BANGOR, Maine — If Edward Little of Auburn is considered the slight favorite among the Eastern Maine Class A girls basketball teams, other schools in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference see solid opportunities for themselves, too.
“I don’t feel there is a real heavy favorite,” said Hampden Academy coach Chad Bradbury.
“In our league, there are a lot of very talented teams,” said Brewer coach Andy Nickerson. “They’re all very well coached and prepared.”
“Edward Little could be, should be the team to beat,” Bradbury said. “They have Ashley Arnold back.
“Mount Ararat [of Topsham] is much improved, Mt. Blue [of Farmington] will be tough, Bangor has height and Brewer has as much experience as anybody.”
Katie Herbine, the Bangor coach, puts Bradbury’s Broncos on the list, too, and a couple of strong newcomers will make Lawrence of Fairfield a tournament contender.
“There’s really not an off night,” said Herbine. “There’s not a single game on the schedule [that can be looked past].”
“Top to bottom,” said Nickerson, “the separation isn’t very big.”
Bangor returns height in sophomores Mary Butler and Cordelia Stewart, but Herbine also sees a stronger outside game this season.
“We’ve got some kids who can shoot the ball,” said Herbine. “In the past we might have one [shooter], now we have three or four who can shoot.”
In addition she’s seeing improvement in free-throw shooting and layups.
“When you can’t remember how many missed layups you had, you know you’ve got a problem,” said Herbine.
Free throws became a point of emphasis last year because it was costing the Rams, said Herbine.
“I think we lost some game because we couldn’t make shots from the line,” Herbine said. “Our shots definitely look better this year.”
The Rams return three starters in senior guard Denae Johnson, who will lead the offense; senior forward Jordan Seekins, who adds outside shooting, and Butler, a 6-foot-2-inch forward who also can bring the ball up the floor.
Stewart, also 6-2, “is our big inside presence,” said Herbine.
Stewart became the starting goalkeeper for the Bangor girls soccer team, and Herbine thinks what she learned there will help Stewart on the court.
“She got more aggressive toward the end of the season. She was really bumping with people,” said Herbine. Those are both important characteristics for playing near the basket.
“We will run as much as we can,” said Herbine, “but if we don’t have anything off the break, we can pull the ball back [and go to set plays].”
The Broncos return only two starters, Ellie Webb and Alex Winchester.
“We lost our top three scorers,” said Bradbury. That included Jordan Maxwell moving back to Lee to live with her father and transferring to Lee Academy the Friday before preseason started.
“I’m not sure who is going to make the shots,” said Bradbury.
He doesn’t expect to have anyone averaging in double figures for scoring this year, but he hopes to have a lot of scorers.
“It’ll be scoring by committee,” he said with a chuckle. “Everyone can contribute. I’m just anxious to see how it goes.”
Maxwell’s transfer has opened up playing time for girls who might have seen limited play otherwise.
“The younger kids so far have responded,” Bradbury said. “Erin Murphy was on JVs last year, and she’s proven she can be a scorer, Erica Meehan is a quick guard and can shoot the 3, and Laura Marquis, in the preseason so far, has proven she can score points.”
Brewer will depend on speed and movement.
“We’re not big, so we’ll probably need to be as fast as we can be,” said Nickerson.
Constant movement will be the key, he said, and each player will have to know what to do at each spot on the floor because the scoring option could pop up at any time.
“We’ll try to score off transition,” he said. “After that, there will be a lot of continuous movement. They all have the green light to attack the rim, and they have the green light to shoot the ball anytime they feel comfortable doing so.”
The Witches have seven returnees, including five seniors.
“I’ll rely on all five to take leadership roles,” said Nickerson of Morgan Small, Lindsay Houp, Brooke McLaughlin, Meg Nickerson and Alexa Grindle.
“We enjoy the effort these kids put into the game,” he said.
Junior point guard Maddy Bailey will also be a key player for the Witches.
“She’s raising her level of play each year,” said Nickerson, “and she gained a lot of confidence last year. I expect even more this year.”
He said Brewer’s play will be familiar.
“We’ll play an uptempo style of basketball,” Nickerson said. “The girls love it, it’s a fun way to play and it involves a lot of kids.”
“I expect good things this year,” he added.
Coach: Katie Herbine
Last year’s record/finish: 8-12/9th, lost to Cony 57-47 in quarterfinals
Team Roster: Sr. Brianna Bowlan, Fr. Sarah Bragg, So. Mary Butler, Sr. Carly Cosgrove, Jr. Elizabeth Dana, Sr. Denae Johnson, Sr. Paige Morrill, Jr. Anna Morris, Sr. Jordan Seekins, Sr. Kayla Snow, So. Cordelia Stewart, Sr. Rachel Taft
Coach: Andy Nickerson
Last year’s record/finish: 9-10/8th, lost to Bangor 70-47 in preliminary round
Team Roster: Jr. Maddy Bailey, Fr. Mallory Bubier, So. Delaney Davis, Jr. Ashleigh Gibula, Fr. Emily Gilmore, Sr. Alexa Grindle, Sr. Lindsay Houp, Jr. Megan Libby, So. Anna Maxsimic, Sr. Brooke McLaughlin, Sr. Megan Nickerson, Sr. Morgan Small
HAMPDEN ACADEMY BRONCOS
Coach: Chad Bradbury
Last year’s record/finish: 10-9/7th, lost to Edward Little 60-50 in quarterfinals
Team Roster: Jr. Elise Arsenault, Jr. Cassandra Bean, Jr. Casey Black, Sr. Kayla Clewley, Jr. Kayla Gagner, So. Kathleen Later, Jr. Laura Marquis, Jr. Erica Meehan, So. Megan Morgan, So. Erin Murphy, So. Kerry Quigley, Jr. Kathryn Seekins, Sr. Ellie Webb, Sr. Alex Winchester
Coach: Heath Cowan
Last year’s record/finish: 12-8/6th, lost to Edward Little 54-34 in semifinals
Team Roster: Jr. Alanna Atkinson, Sr. Desiree Brochu, Jr. Morgan Buker, Jr. Emma Fitzgerald, Jr. Taylor Johnson, Jr. Holly Lupo, Sr. Cheyenne Malloy, Sr. Adriana Marineau, Jr. Andrea Quinn, Fr. Tracey Robinson, Sr. Natasha Thompson, Sr. Chelsey Whittemore