Ellsworth girls’ basketball team hopes to find successful blend once again

first_img Bio ELLSWORTH — Andy Pooler had a night to think about his team’s first home game of the preseason. At his team’s practice the following day, he had a message for his players.In any other circumstance, a 59-20 win might have been ideal for the Ellsworth girls’ basketball team. Instead, the team’s head coach felt his squad was far from where it needed to be after its home win over the Sumner Tigers.“The result was fine, but the effort wasn’t,” Pooler told his team as players congregated in Katsiaficas Gymnasium for the Eagles’ next-day practice. “We can’t hang our hats on this.”The ensuing practice, two of the team’s players said later, was one of the toughest they’ve ever experienced. Yet the freshman- and sophomore-laden Eagles knew they needed to get tougher, and Pooler’s practice, which had the team running drills the full length of the court and going through set after set on offense and defense, was a step toward getting there.This is placeholder textThis is placeholder textThis year’s Eagles are even younger than last year’s team, on which all but five players freshman or sophomores, but for the most part, the team is in a similar spot. Although Ellsworth still has a lot of talent and experience at the top of its roster, it will also have to rely on its underclassmen to improve as the season unfolds.“We’re carrying a lot of younger players that are new to the program,” Pooler said. “In the games and scrimmages we’ve had so far, we’ve rotated in a lot of players. There are a lot of freshmen who are going to get big minutes for us and have a chance to make an impact.”One of those young players has already made her mark for Ellsworth. Sophomore Trinity Montigny helped the Eagles turn their 2017-18 campaign around down the stretch and earned a spot in the starting lineup over the second half of the season as the team’s top ball handler.Ellsworth’s Trinity Montigny races down the court during a preseason high school basketball game against Sumner on Nov. 30 in Ellsworth. Montigny started last season on the bench but gradually moved into a starting role as the team’s primary ball handler. ELLSWORTH AMERICAN PHOTO BY MIKE MANDELLMontigny led the Eagles in scoring in their Nov. 28 preseason game against Medomak Valley and was in top form once again against Sumner. The sophomore wreaked havoc on the Tigers’ defense throughout the first half to give Ellsworth a lead it would hold the rest of the way.“She’s a year older and a year stronger, and she’s been playing a lot more year-round now,” Pooler said. “Getting that extra year going from a freshman to a sophomore has helped her body get even more prepared for a grueling schedule. She’s definitely taken that extra step.”Pooler will still draw heavily on the experience of his two seniors, Katelynn Bagley, an inside presence with rebounding skills, and Hannah Sargent, a consistent 3-point shooter.Bagley and Sargent know their head coach has set high expectations for them this season, but the two hardly seem fazed at all. They were among the Eagles’ top players last season alongside Mason, Hammer and Montigny, and Pooler has consistently pointed out their leadership skills to teammates in games and practices.“We’ve been through this before,” Bagley said. “I think Hannah and I, we know what it’s like for Coach to expect big things from us and for our teammates to look up to us. So I don’t think we feel a lot of pressure at all.”Among the younger players who will be seeing time on the floor for Ellsworth this year are freshmen Sierra Andrews, Kylie Robidoux and Sara Shea. Shea in particular earned a lot of minutes against Sumner, and Pooler hopes her play resembles that of an aforementioned freshman standout from last season.Ellsworth’s Sara Shea looks to pass during a preseason high school basketball game against Sumner on Nov. 30 in Ellsworth. Shea, a freshman, has a chance to earn significant playing time this season. ELLSWORTH AMERICAN PHOTO BY MIKE MANDELL“She played well defensively and showed she can handle the ball well for us,” Pooler said. “Like Trinity did last year for us, she’s going to have to find a way to step up and be a contributor for us.”Pooler knows a mixture of veteran talent and young players might not come together right away, but he dealt with similar circumstances last season. The Eagles went 1-5 over the 2016 portion of their schedule before winning eight of 11 between Jan. 2 and Feb. 6 to clinch a playoff spot.The Eagles have a less-than-ideal December slate once again this year. The team plays on the road in five of its first six games, a stretch that includes a road contest against defending Class C North runner-up George Stevens Academy and a road trip to The County to face Presque Isle and Caribou.Before that, though, the team will open its season in Orono at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 8. Ellsworth beat Orono on the road last season, and a similar result this year would give the Eagles a boost of confidence heading into the latter half of the month.“They’re a team that’s very similar to us, and it’s going to be a good chance to see where we are and how we need to get better,” Sargent said. “If we can get off to a good start, it’s going to really get us going.” Latest Posts Ellsworth runners compete in virtual Boston Marathon – September 16, 2020 Latest posts by Mike Mandell (see all)center_img Hospice volunteers help families navigate grief and find hope – September 12, 2020 Mike MandellMike Mandell is the sports editor at The Ellsworth American and Mount Desert Islander. He began working for The American in August 2016. You can reach him via email at mmandell@ellsworthamerican.com. MPA approves golf, XC, field hockey, soccer; football, volleyball moved to spring – September 10, 2020last_img read more

