March 18, 2010

Class A Teams at a Glance

— TEAM: Biddeford

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Shawn Patrick Ouellette Gorham's Rachele Burns battles for a loose ball with Kaley Waterman of Noble in first half action Friday Dec. 15, 2006 in Gorham.

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COACH: Ron Cote, fourth year

LAST YEAR: 16-4, lost in semifinals

RETURNING STARTERS: 4

IMPACT PLAYERS: Aimee Mortenson, jr., G; Aisha Jones, sr., C; Alyssa Grigware, jr., F; Shannon Grebin, jr., G; Lauren Rousseau, so., PG; Keila Grigware, fr., G/F

OUTLOOK: The Tigers look to be one of the better teams in the SMAA again. Much will depend on the health of Mortenson, a high-scoring guard who is coming off ankle surgery. She's one of the league's most dangerous scorers. The Tigers need someone other than her to score, though. Jones and Grigware form a nice 1-2 punch inside and Grebin is a lefty who can give a lift. Rousseau, the younger sister of Emily Rousseau (now at UMaine), is another option. ''This is a chance for some kids to step up,'' said Cote.

TEAM: Bonny Eagle

COACH: Sue Rondeau, second year

LAST YEAR: 7-11

RETURNING STARTERS: 0

IMPACT PLAYERS: Linda Nguany, sr., C; Messina Provencher, jr., PG; Alyssa Severance, jr., G

OUTLOOK: The Scots are relatively inexperienced, though the addition of the 5-foot-10 Nguany, a transfer from Portland, should help. She's a talent who can take a lot of pressure off others. Provencher, the first player off the bench last year, has the most returning experience and will be counted on to provide leadership. Look for steady improvement during the season, with the team playing its best ball at the end.

TEAM: Brunswick

COACH: Rita Maines, seventh year

LAST YEAR: 9-10, lost in preliminary round

RETURNING STARTERS: 3

IMPACT PLAYERS: Claire Baecher, jr., C/F; Brooke Suckow-Maines, sr., G; Alexa Dearborn, so., F/G; Mardi Artis, jr., C

OUTLOOK: After coming close the last couple of years, the Dragons are on the verge of making a deep push into the Eastern Class A playoffs. They have size inside with the 6-foot-2 Baecher, a rising star; 6-2 Artis and a steady backcourt leader in Suckow-Maines. They need to keep the big players out of foul trouble. Look for Brunswick to push the ball and try to create matchup problems with its quickness and speed on the perimeter.

TEAM: Cheverus

COACH: Richie Ashley, first year

LAST YEAR: 2-16

RETURNING STARTERS: 3

IMPACT PLAYERS: Elizabeth Somma, jr., G; Kristen Baum, jr., F; Jordan Mezoian, jr., F; Kathryn Hess, sr., C; Catherine Wise, jr., F/G; Molly Grover, jr., G

OUTLOOK: In his first job as a head coach, Ashley looks to have the Stags playing aggressive, fundamental ball. He's got some good leaders in Somma, Baum and Mezoian, the three returning starters, and could get some help from the athletic Hess, a senior who's playing for the first time. Although the program has only 13 wins in five years, Ashley's goal is to make the playoffs. ''We've set a lofty goal,'' he said.

TEAM: Deering

COACH: Mike D'Andrea, seventh year

LAST YEAR: 15-5, lost in semifinals

RETURNING STARTERS: 3

IMPACT PLAYERS: Claire Ramonas, so., C; Nicole Garland, sr., G/F; Jessica Ruhlin, jr., PG; Diana Manduca, jr., G; Casey Everest, jr., F; Kayla Burchill, fr., F/G; Porscha Lewis, sr., G

OUTLOOK: In many eyes, this is the team to beat in Western Class A, and even D'Andrea admits ''the pieces of the puzzle are there.'' The Rams have experience, talent and play an aggressive style that can rattle opponents. In Garland, Manduca and Ruhlin, the Rams have three guards who can match up with anyone. Ramonas and Everest are not only tough inside, but can push the ball as well. And then there's the freshman, Burchill, who only needs experience. Deering has the guards to shoot an opponent out of a game, and a defense to shut down any offense. The Rams will be difficult to beat this winter.

TEAM: Gorham

COACH: Laughn Berthiaume, first year

LAST YEAR: 15-4, lost in quarterfinals

RETURNING STARTERS: 1

IMPACT PLAYERS: Rachele Burns, jr., PG; Athena Beaulieu, sr., C; Lindsay Hansen, sr., G; Chantal Tijssen, sr., G/F; Luci Pike, sr., F; Whitney Bickford, sr., G

OUTLOOK: The Rams don't have much experience, but Berthiaume has a strong sophomore class -- and Burns, who can carry a team offensively. Inside or outside, she is a prolific scorer and will keep the Rams close each night. Otherwise, Berthiaume is concentrating on defense and rebounding to keep his young team close. Beaulieu, at 6 foot, will provide an edge on the inside and the Rams have some outside shooters, like Hansen and Tijssen. This team is strong enough to again contend for a playoff spot.

