Kim Condon was the catalyst last winter as Presque Isle breezed to a 22-0 record and the Class A basketball state championship.
This season, the versatile swing player is having a major impact at Colby College in Waterville.
The 5-foot-10 freshman has emerged as the leading scorer and rebounder for coach Tricia O’Brien, whose recent crop of talented Maine recruits has established the White Mules as one of the state’s best small-college teams.
Colby has been named the top seed for the third State of Maine Women’s Basketball Tournament, which runs Friday through Sunday at Husson College in Bangor. The Mules bring 4-2 record into the eight-team event.
Action begins Friday at 1 p.m. at Newman Gymnasium when No. 3 UMaine-Farmington (5-2) meets No. 6 Thomas College of Waterville (3-5). Second-seeded Bates of Lewiston (4-1) faces No. 7 UM-Presque Isle (5-4) at 3 p.m.
Colby and UM-Machias (5-5) square off at 5 p.m., while Maine Athletic Conference rivals Husson (9-5) and St. Joseph’s College of Standish (5-3), the Nos. 4 and 5 seeds, respectively, play at 7 p.m.
Condon has made a smooth transition to college ball. She is averaging a team-leading 23.2 points and 7.3 rebounds, playing mostly shooting guard and point guard. O’Brien also has used Condon underneath.
“We run a lot of motion offenses anyway, so she winds up all over the floor,” O’Brien said. “She’s definitely one of our better ballhandlers, so she definitely can run the point.”
It is Condon’s versatility that makes her such a difficult match-up for opponents.
“She’s 5-10, but she’s quick and can play inside or outside,” said Husson College coach Kissy Walker. “You’re usually asking maybe a post player to try to guard her. She’s so smart, an overall team player, so she’ll take whatever she’s given.”
Condon’s forte is creating scoring chances for herself and her teammates. She has worked well with fellow Aroostook County product Erin Cole-Karagory of Caribou, a sophomore who was last season’s New England Division III Rookie of the Year.
Cole-Karagory is second on the team with 13 points per game.
O’Brien, who had high expectations for Condon from the outset, marvels at her shooting prowess.
“I’m really impressed with her consistency,” O’Brien said. “She’s shooting a very high percentage. She just does not take a bad shot.”
Condon is shooting a team-high 55 percent from the field and has converted 79 percent of her free throws. She’s shooting 30 percent from the 3-point stripe.
“She’s a money player,” O’Brien said. “She wants the ball in her hands at the end of the game.”
In addition to Condon and Cole-Karagory, the Mules also feature sophomore guard Jenn Freese of Veazie, a 3-point threat who’s averaging 5.2 assists.
“I think Colby has gained a lot of respect this year,” Walker said of the Mules, who lost in the ECAC semifinals last season. Colby has only one upperclassman on the squad.
Two-time defending champion USM is absent, having opted to play in a California tourney. Participating coaches voted Colby as the top seed, but there are other challengers.
The Beavers’ top gun is 6-2 center Caryn Lasante, who has paced UMF with 14.9 points and 8.6 rebounds. Kristy Parent is averaging 4.0 assists.
Bates has four players averaging double figures, led by 5-10 forward Kate McLaughlin and 5-9 foward Emily King, each of whom checks in at 15.4 points per outing.
Host Husson looks to 5-11 forward Emily Walker (19.1 points, 6.3 rebounds) and 6-2 forward Kelly Dow (11.9 ppg, 6.5 rpg) to set the tone, while St. Joseph’s features to Shannon Field and Alison Cropley.
Thomas is paced by Angie Ramos (19.3 ppg, 15.5 ppg), while UMPI’s leader is Kim Chatman, the MAC’s top scorer with 23.7 ppg. UM-Machias relies on Lori Morrow (16.8 ppg, 11.7 rpg).
Walker said because of numerous conflicts the tournament will not be held next year. The hope is to revive it for 2000.
“Some of the downfalls are, you play teams that are in your conference that you’ve played a couple of times already, and some of the schools aren’t back from [the holiday] break,” she explained.