When Windham High School’s Sarah Talon became one of the youngest players to ever verbally commit to attend the University of Maine at age 15 just before her sophomore season, she knew she would be closely scrutinized during her high school career.
Talon, who is now a senior, said she didn’t feel pressure from the scrutiny but acknowledged that there has been “an all-eyes-on-me” type of thing.
“I know I am expected to perform at the best of my ability every single game and that opposing teams are going to put their best [defensive] players on me so I just try my best. I see what I can and get the open shots when I can,” said Talon after Thursday night’s 54-26 loss to Bangor.
“People may question whether I am the right fit for Maine but I definitely am and I’m ready. I’m so excited to be a Black Bear,” Talon added.
Talon had a tough night offensively against Bangor, being held to six points by quick and tenacious Ram point guard Emmie Streams and her teammates. She was the focus of Bangor’s defensive strategy.
But she grabbed nine rebounds, made some crisp passes to teammates and displayed an array of nifty moves that she will continue to refine.
Bangor coach Jay Kemble’s Rams held her to a 2 for 12 shooting night but Kemble said the 5-foot-9 guard is the real deal and will be a valuable addition to the UMaine lineup.
“She is a really good player. With the skills that she has, the athleticism she has, the length that she has, I think she is going to be really successful at Maine. That’s a great get for them,” Kemble said.
“She’s going to do real well at the next level,” agreed Streams, who has played AAU basketball against Talon for several years.
Talon’s athleticism is evident. She is smooth with the ball, has a high basketball IQ and has the ability to attack the rim and score from the perimeter. She has long arms and uses her jumping ability and soft hands to grab rebounds.
Talon has won the Maine Queen of the Court One-on-One championship the last two summers. The top 30 players in the state are invited to the camp, which was held at the XL Sports World in Saco last August.
Windham coach Brody Artes said she has also elevated her defensive game.
“She has improved a ton on the defensive side of the ball. She has worked a lot on her game,” Artes said. “She is going to be able to compete with those kids at Maine. She is a worker. She is going to go up there and really have an impact. She is a super athletic kid, she gets a ton of rebounds based on her presence inside. She has a bright future ahead of her.”
Talon came into the Bangor game averaging 22 points and 11 rebounds for the Class AA North Eagles.
And she is coming off a state Class A soccer championship which saw her score all three goals in the 3-0 win over Gorham in the Class A South title game and add a goal and an assist in the 3-1 victory over Brunswick in the state championship game.
Talon said she has used her verbal commitment as motivation throughout her career.
“When I committed, I was 15 years old and weighed 110 pounds soaking wet,” said Talon, who has added some weight and grown 4-5 inches. “I knew what had to be done. I had to eat more, eat better and hit the weight room. I had to work on myself physically. I know what a Division I player should look like.”
She said UMaine head coach Amy Vachon’s message to her was she needed to get bigger, be more physical and shoot more shots.
“She thought I was too unselfish when I was younger,” Talon added.
So she continually works on her shot, particularly her outside shot.
“Next year, I will be a freshman on a veteran team in a really successful program. So I will have to find my role,” she said. “I just want to win. I will do whatever I can to win.”
She knows Vachon expects her players to take open shots when they are available, even if they are freshmen.
“You can’t score if you don’t shoot and you can’t win if you don’t score,” Talon said.
She said the past three years have gone by very quickly and she is taking on more of a leadership role this season as she hopes to lead the Eagles to a good campaign and a deep playoff run.
They are currently 3-3.