Dustin Cole and Ben Malloy were the key holdovers from Bonny Eagle’s run to the Western Class A boys’ basketball final last season, but where would the Scots be without the additions of Nate Alexander and Jon Woods? Probably not 13-1 and ranked No. 3 in Western Maine.
Alexander, the team’s tallest starter at 6-foot-3, transferred from Edward Little. He gives the Scots another double-figure scorer and is their top rebounder.
Alexander has become deadly from 3-point range. He hit three 3-pointers and finished with 15 points Friday night in an 88-52 win over Thornton Academy. Alexander started out slowly from beyond the arc but has steadily improved – so much that opponents have to be concerned with him, along with Cole, Malloy and Nick Dubay.
As Coach Phil Bourassa said earlier in the season: “We love Nate Alexander. He’s at his best in crunch time.”
Woods, who played for Gorham last year, isn’t a scorer, but he’s capable of tossing in a few points here and there. In the first half against Thornton Academy, he made as pretty a reverse driving layup as you’ll see.
The 6-foot Woods is a high energy guy who plays tight defense, is strong in the full-court press and gets up and down the court.
Woods was a catalyst on Bonny Eagle’s Class A state championship football team as a halfback/defensive back. His running on the final drive against Cheverus in the state final keyed the Scots’ win. He was named to the Maine Sunday Telegram all-state football team at running back.
Alexander and Woods bring two different styles and games to the court, but both have been important cogs to the team’s success and will be needed the rest of the way if the Scots hope to finally break through and win a Western Maine title.
BILL GOODMAN called McAuley’s 79-47 win Friday against Portland a “playoff game,” for his team.
Perhaps that’s a bit of an overstatement. At 13-1 and ranked No. 1 in Western Class A, the three-time defending state champions are in no danger of being left out of the tournament. But Goodman said playing Portland at the Expo was the type of game he wanted his team to have.
McAuley’s only other appearance at the Expo this season was a holiday tournament loss to defending New Hampshire Division I champion Bedford, in which the Lions’ two NCAA Division I-bound stars, Allie Clement and Olivia Smith, did not play.
“Tonight was a playoff game. It was very important. We were playing a top opponent on their home court and they have a lot of kids who can score,” Goodman said.
Portland did have 11 players factor into the scoring, but none cracked double digits. Meanwhile, McAuley’s standouts did just that: stand out.
Clement and Victoria Lux each had 16 points, senior Jackie Welch scored 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting, and Smith dominated the defensive interior with eight blocks – six in the first nine minutes.
In addition, Olivia Dalphonse (nine rebounds) continued to show how integral she is to this team with her defense and ability to help run the offense, whether Clement is on the court or the bench. Add in the edgy toughness (and an increasingly effective midrange jumper) that junior Ayla Tartre brings off the bench, and McAuley is clearly back to team-to-beat status.
After McAuley lost at Thornton Academy, Goodman wasn’t buying the notion that losing the burden of a 56-game in-state winning streak could help his team.
But Lux said Friday she thinks the loss – and more importantly the team’s response – is paying dividends.
“That little rough (stretch) we had was a good little refresh for all of us,” said Lux, a 6-foot-1 junior post player. “I feel like it just let some pressure off of all of us and gave us some clear minds. We’re starting again. This is like a new thing for us. We’re just going to start off strong, and how we work as a team is just unbelievable.”
EVEN BIDDEFORD Coach Rich Reissfelder knew it was a result that had a lot of hockey observers scratching their heads in wonder Sunday morning. His upstart Tigers toppled the top-ranked team in Eastern Class A on Saturday, beating Lewiston 6-3 at the Colisee.
“We took advantage of our opportunities and they had some shots that hit the pipe,” Reissfelder said. “Our confidence just kept building.”
Biddeford (5-5-1) killed three penalties in the first period, which ended with the Tigers leading 1-0. Reissfelder’s message to his team at intermission?
“I told them it couldn’t get any worse as far as taking penalties,” he said. “We just used a lot of our speed on the outside to create chances.
“This shows that we’re capable of beating anyone in the state when we play three periods of hockey and stay with our systems. But we’ve got Greely (Monday), so if we don’t play well in that game, this one will mean nothing.
“Still, today’s a great day.”
SCARBOROUGH’S QUEST for an undefeated season will be challenged Tuesday with a 4 p.m. game against Leavitt/Edward Little (13-2) at the new Norway Savings Bank Arena in Auburn. The game is a make-up from a stormed-out game earlier this month.
The Red Hornets have won 12 straight since a 2-1 loss to Scarborough on Nov. 30.
Scarborough (16-0) will conclude its regular season Wednesday at Greely.
GRAY-NEW GLOUCESTER sophomore Kaelyn Woods won the Class B skimeister state title as a freshman, then decided to focus exclusively on Nordic this winter.
If any doubts about that decision remained, Woods dispelled them Saturday. She won the Sassi Memorial 5-kilometer classical race at Black Mountain over a statewide field of 186. Her time of 16 minutes, 3.4 seconds put her ahead of runner-up Hadley Moreau of Falmouth (16:09.7) and Sara Wade of Mt. Blue (16:10.5).
“It was definitely a surprise,” said Woods, who finished 17th a year ago. “I was really just looking for top five.”
Skiers went off at 15-second intervals, so Woods was able to judge her pace by that of Moreau and Hannah Streinz of Katahdin (and the Maine Winter Sports Center). Streinz finished fifth.
“It definitely helped,” Woods said of knowing where she stood in the final kilometer.
Yarmouth senior Braden Becker won the boys’ race with a time of 12:48.7 over the same course, which did not include the famed High School Hill. In its stead was a long, gradual incline that was challenging in its own right.
Afterward, a friend asked Woods how it felt to be the best high school skier in Maine.
“I still don’t think of it like that,” she said. “But it was definitely cool to hear that.”
– Staff Writers Tom Chard, Steve Craig, Mark Emmert, Kevin Thomas and Glenn Jordan contributed to this report.