HERMON, Maine — When looking at Big East girls basketball statistics, the first one on the list is scoring average per game.
The most recent stats available showed Raychel Alley of Hermon High School atop that list at 16.3 points per game. That was more than 2.5 ppg better than second-place Hannah Graham of Presque Isle at 13.6.
But the most important individual statistic to Alley is farther down the sheet where she was also the leader with 5.0 assists a game. Presque Isle teammates Megan Ireland and Chandler Guerrette were second at 3.0.
“I love giving everyone on the team a chance to show what they have, to score points, to make a big move,” said Alley, a junior point guard for the Hawks. “I’ve always believed that’s such a big thing in basketball. For me, it’s better than scoring 20 points a game.”
And she is quick to emphasize her point.
“I would rather have 20 assists than go out there and shoot the lights out,” she said. “I want everyone on my team to improve and I want to help as much as I can, I really believe in that.”
She sees the team’s improvement as a huge plus for the Hawks.
“I think they get motivated by it,” Alley said. “Once they score a point or get a good move in, whatever it may be, they start to get inspired to do other things as well like rebound and make good passes themselves. Rather than look to me to make the passes, they’ll make the passes themselves.”
Hermon coach Phil Robinson sees that, too.
“She’s that kind of kid [preferring assists],” he said. “… She doesn’t care about having 20 points a game, she’d rather have her teammates score and [get an] assist and win a basketball game. It’s not about her.”
Winning basketball games is the ultimate goal for Alley.
“I’m very competitive. I want to win, and so when I get out on the court, I try to leave everything out there. I try to put all the skills that I have on the floor,” she said.
Robinson sees her improvement, even over last year.
“She’s a little bit more of a complete player this year, and it’s as much in how she handles team play as in anything else,” he said. “She understands her role as far as distributing the ball and making her teammates be better. That’s one of the big developments for her. We still look to her at times for crucial points. Overall she handles things in the flow of the game.”
And all of the Hawks are putting in the work on defense, she said.
“Hermon girls really work on defense a lot,” said Alley. “… I definitely think that defense is just as important if not more important than offense. If I’m not having a good offensive night or if I can’t hit shots, I always try to get it back on defense.”
Alley was also leading the league in free-throw shooting at 92 percent, third in 3-point shooting at 30.4 percent and third in steals at 4.0 per game.
She didn’t pursue her skills right away as she was slow to adopt the sport.
“When I was a little girl, I was never into basketball,” she said. “My dad [former Husson University star Ray Alley] was the one who actually introduced it to me. I played on a couple teams, I wasn’t that good.”
Her mother, Kristi Wildman Alley, also starred at Husson and is a former Stearns High of Millinocket standout while Ray Alley was a 2,000-point scorer at Vinalhaven.
Raychel Alley kept playing basketball, and it gradually took hold.
“It became something so special to me,” she said. “I became so dedicated in my middle school years, and I think my eighth-grade year was when I woke up and started playing really well. That’s a little bit of how I got into it.”
She also sees herself gaining maturity as she continues her high school career.
“As a freshman, I was definitely very weak when it came to mental strength,” she said. “I had a very hard time when the crowd was very loud or when I heard things from the fans. As a junior, I’ve learned to block it out and listen to the people who matter.”
Robinson knows that just Alley playing well won’t be enough.
“It takes a whole team to make it work,” Robinson said.
“Any given night, Brittany Hamlin [the only senior] can have a good night,” added Robinson. “She’s hitting her shots. Jenna Crouse the same way. Shelby Caron is really rolling in the post area. She’s going to make us go much better.
“Kailee Dunton, Shaniah Haskell, Gretchen Spencer, they’re all improving and as they improve, our team will get better, too. Katie Kivler, she must be what, 5-foot-3? She’s our leading rebounder. She’s just a tenacious hunter of the ball.”
Robinson sees Alley as setting an example for the young Hawks.
“She sets a mark to reach, shows it can be done,” he said.
Hermon hosts Presque Isle on Saturday
The Hawks will get to see how far they’ve come when they host Presque Isle (8-0), current Eastern Maine Class B No. 1 in the Heal points, at noon Saturday.
That time is an hour earlier because of a Big East cheering meet Saturday night. The boys game is also an hour earlier.
“It might be a test,” said Robinson of the Wildcats, who defeated the Hawks 82-43 in the season opener. “We set what I think are realistic goals. We’re going to try to bite it off in chunks rather than eat the whole elephant.”
Hermon is 3-2 and in fifth place in the Heal points.
Bangor-Brewer girls reset
The girls basketball game between Bangor and Brewer that was postponed last month has been rescheduled for 7 p.m. Monday at the Brewer High gym.