Young Skowhegan team showing defensive prowess

Skowhegan girls basketball coach Mike LeBlanc didn’t know what to expect with a young team in his first year coaching the Indians last winter.

So far in his second campaign, the Indians have played some of the best defense in the Class A North ranks. And that hasn’t surprised him in the least.

With a roster that includes eight sophomores and three freshmen, LeBlanc’s Indians are 5-0 while holding four opponents under 30 points.

Skowhegan has yielded 28.8 points per game in its victories over Hampden Academy, Brewer, Mount View of Thorndike, Maine Central Institute of Pittsfield and Erskine Academy of South China.

“They’re a good group and we’re all learning on the fly,” LeBlanc said Wednesday.

LeBlanc’s starting lineup, Sydney Reed, Sydney Ames, Annie Cooke, Mariah Dunbar and Alyssa Everett, are all sophomores.

“They’re the ones who are able to set the tempo,” LeBlanc said. “Our offense will come from our defense.”

The game against Brewer was the only contest in which the Indians have yielded more than 30 points, a game Skowhegan won in overtime.

On Thursday, Skowhegan expects a big challenge from a talented Gardiner squad.

“We’ve passed the other two tests with Hampden and Brewer, but that’s a big test,” LeBlanc said.

If the Indians are able to keep playing stingy defense, they may be able to compete the first third of the season unbeaten.

“Last year, we had problems holding teams down,” LeBlanc said. “Now we’re starting to learn a little bit of team defense and they’re starting to get it.”

Free Throws

John Bapst continued its torrid start to the season, improving to 4-0 with an impressive 56-47 victory at Mount Desert Island on Tuesday. Gracie Philippon pumped in 24 points to pace coach Mike Webb’s Crusaders, who host fellow Class B North contender Presque Isle at the Cross Insurance Center on Friday at 6 p.m.

Hermon used a game-breaking, 19-3, fourth-quarter run to pull away and defeat Foxcroft Academy 58-42 Tuesday night. The Hawks entered the fourth quarter leading by only four. Maddie Pullen drained five 3-pointers en route to 17 points to pace the Hawks’ offense.

Defending Class D North regional champion Shead  of Eastport has won its first three games in convincing fashion, showing the Tigerettes may again be a tough out once February rolls around. Coach Dean Preston’s club has averaged a solid 57.6 points per game in victories over Machias, Jonesport-Beals and Hodgdon.

In Shead’s most recent win, a home victory over the Hawks, Holly Preston racked up 15 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. The Tigers sit fourth in a Class D North logjam.

Woodland has been an early-season surprise in Class C North, having won its first three games, including a season-opening, one-point road win over defending Class C state champion Narraguagus of Harrington. The Dragons were set to put their undefeated record on the line Wednesday against Jonesport-Beals.

Ryan McLaughlin

About Ryan McLaughlin

Ryan McLaughlin is a longtime Bangor Daily News writer who is also a fitness trainer at Union Street Athletics in Bangor. Before becoming a fitness trainer, Ryan enjoyed long-distance running and participated in numerous road races over the years. When he isn't writing, instructing classes or training, Ryan enjoys obstacle course racing, playing golf, raising his newborn son Liam with wife Alissa and all sports.