LEWISTON — Snow was falling hard when Lewiston hosted Edward Little earlier this month, yet fans still arrived to the high school in droves to watch the Blue Devils take on their cross-river rivals. 

Before the start of warm-ups, all the lights were shut off and the court was illuminated only by cellphone flashlights. When the beat dropped in the song that was played over the speakers, Lewiston players sprinted onto the floor to roaring applause. The applause never wavered, and at times increased, as the Blue Devils defeated the Red Eddies 55-36 behind Maddy Foster’s 24 points. 

It was Lewiston’s first girls basketball win over Edward Little since 2005, and since that game, Foster and the Blue Devils have been playing on a different level.

“I think ever since the EL game — it was a big win for us and it gave us a lot of confidence,” Foster said. “It was definitely a turning point.”

Lewiston brought back most of its players from last year, and being able to return the same core for a second consecutive season does wonders for a team’s confidence and chemistry.

The Blue Devils returned scorers such as Emily Strachan and Foster’s sister, Lauren, who was the leading scorer in the win over Deering earlier this week. Cece Racine has battled back from an injury-plagued junior season and has been a calm ball-handler this winter. 

This year, Lewiston wasn’t afraid heading into the game against Edward Little, and during the game the Devils felt the momentum shift across the James B. Longley Memorial Bridge. 

“I stressed 2005 the whole day,” Blue Devils coach Lynn Girouard said. “Even at the end of the game, they were like, ‘I think the tide is turning.’ They said that, I didn’t even have to say it. They said we can feel it’s turning and maybe Lewiston will beat EL for the next 15 years. I think having that drive and passion is what changes our outlook.”

That change starts with Foster, a senior captain who has grown with the program over the past four years. 

So has her role. The Blue Devils had Victoria Harris, a strong post player, Foster’s first two seasons, so it wasn’t until last year that Foster was looked to as a go-to scorer. 

“We definitely rely on her more this year for that, but definitely she has grown into the leadership role and has become an offensive threat,” Girouard said.

Foster is consistently calm, but Girouard knows that she’s also one of the most competitive players on the court. Even in practice, Foster pushes her teammates to hustle, Girouard said.

“She’s just playing hard, which is Maddy Foster,” Girouard said. “That’s her persona. She’s super competitive, even in practice. She always wants to win, and that’s just her personality. She doesn’t really show too much emotion. I can see the emotion just because I have been coaching her for four years, but she does stay pretty even-keel. She just plays hard.”

Foster has worked to improve her basketball game during the offseason, while also playing soccer and tennis. The work is evident in her shot selection and hoops I.Q. 

Her shot from behind the 3-point arc has become stronger, but if it’s not falling on a particular night then Foster is confident in her driving skills and her rebounding. 

Girouard still sometimes gets on Foster about her shot selection, even if the shots fall. 

“I always joke that under the basket I tell her to take the easy shot, and sometimes she just maneuvers around and will throw up this shot and somehow it goes in,” Girouard said. “We always joke that everything Maddy throws up will go in.”

Foster knows some of her shots aren’t the easiest, but has scored 20 or more points in five of the Blue Devils’ past seven games, so what she’s clearly making the most of her scoring chances.

“Sometimes I will have the ball and I won’t know what to do with it, so I will just chuck it up and sometimes it goes in,” Foster said. “We joke around about that because some of my shots it’s like, ‘How does that go in?’”

Girouard said the hoop looks huge for Foster right now, and much of it can be traced back to the win over Edward Little, when she scored over and over from all over the court.

“We knew we were better than them this year, and we knew we could beat them so there was a lot of excitement,” Foster said. “It definitely helped our morale, but like the bench was louder every game after that. We were more confident in ourselves. We didn’t go into games thinking, ‘I don’t want to lose,’ we went into games thinking, ‘I want to win.’”

Now, Foster says the team’s goal is to try and climb the Class AA North standings as much as possible before the playoffs. Lewiston is 5-8 and in sixth place in the Heal point standings.

The Blue Devils, who host third-place Bangor (8-4) on Saturday at 1 p.m., want to keep adding to their win total.

“We are always trying to have fun, but we just want to win some games that people don’t think we are going to win,” Foster said. “We want to get some upsets like Bangor, Windham, games where we are right there and aren’t supposed to win, but maybe can win. We just want to get higher up in the standings for the playoffs.”

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: