Lewiston’s Chiwer Mayen, left, is fouled by Cheverus’ MacKlin Kelly during Saturday’s game in Lewiston. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Having 6-foot-6 junior center Ciwer Mayen patrolling the paint makes an already aggressive Lewiston defense more willing to take chances.

“It allows us to be up more on the ball so if you get beat, he can have our back,” sophomore guard Malik Foster said.

Mayen blocked four shots and altered numerous others in the Blue Devils’ 64-54 season-opening win over Cheverus on Saturday night. Coach Ronnie Turner wasn’t just pleased with the big man’s gaudy numbers (he also had 20 rebounds) but with the fact that he was able to stay disciplined and not get into foul trouble trying to block shots.

“He gets caught up in the moment. He sees something he likes and he wants to block it,” Turner said. “But Ciwer’s getting better, and that’s what’s important. Maybe you’re not as good as you want to be right now, but it’s the fact that you’re willing to get better and willing to do the things to get better.”

Turner said he has been working with Mayen on his stance and his voice. The stance involves establishing and maintaining his position in the post on each end of the floor. The voice involves drawing the quiet and laid back teen out of his shell and learning to play with more assertiveness and even a little anger.

“Once that kid really finds himself, and finds the person he is, he’s really going to be a force,” Turner said. “I’m just trying to bring that out of him.”

Another player who has impressed Turner early in his first year as Blue Devils coach is sophomore guard David Omasombo, who came off the bench to score nine points and dish out five assists, many of which set up key hoops in the second half.

Like Mayen, Omasombo has shown the coach a willingness to learn and to put what he’s learning to work.

“What I’m asking of him is hard. He’s a 15-year-old kid,” Turner said. “I looked at him when I picked him on my team and I said I want you to be a 1,000-point scorer. Being that scorer every night, every possession is hard. It’s tiring, and I’m asking him to defend full court. But it’s always ‘Yes, coach,’ ‘No, coach,’ or ‘Coach, I don’t understand.’ He’s a very respectful kid and he wants to grow. He wants to learn. and I think that’s what gives him the ability to do good things on the basketball court.”

RAIDERS IN UNFAMILIAR POSITION

After leading Class B South and taking the top seed into the playoffs, the Raiders graduated Abby Nadeau and are left with two seniors on the roster with Deanna Bauer starting the season injured.

Desirae Dumais scored 10 points in the season-opening loss to Madison on Friday and was also all over the glass and in people’s faces on defense, but the Raiders are going to have to find a way for players to step up into leadership roles this season.

After Friday’s loss in which Lauria LeBlanc hit a free throw with 9.1 seconds left to take the lead for Madison, Oak Hill coach Mike Labonte said that B South is “going to pretty even this year so there are going to be a lot of games that are going to be barnburners and you gotta do a couple more plays than the other team.”

He’s right. Mountain Valley won its opening game thanks to big games from Avery and Rylee Sevigny, Lisbon won its opener with Giana Russo scoring 19 in her first game in two years, and Freeport will be a challenge at the top of the region. Oak Hill has time, but the Raiders might not have as commanding of a hold on B South as they did a season ago.

GIVING CREDIT WHERE IT’S DUE

Dirigo girls basketball coach Reggie Weston was pleased and relieved after his Cougars staved off the Spruce Mountain Phoenix and came away with a 41-36 victory in a Mountain Valley Conference season opener on Saturday night.

Sure, winning the first game of the season is a real morale booster, but he refuses to take all the credit for Dirigo’s impressive victory.

“I’ve been lucky because the coach ahead of me, Rebecca Fletcher, is a very perfectionist and she got these girls to know how to play the game,” Weston said. “All I’ve got to do now is teach them some of the offense I want to do. A lot of it is still what she does, but that’s why I am happy for the team. They are starting to focus on things, but we still have a ways to go obviously.”

FIRST-GAME FERVOR

If Friday night’s boys basketball game between Edward Little and Windham was any indication, it could be quite an intense season in Class AA North.

It was only the first game of the season, but the Red Eddies and Eagles played it as if there was much more urgency in their matchup, which EL won 58-44. However, the final score wasn’t indicative of how hotly contested the game was throughout the first half and into the second.

Technical fouls dished out to a player on each team with four minutes left, coupled with an increasing scoring margin, seemed to dissipate the intensity. But just moments before EL coach Mike Adams had a heated discussion with the officials.

Blood had been boiling in just about everybody before that.

“It was physical, and kids got emotional, and then coaches got emotional, and referees got emotional,” Adams said. “It was a tough one to have for your very first game, when you’re not really ready for a lot of those things. And lot of seniors helped us a little bit, but we kind of lost our cool a couple times.

“But that’s part of the season. We said it’s a marathon, not a sprint, so hopefuly we’ll keep getting better.”

There were disagreements with both fouls that were called and ones that seemingly weren’t, be it from the players, coaches or fans of both teams. There was physical play down, attempts at drawing charges at the timeline that were met with cheers and jeers, and some less-than-friendly chatting between players from each team.

“It was just a slugfest in the beginning of just ugliness, and a lot is attributed to first game and first-game jitters, all that stuff,” said Windham coach Chad Pulkkinen, who thought EL playing on its home court might have helped the Red Eddies be more successful on the offensive end in a battle of two “pretty good defensive teams.”

SAINTS ON THE MARCH

St. Dom’s earned a victory in game one on Saturday over Old Orchard Beach. The Saints returned all-conference guards Mia-Angelina Leslie and Becca Zimmerman, and both were key in the team’s win. Zimmerman on offense is one of the best scorers in Class C South, and she showed it on Saturday scoring 16 points from all areas of the court.

Coach J.P. Yorkey said after Saturday’s victory that Zimmerman’s shot selection was ‘excellent’ but that he hoped his team gets better every day.

The Saints return all but two players this season with most of the scoring coming back, so look for the Saints to keep improving this year and build on last year’s 11-win campaign.


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