Kayla Burchill and Nicole Taylor have left quite a legacy on Maine high school basketball, enjoying team and individual success while earning scholarships to the University of Vermont.
Deering of Portland’s Burchill and York’s Taylor have now joined a select group as players who have been named to the Bangor Daily News All-Maine team’s first team for three consecutive years.
Joining them on the first team are three other players bound for Division I programs in Catherine McAuley of Portland’s Becca Knight and Alexa Coulombe and Leavitt of Turner Center’s Courtney Anderson.
Making up the second team are Mia Rapolla of Gorham, Morse of Bath’s Nikoline Ostergaard, Stephanie Gallagher of York, Kristen Anderson of Leavitt and Keila Grigware of Biddeford.
Earning third-team honors are Meghan Gribbin of Windham, McAuley’s Allie Clement, Parise Rossignol of Van Buren, Megan Pelletier of Messalonskee of Oakland and Katelyn DeRaps of Hampden Academy.
The 35th All-Maine team recognizes the top 15 players statewide, regardless of class, position or region, as selected by the BDN sports staff with input from coaches, officials and other basketball observers.
BURCHILL’s ability to play outside and in the post is a monumental reason she averaged nearly a double-double with 22.6 points and 9.3 rebounds and led Deering to yet another regional championship game.
“She’s a big kid who is more of an outside threat,” said Deering coach Mike Murphy. “This year I had her underneath more.”
Burchill, the Miss Maine Basketball winner, will likely play on the perimeter when she heads to Vermont in the fall, which suits her game more.
“Kayla Burchill’s going to step right in and play her natural position, which is outside on the wing,” Murphy said.
Burchill, a Southern Maine Activities Association first-teamer, led Deering to three regional championship game appearances and one state title in her four years at the school, and Murphy said she had offers from schools such as Villanova and Wichita State, but wanted to stay close to home.
Burchill also led her conference in scoring.
TAYLOR has certainly pieced together quite a resume in leading York to two Western Maine Class B championships, one state title and another appearance in the regional final this winter.
The Western Maine Conference Player of the Year and AAU teammate of Burchill also became the Wildcats’ all-time leading scorer.
But nothing came easy for the 6-foot-1 forward, and she was always the first one in the gym and the last one out.
“She had a drill where she had to make 10 (shots) in a row from five different spots. If she missed, we’d go back to the starting point,” said York coach Rick Clark. “She wouldn’t leave the gym until she did it.”
Taylor posted gaudy numbers of 16 points and 9.4 rebounds per contest, and possesses great quickness for a post player.
“The thing about Nikki is she’s so quick and at 6 feet she can get to the spaces and she’s strong with the ball,” said Leavitt coach Tammy Anderson. “Nikki’s 3-pointer has become quite dangerous, too.”
COULOMBE, a junior who has verbally committed to Boston College, was consistent on both ends of the floor in leading McAuley to the Class A state championship.
While she averaged 11 points per game, Coulombe made headlines with her defense, blocking seven shots per contest.
“I’ve never seen a girl block shots like her in Maine high school,” McAuley coach Amy Vachon said. “She has a knack for it. She’s such an unselfish player.”
While Coulombe has proven she can step back and shoot from the outside, it was her inside penetration that drove the Lions’ offense during the postseason.
“In the playoffs I think she shot one 3 because she was attacking the basket so much,” said Vachon. “No one can stop her when she does that.”
Watch KNIGHT play, and it’s easy to see why she’s an outstanding leader, both on and off the court.
“The first time I met her, her first words were, I want to win a state championship,” Vachon said.
The UMaine-bound Knight helped McAuley accomplish that goal while averaging 16 points and eight rebounds per game.
Several of Vachon’s coaching peers think that Knight will do well with the Black Bears.
“Knight is another well-balanced college-style player, big and rugged and can do everything,” said Clark.
The 5-10 lefthander also showed an ability to drive to the basket and step back for jump shots throughout the year.
ANDERSON, who will play at UMaine next fall, spearheaded Leavitt’s undefeated season and run to the school’s first state championship by averaging 23 points, six assists, 4.5 rebounds and 3.7 steals per game.
“The maturity kept coming and coming every game,” said Tammy Anderson, Courtney and Kristen’s mother and coach. “When we did she stepped it up and that was huge for us.”
Anderson will be a preferred walk-on at UMaine in the fall, similar to the role that former Valley of Bingham star Kristen Baker was in before she eventually earned a scholarship.
“The thing I know about Courtney as her coach for years is she’s going to give it everything she’s got,” said Tammy Anderson.
Anderson also showed her leadership in the Western Maine final, forcing overtime with a last-second shot after York had rallied to take the lead late in that contest.
“We had three girls on her,” Clark said. “Leaders know when it’s their turn to take over and know when to pass it.”
