The Gray New Goucester bench erupts after the final basket of the Class B girl’s State Championship at the Augusta Civic Center last March.
Several Patriots had front-row seats as four seniors, a sophomore and a junior carried Gray-New Gloucester to the first girls’ basketball state championship in the school’s history.
Playing time was sparse for these players, but coach Michael Andreasen hopes that going along for the championship ride and practicing with the championship players will pay dividends.
“We’re not too experienced and yet we’re probably as experienced as anybody, just because we’ve made two deep runs back-to-back years,” Andreasen said, “and those kids have at least experienced it from the pen, so to speak.”
As a freshman and sophomore, Bri Jordan (10 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 3.1 apg) was a starter for the teams that made consecutive runs to the Class B state championship, and last year she was named the B South region MVP. She is now a junior and the veteran of a team that has no seniors.
Jordan Grant (5.4 ppg, 3.9 rpg) was Gray-NG’s first player off the bench last year and had moments of brilliance, some in big games.
Those two will be leaned on heavily as the new rotation players get up to varsity speed.
Class B South is kind of up for grabs this year.
Andreasen said it’s possible the Patriots finish atop B South again, but figures they’ll finish fourth or fifth.
Wells and Lake Region lost star players Natalie Thurber and Kristen Huntress to Central Maine Community College, but both squads should be near the top, as usual. Lincoln Academy, last year’s B South runner-up, has moved up to Class A.
Freeport and Poland might be ready to join the fray.
“Poland has their starting five back, they made the semis a year ago, they got Nathalie Theriault, who’s just fantastic,” Andreasen said.
Freeport has added Alexandra Goodman, who transferred from Pine Tree Academy, where she established herself as a prolific scorer.
Spruce Mountain is a bit of a wild card now that it has switched from the KVAC back to the Mountain Valley Conference, which is made up primarily of Class C teams.
After missing out of the playoffs last year, the Phoenix might earn more wins, but some of those might not be worth a lot of Heal points. There will be opportunities to earn big points in games against teams like Monmouth, Boothbay and Richmond.
“It makes every game that much more important,” second-year Spruce coach Zach Keene said.
Mountain Valley, which placed third last year, was hit hard by graduation.
Coach Ryan Casey said the Falcons’ primary focus is doing well in the MVC, and if they do that then a playoff berth should follow.
Oak Hill and Lisbon are in similar situations, being led by talented, young players.
“We feel that we’re going to have a good enough group to compete pretty much game in and game out,” Raiders coach Mike Labonte said.
The northern portion of Class B is up for grabs now that Houlton and its star player Kolleen Bouchard have dropped down to Class C. The Shiretowners have represented B North in the past two championships.
That leaves the door open for Presque Isle, Foxcroft Hermon and Winslow.