Michelle Paradis wanted her once-beaten Nokomis High School girls to be patient on offense and contain on defense in Thursday’s Class A North matchup against undefeated Skowhegan.
The Newport-based Warriors followed their coach’s script flawlessly and the result was a gritty 41-34 triumph that left both teams at 8-1.
“On the defensive end, the girls did exactly what I told them to do. They contained the dribble and didn’t allow penetration. On offense, they were good about trying to be patient even though they don’t like to slow it down. For us to win, we had to try to use a minute to a minute and a half on each possession,” said Paradis, who played on Nokomis’ only state Class A championship team in 2001 when she was Michelle Murray.
“We knew they liked to get up and down the floor quickly. They use the press to make you turn the ball over,” Paradis added. “But I think they only pressed us five times and we threw it over them for layups three times. So they stopped pressing us.”
The Warriors stayed in their player-to-player defense according to Paradis.
“It was one of our better games even though it was low scoring,” said Paradis, who received 15 points from senior forward Olivia Brown and 14 rebounds from sophomore forward Gabby Lord.
The Warriors’ start is the best in Paradis’ five seasons. Nokomis has limited opponents to 34 points per game.
“You can have real good people on you basketball team but if they don’t mesh well together, you aren’t going to win,” said Paradis. “This team meshes so well together. They hang out together and they all get along. This has been one of my favorite teams to coach.”
Senior Brown has been a model of consistency in leading the team. She is their No. 3 scorer at 10.5 points per game and is also among the top rebounders.
Junior guard Chelsea Crockett is their second leading scorer at 12.0 ppg and senior point guard Austin Taylor leads Nokomis in assists at 4-5 per game. Taylor can also score.
Senior Sidney Moore is an effective multi-purpose guard is the team’s leading scorer at 12.3 ppg and the other starter is 5-foot-11 sophomore Lord who, according to Paradis, is “one of the most athletic forwards in our league.”
Paradis said she has also received productive minutes off the bench from junior Hanna Meservey and sophomore Maci Leali, both guards.
“Hanna and Maci played quite a bit against Skowhegan because Sidney and Chelsea each picked up two fouls in the first quarter and they did a phenomenal job,” said Paradis.
Their only loss, 54-36 to Gardiner a week ago, served as a source of motivation she said.
“It gave our girls an edge. They wanted to prove they’re still a team to be reckoned with,” said Paradis.
Nokomis has another stiff test on Saturday as 7-2 Hampden Academy, winner of seven straight, visits Newport for a 1 p.m. contest.
The top three teams in Class C North – George Stevens Academy of Blue Hill, Stearns of Millinocket and Madawaska – have roared out to combined records of 28-1, but another contender is slowly inching towards those three in the Heal Point standings.
Piscataquis Community of Guilford, which has been a tournament participant the last couple of seasons under head coach Brian Gaw, has pieced together a nice six-game winning streak.
That has lifted the Pirates to an 8-2 record and into fourth place in a logjammed middle of the pack in Class C, which also includes 8-2 Narraguagus, the reigning state champions, 7-3 Calais and 7-3 Woodland.
The Pirates’ most recent victory came in a defensive battle with Schenck, with PCHS leaving East Millinocket with a hard-fought 35-27 victory.
Sophomore Sara Almirante spearheaded a balanced attack with 13 points in that victory while senior guard Erin Speed added 12 points.
The Pirates will put their win streak on the line on Saturday at home against GSA.
The Hermon girls continued their winning ways against a solid Mount Desert Island club on Thursday night, going into Bar Harbor and coming out with a 61-36 victory.
A 19-6 run in the second quarter enabled coach Chris Cameron’s club to open up a double-digit lead it would not relinquish.
Hermon, which was led by Alex Allain’s 15 points, has won nine consecutive games since a season-opening loss at Presque Isle.
In a battle of Class D North clubs that could meet at the Cross Insurance Center next month, Southern Aroostook of Dyer Brook earned a 46-36 home victory over Easton on Wednesday night.
Balance was a key factor for coach Cliff Urquhart’s club in the win, with three Warriors (Kacy Daggett, 12 points, Sydney Brewer, 11 points, Makaelyn Porter, 10 points) scoring in double figures.
Southern Aroostook entered Friday’s play in second place in Class D North while Easton was fifth.