By Steve Craig
Freshmen have already made an impact this season at York and Lake Region -- two of the top teams in Western Class B.
The quick advancement of 5-foot-8 guard/forward Shannon Todd at York and 5-3 point guard CeCe Hancock at Lake Region are examples of female players entering high school as varsity-ready players.
Watching Todd and Hancock last week in competitive contests against quality teams, it would have been easy to assume both were varsity veterans. They showed play-making ability, court savvy and, perhaps most importantly, the confidence to play through mistakes.
"Shannon's really composed and competitive," said York senior tri-captain Emily Campbell. "She knows how to keep it in check."
Of Todd, York Coach Rick Clark said, "I have great confidence in her."
In Clark's 31 seasons, he has had 19 players make the varsity as freshmen. Eight of them are on this year's squad, including four current freshmen: Todd, Chloe Smedley, Emma Thomson and Erin McCafferty.
Thursday night against Waynflete, Hancock had 11 points with nine assists. Yes, she committed seven turnovers, several coming in an early third-quarter spree while trying to push the pace just a bit too much. But she was quick to regain her composure and make sure the ball found its way into inside scoring threats Tiana-Jo Carter and Kelsey Winslow.
Hancock expected to be coming off the bench before an injury to her cousin, Sydney Hancock, and the illness of her sister, Sarah.
"We expected her to come off the bench and play a lot of minutes and provide us with good energy," Lake Region Coach Paul True said. "She's kind of been thrust into a role that she's embraced and she's handling very well."
ANOTHER FRESHMAN who has made an impact is South Portland point guard Maddie Hasson. Hasson's emergence has allowed Danica Gleason to play shooting guard, and all Gleason did last week was score 25 and 32 points in back-to-back wins to earn Player of the Week honors. Hasson has chipped in five points per game.
Now Gleason will need to make another adaptation for the Red Riots (3-0), said Coach Mike Giordano.
"She knows we're going to lean on her and she's done it so far," Giordano said. "But now teams are going to key on her and the coaches in this league are too good to think she'll keep getting as many open looks. Her next challenge will be to get good shots for her teammates."
MARTHA VERONEAU of Waynflete surpassed the 1,000-point mark last week in a win against Traip Academy. She was 10 points away entering the game and needed less than a half to reach the milestone. Veroneau's older sister, Margaret (a 2008 graduate), was also a 1,000-point scorer at Waynflete.
"My whole family was there," Veroneau said. "My sister scored her 1,000th point when I was in seventh grade. She came up from Boston, and I brought her ... the ball. That was really special, to be able to give that to her. To pass on the tradition."
Against Lake Region two nights later, Veroneau never came off the floor and scored 35 points in a 60-55 loss, including 16 in the fourth quarter.
"The games that pump me up the most, the games that I really like, are the ones that make you dig deep within yourself," Veroneau said. "The games where we get up early and we have fun, those are great, but the games that I really enjoy, the memorable ones, are the games we play against tough teams like Lake Region."
TUESDAY'S GAME between visiting Thornton Academy (2-1) and South Portland (3-0) pits the Trojans' size against a smaller, faster team.
"Thornton's very big and physical and we're not," Giordano said. "It will be interesting to see how we handle their physicality. The team that dictates tempo should have the advantage."
ON THURSDAY, Sanford (3-0) will be at Deering, which is also 3-0 entering Tuesday's game against winless Noble. Deering hasn't allowed an opponent to score more than 35 points. Sanford has three players averaging in double figures: senior center Heather LeBlanc (18.0), junior point guard Morgan Fogg (15.3) and senior guard Samantha Adams (12.0).
Staff Writer Steve Craig can be contacted at 791-6413 or at: email@example.comTweet