Van Buren girls aiming to improve

VAN BUREN, Maine – Improvement will be the name of the game for the Van Buren District School girls varsity basketball team this season. 

The Crusaders are looking to rack up more wins after a 2-12 record last year that placed them in the 11th seed and culminated in a disappointing first round playoff loss to East Grand, 49-15.

But that was last year, and the Crusaders are ready to forge a new path this season.

“Definitely the most important thing is improving from the year before; anything other than that is a plus,” said Coach Juan Morales. 

Both the Van Buren girls and boys varsity basketball teams had a late start to the season last year because their school was in a remote learning model due to COVID-19. As a result, the teams were unable to hold any practices, while other Aroostook County teams had already begun competing with one another. 

The Van Buren girls are young this year, with no seniors, which should bode well for the next several years for the club.

The 2022-2023 Van Buren varsity basketball girls are: juniors Mallory Beaulieu, Audrey Caron and Abbie Cormier; sophomore Savannah Anderson; freshman Kayden Bouchard and Shanoa Trantham; and eighth-graders Natalie Beaulieu and Ashlyn Bouchard.

Morales, who is new to the team, has 12 years of experience coaching basketball in the North Shore area of Massachusetts. Morales also coached the Maine School of Science and Mathematics boys soccer team this season.

Morales said the team will focus on the future and not allow a poor showing last year to discourage them.

“They’ve struggled,” he said. “I’m obviously putting that all behind me and I want the girls to do the same.”

The Crusaders’ greatest strengths is a solid work ethic, Morales said, but he hopes to see their confidence grow. He will also work with them on fundamentals of the game.

Winning is not the most important thing about high school basketball, according to Morales.

“I always tell the girls, ‘everything you learn here, the motivation and discipline follow you and help you succeed in life’” he said. “Regardless of the outcome of the season I’m excited and the girls are too, so I think that’s a plus.”

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