Lawrence, which went winless last winter, is 2-13 this season in Eastern A girls basketball. But during the last three games, the Bulldogs picked up a win and scared two playoff-bound teams.

First was a one-point win over Brunswick. Then came a six-point loss to Messalonskee and a two-point loss to Hampden. Lawrence coach John Donato said the Bulldogs led Messalonskee by five with about two minutes left and didn’t trail Hampden until the final 90 seconds of the game.

“We’re playing good, strong defense, and we’re just outworking our opponents,” Donato said.

Donato, who is starting two freshmen and two sophomores, said the tough defense is a team effort, but that Jordyn Towers is doing a nice job at point guard and Paige Belanger has strengthened the interior defense.

Scoring is still a problem for the Bulldogs, who have scored more than 40 points in a game only three times all season, and they lost starting point guard Danielle Armour to a knee injury early in the season. Donato said the future is bright, and that there are two or three players from next year’s freshman class who can step in and make an immediate impact.

It’s not something most people would expect, but there’s also a chance for the present to be bright.

“We could make the tournament if we upset somebody,” Donato said. “They gotta keep believing. That alone is giving them a lot of confidence.”

* * *

Valley wasn’t expected to do much this season after losing several key seniors and longtime coach Gordon Hartwell, who resigned. But under new coach Mike Rowe, the Cavaliers are in good shape for a Western D playoff berth.

Valley is 4-12, good for eighth in the standings. The top nine teams make the Western D playoffs. The Cavaliers haven’t been able to stay with the best teams in Western D, but many players have done a nice job of adapting to new roles.

“I know what everybody else thought we were going to do — that’s something the team and I talked about,” Rowe said. “We really sat down and said, ‘We’re not going to make any excuses.’ “

Senior Jennifer Hovey is a key player, and Rowe thinks she’s one of the best defenders in the East/West Conference. Megan Hunnewell has contributed defense and rebounding, Hali McQuilkin had 18 points and 10 rebounds in a game against Greenville, and Sydney Vincent has upped her scoring average.

Rowe is also impressed with 4-foot-8 freshman guard Jaclyn Beatrice.

“She’s got a heart like you wouldn’t believe,” Rowe said. “She’s gone out and played major, major minutes as a freshman. Her tenacity has really given the team a lift.”

Rowe said his round-trip commute to Bingham is 120 miles, but it might as well be down the street for him.

“That does not even come up, as far as I’m concerned, as a problem,” he said. “I look forward to it every day, and I don’t even want to leave some days.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]

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