Jaycie Christopher, who led Skowhegan to its first ever state basketball championship, headlines the 45th annual Bangor Daily News All-Maine Schoolgirl Basketball Team.
The senior guard is joined on the first team by Oxford Hills of South Paris junior guard Sierra Carson, Windham senior guard Sarah Talon, Cheverus High of Portland sophomore guard Maddie Fitzpatrick and Gorham senior guard Anna Nelson.
The second team features prominent post players in Gardiner junior Lizzy Gruber, Cheverus sophomore Emma Lizotte and Oceanside of Rockland freshman Bailey Breen along with Wells senior forward Grace Ramsdell and Bangor junior guard Emmie Streams.
The third team is comprised of Greely High of Cumberland Center guard Chelsea Graiver, Brunswick senior guard Logan Brown, Old Orchard Beach junior guard Grace MacNair, Hampden Academy junior guard Bella McLaughlin and Stearns of Millinocket senior guard Alisyn Alley.
Christopher was a first team selection two years ago when Gruber was a second team pick and Alley was an honorable mention.
There wasn’t an All-Maine team last season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
An impressive list of 25 honorable mentions includes Hodgdon freshman guard Anna Oliver, Bangor junior forward-center Abbie Quinn, Southern Aroostook High of Dyer Brook junior guard Madison Russell, Presque Isle senior guard Faith Sjoberg; Hermon senior forward Maddie Lebel, Falmouth junior guard Sloane Ginevan and Scarborough senior guard Lindsay Fiorillo.
Christopher, a 6-foot point guard who will play at Boston University next season, led the Class A River Hawks to an undefeated season. She was the recipient of the Maine girls Gatorade Player of the Year Award and the Miss Maine Basketball Award.
She had 24 points and nine rebounds in the 60-46 state championship game win over Greely.
“She is the best player in the state. She does it all,” said Bangor coach Jay Kemble.
“She is a special talent. She is constantly improving because she works so hard at it,” said Skowhegan coach Mike LeBlanc.
“She can score from anywhere and could score 40 a night if she wasn’t so unselfish. And the biggest thing she gave us was her leadership. She is a role model. She makes everyone better and more confident.”
“She is fun to watch,” said Hampden Academy coach Nick Winchester. “She has a great basketball IQ. She always finds the open shooter. She makes it look effortless.”
“She is incredible,” added Gardiner coach Mike Gray.
Class AA North Player of the Year Carson led Oxford Hills to a berth in the Class AA North championship game against eventual state champ Cheverus as she was Class AA North’s top scorer (19.3 points per game) and was third in assists (3.1) and sixth in rebounding (7.1).
“She is one of the most athletic kids I have ever coached,” said Oxford Hills coach Nate Pelletier. “She is one of the only kids I have coached who can legitimately jump for rebounds. And she’s not afraid to battle bigger kids for them.
“She led our team in just about everything. When the ball is in her hands, we’re in really good shape,” he added.
“She is such a competitor. She plays so hard. I love her will to win,” said Lewiston coach Craig Jipson.
“She has an explosive first dribble,” Kemble said. “She gets by people quickly and if you get help on her, she will kick the ball out to an open shooter.”
Fitzpatrick was one of the catalysts to Cheverus’ first state title, earning All-AA North first team honors while leading the league in steals (4 per game) and ranking third in scoring (18.3) and seventh in rebounds (6.5) and assists (2.8).
And she missed several games with a broken thumb.
“She is a three-level scorer,” said Cheverus coach Bill Goodman. “She does it all. She fills up the stat sheets every game. She is a unique player in that she can play all positions.”
“She is a very good scorer and she is calm and poised beyond her years,” Jipson said.
Kemble said she is strong and has a “physical presence for a guard. She can post you up or shoot outside.”
“She is definitely a difference-maker,” said Windham coach Brody Artes.
Nelson was AA South’s assists leader (4.8) and she also produced 12.8 points and 4.4 rebounds.
“She did a great job for them,” Artes said. “She is a true leader. She is a smart player and a really good shooter. She is their backbone. She led their playoff run.”
“Her best part is her competitiveness,” said Gorham coach Laughn Berthiaume. “She is very good at reading the game and matching it with what we need. She’s capable of scoring 20 or more points if we need her to or she could score five and have double-digit assists. She directs traffic and is like another coach out there.
“If I called out sick, she could run the show,” he said.
Nelson is taking her game to Dartmouth College.
Talon, who is going to play at the University of Maine next season, was atop the blocked shots chart in AA North with nearly two per game (1.7) while also registering 17.6 points, 9.7 rebounds and 2.4 steals along with two assists.
