Thomas men’s basketball coach Geoff Hensley is in an enviable situation.

His team enters the holiday break with a 5-3 record, including a four-game win streak. The Terriers boast a young but talented squad that includes perhaps the best forward in the North Atlantic Conference in senior Carlos Gonzalez, who is averaging a double-double (13.1 points, 10.5 rebounds) per game.

The only issue for Hensley and Thomas is the holiday break busting up the momentum. After beating the University of Maine at Farmington 74-58 on Dec. 9, Thomas doesn’t play another game until Dec. 30 at the James Naismith Tournament in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Though the break isn’t timely, Hensley has no issues sending his players home for the holidays.

“It’s a major bummer, I’m a basketball coach, I want to be in the gym with my guys, going to practice, going to games,” Hensley said. “But halfway through the season, they need a little bit of a break, where they can just get outside the gym, just let their bodies recover, and mentally recover as well. Basketball is such a long season. They start their preseason — their strength and conditioning workouts — in September. Then official practice starts in October, and they’re not done until pretty much the end of February or early March, which is a really long season.”

There’s no question that the offense is clicking on all cylinders so far. Aside from Gonzalez’ play in the post, Thomas has received offensive production from John Morgan — a senior forward who transferred from Southern Maine Community College — who is averaging 12.5 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. The production of the forwards has opened up shots for sophomore guard Zach Mackinnon, who leads the team with 13.5 points per game.

In the game against the Beavers, the offensive production was fast and furious. The Terriers jumped out to a 41-28 lead in the first half. Gonzalez scored a game-high 18 points, but Mackinnon and freshman forward Angel Gonzalez each added 16 points for the Terriers in the contest.

“Our guys came out ready to play, especially on the defensive end,” Hensley said. “We held (UMF) to shooting perhaps a below-average percentage for what they’re accustomed to. I thought it started on the defensive end for us, which led to some good baskets on the offensive end. Farmington is always tough. We knew they were going to rally back in the second half. I think they got (the lead) down to four or five points…..It was a great game and I was really pleased with my guys’ effort and focus for the full 40 minutes.”

There will be no easing back into the season for Thomas after the break. The Naismith Tournament is hosted by Springfield College, which was ranked 23rd in the d3hoops.com national rankings as of last week. The Pride will be just one of the non-conference opponents the Terriers will face in the tournament.

“We have (Springfield) in the first round,” Hensley said. “Depending on if we win or lose, we have Fitchburg State or Wesleyan, who are two very good teams down in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Those will be two very good tests for us when we come back. As soon as that’s over, we continue with conference play, and every conference game means a lot, and every conference game is a battle.”

The Beavers will have a shot at revenge on their rivals in the not-too-distant future. Thomas and UMF will meet again in Waterville on Jan. 13.

• • •

The UMF men’s basketball team enters the holiday break with a 4-5 record and two-game losing streak, though the losses were no pushovers, falling to rival Thomas and local powerhouse Bowdoin College.

While the Beavers have steadily made progress throughout the early half of the season, more is expected by head coach Dick Meader.

“We’ve played well, we need to play better,” Meader said. “Our execution is not what we’d like to see it. Our defense has been up and down. I really like this team, I think it’s going to be good. We’ve done OK, but we can do so much better.”

The Beavers are led offensively by sophomore forward and Dixfield native Riley Robinson. The former Dirigo star is averaging 17.2 points per game. Just behind Robinson in offensive production is Scarborough graduate Milani Hicks, a junior forward averaging 15.4 points per game. Rounding out the group is sophomore guard and Skowhegan graduate Issac Witham, who is averaging 13.3 points per game.

Despite the record, UMF has shown plenty of fight, battling to within four points of Thomas on Dec. 9.

“Coach Meader does a great job with his players,” Thomas coach Geoff Hensley said. “Their starting five is all scoring almost in double digits.”

The Beavers will be tested as soon as they return to the hardwood, which won’t be until Jan. 10. Within the first five games back from break, UMF will face teams like Thomas (5-3), Colby (6-2) and Husson (4-0), all within an eight-day stretch.

• • •

The Colby women’s basketball team enters the holiday break on a positive note. After starting the season with a 2-2 record, the Mules are 2-1 in their last three games, which includes two straight wins.

Senior center Haley Driscoll leads the Mules, averaging 12.3 points per game and 5.3 rebounds per game. Junior guard and Saco native Katie McCrum has also contributed offensively, averaging 10.3 points per game.

The Mules are back on the court Dec. 30 at the Springfield Classic in Massachusetts.

David Dyer — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Dave_Dyer

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