RANGELEY — Tasha Haley was Rangeley’s point guard last year, the conduit from the backcourt to Blayke Morin’s scoring in the post.

This season, Haley is the go-to Laker, and the scoring burden now falls primarily on her and Sydney Royce.

“Mostly last year, I was more bringing the ball up and distributing it,” Haley, a junior, said. “And now, this year, other people are distributing the ball to me, and I’m becoming a scorer, kind of.”

Haley fit the point guard role in 2015-16, and helped Rangeley win the Class D girls’ basketball state championship.

“She was great,” Lakers coach Heidi Deery said. “She definitely understood her role in distributing the ball and getting our offense going. She just provided a lot of stability; if a team pressed us, we didn’t really have a lot of worries with her handling the ball.”

But Morin graduated and left a gaping hole in Rangeley’s offense. So, during the summer, Deery decided to move Haley to the wing.


A few other players, sophomore Brooke Egan and freshman Lauren Eastlack, were making strides handling the ball, and Haley has the skills to contribute, and possibly be an even better fit, elsewhere: Deery called Haley “fundamentally our best shooter,” and she moves well off the ball and is one of the team’s top rebounders.

“We really didn’t want to give all that up by having her out on the point,” Deery said.

Haley isn’t the only Rangeley player whose role has been altered since last season. In fact, due to the losses of Morin and Maddison Egan, the entire roster experienced an upheaval.

Sydney Royce, also a junior, was a complementary scorer last year who benefitted from other teams double-teaming Morin. She also defended opponents’ best guards. This year, Royce, like Haley, has to create her own shots a lot more and play defense in the post.

Senior Celia Philbrick was a small forward last year whose focus was defense and rebounding. Now she’s the emotional leader, responsible for keeping the team fired up, while scoring more and defending in the post.

Egan and Eastlack both saw time in reserve roles last year. They are now the Lakers’ starting backcourt, and they’re adjusting to being the primary ball-handlers and to playing for 32 minutes, which is often the case this year.


Freshman Olivia Pye is the main player off the bench.

The roster-wide changes haven’t always gone smoothly.

“You saw the Richmond game,” Deery said with a laugh. “That was kind of hard to watch.”

It’s doubtful that the new-look Lakers could have had a worse start to the season. They opened the season with a 43-18 loss at Richmond. The Bobcats are the best team Rangeley has played and one of the best in Class C, but in the first half Dec. 9, the Lakers turned the ball over 21 times and scored only two points.

Haley finished the opening game with eight points, Philbrick scored six and Royce had the other four. After the game, Deery said those three, who should be the Lakers’ top scorers, weren’t looking to score enough.

“We knew what our roles were supposed to be, but we hadn’t even come close to working on them — we did in practice and stuff, but we never put our practice into like an actual game situation, so in the Richmond game, we were not even playing,” Haley said.


“I guess it was just the point in time that you realize, like, we have to score. No one else is going to do it, we’re not the younger ones anymore, we’re the leaders and we need to lead the team.”

Rangeley (9-2) won its next five games before losing to Vinalhaven, and enter tonight’s matchup against Valley on a four-game winning streak.

The Lakers fell to Vinalhaven 58-36 on Jan. 6 and then bounced back the following day to beat the Vikings 44-39. The victory was another benchmark for the growing team.

“It was really realizing the potential that we have with the win over Vinalhaven, going from losing by 22 and winning by five the next day,” Haley said. “It really showed everyone that no team is invincible and that we have the power to do anything.”

Along with the team, Haley has been realizing her potential and growing into her new role.

“She’s a hard worker and she really wants to improve every day, but more than her improvement has been her understanding her role and getting more confident and comfortable in that role,” Deery said.


“She’s a very coachable kid, so some kids might not progress like she has, but we just try to keep it simple and not overthink it, and when she stays coachable then we’re able to cover a lot of ground.”

Deery took an opportunity to further Haley’s education during last Friday’s 57-23 win over Buckfield. The Bucks’ feisty defense was focusing on slowing Haley and face-guarding her. In the fourth quarter, Deery used a few timeouts set up plays for Haley to combat the defense. Haley ended up scoring eight of her game-high 18 points in the quarter.

“I did that for a couple of reasons,” Deery said. “Obviously, that may be what we have to do in a big game; and I also wanted her to gain the confidence to know that if we call a timeout and we need to have the ball go to her, I don’t want it to be a situation where, ‘Well, that’s never happened before.’”

Haley, along with Royce and Philbrick, also has had to take on a significantly increased leadership load that last year was carried by by Morin and Maddison Egan. It’s now up to them to make sure the Lakers keep working and playing with intensity at all times.

And, of course, growing into their new roles. The Lakers still have seven regular season games before starting their state title defense in the postseason next month.

“It’s been ugly at times,” Deery said. “It hasn’t been what we want every night, but her and her teammates are really focused on getting our game where it needs to be in February. That’s our goal: we want to take every night in practice and all our regular season games and use them as opportunities to get ready for February.”

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