LEWISTON — The Lewiston-Auburn Maples got off to an impressive start Sunday in their first game as a member of the Women’s American Basketball Association.

Former Thornton Academy player Kaitlyn Mathieu scored 23 points and Sanford High graduate Kayla Vangelist added 17 in an 83-39 win against the New England TrailBlazers at the Lewiston Armory.

Jessica Conant, a former Dirigo High player, chipped in with 12 points, and former Freeport High standout Allie Goodman ran the offense at point guard, scoring nine points and dishing out numerous assists.

The WABA is a semipro league that has 19 teams, from Maine to Florida and as far west as St. Louis and New Orleans. The Maples and TrailBlazers are the only New England teams.

The Maples trailed early in their debut, but back-to-back buckets by Vangelist gave them a 12-8 lead, and Goodman followed with a 3-pointer. L-A ended the quarter with a 15-4 run to open a 21-12 advantage, then steadily pulled away.

The TrailBlazers, with only five players in uniform, played a 2-3 zone throughout the game, and the Maples completely dismantled it.


“The ball movement, and the team play were great,” Maples Coach Jim Seavey said. “For the first game of the inaugural season, I thought we played really well together. It was great team basketball for the first game.”

Mathieu, who played college basketball at William and Mary, was a key part of the Maples’ ball movement.

“I think I really wanted to be a guard (growing up), even though I’m so tall,” the Maples’ center said. “I kinda like to prove people wrong and show that I have that vision, too. I love to pass. I love to get people open and make those no-look passes.”

L-A also used its size and physicality to overpower the TrailBlazers.

“We were a lot bigger than them inside,” Mathieu said. “Going for the offensive boards and getting offensive rebounds is huge, especially against a zone where they can’t box out as well.”

Seavey says that he has placed an emphasis on offensive rebounding.


“We talk about it all the time. On the defensive end, we want to limit our opponents to one shot. On the offensive end, we want to get second- and third-shot opportunities,” Seavey said. “We work in practice as far as who’s crashing the boards, who’s getting back on defense. Them being undersized was a factor as well.”

The defense, though, was perhaps the most impressive aspect of the Maples’ win. The Maples swarmed the TrailBlazers, creating havoc throughout the contest.

“Defensively, we got a few 7-second back-court calls, some 24-second shot-clock violations. We’re going to be sound defensively. That’s what we’re going to pride ourselves on, being sound defensively,” Seavey said.

The TrailBlazers were one of the league’s top teams in 2021 but are missing most of the players from that squad.

“Unfortunately, the girls that we had last year that we went to the final four with just got back from overseas. And just to jump right back into summer basketball, all eight of them are like ‘we’re taking a chill pill,’ so we don’t have a lot of our returners,” said TrailBlazers Coach Kenny Small Jr.

Natalie Kerstein, a Massachusetts high school player who is trained by Trailblazers point guard Allexia Barros, was pressed into action even though she wasn’t supposed to be on the team.

“She was here coming to support Lexi, and she brought her sneakers just in case an opportunity came around, and it did,” said Small. “I’m super excited for her, because it’s a high school kid getting to play a semipro game. It was a good experience for her, her parents were ecstatic.”

The teams are scheduled to meet again Saturday in Medford, Massachusetts. The Maples’ next home game is July 31 against the Mt. Vernon Shamrocks

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