Rangeley’s Winnie LaRochelle drives to the basket while being defended by several St. Dominic Academy players during their game in Auburn on Monday. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

February 8, 2022 – Winnie LaRochelle, a varsity player since eighth grade who surpassed 1,000 points earlier this season, is wrapping up a standout career with a Lakers squad looking to keep surpassing its own expectations.

Winnie LaRochelle was on the Rangeley girls summer basketball team the offseason before her eighth grade year. That winter, she made the varsity team and played a few minutes a game as an eighth-grader.

Four years later, the senior has eclipsed 1,000 points and is a major contributor for the Lakers, who have a 9-2 record as the regular season is winding down and the Class D playoffs are almost set to begin.

A LaRochelle succeeding on the basketball court for a Rangeley team isn’t too surprising.

Winnie LaRochelle saw her brother, Kyle, score his 1,000th point when he was a senior and she was an eighth-grader. Their dad, Jeff, is in his ninth season as the Rangeley boys basketball coach, and he also is the school’s athletic director and an assistant coach for the girls team.

So when Winnie LaRochelle reached 1,000 career points in a win over Temple last week, it might have seemed like the fulfillment of an expectation. But,  not really, Rangeley girls coach Brittany Russell said.


“When you’ve had an older brother and father that have had success, the pressure is kind of on you,” Russell said. “But she’s just let that come to her naturally by just stepping into that role, but it’s been about the team the whole time. Especially with just five games last year and scoring her 1,000th point in her eighth game, it just goes to show what she did in her younger years. She had no idea she was going to get it, and it shows that it’s all about the team. It’s nice to celebrate her because it always goes back to the team for her.”

LaRochelle said that Russell is right, she had no expectations of reaching 1,000 points, especially after her junior season was shortened to just five games because of COVID-19 restrictions.

“I was not thinking of 1,000 points, to be honest,” LaRochelle said in the middle of a busy week for the Lakers last week. “My brother got it when he was a senior and I was in eighth grade. It was an idea, but we had really strong players my first two years. … I thought that it was a chance, but I had no idea how many points I had in total. If I were to get it, I thought it would be in the tournament. We’ve only played eight games this year so I really didn’t think I would get it, to be honest.”


Russell said that when she moved to the Rangeley area when LaRochelle was in sixth grade, LaRochelle and fellow senior Emily Eastlack stood out because of their hard work and the extra shots the two were putting up.

“She was practicing in the summer with the varsity every chance they got, and just to see what it was going to be like, and they looked up to it,” Russell said. “It’s nice to see in their senior year they got more people involved and they wanted to see what they could do. They’ve put in the extra work.”


Over the last two years, LaRochelle has been going to the gym with Eastlack “three to four days a week,” according to Jeff LaRochelle.

The 5-foot-7 LaRochelle plays in the post, and she said working out helps her play more physical, which helps in her matchups against taller post players.

“I do love to workout, and I’ve been working out for two years now,” LaRochelle said. “I’ve gotten strong with the ball. Lifting weights, that type of working out. Emily also does that with me, as well. Honestly I just kind of thought about it one day and I wanted to do it. I really enjoyed it, and I saw my progress and so I continued to do it. It showed on the court, as well, which was really nice. I’m not the tallest, so when I’m going against someone that’s 6-foot then I can get through and get fouled a lot better than I used to.”

Rangeley only has seven players this season, and that requires LaRochelle and Eastlack to shoulder even more of the offensive load for the Lakers. The two seniors are so familiar with each other that they don’t always need words to communicate.

“Emily is my best friend and we’ve been playing since third grade,” Larochelle said. “We’re a good duo; she’s the point guard and I play inside, and she’s a hard worker, tough player, puts in the extra work and she’s really fun to have on the team. She’s awesome. We are just in sync all the time. We just look at each other and know what each of us are going to do. It makes it easy on the court because we know what we’re going to do 24/7.”

In Monday’s win over St. Dom’s, Eastlack and LaRochelle combined for 48 points.


“I’ve played with her as long as I can remember, third grade, and so I know where she’s going to be on the court at all times,” Eastlack said. “I love playing with her. We have a good connection, and I know if I pass it she’s going to get it.”

After the Lakers won the girls game Monday, the Rangeley boys fell to St. Dom’s. Jeff LaRochelle got to be a part of both games, and he’s glad to be able to play an active role in Winnie’s final season.

Rangeley’s Winnie LaRochelle drives to the basket for a layup during Monday’s game against St. Dominic Academy in Auburn. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal
“It’s great being part of it, and I’m fortunate to be one of her coaches,” Jeff LaRochelle said. “To help your kid, sometimes your kids take lumps because you are a coach, but she works hard for it. She lifts weights three or four times a week. It’s my second child to score 1,000, and the biggest thing is that she’s coachable. We used to have some knock-down, drag-outs in the driveway, but she is very coachable, and that will take her a long way in everything.

“It’s fun to be part of it. I love watching her play and I am hoping she plays past this. It’s fun to be a part of.”

Winnie LaRochelle said of playing for her father, “I’ve really enjoyed it, it’s really nice.”

She also is enjoying this year’s Lakers, which is a small group but one with a tight connection.


“We all have our bonds and we all play really well together,” Winnie LaRochelle said. “It’s a positive because it would be difficult if there were players you didn’t get along with. We all have really good relationships with each other. … We’re just having a lot of fun with it. We went into the season just trying to get better and just play, not necessarily what the end result is going to be.”

Eastlack said the Lakers entered the preseason with only five players signed up to play, and that they were unsure if they’d win many games.

The team quickly added a couple of players, and its mentality changed when the wins started to pile up.

“I think we have a really good shot this year,” Eastlack said.

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