Kennebunk girls’ basketball coach Rob Sullivan can recall just one time all season when Emily Archibald actually looked like a freshman on the court.

It was the Rams’ first game, and Archibald was nervous.

“We had a nice big crowd, and she really felt like she struggled that game,” Sullivan said of Kennebunk’s 45-38 season-opening victory at Biddeford. “For her, it was a lesson of, ‘You don’t have to do it all. You have your teammates with you.’ Just like that, the weight was lifted.”

From that point on, Archibald shed all traces of her age. She bounced back in the next game, scoring more than 20 points against Westbrook, and eventually went on to twice break a 22-year-old school record for rebounds in one game.

For being a standout athlete in basketball as well as soccer and lacrosse, Archibald received the Fab Freshman Award at the Varsity Maine Awards show.

“I’ve always been bigger than everybody, so that was always an advantage,” said the 6-foot Archibald.

She has been playing basketball since age 5 and wears Michael Jordan’s No. 23 in all three sports.

But Sullivan said Archibald’s success comes from her work ethic – not her height. That wasn’t lost on her basketball teammates, who voted her team captain as a freshman in what Sullivan called “an overwhelming response.”

“I had never, ever, heard of such a thing,” said Sullivan, who has been coaching the Rams for more than two decades. “I talked to my assistant coaches and they were all like, ‘If you just walk into the gym and don’t know how old they are, you would immediately see (Archibald) acting like a captain.”

When Archibald grabbed 22 rebounds in a rematch against Biddeford to break the school’s single-game rebound record set by Rebecca Donovan in 1996, neither she nor Sullivan knew until several days later.

“I wasn’t really paying attention to that stuff during the game, but – in the second half – it felt like if it came off the rim, it was in her hands,” Sullivan said. “The rebounding record really kind of sums her up, because I always tell the girls, ‘Rebounding is really just want-to. It’s just hustle.'”

Archibald then broke her own record nine days later in a 42-31 victory over Falmouth in which she collected 23 rebounds, 21 points and blocked 10 shots.

“Luckily, we didn’t have a plaque or anything made,” Sullivan joked of Archibald’s first record-breaking performance.

Archibald also played big roles on her soccer and lacrosse teams, both of which advanced to the Class A South final. She had multiple game-winners throughout the soccer season, including in the Rams’ 1-0 semifinal victory over Marshwood. And she was a consistent scoring threat in lacrosse, contributing five postseason goals.

“As a coach, you’d love to have 12 Emilys,” Kennebunk girls’ lacrosse coach Annie Barker said. “She wasn’t a really vocal leader, but she leads by example.”

Archibald has big hopes for her basketball squad, which fell to York 44-31 in the Class B South quarterfinals. She led her team with 16 points in that game.

“That was a little scary going into a big place like that, but really enjoyable,” Archibald said of the Portland Expo. “We all have that goal of getting back there next year.”


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