Skowhegan’s Jaycie Christopher was the only sophomore on the 2019-20 Bangor Daily News All-Maine Schoolgirl basketball team in 2019-20. She was a first team selection.
Gardiner’s Lizzy Gruber was the only freshman. She was chosen to the second team.
So it should come as no surprise when Skowhegan coach Mike LeBlanc and the coaches at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference meeting said Class A North has “more talent than we’ve had in a long time.”
Christopher and Gruber are the primary reasons their respective teams are among the favorites in Class B North, along with Lawrence of Fairfield and Erskine Academy of South China.
Three-time Class A North champ Hampden Academy has moved up to AA this season.
Christopher, a gifted 6-foot-1 point guard who is going to Boston University in the fall, has already scored 1,000 career points.
“I think she has scored in double figures in every game but two during her career and that includes her freshman season when we had all those seniors,” LeBlanc said.
Christopher does it all for the River Hawks.
She has averaged 18 points, nine rebounds, five assists and four steals during her career according to LeBlanc.
In addition, she is a top-notch defender who usually covers the opponents’ best scorer.
Callaway LePage is a 5-foot-9 senior with a lot of experience who is capable of producing consistent double-digit point nights and seven to eight rebounds per game.
LeBlanc will also be relying on junior Aryana Lewis and an athletic but inexperienced sophomore class including twins Madalynne and Annabelle Morris and his daughter, Laney.
“We have some kids who can shoot and we’re going to need them to make shots,” LeBlanc said.
The talented Gruber, a 6-3 junior, may be the state’s best post player. She has already received four Division I scholarship offers, and is capable of scoring 20 or more points and grabbing 10 or more rebounds every night.
Lawrence and Erskine Academy are led by their dynamic guards Hope Bouchard and Mackenzie Roderick, respectively. Each also has a talented and veteran supporting cast with Lawrence’s Makenzie Nadeau and Erskine Academy’s Sarah Praul headlining those lists.
Brewer coach Chris Horr will again have an undersized team.
In fact, he said “we’re even smaller than we’ve been.”
His Witches will press and run and try to force turnovers that lead to transition baskets.
“The more chaos the better,” said Horr, whose team has good speed.
He will be looking for good seasons from the likes of Mariah Roberts, Trea Broussard, Jordan Doak and Riley Umel along with Kelly DiCarlo, Jenna McQuarrie, Lindsey Pine and the Dores, Kaylee and Makayla.
Doak and Umel, two of the Brewer High soccer team’s best players, didn’t play during the COVID-19-abbreviated basketball season last winter.
Cony High School of Augusta, 4-14 two years ago, is expected to improve and Nokomis High of Newport has a new coach in 2018 Nokomis High graduate and standout athlete Chelsea Crockett, who played basketball at the University of Maine at Farmington.
Messalonskee High of Oakland will be competitive, as will Mt. Blue of Farmington. Camden Hills, like Brewer, was 3-15 two years ago.
Medomak Valley of Waldoboro has gone from Class A North to Class B South.