The USCAA Small College National champion Central Maine Community College women’s basketball team poses for a photo in March at the school’s gym after arriving in Auburn after driving from the tournament in Virginia. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Editor’s note: The Sun Journal sports staff  voted on the area’s top sports stories of 2022 and will be counting down the top 10 through the end of the year.

The Central Maine Community College women’s basketball team continued to have a presence on the national stage in 2022.

In March, the program won its third United States Collegiate Athletic Association Division II national championship. CMCC also won titles in 2017 and in 2019.

The 2020-21 season that was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, and the Mustangs entered the 2021-22 season with only one returner and 16 newcomers.

Despite the players’ over lack of college basketball experience, Central Maine had championship aspirations from the beginning of the season.

“It’s been really fun and interesting because we’re all so young,” Strachan said after the team returned from the USCCA national tournament. “I expected to go all the way, and I think all of us did, but I think some other teams didn’t. We had some challenges along the way. Some issues with the team, right in the beginning we had some stupid girl stuff, but we got through it all and we pulled it out.”


Strachan, who played at Lewiston High School, followed in her mother’s footsteps to Central Maine and played a pivotal role as a freshman, leading the team with 12.7 points per game and earning USCAA First Team All-American honors.

Central Maine finished the season 28-3, with two of those losses coming to Yankee Small Collegiate Conference and instate rival University of Maine-Augusta.

Sarah Poli leads Central Maine Community College’s national championship women’s basketball team into the lobby of Kirk Hall at the school’s Auburn campus and into their gym for a welcome-home celebration in March. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

As fate would have it, the Mustangs and the Moose met in the quarterfinals of the USCCA national tournament in Richmond, Virginia, after Central Maine won the YSCC title for the fifth straight year. Central Maine moved on in the winner’s bracket by squeaking out a 45-39 over UMaine-Augusta.

Eliza Brault, the lone returner on the Mustangs roster who was named USCAA second-team in 2019-20, paced the team with 19 points in the win.

“It was a special victory and we played extremely confidently,” CMCC coach Andrew Morong said after the tournament. “We have been really gearing up, as far as confidence goes, and that game was the nail in the coffin and solidified everything for us.”

Brault continued to be the offensive catalyst in the semifinals, leading the team with 15 points in a 70-56 win against Cincinnati-Clermont. Luna Love and Safena Te Nana-Williams each added 12 points.


After playing only one minute in the semifinal and not at all in the quarterfinals, Lewiston graduate Myah Nicolas came through for the Mustangs in the national championship, leading the Mustangs with 13 points in their 63-35 win over Penn State Schuylkill.

“I just left it all on the court,” Nicolas said after the team returned from Virginia. “I knew it was the last game, and I knew I had to leave it all out there and do what I had to for my teammates.”

Morong said many area standouts played a part of the Mustangs’ successful season including Strachan, Myah Nicolas and her twin, Jamyah Nicolas, Oxford Hills grad Jade Smedberg, and Mountain Valley’s Kierstyn Lyons.

“Mya, Jamya, Emily and Jade all did different things for us,” Morong said. “Emily was the scorer, Jade was the defensive expert, Jamayah was our utility knife and Myah — talk about coming into a game and seizing the moment — she scored a team-high 13 points after combining for 30 seconds in the previous two games. I am so proud and it’s so special for the community that you have four local kids ingrained in the success of the program.”

The Mustangs are 14-0 to start the 2022-23 season as they try to go for their fourth national championship.

Luna Love, left, Kali Thompson, center, and Kierstyn Lyons of the Central Maine Community College women’s basketball team sit by the United States Collegiate Athletic Association Division II women’s basketball national championship trophy at the Auburn college on March 24. A campus celebration was held to celebrate the team’s third national championship in five years. The Mustangs beat Penn State Schuylkill on March 10 to win the title. Auburn Mayor Jason Levesque spoke during the event. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

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