TEAM: Kennebunk

COACH: Rob Sullivan, 12th year

LAST YEAR: 10-10, lost in quarterfinals

RETURNING STARTERS: 1

IMPACT PLAYERS: Brooke Kravetz, sr., PG; Michelle Kravetz, so., G; Hannah Bennett, jr., C; Lauren Howard, sr., G/F; Katie Lang, jr., G/F

OUTLOOK: One of the bigger squads in the SMAA last year, the Rams are dramatically smaller. But that doesn't mean they will be any less aggressive. Kennebunk has some intense, physical players inside who will need to play smart and as a unit. The Kravetz sisters provide stability in the backcourt. Kennebunk will look to run more this year, taking advantage of its quickness. If the defense comes around, this will be a playoff-contending team.

TEAM: Marshwood

COACH: Lee Petrie, fourth year

LAST YEAR: 4-14

RETURNING STARTERS: 3

IMPACT PLAYERS: Michelle Williams, jr., PG; Erin Augulewicz, jr., G; Sam Goda, sr., F; Ashleigh Locke, sr., F; Lindsey Cynewski, sr., G

OUTLOOK: Not only do the Hawks have three starters back, but nine total players -- six of whom have been on the team for three years. This could be one of the more improved teams in the SMAA, looking to get back into the tournament after a one-year absence. Led by Cynewski, the team's best defensive player, Marshwood will try to harass opponents all over the court, hoping pressure will key a transition game leading to easy baskets.

TEAM: Massabesic

COACH: Andy Soldati, seventh year

LAST YEAR: 7-12, lost in preliminary round

RETURNING STARTERS: 2

IMPACT PLAYERS: Georgia Boisse, jr., F; Sam Leach, sr., F; Brittany Benton, sr., C; Stacey Norton, sr., F, Megan Dupuis, sr., F; Misty LePage, sr., G

OUTLOOK: After heartbreaking preliminary-round losses each of the last two years, the Mustangs are looking to move at least into the quarterfinals. And they could do it. Massabesic has a nice core of returning players, all with experience. Defense is always the key, and the Mustangs like to be aggressive offensively as well. They will go to the hoop, especially Boisse and Norton. They're probably more balanced than they've been in the past, with the 6-foot Benton complementing Boisse's all-around game.

TEAM: McAuley

COACH: Wil Smith, second year

LAST YEAR: 20-2, lost in state championship game

RETURNING STARTERS: 2

IMPACT PLAYERS: Shannon Wood, sr., PG; Sarah Oliver, sr., G; Rebecca Delude, sr., C; Shannon Foley, sr., C/F; Caitlin Call, sr., F

OUTLOOK: The Lions don't have the same eye-popping talent of the last five or six years, but still will be one of the top teams in the SMAA. Start in the backcourt, with Wood and Oliver returning starters. They have big-game experience and are capable of carrying the team offensively. The Lions have some height inside, with the 6-2 Delude and 6-foot Foley. And there are younger players who look to step into some significant minutes. McAuley will likely contend for one of the higher seeds in Western Class A again.

TEAM: Morse

COACH: Tom Morong, 19th year

LAST YEAR: 15-5, lost in quarterfinals

RETURNING STARTERS: 4

IMPACT PLAYERS: Jill Henrikson, sr., G; Katie Morong, sr., PG; Maggie Smith, sr., F; Beth Suggs, jr., F; Sonya Dickinson, sr., C; Sarah Rouillard, sr., G; Tarra Burr, fr., G/F

OUTLOOK: The Shipbuilders could be one of the more dangerous teams in the KVAC. In Henrikson, they have one of the state's best players, someone capable of dominating a game in many ways. But she's surrounded by a good cast, with everyone else filling roles to round out the team. Morong hasn't played the last two years because of ankle problems, but she is capable at the point. Look for Morse to run, but only if it needs to. The Shipbuilders are certainly capable of playing a half-court game as well, with Smith, Suggs and Dickinson inside. ''We need to play with composure,'' said Coach Tom Morong.

TEAM: Mt. Ararat

COACH: Kelly Lafountain, eighth year

LAST YEAR: 7-12, lost in preliminary round

RETURNING STARTERS: 1

IMPACT PLAYERS: Amelia Lamb, sr., F; Bri Young, sr., F; Sami Owen, sr., G; Tegan Talbot, jr., G; Hannah Fenwick, so., F; Ariel LeDuc, so., F; Brie Martin, so., G

OUTLOOK: The Eagles are relatively young but have a strong inside game with Lamb, Young and LeDuc. The three are strong rebounders and defenders who can also provide some points. Of course, Mt. Ararat will need to open the inside game up with some outside scoring, which is coming. One thing is certain, this team will play hard and will play suffocating defense.

TEAM: Noble

COACH: Kyle Keenan, third year

LAST YEAR: 10-9, lost in preliminary round

RETURNING STARTERS: 4

IMPACT PLAYERS: Alyssa Stokes, sr., PG; Maggie Burns, sr., F; Erica Fernandez, sr., F; Sloane Sorrell, jr., C; Sarah Jalbert jr., G/F; Amanda Prak, jr., G

OUTLOOK: Many coaches regard the Knights as a darkhorse contender in the SMAA, capable of pulling a tournament upset. Keenan certainly has high expectations. He calls this ''a very mature group,'' with four seniors and eight juniors. The Knights have a dominating inside player in Sorrell, who led them in scoring, rebounding, blocked shots, steals and field-goal percentage last year. But she's surrounded by a very capable cast, each player bringing a different facet to the overall game. The Knights are relentless rebounders and extremely quick defensively.

