TURNER — Senior Chantel Eells has helped carry a young Leavitt girls’ basketball team to a Class A South tournament berth — not a bad career’s work as Leavitt’s only senior.

And for her efforts, she’s earned quite a nickname.

“They all call me ‘Mom’,” said Eells, relishing the endearment she has earned from her teammates. “They call call me the ‘Team Mom.'”

Eells has earned that respect and worked hard for it. As the team’s ranking veteran, she’s been relied upon to lead a younger squad, which can be a daunting task. The Hornets went 6-12 two years ago, and 7-11 last year before battling hard to a 9-9 mark and a Class A South quarterfinal berth this season. Eells has been a driving force behind the process.

“It’s actually been really fun and enjoyable to do,” Eells said. “The last few weeks, and this being it for me, they’ve expressed how much they’ve looked up to me the last few years. It’s really nice to hear. We’ve become so close as a team, especially since the beginning of last year. It’s been all working together and building together and it’s come really easily. They’re all such great people and so easy to work with.”

Juniors Allie Belaire and Carlee Long and sophomores Sophia Gilbert, Liz Goulette and Becca Fogg have all helped the Hornets resurgence.


After a 3-5 start, which included winning their first two games, the Hornets started to gain some traction. Leavitt won four out of five games and moved up in the standings. After a loss to Mt. Blue, Leavitt defeated Brunswick and Spruce Mountain to secure a playoff berth.

“We had a few rough games at the beginning,” Eells said. “We’d either play a really strong first half or we’d play a really strong second half. Towards the end of the season, we started playing a few full games altogether, which was really nice after all the work we’d put in all season.”

This year marks the first playoff game of any kind for Leavitt since Eells’ freshman season. The Hornets lost to Greely that year in the quarterfinals after senior sensation Kristen Anderson tried to return from injury but still wasn’t full strength. Eells also won a state title with the field hockey team that school year, so getting back to the playoffs is an important accomplishment for her and the team.

“It means a lot,” said Eells, who averaged 12 points and 10 rebounds this season. “It’s my senior year. I knew it was going to be a lot of work. The team we’ve been building has been so young. I’ve tried to be a leader and let them know how much it means to me. In field hockey it was like a no-brainer that we’d make the playoffs every year. To play in the state championship in my freshman year, I tried to open their eyes to what could be. I think it finally came across to them how important it is. It’s really important to me because it would be the way to finish up the season, whether we go for or if we don’t.”

Leavitt plays Monday at 2 p.m. at the Portland Expo. The Hornets face third-ranked Fryeburg (15-3). The Raiders beat the Hornets twice this season, 42-38 and 50-28. The Raiders lost in the prelims to Cape Elizabeth last year and lost in the quarterfinals to Spruce Mountain two years ago.

“I definitely think going down to the Expo, my team hasn’t been to a big tournament like this,” Eells said. “We’ll be nervous, but I think we can pull together and get through it. I think we can definitely win if we want to. It’s just going to be how bad we want it that day.”


Basketball has been Eells’ love since she started playing it over a decade ago. She played field hockey off-and-on but stuck with it in high school. She’s also played softball. It’s basketball that’s is her passion, and she’s excited to take it to the next level in college. She’ll play at the University of Southern Maine, another team in transition after a coaching change.

“I’m really excited about it,” Eells said. “I love the team they have right now and I love the coaches. They’re still building the program right now. It will be fun to be part of it.”

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