It will be a different looking Mountain Valley Conference this season.
Between an abundance of new coaches, Spruce Mountain moving to the KVAC and Winthrop not fielding a varsity team, the MVC will be transforming this season.
One constant is the fact that Madison and Carrabec should still be among the top teams. The Cobras (14-4) won the regional title while the Bulldogs (12-6) lost in the championship game. Both teams only graduated a few and return teams with good young talent.
Another familiar team in the mix should be Dirigo. The Cougars went 11-7 and won a prelim before knocking off the top seed last year. Dirigo has a new coach in Karen Magnusson, but returns much of that club, including senior forwards Jessica Conant and Kelsey Hutchins and guards Rachel Knight, a senior, and juniors Emma Lueders and Sabrina Daoud.
Oak Hill won 14 games before losing in the Western B prelims. The Raiders have a new coach but a good young nucleus of talent that should make them a team to watch.
St. Dom’s, who was the top seed last year at 15-3, only returns two starters, Faith Grady and Chloe Dwinell. The Saints do have some injured players back and some promising freshmen.
“Our team is very young, with only two returning players who have significant varsity experience and 10 out of 13 players are freshmen or sophomores,” St. Dom’s coach Jon Berry said. “Our goals will include striving to compete and improve every time we take the court. Our players are young but very athletic and coachable. We just want to get better every day.”
Monmouth was another playoff team last year, going 11-7 before losing in the prelims to Dirigo. The Mustangs have a young team, with six freshmen on the roster. Monmouth lost some veteran players but has some experience back in starters Sidney Wilson, Haley West and Jenna Davies, while Mikayla Cameron contributed regularly off the bench.
“We look to continue to improve throughout the season,” Monmouth coach Scott Wing said. “Blending the returning varsity players with several incoming freshmen players will be a major key to our success. We played a very aggressive and competitive summer schedule and that looks like it could help in the maturing and bonding process.”
Hall-Dale won 11 games last year while Boothbay and Wiscasset fell shy of the playoffs. All three teams return young squads. The Bulldogs lost a number or seniors but have a sizable group of upperclassmen back. Boothbay and Wiscasset both return much of their teams and could improve.
Mountain Valley and Lisbon each went 6-12 last year. The Falcons are hoping to improve despite having a young team. Adelle Oswald and Abby Parent are the only seniors for Mountain Valley while Karen Flaherty and Sydney Petrie are the only juniors.
“We grew up last season and learned some tough lessons and gained some great experience,” Mountain Valley coach Ryan Casey said. “Each season brings new challenges and after a great summer, the big questions will be offensive leadership and a continued commitment to pressure defense.”
Lisbon doesn’t have an abundance of upperclassmen either. Mikayla Yanez and Mia Durgin are the only seniors while Bree Sautter and Katherin George are the juniors.
“Although we lost some height, we will rely on an aggressive style of play to be competitive,” Lisbon coach Julie Petrie said. “We have a few veteran guards in Durgin, Yanez and Sautter, who will provide quality leadership and scoring.”
Mt. Abram and Telstar both went 2-16 and hope to improve this year. The Roadrunners have nine players back, including starters Alora Ross, Sally Stevens and Olivia Ryan. The Rebels have six players that return with varsity experience, led by senior Savanna Pelletier and juniors Becca Howard, Haley Peterson, Blair Stevens and Naomi Carr. Sophomore Natasha Hart is also back.