Monmouth Academy girls basketball coach Scott Wing figured his team would again contend for top honors in Class C this season since his Mustangs returned the bulk of a lineup that fell in the tournament semifinals last year against eventual regional champion Boothbay.
There were, however, no guarantees. Boothbay returned a strong lineup as well, and there were other obstacles, including Madison and Old Old Orchard Beach, to consider.
Despite not having a senior on his roster, Wing knew his team was deep and experienced and made the most of it by playing nine or 10 players throughout each game. As the season wound down the Mustangs grew stronger. They overwhelmed Old Orchard in the South regional final then wore down South champion Dexter in winning their first-ever Class C state championship.
For his efforts Wing has been named Kennebec Journal Girls Basketball Coach of the Year. Also considered were Winthrop’s Joe Burnham and Richmond’s Mike Ladner.
Wing backed off some Xs and Os strategy this season in an effort to concentrate on fundamentals and allow his players more freedom to make decisions.
“This year some of our players probably had better direction going into the playoffs,” he said. “We focused on the things we do best as opposed to a lot of crazy plays.”
The Mustangs weren’t blessed with a lot of height, but were able to compensate with their depth and experience as they faced an overcame a number of players six feet or better this season.
“We knew we were deeper than every team we played,” Wing said. “We had to make every game a 32-minute game.”
That strategy included the state final against Dexter, a team that featrued 6-foot-2 center Megan Peach, who finished with a game-high 20 points. Rather than just double Peach in the low post, Wing put pressure on the perimeter payers in an effort to deny entry passes. The overall strategy worked as the Mustangs came away with a 46-37 win.
Junior point guard Tia Day played a key role in the win, not only as a floor leader but also by connecting three long 3-pointers.
“He trusts me as a point guard,” Day said. “I have a lot of responsibility and he allows me to shoot long-distance threes.”
Wing also credits an experienced coaching staff in Monmmouth’s success. Both Dennis Grover and Ray Convery have extensive experience coaching varsity teams while Ed Spencer is both the pastor of his church and his right-hand man.
“Dennis Grover is the calmest man in the world,” Wing said. “And Ray Convery has a wealth of knowledge. I call him my coach.”