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.

* * *

Nokomis needs a victory in Belfast tonight to finish the season at 18-0 in Eastern B. The Warriors have had some bumps lately — needing overtime to defeat Winslow and leading Waterville by six at halftime — but coach Kori Dionne said she likes how Nokomis is faring right now.

“We’re going to have some time to prepare and get things in order,” Dionne said. “These girls understand where we’re heading. Once you get in the playoffs, nothing’s guaranteed.”

Nokomis will earn a bye into the Eastern B quarterfinals, and its first playoff game will be a week from Saturday.

Dionne is looking for a scrimmage; she talked to Cony coach Karen Magnusson about their teams getting together. But Cony plays in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A game Monday, then has a quarterfinal game four days later.

“I wanted to scrimmage Cony, and Karen would have loved to have done that,” Dionne said. “We played each other in preseason, and we said, ‘We should hook up at the end of the season.’ “

Nokomis will play in the KVAC B game, most likely against the winner of tonight’s game between Gardiner and Leavitt. That game is at 5 p.m. Saturday at Cony High School.

Like many coaches, Dionne would prefer to forgo the KVAC game in favor of a scrimmage.

“I don’t care whether we win or lose that game,” Dionne said. “We’re just going to use that as a tool to get ourselves ready for the following week.”

* * *

The matchups are also up in the air for the KVAC A game, which will be played Monday night at Cony. The girls play at 5 p.m. followed by the boys at 7. Cony will play either Edward Little or Messalonskee. The Rams have beaten Edward Little twice, including once in double overtime, but have not played Messalonskee.

The Mountain Valley Conference girls game will match Hall-Dale and Madison, and will be played at 5 p.m. Monday at the Augusta Civic Center. The teams met once this season, with Madison winning 51-34 at home on Jan. 2.

* * *

Tuesday night’s game between Madison and visiting Mt. Abram had a “Coaches vs. Cancer” theme. Both teams wore pink warm-up shirts. Before the national anthem, the public address announcer asked anyone affected by cancer to come to center court during the anthem. The 50/50 raffle proceeds were also donated.

The same theme was in effect Monday evening, when the Madison boys hosted Mt. Abram.

“It’s to raise awareness and raise funds for the American Cancer Society,” said Madison coach Al Veneziano, who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 2007.

“We did it last night with the boys, and we did it tonight. We had a few merchants donate baskets for a raffle. We sold cards and spelled out the word ‘hope’ in the back of the gym. We just thought it would be appropriate for the kids to raise awareness for cancer, and to promote healthy living.”

* * *

Forest Hills ended its regular season Wednesday with a 63-56 victory against Greater Portland Christian. The Tigers finished 13-5 and appear headed for the No. 5 seed in the Western D tournament.

Forest Hills has no seniors, and no one taller than 5-foot-7.

“To pick up 13 wins with four freshmen and four sophomores, I’m pleased with where we are,” Tigers coach Mike LeBlanc said.

Forest Hills won’t play again until Feb. 21. LeBlanc said the Tigers will scrimmage the Madison junior varsity team, and he also has a good group of alumni and other players in the area to give some spirited competition.

LeBlanc said freshman Keely Taylor has made great strides this season, and sophomore Kori Coro has been a surprise with her offense.

“I knew she could score, but I didn’t expect her to score the bunches that she is,” LeBlanc said.

One of the keys to this season, LeBlanc said, is the team’s unselfishness.

“The six kids who play and do most of the scoring — probably all of them have been the leading scorer at least twice this year,” he said.

Gary Hawkins contributed to this report.

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]


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