BANGOR, Maine — Alexa Coulombe of Catherine McAuley High School in Portland changed her position and style of play for her final season of high school girls basketball.
What didn’t change was her effect, as she led McAuley to its second-straight state Class A championship in March.
The impression she left in her wake led to Coulombe also repeating as a member of the first team on the 36th annual Bangor Daily News All-Maine girls basketball team.
Coulombe was joined on the top five by Sigrid Koizar of Stearns of Millinocket, Meghan Gribbin of Windham, Mia Diplock of Cony of Augusta and Kristen Anderson of Leavitt of Turner Center.
The BDN 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.
Selected to the second team were Parise Rossignol of Van Buren, Allie Clement of McAuley, Alanna Vose of Medomak Valley of Waldoboro, Tiana-Jo Carter of Lake Region of Naples and Carylanne Wolfington of Hall-Dale of Farmingdale.
The third team consists of Chandler Guerrette of Presque Isle, Marissa Shaw of Nokomis of Newport, Olivia Smith of McAuley, Megan Pelletier of Messalonskee of Oakland and Adrianna Newton of Leavitt.
Guards were the dominant force in Maine this year, based on these teams, as 11 of the 15 played the position exclusively or much of the time, including the entire first team.
At 6-foot-2, Coulombe was a force last year for McAuley as a post player. This year she was asked to play point guard primarily.
“She chose to be a team player,” said McAuley coach Billy Goodman of the winner of this year’s Miss Maine Basketball award. She has accepted a scholarship to play for Boston College next year.
Coulombe was not a dominant scorer this season, averaging only 11.6 points a game, but she contributed in almost every area for a team that won all of its 22 games.
“She filled a stat sheet,” Goodman said. Despite playing guard, she was the Lions’ top rebounder at 7.2 a game and shot blocker at 2.8 a game. She also averaged 3.6 assists.
“This year she became a threat inside and out,” he said. “She was very, very valuable to the team. That’s why BC wanted her, she can do it all.”
“She was very unselfish on that team,” Windham coach Jessie Cummings said. “When they needed her to score, she scored; when they needed her to be a playmaker, she was a playmaker.”
Gribbin gave Coulombe a run for her money in postseason accolades, being named SMAA Player of the Year and Gatorade Player of the Year for Maine. She was also a finalist for Miss Maine Basketball.
“She was definitely the heart of our team,” Cummings said of her point guard. “She was comfortable with the ball and could create shots for herself and her teammates.”
In fact, Cummings said, “Her goal was always to lead the team in assists. This year we asked her to do more scoring.”
She finished with 1,221 career points, the school record for both boys and girls.
“She rarely looked at her own successes,” Cummings said. “Her goal every year was to put the team in the best position for the playoffs.”
Gribbin, who was a third-teamer last year, will attend the University of New England in Biddeford and play basketball.
Koizar came out of the blue for the Minutemen as she came to Stearns as an exchange student, one who had also played for the Austrian national under-18 women’s team.
She averaged almost 25 points and 11 rebounds a game as a guard for the Minutemen, but she often suppressed her own scoring to involve her teammates.
“She is a special player but a more special teammate,” said coach Justin Page, who noted that Koizar is always looking to improve.
“Some of us, when we’re good at something, get complacent. Not this kid,” Page said.
And while she was quiet and unselfish, she wasn’t afraid to step up in clutch situations.
“In the Eastern Maine final, hitting the shots she did to keep us around was impressive,” Page said. She was named the Class C girls MVP of the Eastern Maine tourney.
The question now is whether she’ll return to Stearns for a second year as an exchange student.
“I’m giving her space [to make her own decision],” Page said. “I would love to have her back and I think the state would love to have her back because she’s fun to watch.”
Anderson was also asked to step into the point guard role after her sister, Courtney, a member of last year’s first team, graduated and played for the University of Maine this season.
Anderson, a second-teamer last year as a sophomore, averaged 27.3 points a game and a remarkable 7.9 assists this season. She also had 4.7 steals.
“She led a lot of [team] categories,” said her coach and mother, Tammy Anderson.
Playing point guard wasn’t a stretch for Anderson as she fills that role for the New England Crusaders AAU team. Her adaptation to the role with the Hornets while still scoring was a major development in her game.
“For Kristen, her ability to get others to score [was big],” Anderson said. “This year, she had to balance scoring as a point guard and [assisting] others.”
Anderson, who already has scored 1,211 career points in three years, has verbally committed to play for New Hampshire beginning in 2013.
Quickness and strength marked Diplock’s play, according to Cony coach Karen Magnusson.
“This year she was able to finish with contact and could shoot the ball,” Magnusson said in an email. “She was always hard to guard since she was strong and quick and could shoot the ball.”
