Oxford Hills’ Sierra Carson shoots while being defended by Bangor’s Abbie Quinn during a Class AA North semifinal in Portland on Feb. 23. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

Oxford Hills senior Sierra Carson will enter her final year of high school basketball this winter with a huge weight off her shoulders. 

Carson has made her college commitment, choosing to play basketball at Division-I Dartmouth College. 

“I am really excited,” Carson said. “I didn’t know how much I would feel relieved. The worst part was telling other places that offered me, ‘no,’ but they all understood. After I did that, I committed and didn’t have to worry about it. I am ready to go. Being able to play without worrying, and then seeing all your friends going through it, I can say, ‘I am all set.’ I just have to worry about the grades.”

Carson has known Dartmouth head coach Adrienne Shibles for a few years from her time with the Maine Firecrackers AAU team. Shibles’ daughter, Elsa, was a teammate of Carson’s on the Firecrackers and it was there that Carson became familiar with the then-Bowdoin College women’s basketball coach. 

Shibles left Bowdoin in May of 2021 to take the Big Green job, becoming only the fifth coach in Dartmouth women’s program history. 

While the two have had a relationship for a few years, the recruitment of Carson started last year. 


“I have known Adrienne Shibles, and she’s new at Dartmouth, but I knew her from Firecrackers,” Carson said. “Last summer, I went to their elite camp and I was meeting the players and coaches there and connected with them. This past winter, I went on a visit and then I went to the camp again this summer. They watched me play during the spring season and I guess they saw it the same way as I did.”

One of Carson’s former Firecracker teammates, Gorham’s Anna Nelson, is joining Dartmouth this fall to play basketball. That connection gave Carson some extra time in front of Dartmouth coaches while playing for the Firecrackers. 

Oxford Hills girls basketball coach Nate Pelletier said he spoke with Carson multiple times during the recruitment process, offering advice and helping her make her decision.

We had some conversations,” Pelletier said. “She called me every time she got a new offer and I was more of a support system. I was more of a, ‘Hey, you want to talk? We can talk.’ I was super excited she had all these opportunities.”

Pelletier said that Carson is the first player from the Oxford Hills girls basketball program to go to a Division I college to play basketball.

It’s a huge deal for our program and obviously for Sierra and her family,” Pelletier said. “She has worked really hard for everything’s she got. It doesn’t surprise me. Since she was a freshman we knew she’d be special, she just had a couple injuries. We knew she’d be special and has really worked on her game, and it’s shown. Going to Dartmouth, educationally, is a huge accomplishment and then she’s the first girl in our program to go Division I. I am so proud of her, and now we have just one more thing and that’s the (upcoming) season.”


Sierra Carson. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

The 2022 Sun Journal All-Region Girls Basketball Player of the Year, Carson is excited to play basketball for Shibles at Dartmouth. She also felt a connection with the school and thinks it will help her set up her professional life after graduation. 

“I have known Coach Shibles for quite a few years,” Carson said. “She is an amazing person and wants to empower females and do great things. She told me what she wants to do with the program and she told me where she wants to go with it, and I loved it. Also, the education. Basketball for some people is going to be their career, but not for me, personally. I want to pursue the medical field, so it’s going to best set me up for the future.”

“Playing for coach Shibles, there’s probably nothing better,” Pelletier added.

The Ivy League, which Dartmouth is a member of, does not give out athletic scholarships, only financial aid and academic scholarships. 

Carson averaged 19 points per game last winter for the 18-3 Vikings. As a junior she also averaged seven rebounds, three assists and was the Class AA North player of the year.

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