good group of kids here,” Skowhegan coach Heath Cowan said. “That’s going to make us a better team. Nokomis played hard start to finish. Our kids did (too).”
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Paradis took over as Nokomis coach this summer after the resignation of former coach Kori Dionne. Nokomis also handily defeated Messalonskee on Saturday.
“I was very, very happy with the girls,” Paradis said. “Everything that I asked them to do, they responded very well. I could not be happier with them.”
Two of the top returning players for the Warriors are junior guards Kelsie and Kylie Richards. While Kelsie played on Saturday, Kylie did not. Both suffered anterior cruciate ligament injuries during soccer season.
“Kylie will be cleared, I’m pretty sure, Jan. 18, to come back and play,” Paradis said. “She does practice with us. She can jog and do some drills. Kelsie tore her ACL, but she didn’t tear her meniscus like her sister. She’s just playing and will probably have surgery after the season.”
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Skowhegan also played one other game Saturday, defeating Camden Hills. The Indians hit two 3-pointers while trying to rally down the stretch and should also have a nice inside presence with Morgan Buker, AJ Martineau and Andrea Quirion.
“We treat these games — yeah, they’re games, we’ve got officials out there — but it’s about doing the things that we worked on,” Cowan said. “We’ve only worked on about two things in practices, so I can’t expect them to do everything that we want to do.”
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Lawrence faced Cony in boys hockey action in the Turkey Tournament 2012 at Sukee Arena. It was the first game for the Bulldogs under new coach Ted Fabian, a former standout and Travis Roy Award winner at Messalonskee.
“We started off kind of slow in the first period,” Fabian said. “I think they had first-game jitters. But second period, we came out real strong and the guys were working hard.”
The Bulldogs tied that game 2-2 and later lost 2-0 to Skowhegan.
Lawrence had only four practices before Saturday’s games, and while Fabian said the Bulldogs still have a lot to work on, he didn’t seem bothered by that.
“It’s like a horse race,” he said. “It’s not the first one out of the gate, it’s the one who finishes strong. It’s going to be a long process.”
The Bulldogs dressed 14 players on Saturday.
“We’d always like to see more,” Fabian said. “You can always benefit from being tight and being a cohesive unit.”
Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243