The Medomak Valley High school girls freshmen basketball team enjoyed a well-played season this winter with plenty of progress and a solid record. The Panthers finished 7-5 and the young student-athletes are ready to move on to the next level of the program.

Coach Chris Packard said he has had the team through the travel season and summer months. In that time, “they have improved drastically,” he said.

The team included Heidi Obuchon, McKenzie Belcher, Bridgette Miller, Emily Leach, Elise Wallace, Abbie Vail, Missy Philbrook, Kara Weiske, Amanda Hendrickson-Belloguet, Taylor Simmons, Abby McGuire, Desiree Benner, Olivia Overlock and Rebecca Robinson.

Hendrickson-Belloguet led the team’s scoring with 80 points over the season. She was trailed by Simmons with 79; Benner, 59; Philbrook, 58; and Obuchon, 54.

The team averaged 46 percent accuracy from the free-throw line.

Coach Packard said the highlight game of the year was the Panthers second contest against host Winslow. The Black Raiders had bested the Panthers 35-34 about a week before and the black cats wanted another chance.

When that opportunity came the game was well-matched and ended going into double overtime. The Panthers fought to take the lead and beat their hosts 47-43.

“That was huge for us,” Packard said. “That really was a morale booster. They had to all work together to get through that game.”

In that contest, Simmons led the Panthers with 14 points, followed by Hendrickson-Belloguet with eight and Overlock six.

According to Packard, the team’s boxing out and rebounding came together in that game.

He said his team had always been strong offensively, but throughout the season needed improvement on defense. However, by the end of the campaign he said they reached the level he wanted them to be on defense.

“They came in, they did the work, they got to the plateau they needed to be and now it’s ready for them to move on,” he said.

In particular, Packard pointed out one player, Obuchon, for her skill and improvement.

“She was tremendous up front,” he said. “She had probably the most improvement out of anybody.”

Packard said early in the year the coach and player started with a battle of wills, “but then we really got that straitened out and she really improved her intensity on the court.”

He also said that she found a real drive somewhere in the season that kept her going. About the third game in the season she “really turned on the heat and really started improving,” he said. “It really helped the overall team a lot.”

In similar news, Packard said he will be stepping down from coaching the freshmen after a five-year run. He thanked the students and parents who supported him through his coaching career and made it clear he is not leaving the Medomak Valley hoop program completely.

Packard said he is leaving coaching for now because he wants to watch his son’s basketball games next year. However, he clearly stated he will still try and be involved with the Panther athletic programs.

Village NetMedia Sports Reporter Frederick Freudenberger can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail at fritz@villagesoup.com.