The Bangor High School girls basketball began the season with losses to Edward Little High School of Auburn and Lewiston during which they scored a total of 61 points and committed 50 turnovers.
But the Rams have been doing a much better job protecting the basketball and it has resulted in impressive back-to-back wins over Thornton Academy of Saco (52-46) on Saturday and previously undefeated Oxford Hills of South Paris (49-42) on Monday.
Thornton Academy was 6-4 entering its game with visiting Bangor and Oxford Hills was 10-0 when it invaded the Red Barry Gym.
“Those two games have been our best games of the year. The girls have started to play up their skill level,” said Bangor coach Joe Johnson. “We’ve had some girls who had to work through some nerves. They’re more experienced now.
“We had to learn to hold on to the basketball and make better decisions and that has enabled us to take better shots,” said Johnson who noted that his team is playing with more confidence.
“They know they can compete and play with everybody now,” said Johnson. “I’ve been telling them that all along.”
Senior center Katie Butler has scored a total of 29 points in the two wins and grabbed 30 rebounds, according to Johnson.
Junior Lauren Young has improved dramatically as the point guard in her first season as a starter. Sarah Bragg and Emily Gilmore were the starting guards last year and both graduated so teams have pressured Young and the other guards to try to force turnovers.
“Lauren has been a big part of this,” said Johnson. “Her ball-handling, court awareness and decision-making are a lot better.”
Sophomore guard Olivia Sharrow had 18 points against Thornton Academy and nine more vs. Oxford Hills. Another sophomore, forward Abby Houghton, had 10 fourth-quarter points against Oxford Hills including two baskets off free throw misses and senior guard Samantha Thayer had nine points.
When Young isn’t on the floor, it has been point guard by committee according to Johnson referring to seniors Megan Conner, Emma Payne and Thayer; Sharrow and freshman Rowan Andrews.
Butler, senior Kira Yardley and Sharrow have been among their most productive rebounders.
The Rams, now 5-6, host arch-rival Brewer on Friday night at 7.