Second-year Lincoln Academy girls’ basketball coach Kevin Feltis was confident his team could improve on its 8-10 record in 2012-13.
Then expected starter Hayden Campbell tore her ACL at the end of soccer season.
In the fifth game starting junior off guard Danielle Pinkham broke bones in her foot. In a holiday exhibition, junior forward Leslie Sandefur tore her ACL.
With a 3-2 record and three starters out for the year were Feltis’ high hopes dashed?
“Actually I’d say the contrary. We knew we were going to be a deep team,” Feltis said. “Not to downplay the importance of those kids (who were injured) but the kids really have accepted their new roles and stepped up.”
Lincoln Academy, a member of the KVAC, has won 10 straight after Monday’s 41-28 win over Medomak Valley and at 13-2 is in fourth place in the Western Class B standings behind expected powers Lake Region, Spruce Mountain and Wells.
Not bad for a team that didn’t win a game just two seasons ago.
“I was an assistant on that team,” Feltis said. “Last year we made some nice ground. It’s been a lot of hard work; a lot of kids buying in to what we’re trying to do; a lot of support from the parents, community and school.”
Feltis pointed to the team’s first win of 2014 as a turning point.
Trailing Gardiner 30-21 at halftime, Lincoln rallied in front of a large, supportive crowd for a 63-56 win.
In that game leading scorer and rebounder Jennifer Genthner (13.4 points, 10.6 rebounds), a 6-foot senior center, came up huge with 26 points and 10 rebounds but as has repeatedly been the case she had ample help.
Sophomore Barrett Campbell, Hayden’s twin sister, has become an effective outside scorer, averaging 2.2 3-pointers and 11.3 points.
Freshman point guard Bri Wajer is averaging 9.6 points, 7.2 assists and 5.4 steals. Last week she had 13 and 11 steals in wins against Leavitt and Mt. View.
“I coached Bri when she was a real little girl and I kind of knew, and a lot of people in the area knew, that she could lead a team,” Feltis said.
The team has also gotten key production from sophomore Alyx York, and 5-foot-1 power forward Taylor Oliver.
Lincoln’s success is drawing new faces to the gym in Newcastle.
“People know our conference is tough and I don’t think it took too long for word to spread and we’re starting to see coaches turning up in the stands scouting us,” Feltis said.
FRYEBURG ACADEMY (8-6) is another team making a surge in Western Class B, winning 6 of 7, including last week’s 51-40 upset of Wells.
Fryeburg has climbed to No. 9 in the Heal point standings. The top 10 make the tournament.
“We’ve done a really good job of being able to limit the other team’s leading scorer,” Coach Sean Watson said.
Unless that player is a true post like Lake Region’s Tiana-Jo Carter, the stopper job is shared by senior Sarah Welch and freshman Mackenzie Buzzell, who rotate intense 4-minute sequences focused on ball denial.
Fryeburg is also getting consistent offensive contributions from sophomores Julia Quinn and Alexis L’Heureux-Carland on the perimeter, giving senior center Skye Dole more room – and more success.
“After we won our fifth game Skye said, ‘if we win six that will be the most I’ve ever had,’” Watson said.
Watson was an assistant coach at Valley High School in Bingham when Valley was winning 101 straight games under Coach Dwight Littlefield. The team was featured in Sports Illustrated.
“I still have a copy of that issue at my house,” Watson said. “Dwight lives in Florida now. I’m on the phone with him once or twice a week. I’m always picking his brain.”
PERENNIAL POWER York was at No. 13 in Western Class B and trailing Cape Elizabeth by a point with 9.7 seconds to play on Friday.
That’s when sophomore Shannon Todd took an outlet pass from Chloe Smedley off a missed Cape free throw the length of the court and scored the winning basket in Friday’s 36-35 squeaker with 1.7 seconds to play.
Todd had also tied the game at 30-30 with a 3-pointer and 34-34 with a basket.
As the Cape player made her first free throw, Todd chatted with Wildcats Coach Rick Clark about what to do next.
“On a make we were going to run a play to get it to half court and call a timeout. On a miss I wanted her to bring it up and I’d either yell Go or a timeout. I said ‘Go’ and she went,” Clark said.
Behind 17 points from Mia Briggs on Saturday, York beat Poland, 63-55, and is No. 8 in the standings.
Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or at: