The Belfast Area High School girls junior varsity basketball squad had a strong season. With as many wins as losses, the team pulled out a solid 8-8 campaign and improved as the season progressed.

“We both agreed that we had an incredible group of girls that learned so quickly,” said first-year coach Amy Flood about her, and freshmen coach Guy Hamlin’s, opinion of the Lion jayvee squad. “We told them, ‘Hey, this is what you need to do,’ and they just went out and did it.”

The team included sophomores Becca Leonard, Emily Blood, Crystal Lilley, Devon Drake, Rochelle Soohey, Caitlin McFadden, Kaycee Fogg, Brooke Stanley, Kallee Merrifield and Kali Doolan; and freshmen McKenzie Thibodeau, Brianna Flagg, Hanna Colburn and Courtney Drinkwater.

Blood was the team’s top scorer with about 100 points during the season.

For coach Flood, the highlight game of the season was against visiting Camden Hills. The Lions beat the ‘Jammers 39-30 in a contest near the end of the season. “They just really showed that they could play,” she said. “They held onto it. They fought the whole time. I think I was the most excited about that game, also.”

On the court the Lions were a defense-oriented team, especially during the Camden Hills game. “They really pulled it out on the defensive end,” Flood said. “They shut the players down from running their offense and offensively they didn’t get flustered [by Camden Hills’ game]. They really kept their mind in the game, they didn’t fold under the press, they really worked it through.”

Defensively, “they were quick, they were smart, [and] they moved their feet,” Flood said.

According to the coach, the team’s most impressive strength was its willingness to learn. She said Hamlin, a 15-year coach, told her this group was likely the best listening group he has had.

“Every game they pulled out something that we had taught them in practice,” she said. “They really opened their minds up to what we had to teach them and every game was an improvement. Every game there was an individual improvement [for] someone.”

The players also got along well. “They really meshed really well together. They learned from each other, they supported each other,” Flood said. “I think they had a really good chemistry. They really worked well together. There weren’t issues. They didn’t bring issues to the court. They really came and they wanted to play basketball and they had fun and we made it fun.”

Flood also mentioned the team’s last game as a representation of the squad’s achievements. The game was a 36-27 win over Waldo County rival Mount View of Thorndike.

“It was a great example of everything that they had learned because at the end of the game they really slowed it down, they took control of the game and they just played,” she said. “They had fun, they had opportunities, they had passes into the post where they had never had that the whole season.”

“Sometimes you have to be smart, play smart, slow it down, take control and play your own game and they really did well with that,” Flood said.

Village NetMedia Sports Reporter Frederick Freudenberger can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail at fritz@villagesoup.com.