Winthrop boys basketball coach Todd McArthur, center, and assistant coach John Baehr, right, react after a call during the 2019 Class C state championship game at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor. Baehr has been hired as the school’s new girls basketball coach. Morning Sentinel photo by Michael G. Seamans

The Nokomis boys basketball coaching job was open, and when Earl Anderson got word, he basically greeted the news with a shrug.

“To be honest with you, I didn’t think much of it for a few weeks,” he said. “And then I started thinking more and more about it, and talking to some people. … I talked to my wife about it, and she thought it was a really good idea.”

Anderson applied and the decision paid off, as Nokomis on June 25 tabbed the man who led the girls team to the school’s only basketball state championship in 2001 as the next coach of the boys basketball team.

“I knew that if I got back into coaching, it was probably going to be boys,” said Newport’s Anderson, 64, who coached the MCI and Hampden boys teams before coaching the Nokomis girls from 1995-2007. “Nokomis is one of the few places I would have applied for. That school is special to me.”

Four days later there was another head coaching hire, as Winthrop hired John Baehr, Todd MacArthur’s assistant with the boys team for the past decade, to lead the girls program. Baehr was alongside MacArthur when the Ramblers won Class C titles in 2019 and ’20.

“I’m really excited for the season. We have a good young group, we have good leadership,” said Baehr, 41, who also coaches the boys soccer team. “It was great to have a practice Tuesday. I watched a lot of games on streaming last year, but until you really get into coaching and thinking coaching, watching and enjoying a basketball is different than being a coach.”

Anderson, who was the Nokomis athletic director from 2012-13, will be making a return to the sidelines for the first time since his last season with the girls team. He doesn’t anticipate that time away from the game being an issue.

“That part I’m not worried about. It’s not like I’ve been out of touch with things,” he said. “Basketball’s basketball. Yeah, there are some changes, but I haven’t been a hermit living in Montana. I’ve kept in touch with all my coaching friends, and we still talk a lot of basketball.”

He’ll be inheriting perhaps the state’s best freshman class. The arrival of twin 6-foot-7 phenoms Cooper and Ace Flagg will put the Warriors, one of the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference’s youngest teams, high up in the preseason polls, but Anderson has already started to cool the hype.

“I think that’s other coach talk,” he said. “I don’t think that a team that’s going to play, maybe even start, three 14-year-olds should be the favorite in Class A. There are some really good teams that are just physically older and more experienced than us.”

A chance to coach such talent would seem to be a draw for any coach, but Anderson said he was enticed more by the chance to come back to the school with which he’s had so much success.

“It really had nothing to do with what they had coming and not coming, to be honest with you,” said Anderson, who complimented athletic director Mark Babin and principal Mary Nadeau. “So many of the people that were there when I was there are still there. That really was the attractive thing.”

Since taking over, Anderson said he’s been impressed with his new players’ dedication to the sport.

“They’re great kids. That’s the best part of it,” he said. “They love basketball, and … they want to be pushed and challenged and held to high expectations.”

At Winthrop, Baehr said he and MacArthur had had conversations about leaving for a head coaching job for a few years.

“I told him he couldn’t get rid of me that quick,” Baehr said. “I always told Todd ‘It has to be the right time, and it has to be the right place.’ This year, it really just opened up. Last year wasn’t the right time to apply for that. When it opened again this year, it was the right time and right place.”

Baehr said he and MacArthur were “two peas in a pod” in regards to coaching strategy, and he said he’s bringing some of the trademarks of the Winthrop boys team to the girls.

“We’re going to play 84 feet, we’re going to transition as best we can,” he said. “Coming down to the Civic Center in big games, it’s about that half court, getting a stop in the half court set. It’s also about scoring and being disciplined and being smart and taking good shots, but when it comes down to it, to get a stop when you need it, the energy level is just so much more (important) in my eyes than just scoring a big basket.”

In addition to the Winthrop boys’ style of play, Baehr said he’s also hoping to bring along the Winthrop boys’ winning culture.

“It’s not a rebuild that I’m used to,” he said. “It’s competing for championships year-in and year-out that we’ve done at the boys program. I want to bring that to the girls program.”

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