College notebook: Thomas’ women’s basketball program sees growth in numbers

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College notebook: Thomas' women's basketball program sees growth in numbers 28588142 02womenhoops

Thomas College’s KJ Ravagli, right, passes the ball around UMaine-Farmington defenseman Tia Day during women’s basketball action last season in Farmington. The Terriers, who had just seven players available at one point last season, will enter the 2022-2023 season with a roster of 18 under new head coach Jason Coleman. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

The Thomas College women’s basketball team went 2-19 last season and finished with just eight players.

Enter new coach Jason Coleman, who said he’s committed to rebuilding the struggling program.

Since his April signing, Coleman has built a roster of 18 players, including 11 freshmen and two sophomores. Gardiner guard Kiara Goggin is the only senior on the team.

Coleman focused his recruiting efforts primarily in central Maine. Newcomers include Hannah Coolen, who earned more than 1,000 points during her career at Mount View High School. Coolen was the second player in school history to achieve the mark, behind Maine Basketball Hall of Famer Emily Ellis.

“A lot (of the recruiting) were pre-established relationships with coaches of players in the past on AAU circuits, or getting to know their high school or club coach, finding (players) that were still available,” Coleman said. “Once I was able to do that, I was able to narrow it down to see what fit with what we were looking for and how we’re trying to build our show. First I recruit the character. If you are a child of great character, I can do much more with you because you are responsible, you are responsible, you are mature. The basketball piece will fix itself.”

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Other newcomers include: Elena Alderman (Mount Desert Island), Keira Gilman (Waterville), Mia Henderson (Houlton), Paige Lafrenaye (Lincoln Academy), Emily Hagerty (Lawrence), Trea Broussard (Brewer), Chloe LaBree (Orono), Eva -Marie Stevens (Mt. Blue) and Jocelyn Jordan (Ellsworth).

Coleman took over from Emily Cummins, who went 41-134 in seven full seasons. Coleman went 3-3 as the men’s basketball coach at the University of Maine at Augusta during a 2020-2021 season shortened due to the coronavirus pandemic. Coleman previously served as the director of operations for the University of Maine men’s basketball team from 2018-2019.

In addition, Coleman has a track record of success at the high school level, leading the Orono men’s basketball team to three regional final appearances between 2011 and 2018. In 2019, Coleman was an assistant to Hermon women’s basketball coach Chris Cameron. The Hawks won the Class B North title.

“(The start of the season) is going well,” Coleman said. “The good news is that we have a lot of new faces and they want to learn. They are working hard, they are asking questions. They want more, they ask for more, and so we’re giving them more, which is great from the start.”

The Terriers got off to an 0-3 start, their latest setback being a 56-48 decision to New England College on Sunday in Castleton, Vermont. Thomas plays next for Colby-Sawyer College on Saturday at the Colby Tip-Off in Waterville.

Coleman knows that there is a lot of work ahead, but he is happy to be able to work with his new team.

“They know and understand what’s at stake here, trying to rebuild,” Coleman said. “The returners have been really good at explaining how long the season is. It’s a good mix. But we’re extremely young… We could be one of the youngest four-year-olds in the country. But it’s exciting, because we’re going to be on a roller coaster. We will have some highs; we will have some casualties. We’ll stall a bit. I have to temper my own expectations a bit. But I am extremely pleased with where we are. They did everything we asked them to do, so I have no complaints.”

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• • •

The Southern Maine Community College women’s soccer team came within one shot of winning the United States Collegiate Athletic Association Division II national championship Monday afternoon in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The Seawolves fell to the Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (ACPHS) on penalty kicks.

The SeaWolves feature seven high school players from central Maine. Gardiner Area High School graduate Ammelia Lunt scored the only goal for SMCC in the national title game Monday. Lunt scored the first goal of the game with an assist on a corner kick from her teammate Mackenzie Farnham.

Julia Roemer scored the equalizing goal for ACPHS in the 60th minute, and the game eventually went to penalties. Emma Russell scored the decisive kick for ACPHS.

SMCC finished 8-3-5. Paige St. Pierre, a sophomore and graduate of Waterville Senior High School, was second on the team with six goals. Lunt was tied for fourth on the team with four.

Other core Maine SeaWolves include Paige Lord (MCI), Ryleigh Lord (Mount View), Desiree Veilleux (Winslow), Jordyn Condon (Nokomis) and Jordan Boone (Skowhegan).

• • •

The Thomas College men’s basketball team appeared on a national broadcast last week, but the result was difficult.

Thomas, a Division III program, lost to Division I Bryant University 147-39 in Smithfield, Rhode Island. The game was broadcast nationally on ESPN+.

Bryant outscored Thomas 74-22 in the first half, then 73-17 in the second half.

Bryant’s head coach, Jared Grasso, explained why his team continued to push the scoring in the second half in an interview with ABC6’s Ian Steele of Providence, Rhode Island.

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“I can’t change what we do and step back,” Grasso said. “We have to keep improving. I talked about that at halftime. I don’t care about the score or who we’re playing against. It’s about us being mature enough to be up 50 points and show up and play the right way in the second half. I can’t tell them to hold the ball and worry about what the outcome will be. It’s not beneficial for our group and right now my job is to build this team.”

Thomas College head coach Marquis Mason-Pollard could not be reached for comment.

Guard Charles Pride scored a game-high 23 points for the Bulldogs. He also had 12 rebounds. Guard Parker Morrison did most of the scoring for Thomas, finishing with 20 points. Bryant finished 55 of 86 (64 percent) from the field.

It is not unusual for a Division III team to play a DI team early in the season. Last season, the University of Maine men’s basketball team beat the University of Maine at Farmington 71-52 at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor. The Black Bears beat the University of Maine at Fort Kent 90-45 on November 11. Bryant was scheduled to play UMaine-Fort Kent on Monday, but the Bengals lost the game due to injuries.