The road to the girls Class C State basketball championship has gone through Boothbay Harbor for three straight years. And the 2018-19 Lady Seahawks are looking for another deep run and possibly a fourth straight collision with Monmouth Academy in the regional tournaments.
In 2017, Narraguagus of Harrington defeated Boothbay Region in the state title game. And in 2018 and 2019, Monmouth Academy knocked off the Seahawks in the Class C regional tournament in Augusta. The Lady Seahawks appear ready for another successful season under second-year head coach Brian Blethen. Last season, the Seahawks entered the Class C South tournament undefeated and as the top seed. With several key players returning and one new addition, the Seahawks should once again be a top contender in Class C.
On Dec. 11, Boothbay begins its 18-game Mountain Valley Conference schedule with a road contest against rival Class B Lisbon. Blethen expects his squad to look a lot like last season’s which featured a healthy dose of fast break offense and full-court defensive pressure. In his first season, Blethen employed the lessons he learned playing for Morse High School under the tutelage of boys basketball coach Tom Maines.
“We rely on our defense. The pressure brings energy and we feed off that,” Blethen said. “You can expect to see a lot of man-to-man and full-court 22 zone pressure.”
On the court, Boothbay returns three starters from last year’s squad: senior Faith Blethen, sophomore Glory Blethen and sophomore Chloe Arsenault. Faith Blethen has started the previous three seasons and will play Division I college basketball next year for George Washington University. Her coach and father, Brian Blethen, expects his oldest daughter to play a significant role as a team leader and scorer. In the past three years, Faith Blethen has been an outstanding scorer, ballhandler, defender and rebounder for the Seahawks.
“She is maturing as a leader,” Coach Blethen said. “I think how she adapts at learning what her teammates need from her, and what she needs from her teammates will be a big part of our team chemistry.”
The coach also sees a change in his youngest daughter’s role this year. Last year, Glory Blethen was a perimeter shooter who had deep 3-point range. But as she enters her sophomore season, Glory Blethen is now six feet, two inches tall. During the off-season, she has worked on her post moves and conditioning. “I’ve started lifting weights. I bench about 60 pounds,” Glory Blethen said. “I’m just looking forward to getting after it this season. We have a hardworking and enthusiastic group who support each other on and off the court which should make for a great season.”
As for chemistry, the Lady Seahawks seem like a pretty close bunch. Faith Blethen had praise for her teammates’ early camaraderie. “This is a new team and I really like this bunch of girls,” she said. “We have a lot of fun playing together, and this is the most relaxed group I’ve played with.”
Arsenault is another returning starter expected to play a significant role in the team’s success. In last year’s tournament, the point guard was given two key assignments. One was handling the ball against Monmouth’s defensive pressure and guarding Mustang leading scorer Tia Day. “She’s a hard worker and it really shows on the court. Chloe is also a lock down defender who really stepped up in the tournament with her ball-handling and defense.”
For Arsenault, her second year as a starter is already off to a quick start. Her off-season between fall and winter sports was filled by playing AAU field hockey. “Conditioning-wise I feel pretty good so I’m looking forward to playing basketball,” she said. “And this is a good group so we’re all looking forward to having another season.”
The 2018-19 season also sees the return of a former teammate. Senior Ashley Abbott played the last two years in Richmond. Abbott is a guard who Coach Blethen described as a excellent ball-handler and shooter. “Ashley has good range from about 15 to 20 feet. She is quick and I expect her to be a solid contributor all season,” he said.
In a Thanksgiving Weekend tournament in Portland, Boothbay won two of four games at the Cheverus event. Boothbay defeated Class A Westbrook and AA Thornton Academy, and lost to Class A Brunswick and AA Oxford Hills. As the new season begins, Coach Blethen expects his bench to play a larger role, especially in the tournament. In the 2018 tournament, Boothbay had a seven-player rotation. But this season, Blethen described his bench as another year older which should pay a larger dividend.