Skowhegan’s Jaycie Christopher, left, receives the Miss Maine Basketball trophy from Maranacook girls’ basketball coach Karen Magnusson at the McDonald’s All-Star Games on Saturday at Husson University in Bangor. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

BANGOR — Jaycie Christopher got the prize she really wanted last week.

But the Skowhegan senior’s brilliant final season wasn’t done. And Christopher wasn’t finished winning.

Christopher, who led her team to its first state championship, won the Miss Maine Basketball award Saturday as the state’s best senior girls’ basketball player, emerging from a trio of finalists that included Grace Ramsdell of Wells and Anna Nelson of Gorham.

The Mr. Maine Basketball award went to Edward Little center John Shea, who beat out Ellsworth’s Hunter Curtis and Falmouth’s Brady Coyne.

Christopher’s honor capped a decorated career in which she became Skowhegan’s all-time leading scorer. The River Hawks went 22-0 on their way to the Class A championship.

“It feels pretty good. Knowing that my teammates and my coaches and my family and our community got me here, it just makes it even more special,” said Christopher, Skowhegan’s first Miss Maine winner. “This senior season was everything I could have ever imagined since I was a little kid. It was a dream come true.”


Edward Little’s John Shea, center, sits with his Mr. Maine Basketball trophy at the McDonald’s All-Star Games at Husson University. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Shea joined Troy Barnies (2007) as the only Mr. Maine Basketball winners from Edward Little. The Red Eddies went 18-3 but lost to Oxford Hills in the Class AA North final on a last-second shot, 48-47.

“It was definitely a goal at the beginning of the season,” said Shea. “The biggest part about it was my teammates and coaches trusting me, putting me in positions to score. Without them, none of this happens.”

Going into the season, the Boston University-bound Christopher said being crowned the state’s best senior wasn’t on her mind.

“Honestly, it was never something that I ever thought about,” she said. “The only thing that mattered to me was winning a Gold Ball. Whatever it took to do that was what I was going to do.”

Becoming the caliber of player that wins this award, however, was always the plan. Well before she made her varsity debut as a freshman, Christopher was focusing on excellence.

“When I was in seventh grade, I started working out in the morning before school,” said Christopher, who noted that she takes between 400 and 700 shots after practices. “That’s really the time that I think showed me what it really took to be great. Those 5:30, 6 o’clock workouts, lifting, getting shots up in the morning, sprints, that kind of stuff, that’s where it’s done. Once you get into the season, you’re just ready to go.”


As her skills progressed, so did her drive, stoked consistently by her father, Athletic Director Jon Christopher.

“My dad was always there to kind of knock us down,” she said. “I could have had a really good game, and he’d be like ‘You had four turnovers. That’s not good enough.’ He’s always there to humble me, and that was just so important.”

The end result was a player who did it all on the court this season. Christopher averaged 25 points per game while sporting both an athletic finishing ability and a lethal pull-up game. She also averaged 11 assists and seven rebounds while running the offense and anchoring the defense.

“That’s what I feel most (proud) about, is the amount of work she’s put into building our program,” Skowhegan Coach Mike LeBlanc said. “Not just her legacy, but our legacy now. She’s just a great person and well deserved it.”

Edward Little Coach Mike Adams said the same applies to Shea.

“He was really the cornerstone of us offensively. … They did everything they could to take him away,” Adams said. “But bigger than that was what he does for our program. He involves himself with our youth camp in the summertime. … Every day, Monday through Thursday, he’s helping run our youth camps, and he’s the face of our youth camps.”


With Shea in the post, the Red Eddies rolled. He averaged 27 points and 12 rebounds as Edward Little went 16-2 during the regular season, grabbed the No. 1 seed in AA North and challenged for another Gold Ball.

“It was a monster year,” Adams said.

The 6-foot-6 Shea was the favorite to win Mr. Maine Basketball from the start of the season after he scored 30 points and grabbed 14 rebounds against Oxford Hills and 6-10 center Colby Dillingham. A 44-point game against Hampden Academy, tying the school record set by Barnies, and 36-point effort against Lewiston followed.

“It was definitely special,” Shea said. “I knew that I’m able to dominate the paint whenever I need to to get a bucket. The biggest thing for me was cutting down some weight, and I did that, and I’m continuing to do that to be able to play at the next level.”

That domination wasn’t always a given. Shea works closely with Barnies, a longtime pro in Europe.

“His favorite word to use with me is don’t be ‘soft,'” Shea said. “That’s one of the biggest things I try to (hone) in on, to try to be as hard as I could on kids and do my best to put my body into someone and go get a bucket.”

That approach worked more often than not.

“I’ve had this dream ever since I was a little kid,” Shea said. “To be able to join Troy as the second person in program history to do this, it’s pretty special.”

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