Gardiner’s Lizzy Gruber won the title Miss Maine Basketball award Friday at the Anah Shrine in Bangor. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

BANGOR — For two players hoping to receive top honors at the Maine Association of Basketball Coaches awards banquet, their paths couldn’t have been much different. 

Gardiner’s Lizzy Gruber, the tallest of her peers ever since she was little, has been a stud on the court ever since the start of the year. For Thornton Academy’s Will Davies, though, the road to both of those things — a more ideal frame for the sport and success on the floor — took a bit longer.

Their paths, though polar opposites, have taken both players to Maine basketball stardom. They were rewarded with the state’s top individual prizes Friday with Gruber being named Miss Maine Basketball and Davies being named Mr. Maine Basketball at the Anah Shrine in Bangor.

“It’s just a great honor,” Davies said. “Just to be able to be here in this building, it’s amazing. You think about all the great basketball players in this state who have won this, and you’re able to walk across that stage and be a part of that. It’s really cool.”

Gruber, the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Player of the Year, averaged 20.7 points, 15.7 rebounds and 5.6 blocks per game to lead Gardiner to a perfect regular season and 20-1 overall mark. The 6-foot-4 senior reached the 1,000 mark in both career points and career rebounds along the way.

Thornton Academy’s Will Davies received the Mr. Maine Basketball award Friday at the Anah Shrine in Bangor. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

It was a season that capped off an illustrious high school career for the St. Joseph’s University-bound senior. Gruber was an impressive 67-11 in her four years at Gardiner, finishing undefeated at home and leading the Tigers to the Central Maine Class A/B championship in 2021.


Gruber beat out fellow finalists Sierra Carson of Oxford Hills and Elise MacNair of Old Orchard Beach to claim Miss Basketball. The three have been AAU teammates for years, and the award, Gruber said, was something that really belonged to all of them rather than her alone.

“When it came out that the three of us were the finalists, we texted each other right away,” Gruber said. “It was a win-win-win situation; there was no way we could lose from there. Those are my ride-or-dies, and I honestly do think of it as a three-way tie. It’s great to go down in Maine basketball history together.”

Davies, who stood just 5-3 his freshman year, took a bit longer to get his shot at stardom. He played on Thornton Academy’s freshman team and didn’t play for the Trojans his sophomore year as he came off the bench sparingly in a 2020-21 season that was scuppered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

By the start of his junior year, though, Davies had grown to his current height of 6-3. He quickly emerged as the star of last year’s Thornton Academy team, averaging 17.6 points, 5.6 rebounds and 5.8 assists to set the stage for a senior season in which he could truly shine.

Davies did nothing less. He improved to average roughly 20 points, eight rebounds and seven assists as the Trojans went 17-4 and finished as Class AA South runners-up. In the Class AA South semifinals, he made a buzzer-beater against Bonny Eagle that, though controversial, will forever be an all-time tournament moment.

“My junior year was definitely a big adjustment for me,” Davies said. “My freshman year, I was so little and didn’t play varsity, and my sophomore year, we had COVID, and I came off the bench. I had two great leaders, Dylan Griffin and Payton Jones, who helped me become a leader myself. I owe a lot to them and my coaches.”


In his speech, Davies called being able to share the stage with fellow finalists Silvano Ismail of Cheverus and Brady Saunders of Brewer “an award in and of itself.” He thanked everyone from his coaches and teammates to his parents, drawing a chuckle from the audience as he mentioned his mom and dad’s countless stays at hotels.

Gruber’s speech was written not just from her own perspective but also from those of Carson and MacNair. She rarely spoke of her own accomplishments, instead deflecting credit for her success as a player to her teammates, coaches and community, whether in Gardiner, on the AAU circuit or elsewhere.

“That’s just who she is,” said recently retired Gardiner head coach Mike Gray, in attendance for the ceremony. “Everything she’s ever done has been about what her team needs or what she can do to make her teammates better. For her to get this recognition, I’m thrilled for her.”

From the Mr. and Miss Basketball awards to other McDonald’s All-Star announcements and MABC All-Academic honors, awards recipients ranged from Jackman to Machias and Kittery to Fort Kent. Between the ceremony and Saturday’s McDonald’s All-Star Games, it’s a weekend of get-togethers, Gruber said, that marks a fitting end to the season.

“I think the top athletes in Maine have so much respect for all the other top athletes in Maine,” Gruber said. “We all have a common goal for ourselves, and we set a high standard to keep pushing each other and make each other better.”

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