The weather outside may have been frightful the last couple of days, but there is nothing scary about the start the Washburn girls basketball team is enjoying.
Well, it could be scary for the rest of Class D. Coach Mike Carlos’ Beavers have won their first four games, all against top-tier teams in Central Aroostook of Mars Hill, Van Buren, Southern Aroostook of Dyer Brook and defending state champion Fort Fairfield.
“We’ve played some really good defense. The defense has really worked well for us thus far,” Carlos said. “We’ve been pleased with the results.”
The Beavers have surrendered only 39.5 points per game, thanks in large part to their athleticism.
“We’re very quick. We’ve got a young influx of talent (and) four seniors,” said Carlos, who has been coaching basketball for more than 30 years at both the high school and college levels.
Washburn’s 2009-10 season ended in disappointment with a loss to Bangor Christian in the regional quarterfinals. Once that game ended, the Beavers started looking toward trying to take the next step while also learning from the experience of playing in the regional tournament.
“What they learned is, it’s very easy to make it to Bangor, anybody can make it there, but to win a series of games requires a lot of work,” Carlos said. “A lot of teams can get there, but to win a game requires more effort. After the game we sat down and talked about that.”
One thing the Beavers will be blessed with this winter is depth. Carlos goes at least eight deep, which is a key commodity in Class D.
“This has been a real team effort,” Carlos said.
Offensively, Washburn has been sparked by the versatile Becca Campbell, whom Carlos said can handle the ball or play in the frontcourt. Five-foot-11 Sarah Sjoberg gives the Beavers a threat down low.
Washburn also features another post threat in 6-footer Olivia Doody, but she broke her foot a couple of weeks ago and Carlos said she’ll be out “for an extended period of time.”
Other key players include point guard Carmen Bragg, Kennedy Churchill, Nicole Olsen, sisters Megan Saucier and Rayah Saucier, Meghan Fitzpatrick and Carsyn Koch.
Koch and Bragg give Washburn plenty of speed, as Koch won the Class C state cross country championship last fall while Bragg was third.
“We’ve got these thoroughbreds running up and down the court,” Carlos said.
With 14 regular-season games left to be played, it’s hard to tell who the clear-cut favorite is in Class D this winter. There may not even be one, with Washburn, Fort Fairfield, Central Aroostook, Southern Aroostook, Van Buren and Deer Isle-Stonington all off to solid starts.
“We’re just hoping to get (to the tournament) and have that opportunity,” Carlos said.
Key games this week
While some high school basketball teams will participate in holiday tournaments at the beginning of this week, there are plenty of key games headlining this week’s girls basketball slate.
Among them is Tuesday night’s game sending Caribou to Mount Desert Island in an early-season matchup of two of the Big East’s top players in Jenna Selander of Caribou and two-time reigning Conference Player of the Year Megan Phelps of MDI.
The Trojans are looking to bounce back after losing to John Bapst in their final game before the Christmas break while Caribou is
starting a tough, five-game stretch in which it plays MDI, John Bapst, Houlton, Hermon and Presque Isle, teams that have a combined 15-3 record.
Another early-season Class B clash sends Hermon to Bucksport in a battle of 3-1 teams.
The Golden Bucks have been a pleasant early-season surprise under second-year head coach Deidra Davis. They have won three of their first four games after struggling to a 2-16 record last winter.
In Class A on Tuesday night, undefeated Hampden Academy will seek its fifth straight win as the Broncos host Mount Ararat of Topsham while Bangor looks to get back on track after Friday’s loss to Messalonskee of Oakland when the Rams take on Lewiston at home.
Orono, which has endured a tough schedule with its three losses coming to John Bapst, Central and Old Town, has a couple of pointworthy games this week. The Red Riots travel to Dexter on Tuesday and host Foxcroft Academy on Thursday.
In Tuesday’s Class D action, Washburn hosts Central Aroostook in a rematch of an opening-night game which went to the Beavers, 57-31.