Lawrence High School of Fairfield basketball coach John Donato said his team is “still a work in progress” but he added that “it’s exciting to be in the mix.”
The Bulldogs are 9-5 and fifth in the Class A North Heal Points standings thanks to a four-game winning streak. Two of those victories came against the two teams right in front of them in the standings, No. 3 Skowhegan (9-4) and No. 4 Hampden Academy (9-5) and another came at the expense of Waterville (8-5) which is right behind Lawrence.
Lawrence, the defending two-time Class A North champs, went 42-2 the previous two years but had to replace two-time Gatorade Player of the Year and Miss Maine Basketball selection Nia Irving and sharpshooting guard Dominque Lewis, who each scored over 1,000 points in their careers.
Donato explained that his team’s slow 1-2 start could be partly attributed to a twisted ankle sustained by point guard Morgan Boudreau which sidelined her and impacted her effectiveness until it healed.
“She’s a three-year starter and one of the leaders on the team. She has been there before and knows what to expect,” said Donato.
Lawrence has scoring balance as every one of its starters has led the team in scoring at some time and they are all averaging 8 to 12 points per game.
Junior forward Hunter Mercier is the team’s leading scorer and Donato said Mercier and junior guard Camryn Caldwell are the top 3-point shooters in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference.
Junior Molly Folsom and sophomore Brooklynn Lambert are the other starters and freshman guard Keagan Alley has given Donato quality minutes off the bench.
Folsom and Lambert are the top rebounders and Boudreau leads the Bulldogs in assists.
Donato said the biggest obstacle for the team to overcome is its lack of size, noting that the 5-foot-7 Folsom is its tallest starter.
“We have to do a better job boxing out and doing all the little tricks offensively and defensively to compensate for our lack of size. It’s different now that we don’t have a great inside presence (like Irving),” said Donato, who mixes up his defenses. “Skowhegan was bigger than us but we held our own on the boards and did a good job taking care of the ball.”
Donato was pleased with the wins over Skowhegan, Hampden Academy and Waterville, but said “there’s still a long way to go.
“We’ve got some tough games left including games against AA schools Edward Little and Bangor,” said Donato.
Edward Little of Auburn entered the week 12-2 and Bangor was 7-7.