The season is young, but early indications suggest that more hardwood heroics are on tap this year at Southern Maine Community College.
The women’s squad has gotten off to a fast start, winning four of its first five games. The Seawolves, who got to the conference championship game, losing to St. Joseph’s of Vermont, and qualified for the national tournament a year ago, opened with wins over Cegep Champlain St. Lawrence (67-46) and UNB Saint John (62-44). After a hard-fought 46-42 setback at Navy Prep, SMCC defeated Penn State Greater Allegheny in its home opener (86-48) and won at Vermont Tech (79-48).
“Things have gone well so far,” said third-year Seawolves coach Julia Howe. “This is about what I expected. You can never predict how you’ll start, because you never know how long it takes to get in the flow of things. We have a lot of returners. Of the 12 on the my roster, eight of them return. They know what I expect and how I run the program and that’s helped the transition. Four newcomers have jumped on board and fit in really well.”
Senior forward Maria Veino has led the way in the early going with an average of 18 points per game. Also averaging double figures in points have been sophomore center Amira Jones (12.4), senior center Alicia Hoyt (11.8) and sophomore point guard Jordan Turner (10.0).
Senior guard/forward Ashley Shine (8.7 points and 6.0 rebounds pre game), sophomore guard Abigail Nelson, of North Yarmouth (8.0 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.8 assists per contest), freshman forward Hannah Heald (6.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg) and freshman guard Destinie Montano (3.8 rpg, 3.0 apg) are other players off to hot starts.
Eleven girls have averaged at least 16.7 minutes per game.
“We have a lot of depth and size,” Howe said. “It’s pretty rare to have depth at the post position. Hoyt and Veino have been here four years and we have Amira Jones, who was an All-American honorable mention last year, returning in the post position. We also have a lot of speed from our guards. Jordan Turner has gotten more confident at the point guard position. We have good balance. I have kids who are in roles they need to be in to make us comfortable. Several girls have tasted success last year and they have a chip on their shoulder that they want to prove themselves and get back. This is it for many of them.”
As always, the Seawolves find themselves in a very daunting conference and if that isn’t challenging enough, the pre-conference slate is brutal.
Regardless, SMCC expects to be in the hunt all the way.
“We want to get back to the conference championship game,” Howe said. “The conference is stronger this year. UMA is playing very well. They have a strong first five. CMCC is always a tough game for us. St. Joe’s didn’t lose anybody and gained some talented players. They’ll be very good. NHTI has a bunch of returners. We strengthened our out of conference schedule. That will help us come tournament time, having played tougher games.”
The men’s team has consistently been excellent under coach (and athletic director) Matt Richards, now in his 13th season.
A year ago, the Seawolves went 24-4, were undefeated in conference play, won the league regular season title, lost in overtime in the league final, than, as the number one-ranked team nationally, was upset in the quarterfinals of the national tournament.
SMCC has a very different look this time around.
“We lost nine to graduation or to other programs and we graduated some really talented, experienced players,” Richards said.
The Seawolves opened with a 70-47 win over St. Thomas University, then lost a 74-71 overtime decision to UNB Saint John and fell at Navy Prep, 100-82. After a 96-92 home win over Penn State Greater Allegheny, SMCC dropped a 72-68 decision at Vermont Tech to fall to 2-3.
“We’re getting acclimated and on the same page,” Richards said. “The talent is there. We have 12 new faces. It’s just getting them up to speed. We’ve lost two heartbreakers that could have gone either way. I thought that could happen early. Hopefully it will help us down the line. We have a challenging early schedule. It’s forcing guys to adjust quickly on the fly.”
Junior point guard Jordan DeRosby (14.8 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 4.4 apg) and former Deering standouts sophomore guard Jon Amabile (16.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg) and freshman forward Thiwat Thiwat (12.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg) have all averaged double figures in scoring in the first five games.
Other top players of note include former South Portland Red Riot sophomore forward Jack Tolan (8.4 ppg), sophomore forward John Morgan (7.6), sophomore guard Grayson Waterman (7.2 ppg) and freshman guard Ville Wuorenjuuri, from Helsinki, Finalnd (7.2 ppg, 3.0 apg).
“We’ve gotten great leadership from Jordan DeRosby at point guard,” said Richards. “Sean Morgan, who had a limited role last year because of injuries. has outstanding intangibles. Ville has a strong basketball IQ. He’s shown steady play at guard. Jon Amabile played here previously. Jack Tolan will play a bigger role. Grayson Waterman is transitioning from golf. He’ll give us a lift. (Former Portland High standout) Matt Talbot will join us at the semester break. He’s working really hard in practice.”
Like the women, the SMCC men are in a very deep conference, meaning the Seawolves will have to steadily improve to be at the level they hope in time for a run at February glory.
“Our goal is to be good at the end,” Richards said. “There are enough pieces here to do that. It’s a pretty wide-open league. No one team that everyone is chasing. It may be a benefit to a team like us that hopes to peak at the right time.”
Jordan DeRosby is a key returner for the SMCC men’s basketball team.
Maria Veino returns to help the SMCC women make a run at the top of the conference.