Before this season started, some basketball prognosticators figured the Fort Fairfield boys had a great shot to run the table in Class D.
The boys are not alone, as the Tiger girls are also undefeated, having reeled off 13 consecutive victories heading into Monday’s road contest in Easton.
And keep in mind that coach Larry Gardner’s girls team is eager to return to the Bangor Auditorium floor.
“We haven’t been for two years,” said Gardner, whose Tigers fell in the preliminary round to eventual state champion Woodland last winter.
However, Fort Fairfield, which has a solid blend of seniors Whitney Clark and Kaitlyn McLaughlin, junior Courtney Churchill, sophomore Brooke Beaulieu and freshman Amanda Hotham, is on a mission to not only get to the Auditorium, but do some damage.
“They have a T-shirt that says ‘Mission Bangor’ on it, and under that ‘Refuse to Lose,’” said Gardner.
The aforementioned five and senior Amber Forsman, who has been stout off the bench for the Tigers, have given the club a balanced scoring punch.
“They all have a role, we have pretty good balance scoring,” said Gardner. “If one player’s not having a good night offensively, someone else is picking them up.”
Forsman, in particular, has had a outstanding freshman campaign. She posted a double-double (24 points, 12 rebounds) in a victory over Van Buren on Friday night.
Fort Fairfield has a brutal schedule to finish out the season, starting with Wednesday’s home showdown with archrival Central Aroostook of Mars Hill, and finishing up with games against Class C foe Madawaska and Washburn.
But Gardner sees that as a positive.
“We end with some quality teams, which is good. We’ve got to get ready [for the tournament],” he said. “We’re just taking it one game at a time and [are going to] see what happens.”
The outing with the Panthers is particularly big, since the Tigers defeated CAHS in Mars Hill by 13 points on opening night while the Panthers have been on a roll of late.
“They’re doing better than expected, so we’re expecting to have a rocking gym Wednesday night,” said Gardner.
If the Tigers can continue to string together some victories, there’s a solid chance they could go in as the second seed in Class D, with Woodland running away with the top spot.
“I don’t think anybody’s going to handle Woodland, they’ve got the tough schedule and all that. They’re certainly the top team,” said Gardner.
But that doesn’t mean the Tigers don’t believe they can play with anybody, because they’ve proven that so far and handled the pressure of being undefeated well.
“As I told the girls I think it’s good for us,” Gardner said. “A lot of coaches, if you happen to go undefeated, it puts on a lot of pressure, but they need to have some pressure.”
Lyford scores 1,000th
Penquis of Milo senior standout Erica Lyford in a recent game became just the sixth Patriot in program history to eclipse the 1,000-point plateau.
Heading into last Friday’s contest against Class C rival Penobscot Valley of Howland, Lyford needed 23 points to reach the mark.
As it turned out, that’s exactly how many she scored, notching her 23rd point on a free throw late in a Penquis victory.
Lyford has 1,021 points for her career after netting 21 Saturday in a victory over Schenck in East Millinocket.
Thanks to Lyford’s efforts, coach Wally Russell’s club is in contention to host a preliminary-round game. The Patriots were ranked eighth in the latest Heal point standings. Eleven teams qualify for the postseason in the Class C ranks.
Hutchins hard to catch
Danielle Hutchins wowed track and field fans yet again Saturday night at an Eastern Maine Indoor Track League meet in Orono.
Hutchins, a Mount Desert Island senior who is rewriting the record books left and right this winter, broke yet another one of her EMITL marks — this time in the 200 meters.
Hutchins flew around the track and posted a time of 26.45 seconds, snapping her old record of 26.48.