BIDDEFORD — Before the start of the season, before the games and before the practices, there was something new with the Biddeford girls’ basketball team.

There was hope.

The players on the Tigers knew there was talent coming. They had seen it on display during the summer. And they had a feeling that, after years and years of losing, it was finally time to start winning.

“Our mindset changed. … We needed to turn this team around,” said senior forward and captain Hannah Smith. “Coming in, I had a feeling we were going to do better than last year. I was excited to have more wins.

“I wasn’t expecting our record.”

As the regular season prepares to give way to the tournament, Biddeford finds itself in the middle of one of the state’s most dramatic turnarounds. The Tigers, led by veterans like Smith and dynamic freshmen in Jordyn Crump and Anna Smyth, are 11-7 one year after going 0-18, and heading to their first tournament (excluding 2022, when every team qualified) since 2010. They will play a prelim game in Class B South at Lincoln Academy on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.


Biddeford has a winning record for the first time since that 2009-10 season, when it finished 15-5. In between, the program endured a 45-172 stretch, unsuccessful enough to drop the team from Class A to Class B as a result of the Maine Principals’ Association’s new performance-based classification process.

All along, Jeannine Paradis – a 1994 Biddeford graduate who is in her third year as the Tigers’ head coach – wondered why basketball couldn’t have the success enjoyed by some of the school’s other girls’ programs, including volleyball (state champions in 2022), softball (champions in 2022) and field hockey (champions in 2018).

“It’s always been kind of a struggle. Basketball’s always been the fun sport here, and all the other sports have been competitive,” she said. “Well, why not basketball? (That) was my question to them. Why not? Why is it good for other programs, but why is the commitment here not the same? Why not basketball? Why can’t we be good here too? We have all the athletes we need.”

That transformation is taking place, and giving players who have become all too used to losing a chance to look forward to tournament play.

“It was very frustrating, it was a very negative feeling. Going into every game just knowing you’re probably going to get blown out is definitely not a very good feeling,” said senior guard and captain Riley Langevin. “But this year, it’s different. It’s a lot better.”

The Tigers knew help was on the way in the form of Smyth and Crump, two talented AAU players. Crump as a freshman has already received a verbal scholarship offer to Boston College, according to Paradis, and she arrived to the Biddeford program ready to take over the point guard position.


“People would tell me about how they used to do, but I’ve been told that stuff before. I didn’t really let it affect me,” Crump said. “I didn’t want to come in shy. I wanted to show what I could do, and the type of player that I am.”

Crump’s floor vision, ball-handling skills, ability to score and on-court leadership have sparked the Tigers. She’s averaging 11.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 3.4 steals per game.

The Biddeford players have been impressed with Crump’s ability.

“(For) a freshman point guard, there’s so much pressure on you. But she is so confident with the ball that it reflects confidence onto other people,” said senior guard and captain Cadence Goulet. “She can dribble through people, she can cross someone’s ankles and then take a 3 right in their face. She is so confident in what she’s doing that it ups the level of intensity so much. She pushes everyone to be better on the floor.”

While Crump has given the Tigers a floor general, the pieces around her have fallen into place as well. Smyth, her classmate, is a tenacious defender and shot challenger who can play guard and forward. Smith is the team’s leading scorer (11.8 points per game) and rebounder (7.4). Ayla Lagasse (5.8 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 2.3 steals), new to basketball this season, has provided a dose of athleticism and defensive intensity.

“You can see the turnaround, in my senior class especially. We grew up losing all the time,” Goulet said. “Now you can see the shift in everyone’s heads. We’re not going to accept the loss anymore.”


Not accepting losses is one thing, but the Tigers have still had to learn how to win. Biddeford started the season 1-4, but narrow wins over Wells (35-32), Yarmouth (29-28) and Portland (49-48) have given the team reps at closing games out.

“It’s learning to play with a lead sometimes, and we’re not used to that, and haven’t been used to that,” Paradis said. “Especially when we’re not hitting our shots. Now what do we need to do? Well, now we need to work our offense. We need to make that extra pass. … We need to find the cutter going to the basket.

“Trying to get them to recognize that game IQ, we’re still learning and getting used to.”

For the program, there’s still time, as the eighth-grade class is strong and should help Biddeford continue the upward trend. For the seniors in this group, however, knowing they’ve allowed the program to break through has been an achievement in itself.

“The winning feels good. I think that’s also what’s driving us,” Smith said. “This feeling’s really good.”

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