The University of Maine at Farmington’s men’s basketball team was 0-8, struggling to get untracked, and beginning to wonder what was going on.

“I had my doubts,” said Eric Lelansky, a senior guard for the Beavers from Portland’s Deering High. “But I also saw that we had a chance. We were playing some tough teams, but we thought we had a chance to win in the conference.”

The Beavers won the North Atlantic Conference tournament championship last weekend to earn the school’s first NCAA Division III tournament berth. UMaine-Farmington will play at Bridgewater (Mass.) State in the first round at 7 p.m. today.

“It’s just a great accomplishment for the team,” said Lelansky. “I don’t know how to describe it. It’s what we’ve been working for since I came to school. It’s why we play, to win the conference tournament and get to the NCAAs.”

Lelansky is one of three local players who had significant roles in Farmington’s success. While he ranked second on the team in scoring with 13.1 points per game, a pair of former Gorham High standouts — senior center Josh Tanguay (12.4 points) and junior guard Andrew Dean (8.0 points) — were third and fourth.

“Those three guys meant a lot to us,” said Farmington Coach Dick Meader.

Lelansky, said Meader, “just became a solid, solid college guard. He made just about every big shot for us. He took big shots, whether they were at the end of the shot clock or momentum changers.

“He developed confidence, made the right pass and did a great job defensively. It was fun watching him develop into the player that he had the potential to be.”

Lelansky led the Beavers in minutes played (31.4), assists (72), 3-pointers made (60) and 3-point shooting (an astounding 41 percent) and was second in steals (31).

Tanguay, said Meader, “just brings every possible intangible you can think of. He works hard defensively and gets offensive rebounds. He is the very best garbage player in the state. He gets a rebound you think no one can get to and he does it through perseverance and wanting the ball more than the other guy.”

Tanguay was named MVP of the NAC tournament. An under-sized center at 6-4, he led the Beavers in rebounding (9.2 per game) and blocked shots (22).

Dean, said Meader, “struggled early in the year with his shooting, but it came back in the second semester. Our first win of the season, he made 9 of 12 3’s. Then last Saturday, he started the game 3 for 3 and that opened things up and gave us confidence.”

Dean led the team in steals (32) and free-throw percentage (83 percent) and was second in 3-point shooting.

“The great thing about our team is that we all get along very well,” said Lelansky, a member of Deering’s 2006 state championship team. “All year long we tried to keep a positive attitude, even when we lost some close games.

“We knew we were still competitive and, if we kept with it, we had a chance to turn things around.”

Meader is just happy Lelansky and Tanguay got a chance to make it this far.

“They leave with such good feelings of accomplishment,” he said. “They’ve earned the right to be champions.”

BASKETBALL

Husson’s women’s basketball team won its first NAC championship last weekend and will play at Colby in the first round of the NCAA tournament Friday.

Senior forward Lindsay Barnes of Owls Head (Rockland) and junior guard Caitlyn Butterfield of Gorham were key contributors. Barnes averaged 4.4 points and 3.9 rebounds while Butterfield averaged 3.2 points and had 55 assists and 43 steals.

Emmanuel senior center Meredith Shaw of Yarmouth returns to Maine on Friday when her team plays Babson at Colby in the NCAA first round. Shaw averaged 4.6 points and 3.2 rebounds.

Stonehill junior guard Emily Rousseau of Biddeford was named to the all-Northeast-10 Conference first team. She was second in scoring (13.4) and first in assists (4.2) and steals (1.3) She led the NE-10 in 3-point shooting (45 percent) and recently passed 1,000 points in her collegiate career. Rousseau also earned ESPN the Magazine District 1 Academic All-America third-team honors.

Assumption senior forward Kayla Parker of Sanford earned third-team honors in the Northeast-10. She averaged 11.7 points and 6.0 rebounds with a team-high 44 blocks. She has scored 1,223 points in her career.

Vassar senior forward Emily Haueser of South Portland was named to the Liberty League first team. Haueser averaged a career-high 15.2 points, along with 8.5 rebounds and a league-high 1.7 blocks. She finishes as the school’s fourth all-time leading scorer with 1,273 points.

Southern New Hampshire freshman forward Sloane Sorrell of Berwick (Noble) was named to the Northeast-10 all-rookie team. Sorrell averaged 10.7 points and 5.2 rebounds.

HOCKEY

Southern New Hampshire senior goalie Shane Brooks of Kennebunk (Massabesic) was recently named Northeast-10 goalie of the week with a 2.81 goals-against average.

TRACK

Junior Emma Linhard of Brunswick and freshman Brittany Bell of Poland were members of the Colby distance medley relay team that set a school record of 11:59.73 at the New England championships. Bell ran the 400 leg while Li hard ran the 1,600 leg.

Tufts freshman Matt Rand of Cape Elizabeth was eighth in the 5,000 meters in the New Englands. His time of 14:52.70 missed qualifying for the national championships by less than three seconds but is the fastest this year for a Division III freshman.

Union College sophomore Kyle Bucklin of Brunswick finished second in the long jump (6.8 meters) in last weekend’s New York State championships, to qualify for the ECAC championships. He was also a member of the 1,600 and 800 relay teams that finished fourth and also qualified for the ECACs.

Lehigh senior Kate McLaughlin of Old Orchard Beach (Cheverus) and sophomore Katherine Pierce of Alfred (Massabesic) each scored in the recent Patriot League championships. McLaughlin placed third in the pentathlon with a personal-best 3,324 points, that included a first in the high jump. Pierce finished third in the 5,000 (17:37.68) and fourth in the 3,000 (10:14.08).

Keene State sophomore Allison Chamberlain of Scarborough set a school record and qualified for the NCAA championships when she won the 800 with a time of 2:08.80 in the New Englands.

SKIING

Junior Graham Egan of Cape Elizabeth finished 14th in the 10K classical race (33:38) for Middlebury in the school’s recent winter carnival.

WRESTLING

Junior Allan Stein of Portland (Deering) had a big victory for the Naval Academy in its recent 26-6 win over rival Army. Moving up a weight class to 133 (from 125), Stein escaped his opponent in the final seconds to take a 10-9 victory with the team score tied.

 

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:

[email protected]