The Southern Maine Community College men’s and women’s basketball teams were up-and-down in the first semester, but both entertain high hopes looking ahead to 2010.

The men ended the first half 6-7 (4-4 in the Yankee Small College Conference) after falling 109-105 to rival Central Maine CC. The Seawolves have been led by the steady play of standouts Coleman Findlay, Josh Mackie and Mike Burchill, while several other players have pitched in.

“The first half of the year was challenging,” said men’s coach and athletic director Matt Richards. “We had many new players to incorporate into a new system that we’re playing and doing that against what I consider the toughest first half schedule we’ve played in the seven years that I’ve been here. However, I’m pleased with how well we are starting to play with our new style. The last four games of the semester were our best. We are leading the USCAA in 3-point field goals made per game and in scoring. I think people will really be impressed with the up-tempo game we are now playing.”

SMCC returns to action Jan. 6 against Rochester and expects to make a run at another conference title and national tournament berth.

“Next semester looks very promising,” said Richards. “I think we’re going to have the ability to rattle off several conference wins in a row. One addition at the break will really help in Jeff Winnie who was our starting point guard last year. With Jeff coming back, I’ll be able to slide everyone else back to their natural position. We currently stand at fourth in our conference, two games back from the top spot. I feel that our added chemistry late in the first semester and several key home conference games in the second half of the season will put us in the mix to get into the top two spots in the conference.”

The women also lost to CMCC (60-55) in their 2009 finale. The Seawolves are 5-5 overall (5-2 in YSCC play) and have a lot to be proud of.

“We have been on a roller coaster this first semester,” said coach Becky Roak. “We got off to a shaky start playing a few tough non-conference opponents like Navy Prep, Dean and CCRI trying to get ready for conference play. Then, we started to play good team basketball, we seemed to be all on the same page, then had a disappointing final game against CMCC. The loss deflated our sails a bit, but will also be used as drive and motivation to start out second semester.”

South Portland’s Rachel Del Camp has led the way this winter, averaging 17.7 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. Portland’s Alisa Sweet has scored 14.6 points and grabbed 10.8 rebounds an outing. Roak credited better ball handling and the play of guards Amanda Chandler and Brittany Rich for the team’s improvement.

SMCC is back in action Jan. 8 when it faces Briarcliffe College. Like the men, the women’s team feels its best is still to come.

“As for 2010, I feel we will get it together and come on strong realizing we have to work hard every night and can not take any team lightly,” Roak said. “The key to our success will be the veteran players stepping up and not repeating what happen to us last February.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected]