Challenging schedule helping three-time regional champion Shires avoid complacency

Houlton High School girls basketball coach Shawn Graham admitted that he was concerned about his team’s potential to become complacent after winning three straight regional championships and two state titles.

But his schedule will help conquer that possible issue.

The Class C Shiretowners took a 5-0 record into Wednesday night’s game at Hodgdon and those five wins came over teams that entered the week with a combined mark of 24-12 that included the losses to Houlton.

And the schedule is going to get even more challenging over the next week.

The Hodgdon game was the first of three games in four days with perennial Class B contender Presque Isle hosting Houlton on Thursday night before Houlton awaits a Saturday afternoon visit from Central of Corinth, which took a 7-0 record into a Wednesday game against George Stevens Academy of Blue Hill. Central was also in B a year ago.

“I really like our schedule for Class C,” said Graham. “We have an enormous amount of points on it. From top to bottom, every team we play is worth something.”

Presque Isle will bring a 3-2 record into Thursday’s game and its two losses were to 5-0 Hermon and 5-1 Mount Desert Island.

Calais, currently 5-0, will travel to Houlton next Wednesday.

Graham’s Shires went into the Hodgdon game with 66 wins in its last 71 games.

“I’m happy with the way things have gone this season but the big challenge is to keep the girls motivated each night with the success we’ve had the last three years,” said Graham. “Sometimes you take things for granted. You forget how hard it was to get to that level.”

So far this season, Houlton has beaten 4-2 Central Aroostook of Mars Hill (57-31), 5-3 Caribou (65-53), 6-1 Southern Aroostook of Dyer Brook (51-37), 6-2 Stearns of Millnocket (64-42) and 3-4 Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln (65-26).

Caribou is in Class B, Southern Aroostook is in D and the other three are in C.

Houlton won the 2015 state Class C title and the B crown a year later before losing to Gray-New Gloucester in the B final last season.

Three-time Bangor Daily News All-Maine Schoolgirl selection Kolleen Bouchard, who was a first teamer a year ago, is putting together a memorable senior year, averaging 27.3 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and 4.6 blocks per game.

Graham pointed out that he his Shires have received a nice lift from sophomore guard Teagan Ewings, who is averaging eight and a half points per game after being a substitute last season.

“She has been a pleasant surprise,” said Graham.

Senior Aspen Flewelling is averaging eight points per game and sophomore Abbie Worthley is chipping in with five and a half per game.
His daughter, senior Kristen Graham, has been improving steadily after coming off knee surgery. She is second on the team in rebounds with 6.5 per game and she has also averaged 4.4 points.

“She has been wearing a knee brace but she will be able to take it off in mid to late January,” said Shawn Graham.