Hall-Dale High School senior Natasha Brown will split her time this weekend between singing and dancing in a school play and participating in the McDonald’s Senior All-Star C/D basketball game.

Brown stepped into a lead role for the basketball team this season after being part of the supporting cast as a sophomore and junior when the Bulldogs reached the Class C state final. For the previous two seasons she was surrounded by senior veterans, but this year the roster included seven freshmen and sophomores.

“It was a huge adjustment to go from having four seniors on the floor,” Brown said. “It was a great learning experience. I got to work with younger people who were developing.”

The Bulldogs finished at 9-9 this season, losing to St. Dominic in a Western Maine Class C prelim game. A year ago, they lost by a point in the state championship game and two years ago won the state title. Brown was on both teams, starting at guard last season, her job to get the ball to the scorers.

“She was a good ballhandler last year,” Hall-Dale coach Brandon Terrill said. “She knew we had a ton of firepower.”

Brown said Terrill played a key role in her transition to the go-to player on the team this season. It began in the summer and she took it from there, spending hours shooting and conditioning.

“My relationship with my coach was tremendous,” Brown said. “He’s the one that made me become this new player, step out of my comfort zone and realize what I can do.”

The work on her shooting paid off. She scored 19 points in a season-opening loss to powerful Spruce Mountain, making three 3-pointers in the process. Brown finished the season with 26 3-pointers after not making a single one last year. Brown, who alternated playing point guard and shooting guard with teammate Nicole Pelletier, averaged 10 points, five rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. But her value to the team extended much further.

“She stepped up her game in every way and really became a leader,” Terrill said. “They all looked up to Brownie.”

Brown took her leadership cue from Carylanne Wolfington, who graduated last season and went on to play for Colby College. Brown learned to be patient and recognize the strengths and weaknesses of her teammates. And like Wolfington she developed a positive attitude.

“I learned a lot from the way (Carylanne) led our team,” Brown said. “After she made a mistake she kept moving forward. She was really a good leader.”

Terrill praised Brown’s aggression and overall toughness, which he said, set the tone for the team, as well as her understanding of the game. She plans to attend Eastern University in Philadelphia next fall and major in psychology and minor in coaching.

“I would love to coach,” said Brown, who currently coaches an elementary school team of fourth and fifth graders.

Brown said she’ll explore playing basketball in college next year but isn’t sure if her academic commitments will allow for the time. Saturday, she knows, could be her final game.

“I get really emotional when it comes to almost being at the end,” she said. “It’s really hard to swallow. Now I only have one game left.”

Richmond’s Jamie Plummer joins Brown on the C/D West team while Cony’s Josie Lee will play for the A/B East squad. Maranacook’s Kyle Boucher and Erskine’s Devin Duncan are playing for the A/B boys East team.

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638

[email protected]

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