Rangeley’s Emily Eastlack (14) looks to pass while being triple-teamed by Forest Hills’ Kylie Yu (3), Hailey Welch (44) and Payton Chaisson (41) during a girls basketball game in the Capital City Hoop Classic at Augusta Civic Center on Dec. 29, 2021. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

The Rangeley girls have played just four games this season and have just seven players on the roster. 

Lakers coach Brittany Russell said that quarantines for both Rangeley and other schools have delayed games but that the team has “rolled with the punches.” 

Last Thursday, the team was getting ready for practice when Russell ran into the room where the players were hanging out.

“I got into practice and ran into the room and said, ‘We’ve got a game for tomorrow and we’re going to miss school, so we need to make sure our teachers know,’” Russell said. “Then, an hour later, we are stretching and I run in and say that we have another game for Saturday. It’s good to see the excitement, but I also had to let them know that it could change.”

Rangeley played its first game of the season against Forest Hills on Dec. 29 after a two-week hiatus thanks to Rangeley Lakes Regional School going remote. The Lakers won 56-47, then didn’t play another game until Jan. 11 because of other schools being forced to postpone matchups.

Rangeley lost that next game to Richmond, 53-42, but Russell said that the team learned a lot. 

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“We went on two weeks without playing so we worked on little things,” Russell said. “Richmond, we lost to them, but we saw some good things than we saw the two games. We got some good things done in these two games and what we learned Friday with these seven girls, we were able to improve on them Saturday.”

Seniors Emily Eastlack, Winnie LaRochelle and Abi Madrid have been leaders for the Lakers, according to Russell, but the younger players, including eighth-grader Emma Grant, have helped the team earn its three wins. 

“Our leaders, Emily Eastlack, Winnie Larochelle, Abi Madrid, and we picked up another senior Jazmyn Robishaw, they take us day by day on the court and those two games showed us what we can do,” Russell said. “With Emma Grant and Isabelle Whittier and Cheyenne Avery scoring, it shows there are more than one player making things happen.”

RED EDDIES USING TEAM EFFORT THROUGH HOT START

Edward Little entered the summer trying to bring John Shea, its star center, away from the basket on offense. 

Mike Adams and the coaching staff decided it would be best to let him shoot more, not get beat up in the paint, and run a more modern offense. That was the plan until the fall, when Adams decided to go back to what worked. 

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“John is a huge part of what we do, and we wanted to get him away from the basket and not get him beat on,” Adams said. “This fall, I was kind of getting ready for the season and I said, ‘Why would we not use our biggest strengths?’ We came back and I said, ‘Everything we did this summer, forget it.’ It took us a while to get used to that.”

Adams described the team as a “throwback,” playing two bigs at a time — usually Shea and either Hamza Sheikh or Landon Cougle — and it has proved beneficial. Edward Little has a 9-1 record and Shea has multiple games of 30 or more points. 

But, Shea has said on multiple occasions that it’s his guards getting him the ball in good positions. Adams agreed that the guards for Edward Little, specifically Eli St. Laurent, Pat Anthoine and Marshal Adams, have taken great strides this year and have helped Red Eddies to their hot start. 

Edward Little varsity basketball coach Mike Adams talks with Eli St. Laurent during a break in a Jan. 11 game in Auburn against Oxford Hills. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

“For anyone to think we’re just John — obviously he’s had multiple 30- and 40-point games and that’s unheard of except for someone like (former Deering star) Nik Caner-Medley — we’ve shown we have a lot of other pieces,” Adams said. “Eli has grown a lot, and is assertive and confident and knows where to go with the ball. Pat is one of the best athletes on the court every time, he can score at all three levels, and he has a tough task of guarding the top player every night. Marshal, when we can put him on the wing with how he can shoot, there have been games where he’s dumbfounded at them face-guarding and it’s because he can shoot. All the guys have really good strengths and when we look for each other and not worry about who gets theirs, then we will all do well. I’ve enjoyed watching our progression offensively.”

