A sophomore who was the sixth player on a senior-laden team a year ago has emerged as a first-team selection this season on the 44th Bangor Daily News All-Maine Schoolgirl Basketball Team.
Guard Jaycie Christopher of Skowhegan, the Kennebec Valley Conference Class A Player of the Year, turned in a remarkable season despite being opponents’ primary defensive focus.
She is joined on the First Team by senior guard Julia Colby of Oxford Hills in South Paris, Kennebunk junior forward-center Emily Archibald, South Portland senior guard Maggie Whitmore and Portland junior guard Amanda Kabantu.
The All-Maine teams are chosen by the BDN Sports staff with input from coaches, officials, administrators and other veteran observers statewide.
Freshman phenom Lizzy Gruber of Gardiner headlines the All-Maine Second Team along with senior guard Brooke Obar and junior guard Camille Clement, both from Greely of Cumberland Center, Portland junior guard Gemima Motema and Sanford senior forward Paige Cote.
The Third Team is composed of seniors Lexi Mittelstadt of Mt. Blue in Farmington, Cecelia Dieterich of Oxford Hills, Windham’s Hannah Talon, Gray-New Gloucester’s Jordan Grant and junior Peyton Grant of Dexter.
Christopher is considered one of a kind by Skowhegan coach Mike LeBlanc. The 6-foot-1 point guard averaged 23.7 points, 11 rebounds, 3.2 assist and 2.9 steals for an inexperienced team that had graduated five starters.
“She is the real deal. She scored in double-digits every night,” LeBlanc said. “She’s tough; she guards the other team’s best player and she is very intelligent. She is an extension of our coaching staff on the floor.”
“She is a special talent,” Hampden Academy coach Nick Winchester said. “She’s strong, she can shoot threes and get to the rim. She is a great defender and a good rebounder.”
Colby, who was chosen Miss Maine Basketball, is a repeat pick on the First Team. The guard, who is bound for the New York Institute of Technology, averaged 17.4 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists in leading Nate Pelletier’s Vikings to a second straight state Class AA title.
“In terms of basketball skill, she is the most well-rounded player in the state,” Bangor coach Jay Kemble said. “She can handle the ball, she can shoot, she can defend, she competes and she sees the court well. She does everything well.”
“She’s the best of everything,” Portland coach Gerry Corcoran said. “She makes big shots at big times in big games.”
Whitmore, who will attend Division II Bentley, had a tremendous senior season, leading Class AA South in scoring (16.9 points per game); ranking second in steals (3.9) and fourth in rebounds (6.8) and assists (3.4).
“She could have scored a little more but she is very unselfish and makes great passes. She is a total team player,” South Portland coach Lynne Hasson said. “She sees the court really well, she has great shooting range. She is very determined and a great leader.”
Whitmore, who was a second-team honoree last year, is the daughter of former Waterville High and Colby College standout Kevin Whitmore and the granddaughter of former longtime Colby men’s coach Dick Whitmore.
“I love Maggie Whitmore,” Gorham coach Laughn Berthiaume said. “She does a little bit of everything. She runs the point, her midrange game is pretty powerful and she can guard anybody at any position.”
Despite being a guard, Kabantu led Class AA North in rebounding with 11.9 per game to go with her 10.9 points, 2.5 steals and 2.3 assists.
“It’s hard to compete with her leaping ability,” Berthiaume said.
“She is a nightmare to defend,” Pelletier said. “She is so athletic and is one of the quickest players around. She has really improved her outside shooting. If she misses a shot, she gets her own rebound and puts it in. She can also bring the ball up the court.”
Kemble said Kabantu is one of the state’s best defenders.
Archibald, a second-team choice in 2019, was named the Maine Gatorade Player of the Year. She led Class A South in scoring (20.2 ppg), rebounding (13.8) and blocked shots (3.5) and was fourth in steals (3.2).
“She’s a tough matchup,” Gray-New Gloucester coach Mike Andreasen said. “She can post you up but can also take you outside with her good [shooting] range. She sees the court so well.”
“She’s a strong player who can also handle the basketball. She is a very good rebounder,” Sanford coach Rossie Kearson said.
