MCI girls continuing impressive progression

Maine Central Institute earned the ninth seed for the Class B North girls basketball tournament a year ago after going 11-7 during the regular season.

It was a noteworthy accomplishment for the Huskies because, in the previous six seasons, they had failed to qualify five times and were a 12th seed in 2015.

But the Huskies, who lost to eighth seed Mount Desert Island in a preliminary round game in Bar Harbor, are well on their way to having an even more memorable campaign this season.

MCI took a 6-2 record into Monday night’s game in Thorndike against Mount View.

The Huskies were ranked second in the Heal points standings behind a Caribou team that they have beaten twice this season.

MCI’s list of wins also includes a 60-58 triumph over Skowhegan, currently 6-2 and in second place in the Class A standings.

“Last year was the first time we had double-digit wins in 20 years and we haven’t been this high in the Heal points in 40 to 50 years,” said second-year coach Jordan Larlee.

“We’re really deep this year,” said Larlee who finished the season without a senior on his roster a year ago. “We have a strong, talented group of seniors and juniors as well as sophomores.”

Larlee said his team is “guard-heavy” and “extraordinarily quick” and the girls have been very aggressive defensively.

“We have three guards who give our opponents no space at all and that allows us to limit them on the inside. We love to run and fast break,” said Larlee whose Huskies had allowed an average of just 41.7 points per game entering Monday’s game.

The Huskies play a two-three zone but also like to press and feature a balanced attack.

“A lot of the time, we’ll have nine scorers (in a game),” said Larlee whose team has several players with double-digit potential.

April McAlpine has been the team’s leading scorer and fellow senior guard Sydney Morton has also been up there as has junior guard Sydney Farrar, who transferred from Calais High. Sophomore guard-forward Sara Linkletter is another capable point-producer.

Junior guard Deangeliz Urena, who is currently sidelined with a sprained ankle, Nokomis High of Newport transfer guard Maria Reed, senior guard-forward Claudia Fernandez and 5-11 junior center Christa Carr have also been key contributors.

The 5-foot-11 Carr, MCI’s tallest player, has been an exceptional shot blocker and rebounder, according to Larlee.

MCI’s only two losses came to undefeated John Bapst of Bangor, 58-53 at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor and 33-27 at Pittsfield.

Larlee said they could have won both games but was glad his team got a chance to play at the Cross Insurance Center, where the Class B North Tournament will be held.

“We want to experience Bangor. And having played on that floor against Bapst will help us,” he said.