Brunswick girls basketball coach Sam Farrell talks to his team during a KVAC contest against Morse last season. The Dragons visit Leavitt on Friday in their KVAC opener. (Bob Conn / The Times Record)

There is a sense of newness this year as the girls basketball season begins for most area teams on Friday.

Of the eight area teams, three have new coaches — Julie Petrie moving from Lisbon to Mt. Ararat, Jeannine Paradis taking over at Morse, and Doug Sautter coming out of “coaching retirement” to lead the Greyhounds.

Combined with second-year coaches at Freeport (Seth Farrington) and Tom Philbrick (Wiscasset), there is plenty of new energy, with the “newbies” expecting to lead their squads to successful 2019/20 campaigns.

Here is a capsule look at high school girls basketball:

Lisbon

Sautter is no stranger to coaching at Lisbon.

He led the girls basketball team from 1997-1999, then took over the boys for a run from 2000-2006. He stepped down so he could watch his children, Bree and Jonah, compete. Both had successful high school sports/academic careers and have continued into college.

Sautter is back, and has a team that finished at 3-15 season last year and missed out on the postseason.

With Richmond returning to the East-West Conference this year, gone are the days of the Bobcats battling Lisbon in a Mountain Valley Conference clash. (Bob Conn / The Times Record)

“I like how the girls have been working hard,” said Sautter, whose Greyhounds visit Telstar in their opener on Friday. “It has been quite a learning experience for them as I was not hired until after summer basketball was over. Everything is completely new to them and it has been a steep learning curve. We should be competitive with most teams in our league and we want every opponent to know they are in for a battle when they play us.”

One advantage Sautter has is the return of Giana Russo, who missed all of last season with a knee injury. Russo made it through another scare during the soccer season and appears ready to go.

Russo is joined by teammates Charlee Cox, Kiley Merritt, Siara Martin, Destiney Deschaines, Emma Willey, Maria Levesque, Haley-Jane Tuplin and Emily Libby on the nine-play roster.

“Our numbers are extremely low, so we can’t afford to get into foul trouble,” Sautter said. “We lack size, so we need to rebound on every possession and not allow second-chance points. We need to take care of the ball and be patient on offense because we can’t afford to get into a running game with our opponents.”

Due to the low numbers and no jayvee program, most games for the Greyhounds will be held at 6 p.m., both home and away. Lisbon hosts Winthrop in its home opener on Monday.

“Our number one goal as a team is to make the playoffs. If that isn’t your ultimate goal, then don’t play the game,” Sautter added.  “Our offensive goal is to take care of the ball and make sure we get a quality shot on every possession. You aren’t going to make them all, but if you take quality shots, you have a better chance to make a good percentage of them.”

Mt. Ararat

Petrie made the move to coach the Eagles this season, replacing Andy Morris, who led Mt. Ararat to a postseason berth last year after an 8-10 regular season. The Eagles fell to rival Brunswick at the Portland Expo, 56-30, in the Class A South quarterfinals.

Petrie, who played her high school basketball at Westbrook and teaches at Mt. Ararat, has a solid core returning, with graduation taking standout players Ainsley Bryant, Grace Liedman and Abby Sirois. However, senior guard Kyle Greenleaf, senior forward Theresa Breed and senior guard

Freeport’s Caroline Smith, left, and Mt. Ararat’s Jaden Lohr (25) lead their teams into season-opening girls basketball action on Friday. The Falcons visit Poland, while the Eagles are home to Morse. (Bob Conn / The Times Record)

Alexa Eaton are back, along with juniors Eliza Libby (guard), Jaden Lohr (forward), Lauren Magno (guard), and sophomores Elsa Daulerio (forward) and Kaylee Bergeron (guard).

Newcomers include senior Reese Turcotte, sophomores Maddie Kinney and Lauren Johnson, and freshmen Desneige Williams and Haliegh Hanson.

“The keys to our success will be spreading the scoring throughout the team and playing at a high intensity,” said Petrie, whose Eagles host Morse in their opener on Friday (6:30 p.m.). “We will need to use our defense to generate offense.

“Our team goals are to build off last year’s season and earn a spot at the Expo while working towards playing our best basketball in late February.”

Morse

It was a difficult 2018/19 season for the Shipbuilders, who failed to win a game.

Paradis takes over after a successful stint at Maranacook, and she has her squad learning a new style of play.

“These young ladies are eager to learn. They listen well and are not afraid to try new things,” said Paradis, whose Shipbuilders open their home slate against Poland on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. inside Bath Middle School. “They have been a great group of athletes who have demonstrated respect for the new staff, each other and our program philosophy. I expect them to continue to grow as they learn key aspects of the game. I have really enjoyed getting to know them and am excited to see their growth over the season.”

Back for Morse are seniors Dory Kulis, Abby Sreden and Macy Coffin, along with a solid junior core of Julia Goddard, Mary LaRochelle, Brook Kulis, Abby Carpenter, Kaylee Garland and Hannah Gates. Look for junior newcomer Hannah Bailey, and sophomores Georgia Fisher, Kaylee Creamer, Olivia Chabot and Julia Lucas to contribute.

For Paradis in this first season, the team can only improve.

“The key to our success will be on how quickly we adjust to a new style of play and philosophy. We must finish our shots offensively and limit turnovers. Defensively we will continue to learn to play tenacious defense. We must limit cuts going toward the basket and limit teams on second-chance opportunities,” Paradis said.  

Freeport

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

That is the philosophy for Farrington’s Falcons, who return the entire squad — along with newcomer Angel Pillsbury — that advanced to the Class B South Regional Final for the second straight year.