Adams said his team is unselfish and has bought into the game plan and culture of the team. He credits his coaching staff for the season the Red Eddies have had. 

“They take a lot of pride and they root for each other,” Adams said. “A lot of teams in a situation like that, they’ll sulk or be mad, but they understand and they root for each other because it’s for us. I have enjoyed watching them improve. Paul Cote has been our assistant for 18 years, but adding Logan Nichols, who played at University of Maine-Farmington, and Ian Mileikas and CJ Jipson, to be able to run a varsity practice and have four assistant head coaches to be able to break down drills and work with kids, it’s like a college practice. It’s a luxury I’ve never had, to have that many coaches with knowledge and experience and be able to relate to the kids.”

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LEAVITT MAKING IT WORK WITH DIFFERENT PLAYERS

The Leavitt boys basketball team is gearing up for seven games in 13 days in which the Hornets hope to have a full team finally. 

Head coach Mike Hathaway has guided the Hornets to a 7-3 record despite players going in and out of quarantine. He said by Wednesday he should have a full team to coach at practice again. 

“We’ve had some guys in and out of the lineup, so we’ve had a lot of guys that have had to contribute, so in the long run that will be good for us,” Hathaway said. “As we get guys back, we will have some good depth and some guys that have played a lot of games.”

Leavitt’s Ian Redstone passes the ball to Degan Jordan during a Dec. 30, 2021 game in Turner against Maranacook. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

Senior Hunter Hayes has had to move into the point guard role for Leavitt for a few games and has stepped up in a position that he’s not used to. 

Brett Coburn has also stepped up in games that the junior forward has played in, including in a win over Maranacook in December. 

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“Brett Coburn came around and he had a stretch where he dominated, 20 points and 13 or 14 rebounds a game in the stretch, then he was out,” Hathaway said. “Hunter, Sawyer (Hathaway) and (Ian) Redstone have been through it the whole time and have toughed it out. Degan Jordan has stepped up and played some good minutes, had an 18-point night and a 19-point night. You want to be in a good spot in mid-February.”

Hathaway is excited to have a full team again and hopes the offense can catch up to the Leavitt defense. 

“The one thing about us is the defense doesn’t come and go,” Hathaway said. “Sometimes you don’t shoot the ball well, but we can weather those nights. If we can get better on offense, then we’ll be better off.”

POLAND’S BIG SENIOR NIGHT A LAUNCH POINT

The Poland boys basketball team held senior night earlier than most teams last Friday because of the looming possibility of postponed games this season. 

Seniors were the show before the game and during, when Hunter Gibson scored 31 points, Joe Levesque added 13 and Chance Brown pulled down five offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter as well as tallying eight points to help Poland to a 67-56 win. The victory moved the Knights’ record to 5-4 this season.  

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Joseph Levesque of Poland Regional High School reacts after driving for two points during Friday’s game in Poland against Waynflete. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

For Levesque, it has been a dream season.

“I’ve always dreamt of being on a team like this and I think we have all the pieces,” Levesque said. “We’re really clicking.”

For head coach Bill Flynn, senior night was about the players getting recognition.  

“We talked at the beginning of the season that I want kids to do well, but I also want them to celebrate themselves,” Flynn said. “Hunter was a great example of going out, leading us and then being able to be celebrated.”

Gibson hit his first six shots in a row and didn’t realize his hot start until the first quarter ended. He didn’t let senior night distract him from his play on the court. 

“Senior night, all the emotion in it, but once you get into it you don’t really think about it until the first quarter ends and you think, ‘I haven’t missed a shot, but I have to keep going,’” Gibson said.

Gibson agreed with Levesque that the Knights have everything they need for success. 

“The biggest positive was moving the ball,” Gibson said. “Once we get into our flow of the game and into our rhythm, I don’t think anyone can stop us defensively. I think going into our next couple big games, if we do the same on offense, then we will be OK.”


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