Lori Gear McBride simply laughed.

The University of Vermont women’s basketball coach had been asked if her two talented freshman forwards from Maine — York’s Nicole Taylor and Portland’s Kayla Burchill — were making life easier these days.

“I don’t know about that, we expected both of them to be very good,” she said. “The one thing you never know is how quickly players will adapt to the college game as freshmen. Well, we’re very pleased. We feel they’ve adapted very well. We don’t think they’re freshmen anymore.”

Certainly not based on their actions on the court. Burchill, who played at Deering, was named America East Rookie of the Week on Monday. That came one week after Taylor earned the same honor.

And no, they are not going to have a contest to see who wins that award more this year.

“We’re happy that we both actually got it,” said Taylor, who finished her career at York with a school-best 1,444 points. “And the fact that we’re both at Vermont, it shows the success we could have in the future.”

You can be sure both will be in the middle of that success. They’re among the statistical leaders for a team that’s 6-2 after Thursday’s loss to Northeastern. Burchill is second in scoring with 10.0 points per game, while Taylor is fourth at 8.1. Taylor is third in rebounds (7.5), with Burchill right behind (5.3). Burchill leads the Catamounts in 3-point shooting (.447 percent). Taylor has nine steals, Burchill has eight.

What both have shown so far is an ability to play either inside or on the perimeter, giving McBride plenty of options. They are strong with their backs to the basket — both played center last year in high school — but can also either hit from the outside or put the ball on the floor and drive to the basket.

“That’s what makes them so valuable, having that versatility,” said McBride. “Whoever guards them has a tough job.”

Burchill has scored 17 points in back-to-back games, making a total of 10 3-pointers. Taylor had her first double-double — 16 points, 15 rebounds — in a 60-47 win over Houston Baptist.

They played together on the New England Crusaders AAU team out of Nashua, N.H., so Burchill and Taylor already had a good understanding of each other’s game. That relationship has made the move to college easier for both, especially off the court.

“It was really great having Niki here at the beginning,” said Burchill, who finished her high school career with 1,279 points. “I was homesick, but I was able to talk to her about it, knowing she felt the same way. It’s nice to be able to talk to someone you already had a friendship with.”

On the court, said Taylor, “we already have a feel for each other.”

Both credit McBride and her staff for getting them ready to play at the college level. They knew it would be a difficult transition.

“The pace of the game is really different,” said Taylor. “And just how good the players are. Every team has every one that’s good. It’s not like in high school, when a team might have a few good players.”

McBride said a lot of credit goes to Burchill and Taylor for their hard work and understanding of what the Catamounts want to do.

“We’re just happy that they’re here,” she said.

And Burchill is glad to be where she is.

“It’s working out well,” she said. “Everything has fallen into place like I hoped it would.”

MEN’S BASKETBALL

Sophomore guard Derek Mayo of Casco (Lake Region/Bridgton Academy) is off to a good start for Wentworth (4-0). He’s averaging 6.8 points and 4.2 rebounds, and has 10 steals and 10 assists.

Sophomore guard Sam Horning of Falmouth is averaging 6.0 points and 3.8 rebounds for Nichols (2-2). He also has eight assists and six steals.

SOCCER

St. Michael’s midfielder Teal Bryan of North Yarmouth (Greely) has been selected to play in Sunday’s New England Women’s Intercollegiate Soccer Association Senior Bowl. Bryan never missed a game in her career, starting 65 of 69. She had 11 goals and eight assists for her career.

SWIMMING

St. Michael’s freshman Nathan Paluso of Windham was named the Student Association’s Athlete of the Week recently. He won six of eight individual events and competed on three winning relay teams in the first four meets. Freshman Matt Pearson of Kennebunk is also on the St. Michael’s roster.

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

Freshman forward Hannah Ebling of Saco is averaging 13.6 minutes per game for Springfield (2-3). She is scoring 3.2 points and has three steals and five assists.

Junior guard Diana Manduca of Portland (Deering) is averaging 8.3 points and 5.0 assists for Colby (4-0). She leads the Mules with 10 steals. Sophomore guard Gabe Donahue of Cape Elizabeth is averaging 1.5 points and 1.8 rebounds for Colby.

Junior forward Morgan Furman of Falmouth is averaging 5.4 points and 4.0 rebounds for Wentworth (0-5). Sophomore guard Danielle Miranda of Westbrook is averaging 2.6 points and 1.4 rebounds.

VOLLEYBALL

Sophomore setter Emma Wilberg of Falmouth was on the Skidmore squad that went 28-9 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Division III tournament.

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: MikeLowePPH