Of Freeport’s five losses last year, three came to eventual State Class B champion Gray-New Gloucester, which defeated the Falcons in the regional final, 42-31, at Cross Insurance Arena in Portland.

“The keys to success for our team will start on the defensive end of the floor,” said Farrington. “We have to be able to defend to the scouting report and finish possessions with a defensive rebound. If we do that and limit our turnovers, we should be a tough team to beat.”

Freeport visits Poland on Friday and Lincoln Academy on Tuesday before hosting Cape Elizabeth in a rematch of last season’s Class B South semifinal (Freeport won, 49-42) next Thursday at 7 p.m.

Look for Caroline Smith, Catriona Gould and Rachel Wall to lead the Falcons.

Brunswick

It was another successful season in Brunswick as the Dragons went 17-1 and advanced to the Class A South Regional Final, falling to the Anna DeWolfe-led Greely Rangers, 54-33.

Head coach Sam Farrell faces a rebuilding year, with most of his starting lineup (Charlotte MacMillan, Rian Sachs, Marley Groat, Emily Larochelle, Rosalie White) graduating after several years of high quality basketball.

“This is a team that doesn’t have many players with on-court experience from last year, but got to compete every day in practice getting better,” said Farrell. “It’s a tight-knit group that worked hard all summer and really started building their identity and continues that in the preseason. This is definitely a group that will continue to improve as the season progresses.”

Brunswick heads to Leavitt on Friday (6:30 p.m.) before entertaining Yarmouth (Tuesday, 6:30 p.m.) and Mt. Ararat (Dec. 13, 5 p.m.).

Seniors Lexi Guptill and Mackenzie Dorr return, along with juniors Chloe Coombs, Hannah Fortier, Riley Turgeon and Kendahl Dow. Sophomore Logan Brown showed glimpses of her talent throughout the 2018/19 season, and is joined by teammates Morgan Foster and Kelsey Sullivan.

Look for newcomers Ellie Williams (sophomore), Lanye Brewer (freshman) and Kelsey Carlton (freshman) to battle for minutes.

“This year’s team is one of the hardest working groups I’ve ever had at Brunswick. Their collective goal is the Gold Ball, and that’s their motivation to work harder and harder every day,” Farrell said.

Richmond

Like the boys, the Bobcats will compete in the East-West Conference after a couple seasons in the Mountain Valley Conference.

Still, the schedule is daunting, as Richmond, coming off an 8-10 season, visits Old Orchard Beach on Tuesday in a rematch of last year’s Class C South preliminary, won by the Seagulls, 38-32.

The Bobcats host St. Dom’s Dec. 14 in their home opener (1 p.m.).

“We are looking to grow on and off the court as the season goes along,” said Richmond coach Mike Ladner. “We need to be playing our best basketball in late January, early February. We have a team goal of playing at the ACC (Augusta Civic Center).”

Ladner has a solid nucleus back, led by seniors Bryanna Lancaster, Lindsie Irish and Rylie Irish. Juniors Macy Carver, Bryannah Shea, Paige Lebel and Breanna Vintinner also return, with newcomers including sophomore Victoria Bergeron, and freshmen Kara Briand, Sophie Wells, Jaiden Brilliant, Morgan Bergeron and Addison Smith.

Richmond lost graduates Caitlin Kendrick and Hannah Molholland, two players who contributed in both ends of the court.

“We will need to have patience on offense and play great team defense,” said Ladner.

Pine Tree Academy

Breakers coach Josh Dayen enters his seventh season and will be challenged to replace key starters Adriana DePalma, Jordan Milano and Emily Schlisner from a team that went 9-9 last year before falling to Greenville in the Class D South quarterfinals in Augusta, 37-16.

His only returning starter is senior guard Emily Rojas, with junior center Regence Sandy and sophomore forward Eliana Tardif returning. A newcomer is freshman shooting guard Paige Tyson.

“Having graduated four starters, we will be rebuilding and working toward the future,” said Dayen, whose Breakers host Seacoast Christian in their opener on Monday at 4 p.m. “There is a strong core of 10th-grade players and several 9th-grade players that will develop in the coming years. We will be in contention this year and should make the playoffs.”

For Pine Tree Academy to find that success, Dayen said, “We will need to rebound the ball well and protect our possessions. We will be working on communication and intensity. We plan to become a defensive force.”

Wiscasset

Philbrick has a Wolverines team that can only move forward after an 0-18 season last year.

Wiscasset hosts Mt. Abram in its MVC opener on Friday (6:30 p.m.).

“We’re coming around, and people will definitely see improvements this year,” said the second-year coach. “We have a lot of work to do, but the girls have bought in to what we are teaching them.”

Seniors Natalie Potter (returning after a year off), Jade Rego and Kateleen Trask are back, along with juniors Kylie Peoples, Emily Richardson and Zoe Waltz. Sophomores Madison Carrier, Brianna Colson-Orr, D’Nisha Dawkins and Latisha Wright will battle for more playing time, along with freshmen Kailee Colby and Dezarey Orne.

According to Philbrick, the MVC has changed its scheduling format, with upper-level teams meeting twice and lower-level programs facing each other twice. That will make every game even more important once the final Heal Point Standings are completed.

“It is an uphill battle to get into the postseason, plus I like the challenge of facing those upper-tier teams,” said Philbrick. “For us, we are a lot more skilled this year, but winning is a formula, which is the mental part of the game. We have lost a lot recently, so it is tough to say where we are at right now. They will have to wrap themselves around the mental part of the game when things don’t go well.”

 

Comments are not available on this story.