BANGOR – Not everybody, it seems, has school vacation this week.
One of the first people Woodland junior Chad James spoke to Thursday afternoon after his No. 3 Dragons upset No. 2 Deer Isle-Stonington – aside from teammates, coaches, media and fans – was his girlfriend Jennifer Dow. She lives across the border in St. Stephen, New Brunswick.
The St. Stephen schools aren’t on vacation now, so Dow wasn’t able to watch James in person at the Bangor Auditorium. She did see the game on TV, however.
As James was walking toward the Woodland locker room, he was handed a pink cell phone for a quick chat with her.
“She told me she just watched the game on TV and can’t believe it,” said James, who had six free throws in the fourth quarter en route to 14 points in the 48-40 win. “If she was here she would have been rooting hard. If we would have lost that game, it would have been completely different on the phone.”
Dow will likely be in the Auditorium stands for Woodland’s appearance in the Eastern Maine Class D title game, which will be on a school-free Saturday morning against No. 1 Central Aroostook of Mars Hill.
Former players help Dragons
It’s an imposing lineup.
The Central Aroostook girls basketball starts tough 5-foot-9 forwards Kayla Day and Alexandria Dame, and 5-10 center Sarah Long. It wasn’t a good matchup for Woodland in Thursday’s Eastern Maine Class D semifinal. The Dragons start 6-foot Courtney Cochran and no one else taller than the 5-8 Ariel Knights.
Still, No. 2 Woodland wasn’t bothered by the No. 3 Panthers’ height advantage.
Woodland coach Arnold Clark brought in some practice help in the form of ex-Dragon players Lauren Troiani and Katie Smith. The 5-7 Troiani was a 2004 graduate, while 5-9 Smith was Class of 2003. Both were members of the 2003 EM Class C title team.
Kaitlyn Leeman, a 2004 Woodland graduate now playing for Maine Maritime Academy in Castine, also helped in practice. Leeman’s just 5-3, but as a high school player was never afraid to drive in on taller players.
Clark felt that having the alumni come in helped the Dragons against the Panthers in their 42-33 win.
“At a Class D school, it’s hard to put the same kind of pressure on your starters [in practice] as they’ll get in a game situation,” coach Arnie Clark said. “It’s always nice to have some of the alumni come in and do that.”
Safford solid in start
Although it wasn’t for optimal reasons, Camden Hills freshman Graham Safford got a start in Wednesday’s Eastern Maine Class B semifinal against second-seeded Presque Isle.
Safford, a 6-foot guard who is usually among the first players off coach Jeff Hart’s bench, took the place of 6-4 junior forward Kiefer Lammi, who is out with a back injury.
Lammi hasn’t practiced all week, Hart said, and after going through warmups Wednesday felt he wasn’t going to be able to run well enough to play.
“It changed a lot,” Hart said. “It changes how you coach … it’s a different feeling for him. It was hard and it happened right at the spur of the moment. … Graham found out after warmups ended. It changed everything, but he’s pretty tough.”
Hart wasn’t sure Wednesday if Lammi would be in the starting lineup for Saturday afternoon’s EM final against Maranacook of Readfield.
It’s been a good tourney so for Safford. The rookie assisted on the game-tying basket in regulation, scored 12 points and had seven rebounds against the Wildcats. It was his second double-digit game in a row – although he didn’t start in Friday’s quarterfinal, Safford scored a game-high 18 points in the 73-38 win over No. 11 John Bapst of Bangor.