May 20, 2018
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Calais girls ready to contend with Central for title; Bucks, Houlton, Fort Kent seek tourney berths

By Larry Mahoney, BDN Staff

Editor’s note: The second of two stories previewing Eastern Maine Class C girls basketball teams.

CALAIS, Maine — The Calais High School girls basketball team has been a model of consistency in recent years.

The Blue Devils earned the top seed for the Eastern Maine Class C Tournament in 2009 and 2011; won the state championship after being the sixth seed in 2010 and went 15-0 during the regular season last year to earn the No. 2 seed.

They lost to eventual state champion Central of Corinth 45-30 in the regional semifinals a year ago.

Calais has returned three starters including guard Madison McVicar, who was an all-tournament selection as a freshman a year ago, along with dominant junior center Paige Gillespie.

The other returning starter is senior guard Meaghan Cavanaugh, one of two players who was on the 2010 state championship team, along with reserve senior guard Sarah Smith.

“We have pretty good size and pretty good speed, too,” said fifth-year Calais coach Dana Redding. “Our guards are quick. We’ll try to run. Paige runs real well for a tall girl.”

The 6-foot Gillespie averaged 15 points and 10 rebounds a game last season. McVicar was in the 12-14 points and 5-6 assists per game range and Cavanaugh averaged 8-10 ppg.

Junior Kaitlyn Cundiff and senior Sierra Young are 5-feet-11-inches tall and junior Taylorae Carter is 5-feet-8-inches tall. Spelling McVicar and Cavanaugh in the backcourt will be promising sophomores Olivia Smith and Kaylee Johnson.

“Olivia is a shooting guard who can also play as a small forward and Kaylee gives us energy off the bench,” Redding said.

A lot of young players received baptism under fire a year ago, and Redding said he is hoping “that extra year [of experience] gives us the maturity we need.”

Bucksport went 15-3 during the regular season before losing to Central in the quarterfinals.

Bucks coach Bill Tracy graduated four starters but feels “if we can play great defense, limit our opponents to the low-30s and make our free throws, we can compete with anyone.”

Junior point guard Deb Wight is the only returning starter.

“Deb is one of our best shooters but also handles the ball well and was one of our best rebounders,” Tracy said.

Junior Brianna Bires will join her in the backcourt and is a tenacious shutdown defender.

Junior Alanna Davis will be a small forward with improved 5-foot-9-inch junior Sam Boothby playing the center spot.

“We’re a small team so we’re going to have to settle into our half-court defense well, move our feet, cut off the angle and get good body position,” Tracy said.

Juniors Taylor Staples and Anna Boyle are power forwards; junior Jen Pye is a physical small forward; sophomore Kim Nason is a 5-foot-8-inch shooting guard; senior Kacie Hurd is a good defensive guard and senior Bryce Farnham is a physical 5-foot-10-inch post player.

Fort Kent went 9-9 last year before losing to Bucksport in the preliminary round.

Fort Kent head coach Larry Murphy has three starters back and said there are plenty of positives despite the fact “nobody is going to have to worry about one of players scoring 30 on them.

“We have some decent balance and height. We aren’t going to set the world on fire but we’ll hold our own. We’ll battle and, hopefully, we’ll win a few more than we lose,” Murphy said.

Fort Kent has three starters back in 5-foot-8-inch post player Brittany Theriault, point guard Lauren Doak and small forward Lexi Desjardins. Theriault and Desjardins are seniors while Doak is a junior.

Junior guard Chelsey Plourde also saw a lot of minutes a year ago.

“I expect our three perimeter players to get us a cluster of points,” said Murphy.

Five-foot-7-inch senior Abby Bouchard and 5-foot-10-inch sophomore Jayne Rossignol will supply depth in the paint while Doak and Desjardins are also effective rebounders.

Forwards Faith Morneault and Steffany Paradis and guards Lindsay Soucy and Demi Pelletier provide depth.

Murphy’s team has great team chemistry and “that can be more important than talent,” he said.

Houlton, 13-7 a year ago, has five of its top seven players back including starters Marina Cameron, a shooting guard who averaged 12 ppg, forward Victoria Hanson (9.8 ppg, 7.3 rpg) and center Sam Keegan (5.5 ppg, 6 rpg). Junior guard Alana Pratt and junior guard-forward Brianna Longstaff were the first two players off the bench and coach Shawn Graham will start two freshmen in point guard Natalie Hill and small forward Katie Condon, who he considers “two of the best freshmen in the County.”

“We’d like to improve our seeding,” said Graham, whose team was the eighth seed last year.

Junior forward Anna Ramsay headlines a Narraguagus of Harrington team that went 12-8 and sophomore forward Jordan Merchant will lead a 6-12 Sumner of East Sullivan team that has six sophomores on its 10-player roster.

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