AUBURN — Gabby Foy’s freshman basketball season was quite memorable as collegiate debuts go.
The former Mt. Blue High School standout not only earned a starting job in her first season with Central Maine Community College, but also was one of the team’s top scorers and helped the squad reach the National Championship game.
Her successful season also wasn’t a surprise.
“That’s why we recruited her,” CMCC women’s coach Andrew Morong said. “We wanted her to come in and start ever game and score 15 points a game. That was our vision for her. She did exactly that. It was great how it turned out.”
It was a sizable step for Foy. She noticed the faster pace of the game, saw the intensity involved and saw the talent of the players.
“It makes you go up to that level too,” Foy said. “You know you’re either going to step up your game or step down.”
It made Foy that much more determined to succeed.
“Once I started playing, I looked at it as a challenge,” Foy said. “I saw how good they are and I wanted to be at that level. I wanted to be able to play with them. I just did all I could to get to that level.”
She averaged 14.7 points per game, four rebounds and two steals. She was a YSCC Second Team pick and earned USCAA DII Second Team honors.
A year ago, Foy was one of the new kids on the Mustangs’ block. Now she’s one of the seasoned veterans, and that changes things from her perspective.
“It’s completely different,” Foy said. “The girls really look up to you. It doesn’t matter what you do on or off the court. They’re always looking to see what you’re doing. If you do something that’s not up to coach’s standards, they’re going to think they can do that too. I see myself stepping into this role of being a leader on and off the court.”
Foy has embraced that responsibility and has worked hard in the offseason to prepare herself on the court. With so many different scoring options last year, it was easy for Foy to settle into a contributing role from the outside. She was the team’s shooter and was a great compliment to the Mustangs’ inside game.
This year, she’ll have to expand on that role.
“You can be a shooter but not just a shooter,” Morong said. “She has to develop that mindset. Hopefully this year she’ll get to the foul line a lot more, penetrating and scoring in the paint. She has goals every week for how many points she scores in the paint. I think that’s going to open up her outside game.
“She’s a deadly from the outside. Everybody knows that but if that’s all you’re doing, it’s easier to take away. As her game becomes more dynamic, she’ll hit the same amount of 3’s but it will take less shots. She’ll score more points because she’ll get easier looks in the paint.”
Foy wasn’t just a shooter in high school. She finished her high school career with an offensive flurry in an Eastern A tournament game in which she scored from everywhere in an attempt to carry the Cougars on her shoulders. She’s excited about the chance to expand her role with the Mustangs.
“I was putting up a lot of shots this summer,” Foy said. “I was just kind of developing my game from outside to inside just so I could be a more diverse player.”
One example that Foy is trying to give a young CMCC team is that you don’t stop working, even after some success.
“Last year I did good, but I could have done a lot better,” Foy said. “It was good for a freshman, but I don’t want to be just a freshman. This year, I don’t want to be just a sophomore. I have a lot of goals for myself and for the team. I really want to do whatever it takes to get there.”
The Mustangs came up shy of a National Championship last year. That disappointment has them motivated to work their way back. With only a few starters returning and a more inexperienced team, the Mustangs are starting over to some degree.
“It’s definitely hard to adjust when you play a whole year together,” Foy said. “It’s a completely different group of players. We have a lot of talent. We’re really deep. We have a lot of good freshmen coming. The pieces are coming together.”
Morong says one of the keys to the development of this team isn’t just players like Foy doing big things but improving by doing the little things. That’s establishes the foundation this group will build from.
“While she can score a few more points a game, shot selection, hitting the boards and doing even more of the little things she did last year are going to be that much more important this year,” he said.
Last year’s record: 24-3, lost in USCAA DII National Championship game.
Returning players: Jr C Laura Soohey (10.9 ppg, 9.4 rpb); So. G Gabby Foy (14.7 ppg, 4 rpg); So. G Lexi Larson (6 ppg, 3 rpg, 3 asp); So. G Hannah Champagne (3 ppg, 3 asp); So. G/F Corrie Kinder (6.4 ppg, 5 rpg in 2012-13).
Promising new players: So. F Alex Rowe; So F Courtney Taylor; Fr G Briana Grant, Fr. Macy Welch, Fr. G Malia Hamel, Fr. Ella Montminy; Fr. F Kat Styles.
Overview: The Mustangs have just three starters back in Foy, Soohey and Champagne. Larson was the first player of the bench last year. Kinder took last year off but played two years ago. That’s the experienced group this year. The Mustangs are trying to turn the page on last year and make this year their own, but the team takes some lessons from last year.
“You can never do enough on and off the court,” Soohey said. “You want to put in as much time as possible. Last year, I could have put in a lot more time. We’ve been in the weight room a lot and put in as much work as we can as a team and as individuals.”
The veterans know that they have to take on bigger roles this year. The returnees have been the regular starters thus far with Styles joining them. Hamel and Montminy give CMCC a pair of young point guards. Rowe (Oxford Hills), Taylor (Madison), Grant (Searsport) and Welch (Carrabec) are all local players that come from quality high school programs.
The Mustangs will still play a lot of players and use its pressure defense. Morong says this team could ultimately be deeper and better overall, but it will take time for younger players to emerge in new surroundings.
“We have completely different players,” Soohey said. “We have completely different skill levels. This year I think we are a little bit deeper talent-wise. It makes it easier to work together. It’s still early in the season. Like last year, as the year went on, we got even better. That’s what’s going to happen this year.”