FAIRFIELD — In finding Mike McGee’s replacement as varsity boys basketball coach at Lawrence High School, athletic director Bill MacManus didn’t need to look far. Just down the Bulldogs’ bench a few seats.

Jason Pellerin, an assistant coach with Lawrence the last few seasons and a former varsity girls basketball coach at the school, will take over for McGee, who retired after 28 seasons, 350 wins and two state championships.

Pellerin was approved by the Lawrence school board Thursday night, MacManus said.

“I knew Coach (McGee) was getting done, and it is something I had been thinking about some,” Pellerin, a 1990 Lawrence graduate who played on the Bulldogs state championship team as a senior, said. “I love the school. The kids are fantastic.”

When McGee served a one-game suspension last season, Pellerin coached the Bulldogs to a 67-53 win over a strong Edward Little team.

There were six applicants for the job, MacManus said, and three were interviewed.

Pellerin was the varsity girls basketball coach at Lawrence for eight seasons, from 2002-03 through the 2009-10 season. He spent the last few seasons as an assistant to McGee, and has also coached youth basketball in the Fairfield Police Athletic League.

“Jason’s experience and credibility came in (to play),” MacManus said. “He’s a student of the game. I look forward to Jason being back.”

There are always at least tweaks to a program when a new coach comes aboard, but one thing will not change, Pellerin said, and that’s Lawrence’s commitment to defense.

“We’ll be coming out with the attitude that some nights, the other team may have more talent but we’ll never be outworked,” Pellerin said.

Pellerin cited other coaching influences, among them former central Maine high school coaches Ken Lindlof, Tom Maines and Tim Bonsant. Those influences may be seen in Lawrence’s offense, Pellerin said.

“One of my strengths is, I watch what other teams do. I make mental notes and see what I like,” Pellerin said. “You take little bits from here and there. You say, ‘I can make this work for me.’ In the end, we want to get the best shot possible each possession.”

Pellerin already jumped in with his first summer team practice Friday. Nineteen players came out for the summer Bulldogs, Pellerin said, and he expects two or three more players to join the team next week.

“I think he’ll do a great job. He’s respected in the community. He’s got a passion for basketball, and is really positive,” MacManus said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242
[email protected]

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