FARMINGTON — McKenna Brodeur went from possibly the best high school girls basketball team in the state to a college team that won just 13 games in two years.

The Messalonskee product enjoyed the basketball culture at the University of Maine at Farmington. But, she acknowledged, it was different.

“Freshman year was hard, going from a team that was 22-0 and then not necessarily doing as well as I wanted to as a team,” she said.

Brodeur and the rest of her UMF teammates are seeing more of what they envisioned this season, however. Led by their returning pieces and a promising group of transfers, the Beavers are off to a competitive start in the 2019-20 season, with a 5-5 mark and 2-0 record in North Atlantic Conference competition.

“We have bench players that are going to come and fill roles that we haven’t really had in the past,” Brodeur said. “We all want the best for each other and we all want each other to succeed. I think that helps on the court, because it doesn’t matter who’s shooting, it doesn’t matter who’s scoring. We’re scoring.”

It’s not perfect, as Saturday’s 72-55 loss to Lasell University indicates, but it’s clear to see that the arrow is pointing up at Farmington. The Beavers are 5-5 after going 17-58 the previous three seasons. They entered Saturday’s game averaging 62.1 points per game, their highest figure since 2013-14.

Who the wins have come against is revealing.

“We played Lasell last year, we lost. We played Rivier last year, we lost. We played (UMaine) Machias last year, we lost. This year we’ve gotten wins against them,” UMF coach Jamie Beaudoin said. “We’re making some strides, and I think come the end of February, we’ve got a chance in our conference playoffs to make a run.”

Beaudoin pointed to team depth being a key for the Beavers’ encouraging start.

“We’re extremely balanced,” he said. “Different players can hit shots for us, and I think we’ll be able to ride that in terms of maybe we can find a hot hand on a different night.”

Brodeur likes the pace with which the team’s been able to play.

“The last couple of years we haven’t been able to push the ball as much as we want to,” she said. “We’re definitely faster than a lot of teams if we do push the ball.”

Brodeur, a junior, remains the linchpin, the team’s leading scorer at 12.8 points per game for the third straight year, as well as its leader in rebounds (7.0), blocks, assists and steals per contest. Other returning players such as Makayla Wilson, Molly Folsom and Chelsea Crockett have been effective pieces once again.

UMF’s new arrivals, however, have given the team an added dimension. Point guard Tia Day and forward Page Brown, both sophomores, arrived after transferring from St. Joseph’s College, and junior guard Alex Bessey, a Spruce Mountain graduate, came in after playing two years at Central Maine Community College.

They’ve been immediate contributors — all three start, and Brown is second on the team in scoring (10.3) and rebounding (6.7), while Bessey is third in scoring (9.9) and Day is fourth (7.5).

“It was actually a pretty easy transition,” Brown said. “We’re a pretty young team as well, so (we’re) just getting used to everyone’s playing styles.

“Our playing style is a really fun way to play. Our chemistry is building every game.”

For Brown and Day, teaming up has continued in college after the two were high school rivals for Boothbay and Monmouth, respectively.

“We’re very similar, and I think that we became friends pretty quickly because of that,” Brown said. “It’s been weird to know in high school we used to be rivals and used to have to end each other’s seasons, essentially. … I much prefer her as a teammate.”

Day agreed with Brown, now her roommate as well as teammate.

“It’s been a good change. I definitely enjoy playing with her instead of playing against her,” she said. “I’d say it was more easy than tough (to adapt to a new team). I like our playing style. … Overall, it’s been fairly easy and I like playing with this group of girls.”

With the new players, there’s a winning edge dating back to the high school days. Day made one big play after another for Monmouth’s back-to-back state title teams. Brown was a key player for Boothbay teams that went deep in the Class C playoffs. Brodeur and Wilson played for Messalonskee’s unbeaten Class A championship team, and Courtney Brent played for an AA champion in Gorham.

Beaudoin is hoping it translates. He’s starting to see the right signs.

“We just have gotten a lot more competitive,” he said. “In practice, you notice it. We’ve raised our level of play, where before, our level of play, we were competitive in the middle of the pack in our conference. But I think now we’re competitive with the top.”


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