Andrew White diversifies offensive game amid shooting slump

first_img Published on December 29, 2016 at 8:53 pm Contact Paul: pmschwed@syr.edu | @pschweds Andrew White knew he had to change up his strategy. After receiving a face-guard from St. John’s’ Malik Ellison, White’s inklings of needing to diversify his offensive game surfaced once again. He couldn’t rely so much on 3-pointers if he hoped to be successful going forward.Against Cornell on Tuesday, White charged toward the basket more often and scored at the rim. The fifth-year graduate transfer is still adjusting to Syracuse and 13 games into the season, how he’s scoring is undergoing a bit of a change.“I’d like to get to the hole a little bit more,” White said. “… I’m going to try and take some of the stuff that I used last year, kind of mold that into my game so that I can be a little bit more well-rounded.”Following White’s worst game of the season, a two-point performance against St. John’s on Dec. 21, the changes had to happen. He successfully attacked the basket on six occasions against the Big Red and racked up 12 points. The game provided a glimpse at what he can do even when he goes scoreless from deep and it’s a transformation that SU (8-5) may continue relying on when Atlantic Coast Conference play begins on Sunday at noon at Boston College (7-6).In a six-game stretch prior to the St. John’s game, 25 of White’s 31 converted field goals were 3-pointers. He mostly either spotted up at the 3-point line waiting for a pass or curled around a screen designed to get him open. It resulted in a similar, even predictable, catch-and-shoot rhythm.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textJacob Greenfeld | Asst. Photo EditorThe strategy worked for the ACC’s leader in 3-pointers made (39) this season, until Ellison shut White down in his first game scoring fewer than 10 points this year. It was the first time since high school that White faced a box-and-one defense, he said, and without being a dangerous threat to dribble, St. John’s went all in on locking him down to defend the 3-pointer. Paired with a Syracuse offense that ranks 126th in the country with 76.7 points per game, shutting down SU’s leading scorer is a strategy that opponents could likely employ again.“Teams are going to deny him as much as they can,” Orange head coach Jim Boeheim said.While White has gone 0-for-7 from behind the arc in the past two games, he scored in different ways in Syracuse’s last nonconference game against Cornell.Twice in the first half, White split two defenders in the lane on his way to the basket for an easy layup in transition. Four minutes into the second half, he grabbed an offensive rebound and made both free throws after he got fouled on the putback attempt. A minute later, he stole the ball, went coast-to-coast, drew a foul and again hit both free throws. Thirty seconds after that, he cut along the baseline, caught a pass inside from Taurean Thompson and smoothly finished.His makes surrounded the basket as he went 3-for-5 on 2-point field goals. His six made free throws against Cornell were a season-high, an indication that he was getting inside well enough to draw fouls.“When you’re a good shooter you’ll have to take a few tough shots,” point guard Frank Howard said, “but you don’t want every shot to be that tough.”White said he wants to get back to being a threat from several places on the court, like he was last year. At Nebraska last season, 44.6 percent of White’s field goals came via 3-pointers, compared to 63.9 percent this season. But as a result of improved point guard play getting him the ball in open spots, White said he hadn’t had to find other ways to score. Until recently.“I try to look at the shots, look at my form, look at my technique,” White said, “and figure out what I could have done to correct that shot and what else was going on around it.”Amid his current shooting slump, the answer for White is attacking the basket. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more