Growing up in Westbrook in the 1970s and 1980s, Joe DeRoche gravitated toward basketball. It was easy to do. The city was a basketball hotbed.

With friends Jay Corey, Dick Stockwell and others, DeRoche would spends hours shooting in Stockwell’s backyard or at the Westbrook Pool courts.

That group would win a Class A state title in 1984 for the Blue Blazes and DeRoche would win the Vinal Trophy as the Western Maine tourney’s MVP. DeRoche went to Thomas College where he became the school’s all-time leading scorer with 2,218 points and a two-time NAIA All-American.

Now DeRoche is headed to the New England Basketball Hall of Fame as an inductee. The ceremony will take place Saturday night at the DCU Center in Worcester, Mass.

“It’s a very nice honor,” said DeRoche. “My basketball career seems so far removed.”

DeRoche works as a senior program analyst for L.L. Bean. He lives in Westbrook with his wife, a 4-year-old daughter and a stepson.

DeRoche is part of a large group of Mainers being inducted in various categories. DeRoche will be the first person associated with Thomas inducted into the New England Basketball Hall of Fame.
DeRoche said he wasn’t a big scorer in high school because Westbrook had such a balanced attack.

He could score when he needed to, but that wasn’t part of the strategy.

“Playing at Westbrook was a great experience,” DeRoche said. “My first year in high school was also coach Art Dyer’s first year. I learned a lot from Coach Dyer who instilled a winning mentality. I averaged 11 to 12 points a game my senior year.”

DeRoche said his love of basketball grew even more watching the great battles between Westbrook and South Portland in the late 1970s. The atmosphere was great at packed Warren Gym. He and his friends also used to watch USM play.

At Thomas, coach Dick Meader encouraged DeRoche to score. And score he did. DeRoche scored a record 63 points against St. Joseph’s College as the Terriers upset the Monks.

“I refined my shooting at Thomas,” DeRoche said.

DeRoche knew he wanted to attend Thomas before his senior year in high school.

“I went to Pine Tree Basketball Camp which used to be at Colby College,” he said.

“Dick Meader, my coach at Thomas, was the camp’s co-owner. I was interested in studying business and computers. Computers were in their infancy when I started college.”

“We needed Joe to score for us to be successful,” said Meader, who has been the head basketball coach at the University of Maine at Farmington since 1993.

“He was a great scorer and at 6-foot-4, had guard skills. He was strong enough to post up and was a very good foul shooter. Joe was a complete player. He had some big games for us. I must have attended 14 of his games his senior year at Westbrook. I certainly knew he was going to be a good player, but I didn’t think we had a chance of getting him at Thomas. I thought a Division I school would sign him,” he said.

DeRoche didn’t forget his time at Meader’s basketball camp and chose Thomas.

After college, DeRoche played in some men’s leagues for a few years and pursued his love of hunting, fishing and snowmobiling which he still enjoys.

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