Madison is the last undefeated girls basketball team in Western C, at 6-0. Not only do the Bulldogs have a solid starting five, they’re getting a lot of help from their bench.

“We started out very early in the season, going to our bench,” Madison coach Al Veneziano said. “We did a couple of games with five-on, five-off in the first quarter. It’s going to pay off for us in the second half of the season.”

Madison used 11 players in Monday’s 51-34 victory over Hall-Dale. Subs Courtney Taylor, Kirsten Wood, and Cristie Vicneire each saw action in every quarter.

“You get a lot more people involved in a win,” Veneziano said. “You get a lot more people that are now involved in practice more, because they need to know the game plan — not just the five who start or the seven who play.”

There was another example of Veneziano’s trust in his bench. With about 20 seconds left in the third quarter and Madison leading Hall-Dale by six, Kayla Belanger entered the game for the first time and immediately drew the assignment of guarding Hall-Dale standout Carylanne Wolfington.

“Kayla’s a good defensive player,” Veneziano said. “When she comes out (on the floor), that gives you fresh legs, and it gives you somebody who can run with somebody. She’s got great quickness.”

* * *

With Tuesday night’s 68-42 victory over Valley, Forest Hills improved to 6-1 and matched its victory total of all of last winter. Sure, the schedule has helped — five of the seven games were at home, and the Tigers haven’t had to play Richmond or Rangeley yet. But all in all, it’s a great start for a team whose six returning players are all freshmen and sophomores.

“Last year, we were 6-12,” Forest Hills coach Mike LeBlanc said. “It’s a welcome relief just to be able to bounce back and play together like we have been.”

While teams around the state in every class struggle to score points, Forest Hills is averaging 53.3 points per game. The scoring has come from pretty much everywhere. Some nights, it’s Kori Coro and Dana McNally leading the way. Other nights, Jocelyn Hoyt and Anna Carrier are hitting in double figures. Against Valley, Keely Taylor and Haley Cuddy combined for 15 points.

“Any given night, I can have anyone be my leading scorer,” LeBlanc said. “So teams trying to scout us, they have no clue. We’re all about the same size, too.”

The schedule gets more demanding now, beginning with Friday’s game at Richmond. That game is followed by matchups with Greenville and Rangeley, followed by a long drive to North Haven, and then a game in Augusta against Greater Portland Christian.

“These next two weeks will prove to be a big stretch for us,” LeBlanc said. “The next five games are crucial. I just want to see us keep improving every day, keep working hard, and see where that takes us come the end of the year and playoff time.”

* * *

Carrabec is 2-4 after Monday’s 43-21 victory over Winthrop. The Cobras have a new coach in Skip Rugh, and Jocelyn Jackson is the only senior.

“We’re up and down,” Rugh said. “I think we’re coming together. They’re passing the ball, and trusting each other on defense and on offense. They played a full 32 minutes of basketball (Monday) night, and that’s something we’ve struggled to do.”

That win was made more impressive because Jackson, Carrabec’s point guard and leading scorer, missed the game because of a family trip.

“Besides (Jocelyn), it seems there’s somebody different stepping up every night,” Rugh said.

The Cobras play at St. Dominic tonight. The Saints are a deceptive 1-5. They beat Monmouth, and lost to Madison by eight points.

“I believe that if we go down there and play as a team, play hard, play good, solid defense, we should have a pretty good chance,” Rugh said.

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]

 


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