It doesn’t take long to understand why college coaches are courting McAuley’s junior duo of guard Allie Clement and 6-foot-1 forward Olivia Smith. Both have complete games and play with a high level of intelligence and savvy.

Clement makes plays all over the court. Smith is a shot-blocking threat out to 15 feet.

It also didn’t take long during Friday’s 60-19 win at Biddeford to figure out those same college coaches have taken note of rugged, smart and unselfish 6-foot sophomore forward Victoria Lux.

“She’s a very, very impactful player on our team, and she is young,” said Allie Clement. “She has a lot of time to get better. She’s been looking at colleges; colleges are looking at her. She works really hard. She comes to practice and brings it. She has a big, strong build, so nobody can match up with her.”

What really jumps out about Lux’s game is her ability to crisply pass from the high post to all areas of the court, adding even more pace and spacing to the Lions’ potent offense.

“I like to pass first. I think that’s just me,” Lux said, noting she’s trying to heed Coach Bill Goodman’s desire for her to look more for her own offense.

“Victoria is one of the best young players I’ve seen in the post,” Goodman said. “We want to see her shoot the ball more.”

Goodman said Lux’s 10-point effort as a freshman in the state championship game against Cony last year showed her ability to step up when needed.

She’s also benefited from another year playing with the Maine Firecrackers, an AAU team that includes her McAuley teammates Clement, Smith, Sarah Clement and Olivia Delphonse, and is coached by Brian Clement. 

HOLIDAY TOURNAMENT CONUNDRUM: With the length of the season reduced by a week, many teams (including all SMAA teams) played a league game during Christmas break. That has coaches beginning to question the value of holiday tournaments.

“It’s tough to fit in holiday tournament games,” Biddeford Coach Brian Heal said. “It’s a quirk in the scheduling now that they’ve shortened the season. I know talking to other coaches, they’re not as eager to play in those tournaments. We’ve done it the past two years. I’m really thinking about just practicing through next year’s break. Right now we haven’t practiced in a few days and we really need to practice.”

York Coach Rick Clark said if his team had to play a league game during the break, he wouldn’t play a holiday tourney. For the past four years York has held a boys-girls event. The York girls never have won it, even with the 2010-11 team that went undefeated in counting games en route to the Class B state title.

On Saturday, the Wildcats lost to a high-energy, good-shooting team from Massachusetts — Pentucket Regional.

“And that’s not a bad thing. It helps us refocus and know there are things to work on,” Clark said. 

PLENTY OF POWER: Eight of our area top 10 teams started the week with unblemished league records. That number dropped to seven after Deering beat South Portland on Monday.

Mt. Ararat, definitely a team on the rise, entered the week ranked first in Eastern Class A. Outside the top 10 at season’s start, the Eagles entered as the 10th team and have climbed to seventh. In Caitlin LaFountain, Mt. Ararat has a legitimate scorer and has shown the ability to win in the clutch, pulling out victories against quality teams from Edward Little (5-1), Oxford Hills (4-2) and Cony (3-3), and blowing out lesser foes.

McAuley (6-0) figures to get its first test of the season Friday at home against Deering (7-0). Senior guards Chelsea Saucier and Keneisha DiRamio of Deering won’t be awed. Unlike against South Portland, 6-4 center Marissa MacMillan must stay on the floor and out of foul trouble — a tough task with the likes of the more mobile Smith and Lux crashing the boards.

Other games between top 10 teams that will give a truer sense of teams’ strengths are Scarborough (5-0) at South Portland on Wednesday, Lake Region (6-0) at Greely (5-1) on Thursday, and Sanford (4-1) at Cheverus (6-0) on Friday.

Staff Writer Steve Craig can be contacted at 791-6413 or at:

[email protected]