Kaitlyn Mathieu played only one year in Maine, but she is one of the few Mainers contributing regularly to a Division I basketball program.

Mathieu is from Waterboro and played her freshman year in high school at Thornton Academy. But seeking more competition, she then went to Worcester (Mass.) Academy the next three years and ended up at William & Mary College in Williamsburg, Va.

A 6-foot-2 freshman center for the Tribe, Mathieu is among the team leaders in many categories.

“She has a great skill set for a freshman,” said Debbie Taylor, in her 12th-year as coach at William & Mary. “And not only is she continuing to grow as a player, but she is one of the greatest kids I have coached. She’s a happy kid, a great teammate, she has a great work ethic and she understands the game.

“She loves the whole thing about basketball. She loves scouting opponents, watching video.”

Mathieu, whose younger sister Cassidy plays at Massabesic, loves everything about her new school. Especially the on-court education she’s receiving.

“Usually when you go to college, that freshman year is a practice year, a build-up year,” she said. “But I got thrown into everything. And I love it.”

Taylor said injuries have prompted Mathieu to get more playing time. “But even without injuries, she would have played a lot,” said Taylor. “She’s a confident kid.”

Playing in the competitive Colonial Athletic Association, Taylor is third on the 2-21 Tribe in scoring (9.4 points), second in rebounding (5.2), fourth in minutes played (25.0), third in steals (1.1) and – get this – second in 3-pointers made (17).

That’s right, the 6-foot-2 kid likes to shoot the 3.

“My first two years of high school, I wasn’t even allowed to dribble the ball,” said Mathieu. “My junior year, I decided I wanted to be able to shoot 3s. I started taking them my senior year. And now Coach Taylor lets me take them.”

She’s led the team in scoring in four games, with a high of 19, and in rebounding five times, with a high of 13.

Taylor discovered Mathieu when she was playing on the New England Crusaders, an AAU team out of Nashua, N.H., that has also attracted Maine high school standouts such as York’s Nicole Taylor and Deering’s Kayla Burchill (to Vermont), McAuley’s Rebecca Knight (UMaine) and Alexa Coulombe (Boston College) and Leavitt’s Courtney Anderson (UMaine).

That was the summer after Mathieu’s sophomore season at Worcester Academy and Taylor liked what she saw. “She has that body build in the post that works well for a mid-major basketball program,” said Taylor. “Of course, at that time she was not the player that she is now, but you could see she had the ability and the drive and that she loved to play.

“I loved her competitiveness. I looked at her and thought, ‘This kid’s going to be really good.’ So we offered her a scholarship before her junior year and we were right. She got better and better and better. You know, as a mid-major you sometimes have to roll the dice (on recruits).”

Playing at Worcester, Mathieu said, prepared her for mid-major basketball. Not only was the competition difficult, but the academic load also prepared her for college life. She may not have received the same opportunity had she remained in Maine.

“There is no right way or wrong way,” said Mathieu, of her choice to go to a boarding school. “The education was really good (at Worcester) and helped prepare me. And I really wanted to challenge myself to go down there and be more independent.”

Both Taylor and Mathieu said that she has to get stronger, to be able to play defense better. Taylor would also like her to improve her ballhandling, to be able to drive past defenders when she sets up outside the 3-point line.

“She continues to work on her game all the time,” said Taylor.

The losing has been difficult for Mathieu, but she said the team has hung together and looks forward to the future.

And she’s not going to complain about the weather. Her sister recently e-mailed her a photo detailing a zero-degree thermometer.

“We’ve already had a couple of days in the 50s,” said Mathieu. “It’s definitely different here.”

ICE HOCKEY

Hobart sophomore Nick Broadwater of Portland (Deering) was named the ECAC West goalie of the week for the seventh time this season recently. He leads the conference with a .928 save percentage.

INDOOR TRACK

Middlebury (Vt.) College senior Kaitlynn Saldanha of Scarborough was a member of the Panthers’ 4-by-400 relay team that won its race with a time of 4 minutes, 7.80 seconds at the recent Dartmouth Classic.

Bentley sophomore Craig Robinson of Scarborough ran a personal best in the mile in the recent Boston University Valentine’s Invitational. His time of 4:18.92 allowed him to finish 59th in a field of 199.

Stonehill College junior Pak Lul of Portland (North Yarmouth Academy) was a member of the Skyhawks’ 4-by-400 relay team that ran a school-record 3:21.51 in the BU Invitational. The team automatically qualified for the New England championships.

Merrimack College junior Kayla Morong of Topsham (Mt. Ararat) was a member of the distance medley team that ran a 12:56.87 at the BU Invitational. Morong led off by running the 1,200.

SKIING

Middlebury (Vt.) College Freshman Emily Attwood of Cape Elizabeth finished 29th in the 15-kilometer classic Nordic race at the recent UVM Carnival. She completed the course in 58:05.

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

Freshman guard Ariel McConkey of Fryeburg has played well for Lyndon (Vt.) State College after transferring from Central Maine Community College following the first semester. She’s played in 14 games, averaging 9.7 points and 3.3 rebounds. She also has 20 assists and 31 steals. McConkey is averaging 23.7 minutes per game for the Hornets.

Stonehill College senior guard Emily Rousseau of Biddeford returned last weekend from a concussion and led the Skyhawks with 16 points and four rebounds in 20 minutes in a 66-40 loss to Saint Michael’s of Colchester, Vt. Rousseau was recently honored as a second-team Academic All-District 1 selection by the College Sports Information Directors of America.

Junior guard Coreen Hennessy of Chatham, N.H. (Fryeburg) scored 15 points with four rebounds and five steals in Saint Michael’s win over Stonehill. Hennessy is averaging 9.2 points for the 12-10 Purple Knights. She has 27 assists and 24 steals this season.

 

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at: [email protected]