Cliff Urquhart has guided his Southern Aroostook High School girls basketball team to three straight Class D North championships, with state titles following the first two before Greenville wrested the crown away from the Warriors 42-38 in the 2019-20 season.
Including the D North tournament and state championship games, Southern Aroostook went 62-4 during those three seasons.
The Warriors followed that success with an Aroostook County COVID-19 pod championship game win over Class B Presque Isle last year, a win Urquhart considers one of the biggest in school history.
“It’s as close to winning a gold ball you can get without winning one. It was huge for the community. It felt like ‘Hoosiers.”
Uruquhart has graduated a lot of the key components but still returns three players with a ton of experience in guards Madison Russell and cousins Cami and Madison Shields.
But he said the team to beat in Class D North is Wisdom High of St. Agatha.
“They have three real good guards and a dominant forward,” said Urquhart, referring to guards Abbie Lerman, Lilly Roy and Massachusetts transfer Alexis Silva along with 5-foot-10 post player Olivia Ouellette.
Wisdom coach Scott Pelletier expects his team to contend for the title but dismissed the favorite’s role.
“Southern Aroostook is still the champion until someone takes it from them,” said Pelletier. “But it should be fun.”
The teams do not meet during the regular season.
“We’re small and very guard-oriented,” Urquhart said. “Our strength is on the defensive end. This might be one of the better defensive teams I’ve ever had.”
Pelletier called Southern Aroostook’s Russell a “great scorer.”
Russell was a Bangor Daily News All-Maine Schoolgirl basketball team honorable mention in 2019-20 as a freshman.
Emily Landry and Cami Shields’ eighth-grade sister Ally are expected to be contributors for the Warriors.
Pelletier has two players who are capable of leaving St. Agatha as 1,000-point scorers in sophomore guard Roy and junior forward-center Ouellette, he said.
Lerman, who has scored more than 100 goals for the soccer team, is a top-notch point guard. And Silva has been a nice addition.
“Our guards are dynamic,” Pelletier said.
Kylie Pelletier, Kamryn Clavette and Colleen Thamsen are expected to be resourceful performers.
Wisdom also has momentum from having several players who competed for the girls soccer team that won the Class D North crown.
Among the other teams that will contend include Deer Isle-Stonington, which lost in the regional finals to Southern Aroostook in the last two tournaments and has a new head coach in Bob St. Peter.
St. Peter’s daughter, Luna Perry-St. Peter, transferred to Deer Isle-Stonington a year ago after averaging 12.6 points and 12.6 rebounds her sophomore year at George Stevens Academy in Blue Hill.
He considers Luna and guard Macey Brown as two of the top players in Class D North and said all of his players can “shoot and play defense.”
Perry-St. Peter and Brown are expected to be consistent double-digit scorers and should also be forces on the glass. Taytum Chase and Maya Brown, Macey’s sister, are excellent defensive players who can run the floor and shoot.
Coach St. Peter will also expect contributions from Maddy Eaton, Megan Wendell, Riley Dorr, and Katie Gell since there are only eight players on the roster.
Shead of Eastport is 63-27 in its last 90 regular season games and is always a threat. Katahdin of Staceyville was 13-5 two years ago.