Lawrence girls basketball players celebrate after winning the Class A title at the Augusta Civic Center. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

It’s been two weeks since the Lawrence girls basketball team won the Class A championship, but the Bulldogs are still embracing the run.

“It’s been pretty nice,” Greg Chesley said. “Basketball ended but the Gold Ball is traveling around (all over)… It’s been pretty crazy.”

A year after falling to eventual state champion Skowhegan in the Class A North final, the Bulldogs looked for retribution during the 2022-2023 season — and they found it. Lawrence beat Brunswick 58-43 for the Class A title on March 3 at the Augusta Civic Center. It was the sixth Gold Ball in the program’s history and first since 2015. Senior guard Hope Bouchard led the Bulldogs with 25 points, while Maddie Provost added 16.

Lawrence entered the season as one of the favorites to reach states. Chesley said he was impressed with how the team handled the pressure throughout the season.

“I’m super proud of the girls and what they were able to accomplish,” Chesley said. “A few games into the season I talked with (Skowhegan head coach Mike LeBlanc), and I think they had lost to Gardiner early on. He asked me, ‘Hey, how do you like the pressure?’ There was a tremendous amount of pressure (during the season). He was able to work through that last year with Jaycie (Christopher) and the crew. I think that pressure was there early on. But once the girls figured out, ‘Hey, if we play together and play well, we can play as well as anybody and get this done.'”

The Bulldogs had the top scoring offense among Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A teams (62.5 points per game) and the third-best defense (37.7 points per game). A strong senior class led the way for Lawrence, led by Bouchard, who averaged 10.7 points per game, and Brianna Poulin, who averaged 10.8 points per game and was third in the conference in field goal percentage (.578).


“I couldn’t be more proud, they’re just an incredible group,” Chesley said. “All six of them are (KVAC) all-academic, as well as great basketball players. They’re great kids. We’ve all gotten close over the years they’ve been there. Walking through the doors next year and not having them there is going to be a little tough to deal with.”

To reach the state final, Lawrence beat Gardiner, the No. 1 seed, 61-54 on Feb. 24 in Augusta. The Tigers had a near-flawless season, going undefeated during the regular season. They finished 20-1.

“Looking back, we lost to a great team,” said Gardiner head coach Mike Gray, who retired at the end of the season after 19 years with the program. “(Lawrence is) right up there with the best teams in the state. I told the girls there’s nothing to hang their heads about. I’m so proud of these kids for everything they accomplished this winter. No Gardiner team had won 20 games, or had an undefeated regular season. Yeah, we didn’t win the last game, but I think we’ve been trying to emphasize — and I think the girls will recognize it down the road — how much they really did accomplish. The group of girls battled all winter, pushed each other to get better. More than any other team I’ve coached, they really cared about each other and wanted to do well for each other.”

The Tigers were led by senior center Lizzy Gruber, who wrapped up her career with the Miss Maine Basketball award. Gruber — who will play at Division I St. Joseph’s University next season — averaged 20.7 points, 15.7 rebounds and 5.6 blocks per game. She also reached both the 1,000-point and 1,000-rebound marks to cap off her career with the Tigers.

“I could never overestimate what she has meant to this group of kids, to our school or to this program,” Gray said. “It starts with her skill set, but it’s also the intangibles. She’s happier for her teammates’ success a lot of the time more than her own success… She’s so humble and quick to deflect credit and quick to deflect attention to the other kids. That is who she is as a person. She’s certainly unlike any player I’ve ever coached, and I can’t wait to see what she does at the college level, because she’s so driven and so focused, but she seems to enjoy every minute of it.”

Gardiner’s Lizzy Gruber won the title Miss Maine Basketball award at the Anah Shrine in Bangor on March 10. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

In Class B, Maranacook and Mount View made appearances in the quarterfinal round of the tournament. The Black Bears were led by junior forward Natalie Mohlar, a KVAC B first-team selection. Sophomore forward Arianna Bradeen had a breakout season for the Mustangs averaging 13.4 points per game.

Returning Class C champion Hall-Dale fell just short of an opportunity to defend its title, falling to North Yarmouth Academy in the Class C South semifinal round. Guards Amanda Trepanier and Hayden Madore — both Mountain Valley Conference first-team picks — were the top scorers during the season for the Bulldogs. Kents Hill also reached the C South semifinals, led by the play of guard Logan McDonald and guard Rose Jenkins. Both were MVC first-team selections.

For the second straight year, Valley entered the Class D South tournament as the No. 1 seed, but could not advance to the state final. Seacoast Christian topped the Cavaliers 63-52 in the regional final for its second consecutive D South title. Madeline Hill, Brielle Hill and Kirsten Bigelow proved to be standouts for Valley this season. Forest Hills reached the semifinal round in D South, with Grace Allen, Carli Fergon and Allie Dunning leading the way for the Tigers.

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