The holiday break, coupled with erratic winter weather, has cut into games and practice times for basketball teams in central Maine.
“We haven’t had to deal with anything like this in a long time,” Gardiner coach Mike Gray said. “The last couple of years have been so smooth. We haven’t been in a routine it seems like forever.”
Lack of practice time, Gray said, has forced him to skip details he would be attending to at this point in the season. He’s not sure, though, if it’s affected the team’s overall play.
“They’re 16 and 17-year-old kids,” Gray said. “They adjust I think easier than the coaches do.”
The Tigers are 5-3 heading into tonight’s home game against Maine Central Institute. They’ve picked up a couple of nice wins against Maranacook and Oceanside. They also sustained back-to-back losses against unbeaten Nokomis and Lincoln Academy. Lincoln lost to both Maranacook and Oceanside but presented a tough matchup for the Tigers.
“They have a 6-foot center” Gray said of senior Jen Genthner. “We couldn’t stop her the other night.”
Gray said his team, which returned one starter in Ally Day, is just about where he thought it would be, lack of practice time aside.
“Overall I feel like . . . we’re improving,” he said.
He’s hoping for a quick return to the lineup from Savannah Vinton-Mullens, who hurt her knee against Oceanside. When the 5-7 junior guard left the game, she had 12 points, eight rebounds and five steals.
“She’s got a really good basketball IQ,” Gray said.
Freshman Lauren Chadwick and junior Morgan Carver, both guards, have been major contributors while Day has been her steady self despite the attention she’s drawn.
“It’s been an adjustment,” Gray said. “She’s really been the focal point of a lot of teams’ defenses.”
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Cony bounced back from a pair of disappointing losses by knocking off Brunswick, 61-53, at home Tuesday night. The Rams lost their season opener at Brunswick, 56-53, and going into Tuesday night the Dragons only loss was a one-point, overtime decision to Edward Little.
Cony (6-4) dropped back-to-back games to Oxford Hills and Mt. Blue last week, losing 36-32 to the Vikings at home and 57-29 to Mt. Blue in Farmington.
“Oxford Hills, with their size, it wasn’t a terrible loss,” Cony coach Ted Rioux said. “The one at Mt. Blue was a terrible loss. We just didn’t have any passion.”
Passion aside, Rioux said Mt. Blue is a solid team.
“They’re athletic,” he said. “They’re going to be a problem for some teams in the tournament.”
Rioux said his team just played harder against Brunswick than it had in the losses, but he also made a key change, moving point guard Emily Quirion to a wing and Olivia Deeves to the point. Both players responded. Deeves guarded high-scoring Julia Champagne and held her to 18 points while dishing out nine assists and Quirion scored a game-high 30 points and grabbed nine rebounds.
“She was a true superstar in the first half,” Rioux said of Quirion. “She was hitting bomb after bomb. It was fun to watch.”
Quirion scored 17 points in the first half and connected on three of her four 3-pointers for the game. She also went 10-for-10 from the foul line for the game.
In the second half, sister Hayley Quirion hit three 3s as the Rams rallied from an eight-point deficit while holding the Dragons (6-2) to 17 points.
“I think maybe what the Mt. Blue game did was hurt their pride a little bit,” Rioux said of his team.
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Kents Hill came off its holiday break only to be beaten soundly Tuesday night by Rangeley, 71-32.
It was the first loss of the season for the Huskies (3-1), who last played Dec. 21.
“Rangeley was really good,” Kents Hill coach Luke Wamboldt said. “They played so well together. We had a short bench. That hurt us as well.”
The Huskies haven’t been healthy all season. Guard Allie Helfrich and center Emma Curnin sustained concussions early in the season and are just rounding into form. Wamboldt said Helfrich’s return will take pressure off leading scorer and senior guard Sara Grenier.
“She’s had to shoulder a pretty big load early in the season,” he said.
Nina Murray, one of the team’s post players, hadn’t returned from holiday break in time to play and guard Kerstin Schkrioba is still waiting for medical clearance after a bout with mononucleosis. All the absences have given others a chance to show what they can do and Wamboldt has been particularly impressed with guard Karrisha Gillespie.
“She’s playing on the top of our defense,” Wamboldt said. “She’s just flying all over the place.”
Kents Hill was 11th in the Western Maine Class C tournament standings going into Wednesday night’s game against Sacopee Valley.
“I still have pretty high hopes and expectations for the rest of the year,” Wamboldt said. “We’re looking forward to being at full strength.”
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Around the state: Three-time defending Class A state champion McAuley saw its 56-game win streak snapped Tuesday night with a 50-49 loss to Thornton Academy in Saco. The Lions led 34-19 early in the second half but the Trojans battled back and won after Katie McCrum nailed two free throws with 1.3 seconds left.