In his 14 years as boys basketball coach at Maranacook Community High School, Rob Schmidt has experienced the high of winning two state championships to the low of missing the tournament altogether.

This season he didn’t know what to expect.

The Black Bears graduated eight seniors from a team that squeaked into the Class B tournament last season and to compound matters, they were dropping to Class C while maintaining their Class B schedule.

“It all felt very new coming into the summer,” Schmidt said. “We realized we had a lot of good athletes and a lot of competitive kids. The game plan was to run and transition.”

Schmidt and his team executed the game plan and took the Class B division of the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference by surprise, finishing the regular season at 13-5. Maranacook went on to reach the Western Maine Class C championship game where it lost to Waynflete. For his season, Schmidt has been chosen Kennebec Journal Boys Basketball Coach of the Year. Also considered was Winthrop Todd MacArthur.

Perhaps because they were playing for a Class C tournament berth, the Black Bears weren’t considered one of the top teams in the KVAC during the preseaosn. That changed as the season wore on, especially after they knocked off undefeated Morse the road.

“That was a great win for us,” Schmidt said. “I think it woke a lot of people up in the KVAC that we weren’t to be taken lightly.”

Schmidt’s teams over the years generally like to run and shoot 3-pointers and this year was no exception.

“He knew that was going to be to our advantage,” senior Taylor Wilbur said. “It was hard not to smile when he was around us because you knew he was having a good time.”

The Black Bears finished at 16-6 overall, knocking off rival Winthrop and top-seeded Dirigo during the tournament.

“I think the Dirigo win in Augusta was a huge win,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt played basketball for Maranacook under Paul Bean and admits their coaching styles are like night and day, Bean being the more demonstrative of the two. Schmidt appreciated his coach and said he got into the profession because the game had treated him so well and he wanted to give something back.

“When I started coaching I didn’t know what my coaching style was,” he said. “I thought I had to yell a lot and get after guys. It’s just not my style.”

Schmidt is much more low-keyed and positive along the sidelines now and seldom gets on a player for a mistake. Nor does he get on officials often. This year, he had little to complain about.

“This year exceeded my expectations,” he said. “It was one of the most enjoyable seasons I’ve had. That goes from the wins right down to the bus rides.”

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638ghawkins@centralmaine.comTwitter: @GaryHawkinsKJ