December 18, 2013

HIGH SCHOOL GIRLS BASKETBALL NOTES: MCI making improvements

Huskies gaining confidence after recent struggles.

By Matt DiFilippo mdifilippo@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

Maine Central Institute has a 1-3 record this season, but you can already tell things are different for the Huskies. As the smallest school in Eastern B girls basketball, and coming off a string of tough seasons, the Huskies have been competitive every time out.

KENNEBEC JOURNAL/

MORNING SENTINELTOP 10

1. McAuley

2. Portland

3. Gorham

4. Lawrence

5. Thornton

6. Edward Little

7. Bangor

8. Nokomis

9. Cheverus

10. Lake Region

WEEKLY HONOR ROLL

• Lawrence sophomore Nia Irving had 29 points and 21 rebounds in a victory over Cony.

• Blayke Morin had 15 points, 14 rebounds, five blocked shots, and five steals as Rangeley defeated North Haven.

• Winslow’s Devin Fitzgibbons hit five 3-pointers and scored 20 points in a win over Waterville.

• Macy Welch scored 17 points to help Carrabec defeat Mountain Valley.

• Bri Losee poured in 23 points as Maine Central Institute defeated Belfast on the road.

“I think a lot of it was they were close last year a few times, and they didn’t get there,” new MCI coach Wes Brann said. “I think they’re gaining confidence every game.”

The Huskies are allowing exactly 37 points per game, which is the kind of defense they need to play to have a chance to win. While Brann said he has been emphasizing team defense over individual defense, he pointed out that starters Hannah Emery and Katie Hughes are both doing a commendable job on that end of the floor.

“We’ve played defense every game,” Brann said. “We’ve kept our opponents down pretty well. Defensively, every night they’ve played hard, so it keeps us in the game.”

MCI’s biggest weakness in recent years has been its offense, but that is showing signs of coming around. When the Huskies beat Belfast on Saturday for their first win of the season, Bri Losee scored 23 points and Ashley Alton finished with 13. Cassie Miller chipped in with 14 rebounds.

The Huskies have their toughest game to date tonight against Nokomis, a team Brann thinks is one of the best in the state, regardless of class. It’s a make-up of a game that was postponed by Tuesday night’s snowstorm.

After tonight, MCI doesn’t play again until next Friday against Erskine, two days after Christmas. That’s seven straight days off, without even a holiday tournament during the layoff.

“Which is kind of nice, actually,” Brann said. “It’s nice for the kids to have two of three days off with family, and not have to deal with the hustle and bustle of a Christmas tournament.”

The other reason Brann likes that layoff is because, like just about every first-year coach, he felt preseason was too short.

“It will give us time to catch our breath, and really iron some stuff out, I hope,” Brann said.

• • •

Erskine Academy’s drop to Class B this season has yet to be reflected in wins and losses, but coach Scott Corey has already noticed a difference.

“I think it may be a little early but the three games we’ve competed in already have been better than any three we played (last year) in Class A,” he said.

The Eagles are 1-2 with a win against Mt. View, a 23-point loss to Maranacook and a four-point loss to Morse. Last season they went 1-17 in Eastern Maine Class A.

The Class B games are closer and the crowds generally larger than the ones the Eagles saw in Class A. And the start times are usually at 6:20 instead of 7.

“There’s a lot to like about it so far,” Corey said.

The greatest difference Corey has seen is bench depth.

“When I go to my bench your seven, eight and nine kids aren’t the same as the kids in a school with 900 kids,” he said.

The Eagles return six starters to go with six newcomers and the blend of the two groups has been a smooth one thanks to the leadership of senior Hannah Bridges and Mia Taylor. Bridges put a lot of time into her game in the offseason, Corey said.

“This is her team,” Corey said. “The kids call her Mom. The kids all just want to follow her lead. This is the last kid I would have said this about her freshman year. She’s very unassuming.”

Corey said Taylor has followed suit.

“She and Hanah are a great tandem in terms of their leadership and the way they have united this team so quickly,” he said.

Gary Hawkins contributed to this report

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243mdifilippo@centralmaine.comTwitter: @Matt_DiFilippo
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