It’s hard enough trying to run one high school basketball program.

Now, try to run two. To top it off, you take over right in the thick of a playoff run. With both teams.

This is precisely the connundrum that Forest Hills basketball coach and athletic director Anthony Amero has found himself in. On Feb. 9, Forest Hills girls coach Jill Demanski — who led the Tigers to a 14-4 record the season before — had to step down from her position. Her husband — who works in border patrol — had just been assigned to a new post in Corpus Christi, Texas and had to move.

It left the Tigers — who had just wrapped up a 10-8 regular season, entering the Class D South playoffs as the No. 5 seed — in a pickle. Who would take over the job?

Enter Amero, the longtime Forest Hills boys basketball coach. In his 20 seasons in Jackman, Amero has led the Tigers to three trips to the Class D state championship game, winning state titles in 2013 and 2015.

“We’re rocking and rolling going forward,” Amero said.

The move itself wasn’t odd. Amero spent all season as an assistant coach under Demanski, so he knew the system and players well. But he also had his own team to run. Amero has led the boys team to a 12-6 record this season. The Tigers enter the Class D South tournament as the No. 4 seed.

So, how can Amaro run both playoff-bound teams at the same time? In his mind, it’s not at all impossible.

“It’s no problem whatsoever, it’s been fun,” Amero said. “I told the girls that the last time I coached the girls, I was a JV coach at Messalonskee 21 years ago. There was a little bit of a transition period, but the group of young ladies, I’ve had them in school since kindergarteners. I’ve been here 20 years, so I know them and they know me.”

There are several logistical factors that will help Amero coach both teams, and in this case, it helps to coach the basketball teams of a small high school.

“Our boys and girls team travel together already, and we spend six hours a night on average on the bus,” Amero said. “It’s one of those things where, we know each other well, they know my (playing) style. (The girls) practice is always prior to the boys practice……It’s a small school — 50 kids — so we all know each other pretty well.”

Still, both Tiger teams will be tested early in the Class D South playoffs. The boys team is scheduled to play No. 5 seed Seacoast Christian at 8:30 a.m. Monday at the Augusta Civic Center. Aside from the early game time, the Guardians are a team the Tigers did not see during the regular season.

The girls team plays Tuesday morning — at the exact same time of 8:30 a.m. — against No. 4 seed Pine Tree Academy. The Tigers played the Breakers twice during the regular season, picking up a 41-29 win on Jan. 7 before falling 55-46 to Pine Tree just 10 days later.

The playing styles of both the boys and girls teams entering the playoffs will be different, Amero said.

“With the girls, we have a strong inside game,” Amero said. “We have three legitimate players and we shoot the ball pretty well. With the boys, we have no inside game, we run and gun. We go from one practice where we work on a million quick hitters and pick apart zones. And with the boys, it’s going 100 miles per hour running. It’s a little different, but it’s good. I’ve got a good coaching staff.”

The travel won’t be easy for Amero, either. The teams won’t be staying in Augusta during the tournament, meaning he will have to make two round trips of 218 miles (that’s four hours and 18 minutes if you follow the speed limit) on consecutive days. That’s a grand total of 436 miles, or eight hours and 36 minutes of total travel over two days.

But it would be all worth it, Amero said, if the teams made a deep run in the playoffs.

“We go up and down the road,” Amero said. “We’re going to be riding five hours (per team) during each round of the tournament. That’s a little bit tough. But we have great support. We draw well at the Civic Center, so it’ll help…but when you get to that last Saturday — when you get to the Western Maine final — you don’t hear any complaints about all the traveling at that point.”

Dave Dyer — 621-5639

[email protected]

Twitter: @Dave_Dyer

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