Lawrence was hoping to face Bangor in last year’s Eastern A girls basketball tournament. As it turned out, Lawrence lost in the semifinals and Bangor defeated Cony for the regional title.
The Bulldogs will get their first shot at Bangor this season on Saturday afternoon in Bangor. But it’s far from the most important event of the day for Lawrence.
The game, originally scheduled for 2 p.m., has been moved to 1 p.m. because there will be a fundraiser for Bri Soucy, Lawrence’s senior forward. Soucy’s father died two years ago, and her mother, Lisa Breault, died Saturday at age 39.
There will be a spaghetti dinner and silent auction from 4 to 7 p.m., Saturday at the Lawrence High School cafeteria. The cost is $6 for adults and $4 for children. Businesses wishing to donate items for the silent auction can call Shelley Rudnicki at 314-6898.
The money raised from the dinner and auction will help fund the family’s funeral expenses. There is also a donation site online at https://www.giveforward.com/fundraiser/h7q3/in-memory-of-lisa-breault/
“Over the years, (Bri’s) grown stronger and stronger, from everything she’s been through,” Lawrence sophomore Nia Irving said. “She’s just got the biggest heart. She’d do anything for everyone.”
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Nokomis is 7-0 and looks like one of the three best teams in Eastern B along with Presque Isle and Mt. Desert Island. The Warriors won’t face either of those teams during the regular season, but they’re making their case against the teams on their schedule. Nokomis has won every game by at least 15 points, although Gardiner made things interesting in the fourth quarter and Maine Central Institute led the Warriors at halftime.
“We’re getting there,” Nokomis coach Michelle Paradis said. “There’s still a lot of things that we need to work on to get where we want to go. Every game, and every practice, we find something new that we want to work on, (both) individually and as a team. It’s piece by piece, and when we finally get all the pieces of the puzzle together, we might have a good chance at it.”
Even though they came in with the pressure of being one of the favorites in Eastern B, the Warriors are averaging a healthy 59.7 points per game. With Anna MacKenzie, Kelsie and Kylie Richards, Lindsay Whitney, Taylor Shaw and Mikayla Charters, Nokomis has more scoring options than most teams. But Paradis sees a way the offense can be even more effective.
“There’s always been expectations with them,” Paradis said. “It’s getting them to believe in themselves. Our coaching staff is whole-heartedly behind this team. They just need to have that confidence of, âI’m going to catch the ball and I’m going to shoot it.’ All of them need to have it. Not just one — all of them.”
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Forest Hills is also 7-0, although it hasn’et played since Dec. 19. Those seven wins for the Tigers are by an average of 35 points, leading to the possible conclusion that Forest Hills hasn’t faced anybody yet. That’s not totally accurate. For example, the Tigers opened the season by beating Vinalhaven in back-to-back games by 28 and 32 points, and Vinalhaven is 4-0 since then.
Forest Hills coach Mike LeBlanc points out the Tigers are shooting well — they’re averaging 64.1 points per game — but are also after a common goal.
“We’re playing together as a team — that’s our biggest strength,” LeBlanc said. “They’re actually buying into it. They don’t care about who scores. I think that comes down from our senior leadership. They’ve seen the other side of it. They know this is their last shot.”
As evidence for the “they don’t care about who scores” part of the equation, LeBlanc pointed to a game against Acadia Christian, an overmatched opponent. Kori Coro entered that game averaging 18 points per contest. She scored two points. But LeBlanc played everybody, and the Tigers won, 76-12.
“All the talk was about how a player scored her first basket,” LeBlanc said. “Everybody’s happy when we win.”
To keep the Tigers improving, LeBlanc said the team focuses on one facet of the game against each opponent and works on that. LeBlanc also came up with an idea of having his regular starters be coaches in a scrimmage. The Tigers were facing “The Mom Squad” (a group of former players) in a six-quarter game. LeBlanc let the six players who start most often each coach the Tigers for one quarter.
“I told them, âWhen you go to Augusta (for the Western D tournament) you might not hear me. You need to be able to coach yourselves,'” LeBlanc said.
LeBlanc said it was the first time he ever had players be coaches throughout a scrimmage.
“These long rides, I think of stuff like that,” he said.