Every other year, the Richmond basketball teams make a trip to Vinalhaven Island off the coast of Rockland for a pair of games on Friday night and Saturday morning. It’s their turn this Friday and those trips are seldom dull.
“It’s an experience all the way around, from getting parents a place to stay to letting kids know they’re not going to get seasick on a (boat) ride an hour and 15 minutes,” said Richmond athletic director and girls coach Molly Bishop.
On the last basketball trip to Vinalhaven, the power on the island went out as soon as the boys game ended Friday night and everyone had to find their way around in the dark. Kids stay with families on the island while visiting parents stay at the local hotel if it’s open or with friends they’ve made on past trips.
“Everybody seems willing to help,” Bishop said.
The travel is even harder on Vinalhaven teams. Last Friday, the Vikings had to switch their home game to Rangeley because there was no water pressure on the island and on the way to Rangeley, their bus broke down.
“They didn’t get back to the island until Sunday,” Bishop said.
Bishop’s young Bobcats are improving “leaps and bounds,” she said. They’ve just come through their toughest stretch of the season, playing and losing to unbeaten conference opponents Forest Hills and Rangeley as well as to Class C tournament contender Old Orchard Beach.
“It’s kind of pulled them together a little bit,” Bishop said. “They’ve come a long way as a young group.”
Freshmen Cassidy Harriman and Meranda Martin have been impressive so far along with senior Morgan Harrington, who hadn’t seen much playing time the past couple of seasons.
Adjustments are difficult when you play Friday night and again Saturday morning, Bishop said, but the trips are always memorable.
“It’s fun, it’s an adventure,” Bishop said. “It’s a long 36 hours.”
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Hall-Dale hopes to build on a recent win against Boothbay tonight at home against Monmouth. The Mustangs are ahead of the Bulldogs in the Western Maine Class C tournament standings and are a solid all-around team.
“They don’t have a lot of size but they get up and down,” Hall-Dale coach Brandon Terrill said of the Mustangs. “They can shoot it pretty well and (Kylie) Kemp is a good player.”
Terrill expects his team will be pressed and how they handle that pressure will likely determine the outcome.
“We have to limit turnovers,” he said.
Terrill said his team has made progress in areas like passing, rebounding and being patient. Sophomore guard Dani Sweet has done a good job handling the ball and her scoring is a bonus.
“When she can put up eight or 10 points, it really gives us a chance to beat anybody,” Terrill said.
Senior Brooke Berberich has played well in a starting role and junior guard Molly French has returned to the lineup after missing time with a concussion. In last week’s win against Boothbay, the Bulldogs rallied in the second half and held the Seahawks to three points in the third quarter.
“It’s got to start with defense for us,” Terrill said.
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Cony faces a tall task Friday night in Fairfield against Lawrence and sophomore center Nia Irving. The Rams were handled at home by the Bulldogs a month ago, 60-42. They had no answers for Irving, who is averaging just over 21 rebounds a game.
“We’ll try some things here and there that have been successful against bigger teams,” Cony coach Ted Rioux said. “But they’re so diverse.”
Forward Paige Belanger and sophomore point guard Dominique Lewis are also scorers, but limiting the Bulldogs has to begin with Irving.
“When I see her play, she reminds me a lot of Morgan Frame,” said Rioux, who coached Waterville, led by Frame, to three straight state championships. “There’s really no answer for her.”
Rioux hopes to slow the pace, keep the score down and give his Rams a chance to win in the fourth quarter. Cony is one of the smallest teams in Class A and relies heavily on outside shooting. For the most part, they’ve got it, led by senior Emily Quirion who is averaging just under 19 points a game. Senior Hayley Quirion is also heating up from three-point range and had a recent 22-point game.
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Oak Hill’s Bri Mulherin is coming into her own at just the right time. Coach Tom Morong put the versatile freshman into his starting lineup and she’s scoring better than 10 points a game and grabbing a lot of rebounds.
In last Friday’s win against St. Dominic, Morong started Mulherin in the post and on the second rotation put her in at point guard. The Raiders are also getting outstanding defense from juniors Danielle Samson and Hayley Marshall.
“She’s one of our best all-around players,” Morong said of Marshall. “She creates havoc on the defensive end.”
The 9-3 Raiders have a key game Saturday against Dirigo in Dixfield.
Around the state: Two-time defending Class B state champion Presque Isle extended its win streak to 57 games Tuesday night with a victory against Fort Kent. That streak will be tested Jan. 25 when they host Mount Desert Island, a team they defeated by two points last month.