TEAM: Portland

COACH: Jan Veinot, first year

LAST YEAR: 1-17

RETURNING STARTERS: 3

IMPACT PLAYERS: Mariah Callender, so., G; Alex Koocher, sr., G; Jordan Alexander, sr., G; Nyachuol Biliew, jr., C

OUTLOOK: Veinot made the jump from Class C Waynflete, where she was 100-34 in eight seasons, to the Class A Bulldogs, who have totaled five wins the last two seasons. She won't change her style, which means the Bulldogs will work hard fundamentally and look to play a fast-paced game. Portland doesn't have much size, so look for the Bulldogs to press and try to push the ball offensively.

TEAM: Sanford

COACH: Kristy Parent, eighth year

LAST YEAR: 14-7, lost in semifinals

RETURNING STARTERS: 0

IMPACT PLAYERS: Mary Roberts, jr., C; Lauren L'Heureux, sr., F; Marissa Laferte, sr., G; Stephanie Butsicaris, sr., PG; Sarah Alexander, so., PG

OUTLOOK: Sanford will have a different look and that's OK with Parent. ''We've got a lot of young kids who are eager to compete and learn the game,'' she said. ''I think we've got a lot of potential.'' Sanford is athletic, and will look to use that to its advantage, getting up and down the court quickly. Roberts could be a dominating inside player and L'Heureux gained experience last year.

TEAM: Scarborough

COACH: Jim Seavey, second year

LAST YEAR: 8-11, lost in preliminary round

RETURNING STARTERS: 3

IMPACT PLAYERS: Reegan Brackett, jr., PG; Sarah Bonenfant, sr., G/F; Christy Manning, so., F; Nicole Chaloux-Pinnette, sr., G; Abbey Pelletier, jr., F; Jenn Colpitts, so., G; Emily Heath, sr., F

OUTLOOK: The Red Storm took a hit when guard Brittney Ross suffered a knee injury in a preseason game. But they have plenty of returning talent and experience and should be a top contender in the tough SMAA. ''Hopefully we can build on what we did last year,'' said Seavey. In Manning, the Red Storm have one of the state's top young players. She led Scarborough in scoring and rebounding last year. Her classmate, Colpitts, led the team in steals and assists, so the Red Storm have some young leadership. It's still a relatively young team, with five sophomores, but should develop over the season.

TEAM: South Portland

COACH: Mike Giordano, 12th year

LAST YEAR: 15-4, lost in quarterfinals

RETURNING STARTERS: 3

IMPACT PLAYERS: Jessica Aceto, sr., PG; Kelsey Flaherty, sr., G; Brianna Hawkins, jr., F; Erin Stilphin, sr., C; Danielle McCusker, so., F/G

OUTLOOK: The Riots look to be one of the best teams in Western Class A, contending for a championship. They have some of the best individual talent in the league in Aceto, Flaherty and Hawkins, who looks to improve her offensive numbers this year. As always, the Riots will press full court, looking to not only disrupt the opposing offense but turn mistakes into quick points. They are certainly capable of going a long way in the tournament.

TEAM: Thornton Academy

COACH: Caryn Sherman, fifth year

LAST YEAR: 5-13

RETURNING STARTERS: 2

IMPACT PLAYERS: Emma Morrison, sr., PG; Michelle Ford, sr., G; Lauren Titus, fr., G; Hannah Ebling, fr., F

OUTLOOK: With only five players back, the Trojans look young and inexperienced. But they have some quality in the backcourt, with Morrison and Ford. Expect a hustling, pressing tempo where the Trojans try to capitalize on their opponents' mistakes.

TEAM: Westbrook

COACH: Mike Murphy, fifth year

LAST YEAR: 10-10, lost in quarterfinals

RETURNING STARTERS: 3

IMPACT PLAYERS: Erin Murphy, jr., PG; Cynthia Wescott, sr., F; Audrey Shutts, sr., C; Emily Wight, jr., G

OUTLOOK: The Blazes loom as a strong contender, buoyed by the return of Murphy, Wescott and Shutts. Murphy and Wescott combined for 24 points a game last year while Shutts averaged 10 rebounds and is strong defensively. Look for the Blazes to maintain a slower tempo, looking to take advantage of Shutts and Wescott inside. ''We need to find our identity,'' said Murphy.

TEAM: Windham

COACH: Jessie Mayol, second year

LAST YEAR: 3-15

RETURNING STARTERS: 1

IMPACT PLAYERS: Jenna Willey, jr., G; Riley Graves, jr., C; Kelsey Babb, sr., PG; Helen Libby, jr., G

OUTLOOK: The Eagles don't have a lot of experience returning from last year, but they have some promising young talent. Look for them to play a pressing defense and a fast-paced offense.

-- Mike Lowe

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