Just over a week ago, Messalonskee High School senior Gabrielle Wener signed her letter of intent to continue her college basketball career at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, New Jersey. Now, Wener is eager to focus on the upcoming season.

“It’s huge, getting it off my shoulders so I can just have fun my senior year. I have a really close class with my other senior friends. We have such great team chemistry. I’m super excited to get the season rolling,” Wener said.

A Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A North first team all-conference selection last season, Wener averaged approximately 14 points and nine rebounds per game last season. She helped the Eagles win the Class A state title in 2017, her freshman season.

Monmouth first offered Wener a scholarship when she was a sophomore, but gave her space to explore all options and take her time in making a choice. That no pressure approach by Monmouth head coach Jody Craig and her staff meant a lot to Wener.

“I was offered there my sophomore year. They were very chill with me throughout the recruiting process. I knew I wanted to commit later in my high school career, as a senior. They were able to give me that space and make the decision,” Wener said.

Wener said her final three choices were Monmouth, Bryant University, and Eckerd College. Monmouth’s location was a factor in her decision.

“It’s a half mile away from the beach, a super-safe campus. The facilities are great,” Wener said.

Monmouth plays in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, which has been won by Quinnipiac four of the last five seasons. Wener and Messalonskee open the season at home against Mt. Blue on Friday, Dec. 6.

 

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Longtime assistant coach Jay Dangler is the new boys basketball head coach at Messalonskee. Dangler replaced Peter McLaughlin, who stepped down late in the summer to become an assistant principal at the school.

Dangler said McLaughlin told him about the new job right about the time the Eagles were completing summer workouts. Dangler, 30, knew he’d apply for the head coaching job.

“My mindset went from having a nice, relaxed fall to let’s get to work. I was pretty excited. I was given a pretty good team, with everyone coming back, with some younger guys coming up ready to take a bigger role in the program,” Dangler said.

A 2007 graduate of Lawrence High School, Dangler was an assistant on McLaughlin’s staff for seven seasons. Having a relationship with many of the players helped make the transition smoother, Dangler said.

“I felt pretty relaxed about going into it. I’ve known this junior class since they were in fourth grade, working in the school system in Sidney,” Dangler said.

Dangler now teaches at Benton Elementary.

 

• • •

 

It’s not unusual for the Forest Hills basketball teams to play a few regular season games on neutral courts. Located in Jackman, minutes from the Quebec border in northern Somerset County, Forest Hills plays a Class D South schedule against many schools a three or four hour drive away. This season, the Tigers boys and girls basketball teams have seven of their 18 regular season games scheduled for neutral sites.

“It’s changed over the years. The days of the overnight (road trips) have kind of gone away,” boys coach and athletic director Anthony Amero said.

The Tigers will open the season with an overnight road trip, playing Vinalhaven on Friday, Dec. 5 and Saturday, Dec. 6 at Kennebec Valley Community College’s Hinckley campus gymnasium, at the former Averill High School. Teams from both schools plan to stay in a Waterville hotel, Amero said. Forest Hills will play Vinalhaven a third time a few days later, on Dec. 10 at the Augusta Civic Center.

Vinalhaven and Forest Hills have traditionally met the first weekend of the season. The longest road trip in the East/West Conference, the early date on the schedule allows for room in the entire season to reschedule the long trip should weather force a postponement.

Other neutral site games on Forest Hills’ schedule include games at South Portland High School against Greater Portland Christian, a home game for GPC.

“The colleges we work with are great to us, and the Civic Center is great to us,” Amero said.

The Forest Hills boys will close the regular season against AR Gould, the school at the Long Creek Youth Development Center in South Portland. AR Gould did not field a team last season, but played in the Class D South regional final in 2017 and 2018. This will be the first regular season game between AR Gould and Forest Hills, although they met in the tournament in 2012 and 2013, both Forest Hills wins.

“It will be a good test for us heading into the tournament,” Amero said of the game.

The Forest Hills boys went undefeated last season, winning their third Class D state championship since 2013.

 

Travis Lazarczyk— 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

 

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