Diplock worked to improve her shooting this year, scoring more than 16 points a game after developing a middle-range jump shot.
“She really developed into a very good all-around player,” Magnusson said of the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A South Player of the Year. She was also the MVP of the EM Class A girls tournament as she led Cony to the state A final.
Diplock will attend Colby College in Waterville in the fall.
Rossignol, who moved up from the third team, has had a key role for the Crusaders since the sophomore reached high school.
“We forced some major responsibilities on her as a freshman,” said Matt Rossignol, her coach and father. “Then we forced her to elevate her game this year.”
She faced double- and triple-teams her freshman year in an attempt to wear her down, he said. It worked then, but not this year.
“The biggest thing is her skill set improved some, but her strength and conditioning has improved tremendously,” he said.
She has scored 1,205 points in her first two years and posted a phenomenal 8.3 assists this year, leading the Crusaders in that category as well as rebounding and steals.
Vose broke six Medomak Valley girls basketball scoring records, including 40 points in one game, and tied two others. With 1,010 career points, she’s only the second Medomak girl to surpass the 1,000-point mark.
“We made the tournament for the fourth straight year,” coach Randy Hooper said. “The last time was 22 years before that. That speaks to her contribution over the last four years.
“This year, we asked her to be the ballhandling point guard, but we also needed her 21.8 points a game.”
Vose will go to UNE and play basketball.
Clement, a sophomore, is another player moving up from last year’s third team.
“She’s probably one of the best defenders in the state,” Goodman said. “She can handle the ball and shoot the 3. She’s a winner.”
While she has always been good in the Lions’ full-court run-and-gun game, Goodman said, “I think she’s really improved in the half-court game.”
Clement led McAuley in scoring, but her 12.8 average is deceiving because most games she and the other stars only played 2½ to three quarters.
“She can score a lot of points very quickly,” Goodman said.
Carter was another sophomore who made her presence felt, averaging a double-double in points (14) and rebounds (17) for the second-straight year.
“She increased her shot-blocking ability, but her biggest growth was in her confidence,” coach Paul True said of the 6-foot-1 center.
“She provided tremendous defensive pressure,” True said, but he said she was quiet and unassuming, too, even when she got into foul trouble against Presque Isle in last month’s Class B state final.
“She is a very unselfish young lady,” True said. “The rest of the team naturally gravitated toward her.”
Wolfington powered the Bulldogs into the state Class C final, averaging almost 21 points a game on offense and five steals a game on defense.
“She was an incredible combination of skill, athleticism and teamwork and leadership,” coach Brandon Terrill said of the 5-foot-7 guard and forward. “She was the fastest and strongest player on the floor.”
Her strength allowed her to guard post players, Terrill said, “and she was fast enough to guard a point guard.”
Terrill said Wolfington was a great student of the game and, combined with her speed and hustle, “She always knew exactly where to be.”
Wolfington is going to Colby, where she will play basketball and hopes to play softball as well.
Pelletier, who also was a third-teamer last year, was cleared to play a week before the season started after a bout with mononucleosis.
She went on to average 13 points and 11 rebounds for Messalonskee.
“Her ability to shoot well and her nose for the ball make her a special player,” Eagles coach Keith Derosby said. Her positive attitude helped, too.
“The kids wanted to play for her,” Derosby said.
She will play for the University of Southern Maine next year.
Guerrette, a junior guard, led the Wildcats to a perfect 22-0 season and the state Class B crown. She was also the Class B girls MVP of the EM tourney.
“She was the leading scorer on a talented team,” coach Jeff Hudson said. And she usually played only 2½ to three quarters of a game.
“She is a good rebounder for her size [5-foot-5], she could make plays defensively, she can shoot outside and go inside,” Hudson said. “There is nothing she can’t do.”
Smith, a sophomore center and forward, transferred in from Yarmouth, allowing Coulombe to move to the backcourt.
“Her defense came along very well and her post moves really developed,” Goodman said.
Smith was No. 3 on the McAuley scoring chart, averaging 10.4 a game.
“She learned a lot — when to take shots and when to pass,” Goodman said.
Newton scored almost 21 points a game and was close to double figures in rebounding as well.
“She plays a lot bigger than 5-9,” Tammy Anderson said. “She does a very good job knowing where the ball is coming off [so she can get the rebound].”
Newton, who finished with 1,415 career points, is also going to play basketball at UNE.
Shaw was another who averaged a double-double, 12 points and 10 assists.
“She has been instrumental in our team’s success the last four years,” coach Kori Dionne said. “She gives 150 percent when she steps on the floor. She wants to win no matter what. … Her determination pretty much sums her up.”
Shaw is going to the University of Maine on a field hockey scholarship.