Sarah Schrader probably faced a bigger jump when adapting to the NCAA Division III level than most of the women’s basketball players at Hamilton College.

That’s because she honed her skills with one of the smallest high school programs in Maine, albeit one of the best the state has to offer. Schrader played an invaluable role on the 2004 Class D state championship team at Rangeley Lakes Regional School.

Her skills blended in magnificently on a squad that was surprisingly deep for a school of 79 students, so maybe it’s no surprise that Schrader only took about a year to snag a spot in Hamilton’s starting lineup and not let go.

Schrader has been on the floor at the start of all 13 games thus far for the Continentals, and she’s typically out there when the buzzer sounds, too. The sophomore is averaging 32 minutes per game for Hamilton, leading the team to an 9-4 start and prime real estate in the Liberty League championship chase.

The well-rounded game teammates and opponents came to expect at Rangeley is on full display in New York. Schrader ranks among the team leaders in every telling offensive and defensive category, clicking off 8.3 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.5 steals per game. Her 77.5 percent proficiency from the free-throw line leads the team among players with at least one attempt per game.

In her most recent double-digit performance, Schrader scored 10 points Saturday in a 74-56 conference victory over Skidmore. Defense took the spotlight Tuesday night. Schrader fashioned four steals in a 79-68 win over William Smith.

With the win, Hamilton already exceeded its win total from last winter, when the Continentals went 8-16.

Knight watch

At 6-foot-1, Emilie Knight is the tallest player on the Wesleyan University women’s basketball team. The freshman from Winthrop is starting to cast that kind of shadow at the Division III level.

Knight has enjoyed an expanded role in Wesleyan’s last three New England Small College Athletic Conference contests and is taking advantage of the spike in playing time. For starters, Knight chalked up 10 points on 5-of-9 shooting to go with two steals in Friday’s convincing 60-43 win over Colby.

The level of competition soared the next afternoon, but Knight’s game followed suit. She nailed all three of her attempts from the field as the Cardinals narrowly missed out on an upset of then top-ranked Bowdoin, falling 61-58 at home. Alexa Kaubris of Rumford (Dirigo) hit the go-ahead free throws for Bowdoin with 2:16 remaining in regulation.

On Tuesday, Wesleyan pushed another of NESCAC’s power teams to the wire before Williams prevailed, 50-39. Knight provided four points and nine rebounds.

Knight’s field goal percentage of 57.4 is tops on the squad. She has blocked eight shots, good for third among the Cardinals. Knight is scoring eight points per game in conference play, more than double her full-season average.

Clean sweep

The University of Maine at Farmington swept last week’s North Atlantic Conference Player of the Week honors.

Junior forward Sean Fry of Jay made an open-and-shut case for the men’s award. Fry erupted for 20 points and a career-high 18 rebounds in only 23 minutes of a 68-53 win Friday over Castleton State, then backed it up Saturday with 16 points in a 79-46 rout of Johnson State. Fry drained 67 percent of his 3-point attempts in the two games.

Fry ranks second for the Beavers in three major categories – 12.4 points per game, seven rebounds per game and 16 total steals.

Three other area standouts also are hitting midseason form for Farmington. Matt St. John of Wayne (Maranacook) leads the Beavers with 20 3-pointers. Ted Neil of Strong (Mt. Blue) checks in at an efficient 8.2 points and 3.3 boards per contest while posing a perimeter threat with 17 3-pointers. And Lewiston’s Tom Labrie is shooting a scorching 70 percent from the field after missing much of the first semester.

Freshman Caitlyn Laflin of Farmingdale (Hall-Dale) captured women’s player of the week recognition.

Horse power

Central Maine Community College kicks off a busy home stretch on its way to the Yankee Conference tournament next month with a doubleheader against in-state rival Southern Maine CC this evening at Kirk Hall. Women’s tip-off is 6 p.m., with the men to follow.

Local players Kaleb Violette of Readfield (Maranacook) and Dave Labonte of Lewiston have given the Mustangs a two-fisted attack on their way to an 8-2 start in the league. They combined for 52 points in an 81-77 win over New Hampshire Tech last Friday.

Rangeley product Justine Frost-Kolva and Buckfield grads Tiffany Dunn and Desiree Brackett are in the mix for the CMCC women.

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