The Valley girls basketball team will be off for nearly two weeks, but then it’s new territory for both coach Mike Rowe and most of his players.
Rowe has never been the head coach in a tournament game at Augusta or Bangor before, and none of his players have any significant experience at the Augusta Civic Center. The Cavaliers have clinched a spot either way in the Western D tournament and will play a quarterfinal game at the Civic Center.
“The girls are very excited. I’m very excited,” Rowe said. “This is something we thought we could do at the beginning of the year. They’re just looking forward to the opportunity to play there.”
Rowe was an assistant coach for the Hermon girls when they defeated Winslow in 2011 to earn a spot at the Bangor Auditorium. He said he told the Cavaliers they’ve got nothing to lose and to just relax and have fun.
Valley’s quarterfinal game isn’t until Feb. 18. Two starters missed Tuesday’s 32-30 loss to Islesboro due to illness and two more players are also sick, so Rowe said he’s giving his team the rest of this week off.
“Next week, we’re going to have four hard practices and watch game film,” Rowe said.
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The Erskine Academy girls basketball team was still coming down Wednesday from its first win of the season, a 64-52 win against Brunswick on Tuesday night.
“They were still smiling ear to ear this afternoon when we went to practice,” Erskine coach Scott Corey said. “That was the most complete 32 minutes we’ve put together this year without question.”
The Eagles got an outstanding performance from 5-foot-10 senior Bridget Humphrey, who scored a career-high 29 points and hauled down 14 rebounds. But everyone contributed, Corey said. Sophomore Hannah Bridges scored 18 points while 5-4 sophomore Taylor Boucher grabbed 11 rebounds.
“What a great way to honor the seniors,” Corey said of the team’s last home game. “It was just a complete effort.”
Erskine has the smallest enrollment of any team in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference’s Class A division and has struggled the past few seasons. The Eagles will drop to Class B next year, but no one complained about the competition this year.
“The kids could have just simply quit and they didn’t,” Corey said.
Captains Alyssa Gartley and Grace Killian addressed the team at Wednesday’s practice. Killian doesn’t get much playing time, but her effort in practice and on the bench has inspired her teammates.
“Grace Killian is the epitome of a team player,” Corey said. “Every day you get the same effort. She’s just a solid individual. She was the first one to speak and said ‘I’ve had a great time.’ “
Erskine finishes its season tonight at Cony.
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The Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championship games will be held at Cony High School on Saturday and Monday.
The Class B teams will play Saturday and the participants are determined by Heal points. The boys game will be played at 5 p.m., followed by the girls game at 7. As of today, Medomak Valley and Oceanside will play in the boys game while Nokomis and Oceanside will play in the girls game. The Medomak and Oceanside boys split a pair of games during the regular season while the Oceanside girls topped Nokomis in their lone meeting.
The Class A championship games will be played Monday and are determined by the top team in each of two divisions in the KVAC. The boys game at 5 will pit unbeaten Hampden against Edward Little. The teams didn’t play during the regular season. The 7 p.m. girls game has Edward Little against Bangor. Edward Little won both regular-season games.
All conference awards will be announced between games on each day.
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Michelle (Murray) Paradis and Lindsey Welch started in the backcourt together when Nokomis won the 2001 Class A state championship. It was Paradis who saw Winslow was looking for a new girls basketball coach, and told Welch about it and convinced her to apply. A couple months later Paradis stepped in as the new Nokomis coach.
Nokomis has a 15-2 record, while Winslow is 6-11 and Welch was named Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B Coach of the Year by the league’s coaches. Tuesday was the second game the two coached against each other. Nokomis won both games, 36-24 and 49-25.
“I love Lindsey,” Paradis said. “We look at each other and we just wish that we were back out on the floor together. I love her.”
“Obviously, for 32 minutes, we’re straight in with our team,” Welch said. “But after that, we’re hugging.”
Gary Hawkins contributed to this report.
Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243