The Bangor High School girls basketball team practices in the gym on Jan. 4, 2021, during a regionalized campaign during the COVID-19 pandemic. Credit: Natalie Williams / BDN

The Bangor High School girls basketball team has high aspirations this season, even if it started the year with a 50-36 loss to fellow Class AA North contender Cheverus High of Portland.

The Bangor girls haven’t won a state championship since 1982 and have appeared in just one state title game since, a 60-45 loss to Catherine McCauley of Portland in 2013 in the A final. Bangor has reached the AA North semifinals three times in the five-season existence of the class but is still looking for its first appearance in a regional final.

Bangor went 12-1 a year ago during the COVID-19-induced pod campaign and won the Big East Conference Class AA-A pod title and then beat Penobscot Valley Conference Class B winner Old Town in a crossover championship game. Now the team wants to compete for the Class AA state title.

The Rams finished 13-7 in the 2019-20 season, earning the third seed and knocking off No. 6 Lewiston in the quarterfinals (50-31) before losing to No. 2 Portland (54-42) in the semis.

Bangor bounced back from its loss to Cheverus with a 50-20 victory over a youthful Nokomis High of Newport team that was without four injured players.

One of the issues for the Rams in the early going has been turnovers.

They turned the ball over 31 times in the loss to Cheverus and were outscored 25-6 over the last 12 minutes of the game. The Stags forced turnovers with their full-court press.

Bangor also turned the ball over numerous times against Nokomis, but it wasn’t costly as head coach Jay Kemble’s team also forced more than 30 turnovers with its swarming defense.

“We can definitely work on that and reduce them,” said Bangor’s outstanding junior point guard Emmie Streams. “As the season goes on, we’re going to keep getting better. We will be one of the teams to beat.”

Junior forward Abbie Quinn said the team works on its pass break and press every day in practice. “Teams like Cheverus are going to press us the whole game.”

Streams said the Rams have all the pieces to make a run for a state title.

“We just have to put them all together,” Streams said.

The Rams do have a nice blend of quick, penetrating guards and productive post players and they might have some legitimate 3-point threats, also.

“Depending upon who we’re matched up with and what types of defenses they run, we can rotate people in based on situations,” Kemble said.

“It’s a growing process. They’re getting used to each other. We have a lot of pieces. We have size, we have athleticism and they’re great kids who are all honor students.”

The tenacious and quick-footed Streams is the floor general. She can get to the rim, find the open man and hit threes. She is also a relentless defender.

Senior Laela Martinez joins her in the backcourt and is also a good ballhandler and passer capable of producing points and making steals.

The Quinn sisters, Abbie and sophomore Mimi, supply the Rams with a double threat in the paint. The six-footers are solid rebounders and are capable of double-digit scoring. They can also run the floor pretty well for 6-footers.

Junior Taylor Coombs plays on the wing and her game has improved noticeably. She had a team-high 13 points against Cheverus and can slash to the basket, hit the mid-range jumper and the three. She had three 3-pointers against the Stags. She is also a resourceful rebounder.

Junior Lilly Rice is a mobile post player with good moves in the paint. She has a long wingspan which helps her rebound and defend.

Sophomore guard Lily Chandler came off the bench to hit three threes against Nokomis and she is also a capable defender and ballhandler.

Junior Cassidy Ireland and senior twins Lane and Rae Barron are well-rounded players who are versatile and can contribute in a number of ways.

Juniors Carmen Maddix and Samantha Erb supply backcourt depth.

Bangor has always been a strong defensive team thanks to its aggressive man-to-man.