Gruber transformed Gardiner from a 12-7 team during 2018-2019 to a 17-4 squad this season that reached the Class A North championship game. The 6-foot-3 post player averaged 13 points, 16.8 rebounds and 5.4 blocked shots.
“I’ve never had a player like her before,” Gardiner coach Mike Gray said. “Some kids are good because they’re big. She would be really good even if she wasn’t 6-3. She is especially dangerous on the defensive end. She alters so many shots even if she doesn’t block them. [Offensively] she likes to attack the hoop.”
The athletic and speedy Motema led Class AA North in steals with five per game and often transformed those steals into uncontested layups. She also averaged 12.4 points, seven rebounds and 2.3 assists.
“She’s phenomenal in the open court. She has unbelievable instincts,” Corcoran said. “She reminds me of [former NBA star] Clyde Drexler.”
“She’s quick, she can jump through the roof and she’s a smart defender who suffocates whoever she is defending,” Windham coach Brody Artes said.
The 6-foot-3 Cote, who will attend the University of New Hampshire, was Class AA South’s leading rebounder at 9.8 per game and ranked second behind Whitmore in scoring at 16.5 points per contest.
“She had a huge year,” Kearson said. “She was a pretty consistent scorer. She scored mostly on the block. She is also a good rebounder.”
“She gave us fits,” Hasson said. “We had a hard time matching up with her not so much size-wise but because of her physicality. She is big, strong kid.”
Obar and Clement led Greely to a 19-2 season as the two-time defending state Class A champs were upset by Marshwood of South Berwick in the A South final.
Bentley-bound Obar averaged 14.1 points, six rebounds and 4.4 assists and also guarded the opposing team’s best player.
“She did a little bit of everything for us,” Greely coach Todd Flaherty said. “She is unselfish; she led us in assists. She was an efficient scorer. She shot 40 percent from beyond the 3-point line.”
Clement, a 2019 third-team pick, averaged 19.6 points for the Rangers despite always being guarded by the other team’s best defender. She also averaged five rebounds and 2.5 assists.
“She is a terrific 3-point shooter and she has become a much better defender,” Flaherty said.
“She is an amazing shooter and she has such a quick release, she’s almost impossible to guard,” Pelletier said.
Mt. Blue’s Mittelstadt averaged 17.1 points, 10.1 rebounds and 4.5 assists, despite being the focus of opponents’ defensive schemes. She is headed to UMaine.
“Every season, she improves some part of her game dramatically,” Mt. Blue coach Fred Conlogue said. “She is a very good ballhandler. And to average 10.1 rebounds as a point guard is something. She trains like a pro.”
Windham’s Talon, who will attend Saint Joseph’s College in Standish, was Class AA North’s No. 2 scorer (15.9 ppg) despite coming off knee surgery.
“She put on so much muscle rehabbing her knee, she really became a significant outside threat to go with her ability to attack the rim,” Artes said. “She was our only senior and led the way for us.”
Dieterich, who is going to play soccer at Division III Carnegie Mellon, complemented Colby perfectly during Oxford Hills’s state championship run. She averaged 11.3 points, 5.8 rebounds and 4.4 assists.
“She is the toughest player I have ever coached. She is an absolute warrior,” Pelletier said. “She dove for balls, took charges. She handled the ball well and distributed it well.”
Jordan Grant produced 16.4 points, 8.6 rebounds, 2.7 steals and 1.8 assists for Gray-New Gloucester. The Westfield State-bound player, who often was double- or triple-teamed, can really run the floor for a 5-11 center.
“She is super fast. A lot of her points came off fast breaks. She would get the rebound and beat the other bigs down the court,” Andreasen said.
Peyton Grant is another player who faces a number of defenses designed to stop her, but Dexter’s floor leader still averaged 19 points per game. The point guard led the Tigers to a 15-5 season while providing 2.8 rebounds, 2.7 steals and 2.6 assists per game.
“She didn’t have as much help as she had in the past but she continues to find ways to get better,” said her father and coach, Jody Grant. “Not many players get defended like she does.”