Basketball notebook: Winslow boys rolling as Reynolds smashes scoring marks

Winslow’s Jason Reynolds (40) drives to the basket against the Maine Central Institute during a boys basketball game Tuesday in Winslow. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Watchman

WINSLOW – Even with a minor setback, Jason Reynolds has moved from one milestone to the next at lightning speed.

On December 13, the senior striker scored his 1,000. Career point when he threw in 36 to lead the Winslow boys’ basketball team past Maine Central Institute. Just six games later, Reynolds has well surpassed that mark and achieved another milestone as the program’s all-time leader.

That moment may have come on Friday, when Reynolds scored 27 points against Leavitt, eclipsing Mark McInnis’ previous program record of 1,170 points set in 1993. The Winslow standout was due to reach him at home against Belfast three nights earlier but was unable to do so after rolling his ankle in training the previous day.

“It was a bit unfortunate that (I got injured) the night before and had to sit out, but I got right back to training the next day,” said Reynolds, whose 31.8 points per game through Jan. 13 all Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference-leading players. “It’s an honor and it’s great to know that all the hard work you’ve put in has paid off.”

Behind Reynolds’ stellar season this year were a series of monster stats. In addition to 38 points and 17 rebounds against Presque Isle in the season opener, he also recorded 36 points and 11 rebounds against MCI, 39 points and 11 rebounds against Oceanside, and 31 points and 13 rebounds against Mt. Desert Island.

However, Reynolds is quick to point out that he didn’t do it alone. Winslow (8-1) has another elite rebounder in Matt Quirion (9.0 rebounds per game); they have a top dealer in KVAC in Braden Rodrigue; In Andrew Poulin (21.1 points and 3.8 steals per game) they have another two-way player on par with anyone in the league.

The combination of Reynolds and Poulin, No. 5 in the conference at 21.1 points per game, made Winslow particularly deadly. The latter made himself known on the football field by posting one of the most productive seasons in Maine history, but his basketball exploits, Reynolds said, were no less impressive.

“We know each other very well, having played since elementary school, and we feed each other; we can play the two-man game together really well,” Reynolds said of Poulin, who scored 41 points in his absence against Belfast. “I feel like he’s not as well known in basketball as he is in football, but he’s one of the best guards in the state.”

However, the numbers won’t mean nearly as much if Winslow doesn’t compete for hardware next month. The goal, Reynolds said, is to bring home a state championship, and with the pieces the Black Raiders have, he believes they are capable of that.

“The record is great, but the goal that we really have is to win that gold ball,” Reynolds said. “We have a lot to do, but we are 8-1 and have won six times in a row. We play with great intensity and a lot of self-confidence.”

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North Yarmouth Academy’s Graca Bila defends Kents Hill’s Rose Jenkins during a Class C South girls’ basketball quarterfinals match last season at the Augusta Civic Center. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

While hard work and a willingness to learn can take a basketball team far, there are certain qualities that can’t be taught—and size and experience are part of them.

Both factors have helped lead the Kents Hill girls team to a strong start to the 2022-23 season. With a starting lineup that consists of five seniors and can outrebound almost anyone, the 7-0 Huskies are currently first in a Class C South field filled with competitors.

Leading the way for Kents Hill this season was 6-foot forward Logan McDonald, who averaged 18 points and 10 rebounds per game. She forms a strong combination at the post with Phoebe Simpson, another senior captain, who averages about eight rebounds at center.

However, Kents Hill’s elite rebound ability extends beyond his starting post players. Rose Jenkins, a 5-8 player who surpasses her height as the state’s reigning outdoor long jump champion, averages 15 points and 10 boards, and Logan McDonald’s younger sister Lucy is the Huskies’ first player to average with a 6 out of the bench comes -foot frame by itself.

“We have a really good combination of size and athleticism,” said Kents Hill head coach RJ Jenkins. “We want to play fast and come up and down and for that you need to recover. We emphasize stress quite a bit and we did that well, especially on offense.

Some of Kents Hill’s biggest wins this year have come recently as the Huskies beat Winthrop, Dirigo and Traip Academy in their last three games. The team will face arguably their biggest challenge of the year on Tuesday when they host reigning state champions Hall-Dale.

It’s a particularly welcome season for Kents Hill, which has been hit particularly hard in the COVID-19 era. The private school’s strict COVID guidelines allowed the team to play just one game in 2020-21 and the lack of experience from that year, Coach Jenkins said, was evident at times last season.

The current Kents Hill seniors, which also include standout guards Naomi McGadney and Regina Sabirova, have been through this journey together. The Huskies showed promise at 10-5 last year and this year of development has helped transform an inexperienced squad into one of the most experienced in Class C.

“The camaraderie and chemistry that comes from having a group of seniors who can play many minutes helps tremendously,” Jenkins said. “You could see how we got there last year and now we’re really gelling. … I know the girls are enjoying some of the difficult challenges that lie ahead.”

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Emma Stred (24) of Erskine fights for the rebound with Jayla Gentry (23) of Skowhegan during a girls basketball game December 22 in south China. Michael G Seamans

The season has reached its halfway point (or even past it for some teams) and for some teams used to being perennial favorites things have turned out very differently in 2022/23.

After years of the No. 1 seed, regional titles and even two Gold Balls, the Winthrop boys team sits at 5-6 in Class C South. The Ramblers, currently ranked 13th, occupy the regionfinal playoff spot – an unfamiliar feeling for a team that entered tournament time as the No. 1 just last year.

On the girls side, Waterville is currently 1-9, a big drop from a 12-5 mark last year and regional title games in 2019 and 2020. The Purple Panthers have struggled against a young roster this year, as has rival Winslow, who brought home a state title in 2018 but is now at 0-9 sits.

In the Class A North, reigning state champion Skowhegan is 4-6 with big star Callaway LePage unable to play this season. Messalonskee, a longtime contender and undefeated Gold Ball winner in 2017, sits at the bottom of A North with a 0-11 record.

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