“She’s one of the best defenders I’ve seen,” Goodman said. “And she can run the floor, move the ball, she drives to the hoop real well and she has a good pull-up jump shot.”
“She is extremely athletic. She is a long and explosive player,” Kemble said. “With her length, she can defend in the post and she’s also quick so she can also defend the outside.”
Talon registered a double-double in eight or nine games and had a 15-rebound game.
“She has a very quick first step and finishes very well. And she anticipates very well on defense,” Artes said.
The 5-foot-5 Streams was the AA North leader in assists (4.3), was fifth in steals (2.6) and was chosen the league’s best defender.
“She always guards the other team’s best player regardless of the size matchup,” Winchester said. “She could be one of the fastest players I’ve ever seen going from zero to full speed. She has a relentless motor on the floor.”
“It is impossible to press her,” Pelletier said. “And she shot real well against us.”
“I’ve never seen a Maine female high school girl athlete as quick or as fast as she is. Her quickness and tenacity are what make her what she is. And she’s a tough competitor,” said Kemble.
Gruber was the catalyst behind Gardiner’s run to the Class A North title game with her 18.3 points, 16.6 rebounds and 5.2 blocked shots per game.
“The amount she impacted the game at both ends of the floor was amazing,” said Gray. “She has gotten so much stronger. She is constantly trying to improve her game. She also led the team in assists (3 apg).”
“She works extremely hard. She can score [inside] and she has a decent mid-range game,” LeBlanc said.
Breen was the primary reason Oceanside claimed its first state Class B title with her 20 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and two blocks per game.
“She moves well for a taller girl. She has good feet and good hands,” said Hermon coach Chris Cameron, whose Hawks lost to Oceanside in the state championship game. “She’s good around the basket, she can hit foul shots, she has a mid-range game and she can also hit threes on occasion.”
“And she can read the defense and make the right read and pass. That has helped her game,” said Matt Breen, her father and coach at Oceanside. “She has great players around her and she utilizes them.”
Lizotte was a perfect complement to Fitzpatrick with her inside game.
She led AA North in rebounding (10.4 rpg) and was fifth in scoring (14.9 ppg).
“She was a dominant force all year,” Pelletier said. “She could finish around the rim and she rebounds well.”
“She stepped up big all year,” Goodman said. “She runs the floor very well and she is a very good defender. She is constantly working on her post moves and she has developed a real nice outside shot. She worked hard on both ends of the floor.”
Like Lizotte, Ramsdell averaged a double-double (20.7 ppg, 12.1 rpg) along with 3.1 steals. She will play for Division I Merrimack College next season.
“She was predominantly a post player as a freshman but her game has really grown,” said Old Orchard Beach coach Dean Plante. “She can score from anywhere now and she is a very strong rebounder.”
Ramsdell was the recipient of the Robert E. Butler Award given to the best senior player in the Western Maine Conference, joining sister Franny who won it two years ago.
Alley was the Penobscot Valley Conference Class C Player of the Year and the Class C North Tournament Most Valuable Player.
“She was our facilitator and her defense might have been the best part of her game. Her length caused a lot of problems for opposing players. Her court vision was unlike anything I have ever seen. She was a once-in-a-lifetime player to coach,” said Stearns coach Nick Cullen.
Graiver, who poured in 32 points in the state championship game loss to Skowhegan, was a Class A South first team selection. She will play at Stonehill College next year.
“She may have been the best player in transition that I saw all year,” said Brunswick coach Sam Farrell. “She could hit the pull-up jumper and the three. And she competed every second she was on the floor.”
“She had unlimited range and she was able to make her own space to get her shot off,” said Berthiaume.
Brown was a 1,041-point scorer even though she played only 10 games a year ago due to the COVID-shortened season. She averaged 17.6 ppg this season.
“She was a do-everything point guard for us. She took the most shots and she was a big part of our defense,” Farrell said.
“She’s an excellent shooter and she didn’t need much room to get off her shot,” Berthiaume said.
MacNair was second in the Western Maine Conference in scoring (20.4), third in steals (4.5) and fourth in rebounds (10) and assists (4.4).
“She is very athletic. The most important part of her game was on the inside because she became more physical,” Plante said. “She shot 60 percent from the floor and almost 40 percent beyond the 3-point arc.”
Providence College commit McLaughlin, despite missing several games with COVID-19, paced AA North in steals (4) and was second in assists (4) and scoring (19.2).
“She is capable of carrying the offense. She can score in bunches. And she is such a good on-the-ball defender, she is capable of changing the flow of the game,” Winchester said.