After a slow start the Temple Academy girls basketball team has turned its season around, winning five of its last six games. Heading into Thursday night’s game at Valley, the Bereans are 7-6 and in fourth place in the Class D South standings.

Among its five remaining games, the team faces a challenge against Rangeley but based on past performance should finish the regular season above .500.

“We had a lot of room for improvement at the beginning of the season,” coach Joe Rossignol said. “Now we have fewer turnovers and we’re able to adapt during the game. We’re trying to increase our basketball IQ.”

Rossignol is generally playing nine per contest, including eighth-grader Hannah Hubbard, who comes off the bench.

“She’s our point guard of the future,” he said.

Senior Selam Heinrich and sophomore Deleyni Carr share the ball-handling duties and are the team’s leading scorers. Senior Daphne Labbe and junior forward Olivia Baker are significant role players and contributors.

The Bereans played better against unbeaten and defending state champion Vinalhaven than they did, for instance, against Rangeley.

“The teams that beat us beat us differently,” Rossignol said. “We don’t have one single weakness. I told the girls at the beginning of the season it’s all about tournament time. I am absolutely pleased with where we’re at right now.”

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Mt. Abram entered Wednesday night’s game against Oak Hill at 6-6 and in 13th place in the Class C South standings. Fourteen teams qualify for the postseason.

The remaining schedule features games against Madison and unbeaten Boothbay, two of the top teams in the Mountain Valley Conference. It also includes Winthrop, Telstar and Wiscasset.

The Winthrop game, at home, is of particular importance. The Ramblers beat the Roadrunners early in the season and are ahead of them in the tournament standings.

“We dropped the ball down there,” Mt. Abram coach Larry Donald said. “We lost by four points. We need to pull off Winthrop and it would be nice to pull off an upset with either Oak Hill or Madison.”

The Roadrunners have lost several close games, largely due a lack of depth. The team carries just 10 players — there is no junior varsity — including four freshmen. Donald generally goes seven deep since many of his freshmen are quite ready for a lot of varsity minutes. Cameron Wahl is an exception. The 5-foot-10 forward has started every game and is one of the team’s top defenders. A guard coming up through middle school, Wahl has been asked to play center.

“She’s still learning the post,” Donald said.

The Roadrunners have some veteran players, including senior point guard Lindsay Huff, forward Meg Sorel and junior guard Summer Ross. All three have defined roles — Huff as the team’s top defender, Sorel as rebounder and Ross, who averages 20 points a game, a scorer. Sophomore Allison Pinkham has missed three games due to injury but is expected back soon and will add needed depth.

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Erskine has shown improvement this season, although it’s not reflected in its record. The Eagles are 3-9 in Class A North play with winnable games remaining on their schedule. The losses this season haven’t been nearly as bad as they were a year ago. This month they lost by four to Skowhegan and seven on the road at Gardiner.

“You see it every day in practice,” Erskine coach Mitch Donar said. “We all agree that the level of play has improved.”

After a year as playing point guard her freshman year, sophomore Jordan Linscott is feeling more confident and leading the team in scoring.

“She’s capable of many things,” Donar said. “She scores off turnovers and quick hitters and is more consistent in her outside shooting.”

Linscott’s freshman sister, Joanna, is the team’s second leading scorer while senior Bailey Cloutier has come on in the second half of the season. Donar starts just one senior from a roster that includes a freshman and six sophomores.

“There’s a good core group that plays a lot together in the offseason,” he said.

Donar added that weight training is becoming a greater component in the team’s preparation. The next step he said is developing more consistency and a team identity.

“We want to create turnovers and turn those into points,” he said.

• • •

When Winthrop coach Joe Burnham checked his team’s schedule at the beginning of the year, he knew his Ramblers might hit a rough patch in the second half of the season.

“We knew our schedule was really back-loaded,” he said.

After starting 7-2, the Ramblers have dropped four straight and still face a daunting schedule down the stretch. They play two crucial games this week. Thursday they host Spruce Mountain, which won a previous meeting in overtime. And Friday they travel to Mt. Abram, which Winthrop edged by four points earlier in the season.

“We’re excited to get Spruce at home and challenge Mt. Abram on the road,” Burnham said. “Our ultimate goal is still to get to the (Augusta) Civic Center.”

In addition to those two games, the Ramblers face a makeup game against unbeaten Boothbay and contests against Madison and Richmond, a pair of teams ranked third and fifth, respectively, in the Class C South standings. Winthrop stands in ninth place and will likely qualify for a prelim game and chance to reach the Civic Center.

“We lost four in a row, but I still think we’re playing our best basketball of the season,” Burnham said.

Instead of relying almost exclusively on their defense to score, the Ramblers have begun executing much better in their half-court offense. Sophomore Aaliyah Falcone leads the team in scoring, getting many of her points around the basket while forwards Layne Audet and Kena Souza are beginning to connect from the outside. Sophomore Jillian Schmelzer has also emerged a go-to threat in the offense.

“When I got our schedule I said there’s a possibility we could have a worse record (than last year) but be a better team,” Burnham said.

• • •

Kents Hill junior Lauren Murray has played her share of big games. Before transferring to Kents hill last fall she played two seasons for Class A Cony and last year started at point guard. After missing the early part of the season with a back injury, Murray has come on strong for the Huskies, helping them at both ends of the floor. The last few games and hit four three-pointers in a win over Islesboro.

“She does a good job of setting up her teammates,” Kents Hill coach Luke Wamboldt said. “Defensively, she puts us in the right spots.”

Murray has also developed a rapport with senior center Tiffany McGhie, the team’s leading scorer.

“I know they look for each other,” Wamboldt said.

The Huskies are 9-2 in Class C South heading into Thursday’s game at Hebron. They’re getting good contributions from a couple of freshmen, Jarni Hewins of Fayette and Danielle Eid from Gorham.

They play primarily a Class D schedule, which can hurt come tournament time when they meet stronger Class C competition.

“We’d love to continue to build up our schedule,” Wamboldt said.

He added they played some prep school teams in a holiday tournament and sometimes invite boys in to compete against in practice

• • •

Medomak Valley Gabby Depatsy leads Class A North players in scoring and rebounding, according to recently released statistics. Depatsy averages 20.2 points and 10.3 rebounds a game. Mt. Blue junior Lexi Mittelstadt is second among scorers at 17.2 PPG, followed by Messalonskee sophomore Gabrielle Wener at 15.1. Depatsy also leads in 3-pointers with 20, one ahead of Wener. Messalonskee senior Ally Turner leads the North in assists at 5.3 per game.

Skowhegan is the top scoring team at 54.6 per game, while Hampden allows the fewest points per contest, 39.

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