Katahdin girls ready to challenge themselves on the hardwood

2 years ago

STACYVILLE, Maine — The Katahdin girls basketball team is eager for the chance to play in meaningful, competitive games this season and has high expectations for the coming year.

The Cougars were 9-4 a season ago, and veteran Coach Shaun McAvoy is hopeful his squad will play a longer schedule, against teams from around the region.

“I am looking forward to our season and expect us to have some close games,” the coach said. “Our biggest strength at this point is the faith I see the girls have in each other, watching each other set goals and improve has bonded them. I have seen great improvement in our defense and it will be key.”

Entering his third season as the Cougars head coach, McAvoy said the mask mandate for players did not deter anyone from playing. However, the same cannot be said for COVID-19 in general.

“I do believe a couple of good players would be on the team if not for COVID,” McAvoy said. “During remote time away, I feel some students struggled to stay connected, grades suffered and they have not found their way back. I think COVID has impacted our youth in ways we don’t fully see at this point.”

The Cougars have a solid mixture of returning players and newcomers. This year’s roster features seniors Makayla Hartsgrove (forward), Maizy Cullen (forward) and Molly Goodman (guard); junior Maggie O’Hara (forward); sophomores Shelby Libby (guard) and Hunter Hartsgrove (center/forward); and freshmen Avery Cullen (guard), Mickenzie Landry (guard/forward), Jayden Stevens (forward) and Skyla Lewis (guard).

The Cougars have one player quarantined until Dec 20, which is something coach McAvoy feels every team will be facing this season.

“This could be a factor for all teams this season, never knowing from day to day who may have to stay home,” coach McAvoy said. “The girls are thrilled to be in the gym and especially happy to know fans will be allowed this year. Katahdin fans have always been great at supporting our teams, the atmosphere in the gym was just not the same without those cheers.”

One of the team’s other top players — Maizy Cullen — who is currently out with a concussion following a hunting accident during muzzleloader season.

The Cougars lost two starters to graduation — Dee Libby and Emma McNally — who were both great leaders on the floor, the coach said. Those losses have opened the door for newcomers to fill the leadership void.

“I hope to see our bench improve in skill, confidence and dedication this year,” McAvoy added.

The Cougars have a number of difficult games on the schedule with perennial powerhouse Southern Aroostook, Wisdom and Class C Hodgdon among the most difficult foes.