Tom Maines has already established himself as one of the state’s most successful basketball coaches, winning three state championships at Morse while guiding several other programs to tournament success.

When he got done coaching the Madison boys team in 2004, many thought that was it for the fiery coach who built his programs around stifling defense. But Maines has returned to the sidelines this season as the girls coach in Scarborough and has the Red Storm flying high at 15-1.

Maines didn’t apply for the job until last fall after spending three-and-a-half months coaching a team of 18- to 24-year-olds in China, getting them ready for the Provincial Games. He made the connection through Cheverus coach and old friend Bob Brown, but that didn’t completely satisfy his urge to coach.

“I was bored last winter,” said Maines, who is retired from a career in education. “We talked about coaching and we said let’s do something.”

The “we” refers to Maines’ wife, Rita, the former Brunswick girls coach, who was hired as Tom’s assistant at Scarborough. The Red Storm won the Class A state championship in 2010 but last season dipped to 5-13.

Maines came into the program blind — “I honestly don’t know who started last year,” he said — and revamped the team completely.

“I wasn’t sure if the girls would take to my style of coaching,” he said.

That style includes using 10-12 players throughout the game, pressing full-court and being in better shape than opponents. Summed up in one word, discipline, on and off the court. Maines said his team doesn’t use any set offensive plays, instead concentrating almost exclusively on defense.

“In a typical game we’re running six different presses,” he said. “We’ve changed everything about their game and they’ve accepted it.”

Maines has never coached a girls team before but says they’ve responded as well as any boys he’s coached, although there are some subtle differences.

“With Rita’s help we do more team building than I did with boys,” he said.

The Red Storm have just one senior on their roster to go with six juniors, one sophomore and four freshmen. Their only loss this season was to defending Class A state champion McAuley, a team they could meet in the Western Maine finals.

“I think we found out some of our weaknesses and I hope we can correct them,” Maines said. “They’re very tall.”

The team has also pumped enthusiasm back into the program. The McAuley game, played in Scarborough’s new 2,200 seat gym, drew an estimated 1,800 fans.

“They say it was the biggest crowd in the history of Scarborough basketball,” Maines said.

• • •

Gardiner would like a spot in Saturday’s Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championship game, which will be played at 5 p.m. at Cony High School. To do that, they’ll need to defeat Leavitt tonight in Gardiner.

“If we beat Leavitt, we’re in,” Gardiner coach Mike Gray said. “If they beat us, they’re in.”

The winner will play unbeaten Nokomis. Gardiner (15-2) lost to both Nokomis and Leavitt this season and would like nothing better than to avenge those losses. In their 78-57 loss at Leavitt this year, the Tigers succumbed to full-court pressure and a 38-point performance from junior Kristen Anderson.

“I think we have to limit what Kristen Anderson does … limit her good chances and make her work the whole 32 minutes,” Gray said.

Anderson, who recently scored her 1,000th career point, hit eight 3-pointers in the first meeting.

“She has more range than anyone in our league,” Gray said.

The Hornets have another 1,000-point career scorer in senior forward Adrianna Newton, who is a key part of Leavitt’s pressing defense.

“I think we’re going to have to take care of the ball,” Gray said. “We’ll run when we can but we want to try and keep it at our pace.”

• • •

The Class A KVAC games will be played Monday at Cony High School. The girls game will be played at 5 p.m. between Cony and either Edward Little or Messalonskee pending the outcome of tonight’s games. The boys game follows between Medomak Valley and either Gardiner or Leavitt.

Should Cony beat Erskine tonight, the Rams will finish the regular-season unbeaten. Cony last ran the table in 2005, when it won the state championship to finish 22-0.

• • •

Hall-Dale and Madison will play for the Mountain Valley Conference championship Monday at the Augusta Civic Center at 5 p.m.

Should both teams win tonight — Madison plays Winthrop and Hall-Dale faces Monmouth — they’ll finish at 15-3. Hall-Dale beat Livermore Falls in the MVC title game last year en route to the Class C state championship.

In the teams’ only meeting this season, Madison pulled away for a 51-34 victory.

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638

[email protected]

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