While Friday was opening day for many girls basketball teams, Rangeley opens its season this Friday night against Richmond. The game matches the two top contenders in Western D.
With an extra week of preseason, Rangeley coach Heidi Deery said her team has been working on its overall game.
“We’re trying to really play the game, and not run from Point A to Point B,” Deery said. “Just read the defense, and take what they’re giving you. Lots of times you can put a lot of energy into what the other team is doing, when if you’re turning the ball over without them forcing it, it doesn’t really matter what they’re doing defensively.”
Richmond has one of the top players in Class D in 6-foot senior Jamie Plummer. In last season’s meeting with Rangeley in Richmond, Plummer scored 33 points in a 43-41 win. Richmond coach Molly Bishop has her playing a little more inside this season.
“Utilizing her size is frustrating for her at times,” Bishop said. “She likes to play on the outside. She does a great job of posting up.”
In keeping with the theme of the Lakers focusing on themselves, Deery said Rangeley’s mental approach is critical. No matter the outcome, it’s the first game in a long season.
“I just say, ‘Listen you guys: Every time we take the court — every time — we do it one way, and that’s with intensity, competitive fire, and a desire to be successful,’ ” Deery said. “That’s our goal every night, and obviously it will be Friday night, and it would be no matter who we were playing.”
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Maranacook started off 2-0 by defeating Medomak Valley and Morse. Next up for the Black Bears is a stretch where they face three quality opponents: Friday night at home against Nokomis, then road games Tuesday at Leavitt and next Friday at Gardiner.
Christine Miller had 35 points and 15 rebounds against Morse, and coach Jeannine Paradis said she liked how her team handled that game mentally.
“(It) was a pretty physical game. The officials let us play,” Paradis said. “The key was my kids not reacting to the non-calls, and for being such a young group, they did a really nice job of that.”
Nokomis cruised in its first two games under new coach Michelle Paradis, winning both by a combined 91 points. The Warriors will get a tougher test at Maranacook, and it’s also a chance for the Black Bears to show that they can play with a contender.
“They really do everything I ask them to do,” the Maranacook coach said, “and they really want to turn the program around and make it so that people want to come see Maranacook Black Bear basketball.”
The teams have played their games on the same nights, so Jeannine Paradis hasn’t been able to watch Nokomis in person. The Warriors have two inside threats in Anna MacKenzie and Traci Carson. Kylie Richards is out with a knee injury but her sister, Kelsie and Lindsay Whitney are strong offensive players.
“Nokomis is always tough,” Paradis said. “Michelle definitely played really tough basketball as a player, so I know that she’s going to instill those things in her teams as well.”
Maranacook is 2-0, with wins over Medomak Valley and Morse. In the latter game, Christine Miller led the Black Bears with 35 points and 15 rebounds.
“Nokomis is always tough,” Maranacook coach Jeannine Paradis said. “Michelle definitely played really tough basketball as a player, so I know that she’s going to instill those things in her teams as well.”
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The schedule for the Capital City Hoop Classic is set and it features a good group of boys and girls teams from central Maine. The tournament, now in its 18th year, will be played at the Augusta Civic Center on Dec. 28-29. Each boys and girls team is guaranteed two games on their respective days with two playing in a championship game.
The boys field includes Cony, Lawrence, Gardiner, Boothbay, Hall-Dale and Lincoln Academy. The girls field includes Cony, Lawrence, Richmond, Madison, Waynflete and Boothbay.
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Valley’s 37-35 victory over Greenville on Tuesday night is a contender for the upset of the year in girls basketball. Greenville was expected to be one of the top teams in Western D, while Valley finished 5-14 last winter.
“It probably, in a lot of people’s eyes, was very unexpected,” Valley coach Mike Rowe said. “In my eyes, it wasn’t expected, but it’s not totally surprising.”
Rowe, who is in his second season at Valley and also coached four years at Highview Christian, called the win over Greenville, “the biggest win I’ve ever had as a coach.” Teagan Laweryson scored a team-high 12 points, and Sydney Vincent knocked down a big 3-pointer in the final minute.
Rowe said defense and rebounding were keys to the win, as was Greenville shooting 9 for 25 from the foul line. He also liked how much the Cavaliers improved their shot selection against Greenville. In Valley’s previous game, a two-point loss to Buckfield, the Cavaliers were 0 for 17 from 3-point range, and Rowe felt they too often settled for 3s down the stretch.
“(Tuesday) night, we got into the fourth quarter, and the decision-making was much better,” Rowe said. “The biggest thing I keep (telling) them is, ‘Don’t go for the great play. Just make the simple play, and we’ll build off of that.’ (Tuesday) night, they did that.”
Gary Hawkins contributed to this report
Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243