A lot of observers feel RAPOLLA is talented enough to play at the Division I level, but she’ll be heading to the University of Massachusetts to play lacrosse on a full scholarship in the fall.
“She’s one of those players that can just score,” Vachon said. “She’s not big, but she gets her shot off and gets it up.”
Rapolla also garnered first-team SMAA honors and was named to that conference’s all-defensive team in leading Gorham into the Western Maine semifinals.
The 5-6 guard was certainly an offensive force for the Rams this winter, as she compiled 429 points in averaging 21.4 ppg while adding five rebounds per contest.
It’s never an easy adjustment to play for a new team, much less in a new country, but OSTERGAARD, a native of Denmark, fit in nicely at Morse in leading the Shipbuilders to the No. 1 seed in Eastern Maine Class A.
“She was a very impressive athlete, she’s a tremendous penetrator, tremendous scorer,” said Morse head coach Mike Hart. “She did a great job as far as getting us buckets when we had to have a bucket.”
Ostergaard was selected to the KVAC’s first team while averaging more than 20 points per game.
“That whole process was a learning curve for all of us from a cultural standpoint,” said Hart. “I wish I had one more year with her. Everything was starting to come together.”
GALLAGHER is certainly talented enough to be a go-to player, but Clark calls her one of the most unselfish players he has ever coached.
“She shot when she could and passed it when she couldn’t,” Clark said.
Gallagher’s consistency at the foul line was monumental for York down the stretch, as she shot 81 percent from the line for the season and didn’t miss a foul shot over the Wildcats’ final seven games.
The WMC first-teamer will play at the University of Southern Maine next year.
Even though she’s only a sophomore, ANDERSON grew up quickly, averaging 16 points for Leavitt while canning 56 3-pointers, establishing herself as one of the state’s best pure shooters.
But the area she really improved on was her defense, keying the Hornets’ full-court pressure with five steals per game.
“This year she got a lot better at keeping people in front of her and anticipating,” said coach Anderson. “I think just playing and playing and playing she’ll get the best of whatever she can get.”
Anderson has outstanding form from 3-point range.
“It wasn’t a chuck, it’s a shot,” Clark said. “She’s very quick, tenacious on defense, also.”
GRIGWARE has been one of the state’s top athletes over her tenure at Biddeford, as the Tigers’ senior is also one of Maine’s best in the javelin.
She had another outstanding campaign for Biddeford this winter, making the SMAA first team while averaging 17 points and seven rebounds per contest.
“She was the definition of a true leader,” said Tigers coach Brian Heal. “She always had a positive attitude no matter what the score was, what the situation was.”
Grigware, also the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year in volleyball as a senior, will head to the University of New Hampshire in the fall on a partial athletic and academic scholarship, and she’ll compete in track and field.
CLEMENT quarterbacked McAuley’s state championship team, averaging 12 points and three assists per game.
The 5-foot-8 point guard is one of two freshmen (Rossignol) to make the team, and Vachon only sees her improving.
“The thing that sets her apart I think is her commitment to get better,” Vachon said. “She’s so fast and she has a beautiful, beautiful jump shot.”
Clement and Rossignol are the first freshmen to earn All-Maine honors since Cindy Blodgett earned first-team accolades for Lawrence of Fairfield in 1991.
ROSSIGNOL had an outstanding rookie campaign for Van Buren in scoring more than 500 points to lead the Crusaders to the postseason.
The daughter of former University of Maine star and current Van Buren head coach Matt Rossignol, the 5-6 point guard averaged a robust 28.9 ppg along with 8.3 rpg and 5.4 apg.
PELLETIER was instrumental in Messalonskee’s surprising run to the Eastern Maine Class A championship game after posting a 9-9 regular-season record.
The 6-1 junior, who transferred from Winslow in the offseason, averaged a double-double (22 ppg, 11 rpg) and is garnering attention from Division I programs.
Pelletier also showed she can distribute the ball when needed, as she also posted 3.9 assists per contest.
“Just a real joy to coach,” said Messalonskee coach Brenda Beckwith, who added that Pelletier is a very coachable player.
The 5-5 guard, who will play at the University of New England in Biddeford next fall, was especially clutch during the postseason, in which she teamed up with backcourt mate Michaela Stephenson to form a deadly perimeter shooting duo.
“Katelyn, anytime you talk to her she’s so coachable,” said Hampden coach Chad Bradbury. “This year against Messalonskee it was pretty neck and neck at one stretch in the second quarter. She takes it to the hole three times in a row and gets us going again.”
GRIBBIN powered Windham to the postseason while earning first-team honors in the SMAA.
The junior guard piled up 358 points on the year while averaging a solid 18.8 a game in leading the Eagles to the No. 6 seed in WM Class A.
“When she’s going good, she creates open shots for other girls on that team,” Heal said. “She’s been good from the moment she stepped onto the scene.”