Longtime Lawrence High School boys basketball coach Mike McGee will retire at the end of the season. For years, McGee has hinted that this could be his last season on the Bulldogs’ bench, but Wednesday he made it official.
McGee coached 31 seasons at Lawrence, and this is his 29th as head coach. A Lawrence graduate, McGee has 342 wins, two state championships, six Eastern Maine championships (one as an assistant coach) and three Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference titles.
As a player, McGee helped Lawrence win Eastern Maine titles in 1974 and 1976.
Lawrence is in the middle of one of its best seasons in years. The Bulldogs are 8-1 heading into tonight’s key game at home against undefeated Edward Little (8-0).
However, the Bulldogs will face the Red Eddies without McGee. Early in last Friday’s win over Oxford Hills, McGee was assessed two technical fouls and ejected. Any coach or player ejected from a game is automatically suspended from the next game.
McGee said he is embarrassed by the situation.
“It’s my first (ejection) in 30 years. This summer, I was bragging to people I’ve never been thrown out of a game and bang,” McGee said. “I had a hell of a pregame talk and I can’t deliver it.”
McGee said assistant coach Jason Pellerin, a former head coach of the Lawrence girls varsity team, will assume head coaching duties for the game and will be assisted by Tom Nadeau, a former head coach at Winslow and Hall-Dale.
“You always get good people around you. Jason and Tom will do a good job,” McGee said.
Lawrence is ranked third in Eastern Class A, behind Hampden (9-0) and Edward Little. Containing Quinn Leary, the Red Eddies’ best player, is a key tonight, McGee said, as is continuing to force turnovers. The Bulldogs have forced an average of 26 turnovers per game over the last few weeks, McGee said.
“Quinn Leary is as good as there is in the state. We have to stay on him,” McGee said. “They have three or four good shooters. We’re not where we want to be yet, but we’re playing better.”
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Forest Hills senior Evan Worster said he’s glad his chase for the school career scoring record is over.
“It weighed on my mind. I don’t think I played my best over the last few games,” Worster said. “Now that it’s over, I feel like there’s a huge weight off my shoulders.”
Worster scored 19 points in Tuesday’s 57-54 win at Greenville to become the top scorer in Forest Hills history. Worster, a varsity player since eighth grade, now has 1,342 points. The record-setting basket came on a layup, Worster said. Entering the game, he knew he needed nine points to pass Antoine Morin as the Tigers’ top scorer.
“I think (the basket) gave us the lead,” Worster said. “I realized when I had done it.”
Forest Hills coach Anthony Amero, who has coached a handful of 1,000 point scorers, said he was just as relieved as Worster to get the record accomplished.
“I’ve been blessed with kids who are very unselfish and team-oriented,” Amero said. “We really wanted to get (the record) off the books. Evan doesn’t want it to be about him.”
When Worster set the record, the game was paused and Worster was honored by Forest Hills and Greenville fans alike.
“Greenville was very good about it,” Worster, who hopes to continue his basketball career in college, said.
Added Amero: “They really handled it with a lot of class. It’s the first time Forest Hills ever got a standing ovation at Greenville.”
The Tigers are 9-1 and in first place in Western Class D. The defending regional champs could see their playoff seeding come down to the final two games of the regular season, at home against Valley (7-2) on Jan. 30, and home against Greenville (5-3) on Feb. 5.
“Those are our big games,” Worster said.
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With back-to-back wins over Morse and Maranacook, Maine Central Institute finds itself at 3-6 at the halfway point and in the hunt for a playoff spot in Eastern Class B.
The Huskies are in the 12th spot in the regional standings. The top 13 teams in the region advance to the playoffs.
“The biggest thing is, keeping them believing in themselves,” MCI coach Mike Susi said. “They believe a little bit. It seems like there’s new air in the gym.”
The Huskies started the season slowly with losses to Belfast and Mt. View. Since then, Susi said, they’ve played much better. Kael McCarthy is shooting well and made six 3-pointers against Maranacook on Tuesday. Sophomore Mitchell Hallee, a 6-foot-2 center, scored 16 points against Maranacook and played strong defense against 6-7 Kyle Boucher.
In a loss to Medomak Valley, Hallee played solid defense against John Murray, one of the best big men in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference, Susi said. Hallee’s effort helps the Huskies make up for the loss of 6-5 Jerry Chen, who sprained his ankle against Morse on Saturday.
“I don’t expect (Chen) to be back until the end of next week,” Susi said.
MCI hosts Leavitt tonight and plays at Gardiner on Tuesday.
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Around the state: Dirigo, the defending Class C state champion, is quietly undefeated again. The Cougars improved to 9-0 with Tuesday’s 44-38 win over Mountain Valley. Dirigo has won four consecutive regional titles… At 9-0, Portland has put a little space between itself and the rest of the SMAA. The Bulldogs are atop the Western Class A Heal point standings and have a big game against rival South Portland (8-1) tonight… It appears there will be a good battle for the No. 1 seed in Eastern D between defending state champ Jonesport-Beals (8-0) and Central Aroostook (9-0). Going into Thursday night, Central Aroostook held a five-point lead over the Royals in the Heal point standings. The teams will not face each other in the regular season.
Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242