Emily Wheaton is never lonely on the basketball court.
That’s because wherever the Presque Isle High School senior goes, she has at least one or two opposing players draped all over her.
Wheaton, a 5-foot-5 guard from Mapleton, was a third-team Bangor Daily News All-Maine Schoolgirl basketball team selection a year ago and opponents know if they can neutralize her, it enhances their chance of beating Presque Isle.
“It has been challenging,” admitted Wheaton, who earlier this season eclipsed the 1,000-point career scoring mark. “But some of our previous leaders, like Hannah (Graham) and Krystal (Kingsbury), helped me out quite a bit. And I work out a lot.”
Graham and Kingsbury led Presque Isle to its last Class B North championship in 2015 season when Wheaton was a freshman.
In addition to basketball practice, she lifts weights and works on her game with her father a couple of days a week. She spends a healthy portion of her time working on her ball-handling.
Wheaton also plays some valuable one-on-one with younger brother Caleb, a 5-10 guard for the Presque Isle boys team.
“It can be frustrating,” she laughed.
“She has gotten a lot bigger and stronger,” said Presque Isle coach Jeff Hudson. “She works on her game alot. She lifts weights. She has become a lot more confident.
“She knew we needed her to do pretty much everything this year and she has done it,” added Hudson. “She doesn’t just score, she distributes the ball, she handles the ball against the press and when we need a basket, she comes through.”
Wheaton averaged 18.9 points, 4.7 assists and two steals last season and Hudson said she has even better numbers this season.
She is averaging about 20 points, five assists and three steals along with four rebounds per game.
Ellsworth coach Andy Pooler said Wheaton is better than ever.
“She’s awesome. She is playing at another level,” said Pooler. “She can shoot from anywhere.”
Pooler said Wheaton can hit the 3-[pointer] but she can also score while taking contact in the paint. He compared her to former Presque Isle and Husson University of Bangor star Chandler Guerrette.
Hudson said Wheaton can score with both hands when she drives the lane and that she has been working on her midrange pull-up jumper.
“They have been guarding me closely outside and when I try to drive the lane, they get help inside,” said Wheaton. “So I try to beat them off the dribble. I’ve worked on creating my own shots.”
Wheaton was elated to reach the 1,000-point plateau and was quick to point out that she hasn’t done it alone.
“It means so much to me. My teammates have supported me so much. So have my family and my coaches. All the work I’ve put in has paid off,” she said.
Wheaton was an influential midfielder on Presque Isle’s Class B North championship team last fall. She spends her spring and summer playing AAU basketball.
She is leaning toward attending Husson in the fall and continuing her basketball career.
Wheaton had a frustrating end to last season.
She suffered a severely sprained ankle in the fourth quarter of a 37-36 Class B North quarterfinal win over John Bapst of Bangor.
She returned to play in the 37-25 loss to Foxcroft Academy of Dover-Foxcroft in the semifinals but was limping and was held to eight points.
“I went to physical therapy twice a day and put a lot of heat and ice on it,” said Wheaton. “It still bothered me. I think they put two rolls of tape on it (for the game). I could barely fit my foot into my sneaker.”
The Wildcats absorbed some significant graduation losses, particularly 5-10 center Skylar Vogel and outside shooting specialist Emily Lagerstrom.
But the Wildcats entered Tuesday’s play with an 8-3 record and Hudson and Wheaton feel they can make a long tournament run.
“(Class B North) is pretty equal this year,” observed Wheaton, the daughter of David and Leslie Wheaton. “Anything can happen.”
Hudson said the Wildcats are nine deep and he can play any of them in any situation.
They love to shoot 3’s.
“We shoot more 3’s than 2’s,” said Hudson, whose Wildcats have only three seniors.
A prominent junior class includes guards Madison Jandreau and Madison Michaud, forwards Molly Kingsbury and Sydney Thompson and guard-forward Savannah Rodriguez.
Senior forward Christina Skidgel and sophomore guard Maggie Castonguay, a transfer from Washburn, are also among the group of players who get significant minutes along with senior Kasey Haley and sophomore Elizabeth Moreau.
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