Saint Michael’s forward Maggie Sabine reached a major milestone Tuesday night as she scored the 1,000 point of her collegiate career in a game against Post on Tuesday night.

Even though she was more concerned about helping the Purple Knights sustain the momentum from beating defending DII national champion Bentley University on Saturday, Sabine admitted before the game the butterflies were fluttering more than they typically do in the hours leading up to tipoff.

“It means a lot to me. It’s a huge accomplishment,” she said. “I’m so excited that I get to experience this in my college career.”

Sabine needed just eight points to get to 1,000 heading into Tuesday night’s contest against Post and she did not wait long to get there.

Following an alternate possession on a jump ball, Sabine blew by her defender on the right wing and put in a layup off the glass with 6:27 remaining in the first half to give the Purple Knights a 28-16 lead at the time.

Sabine, of Litchfield, also reached the 1,000-point milestone during her high school career at Oak Hill High School. That led her to a remarkable two-year career at Central Maine Community College, where she helped the Mustangs to back-to-back Yankee Small College Conference titles and berths in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association and was a USCAA All-American.

Following the Mustangs’ elimination from the national tournament in March 2013, Mustangs coach Andrew Morong told Sabine she had a chance to grow athletically and academically.

“It all came about very quickly,” said Sabine, who already has been inducted into CMCC’s Athletics Hall of Fame. “I’d planned on finishing up at Central Maine and putting basketball behind me. But coach Morong advocated for me. He sat down with me and told me he’d reached out to different coaches and there were scholarship opportunities at Division II schools. I just feel like I owe everything to coach Morong and Central Maine for supporting me and wanting the best for me.”

As it turned out, Saint Michael’s head coach Shannon Kynoch had coached Sabine when she was a high school player attending the University of Southern Maine’s Swish basketball camp.

Kynoch, a 2008 USM graduate who had just taken over at Saint Michael’s, said Sabine’s name rang a bell when Morong first brought it up to her “and that sort of moved the process along for me.” After watching film and talking with Sabine, “she seemed like a great fit.”

“On the court, she’s just a force,” Kynoch said. “She’s really strong physically and an aggressive post player at power forward, which was really a position we needed.”

After weighing her options, Sabine decided Saint Michael’s was just what she needed athletically and academically.

With what Kynoch described as an “infectious personality,” she clicked with her new teammates quickly. Adjusting to Division II basketball took a little bit longer.

“It’s a whole other level of play here. It’s mentally challenging as much as physically,” Sabine said. “It was absolutely a huge transition for me. What made it so easy was the support of the girls on the team and the coaching staff.”

Sabine went from being one of the biggest and strongest centers in the YSCAA to a smallish power forward in the Northeast 10, so she worked on developing a more complete offensive game. She became equally proficient with her back to the basket or facing-up on a defender, while also adding a dependable outside shot to her repertoire.

She started all 25 games her first year, averaging 9.3 points and 6.6 rebounds per game, exceeding Kynoch’s expectations.

“Very rarely do you see a community college player transfer in and make an instant impact at the Division II level,” Kynoch said.

As a team, the Purple Knights struggled, going 4-21. But with a year under Kynoch’s system under their belt and six freshmen joining the team for the 2014-15 season, they resolved to put those struggles behind them. “All of us came together as a team and really changed our mentality and focused on what we want as a team,” Sabine said. “We all dedicated to working harder as a team and developing a new mindset here.”

One of two seniors on the team, Sabine said she didn’t feel any more pressure to lead that change. Kynoch said there is no denying her impact on the team.

“She’s not a captain, but she’s absolutely someone the team looks up to,” Kynoch said. “We kind of joke that she’s someone the team looks to as a mother figure.”

With the win over Bentley, Saint Michael’s has already eclipsed last year’s win total and was 5-3 going into Tuesday night’s game. Sabine ranked second on the team in scoring (12.8 ppg) and rebounding (6.6 rpg) and third in the NE10 in free throw percentage (87.5 percent).

The Purple Knights hope to complete their turnaround with a spot in the conference playoffs. Regardless of where this season leads, Sabine, who will pick up a bachelor’s degree in psychology in May, will look back on her career as an unmitigated success.

“This has gone far beyond my expectations when I started at Central Maine,” she said. “I knew basketball would be a big piece of my life, and it’s already paved the road for me. I’m so thankful for what I’ve been able to accomplish in basketball with the support of everyone at CMCC and Saint Michael’s. But I’m even more thankful that it’s given me an education and really opened up a lot of opportunities for me in my life.”

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33


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