Rangeley girls basketball coach Heidi Deery said of Doug Lisherness, “You don’t see a lot of coaches like him nowadays.” That’s probably an understatement.
Lisherness, 64, is retiring at the end of this season after coaching the Mt. Abram girls for 26 years. He won Class C state championships in 1991 and 2007.
Lisherness is the bridge to a different era. If his team wasn’t hustling, he would say it -- bluntly. But if he felt it was deserved, he would quickly hand out praise. After a poorly-played loss, he might say to a reporter answering the phone, “Yeah, you can help me. You can come coach my team.” One time, calling a newspaper with the score after a big win, he yelled into the phone, “This is Doug Lisherness over at Abram! We kicked their butts!”
He also had to be more resourceful than most coaches, and his current team is a great example of that. The varsity and JV practice at the same time, each taking half the court. The JV team is winless this season, so much of practice is spent on individual drills with the varsity players. That’s easier than it sounds, because the Roadrunners are down to six varsity players. Still, Mt. Abram is 7-9 and will make the Western C tournament.
Lisherness is adamant that he is done coaching for good after this season. A lot of coaches pride themselves on being teachers, and Lisherness is the same way.
“I’ve always said there’s nothing any more satisfying than to work on (something) in practice, and to go and see your team execute it during the game,” Lisherness told the Morning Sentinel. “I love teaching the game of basketball, and I love seeing them develop throughout their high school career.”
BEGIN, MASSEY WIN GAZIANO AWARDS
Thornton offensive lineman Bobby Begin and John Bapst defensive lineman Kurt Massey won the Frank J. Gaziano Memorial Offensive and Defensive Lineman Awards. Both were standout two-way players this season, and Begin was a captain on the Thornton team that won the Class A state championship. The Gaziano awards are given annually to the top senior offensive and defensive linemen in the state.
Begin and Massey each received $5,000 scholarships. The four other finalists for the two awards each received $1,000 scholarships.
Begin, who has a 3.96 GPA, hopes to attend the University of Maine, but will not play football. Massey, who has a 3.7 GPA, hopes to play in college, and is looking at Maine, Merrimack, and the University of New Hampshire.
BIG TURNAROUND AT HYDE
The Hyde girls basketball team lost 48-35 to Old Orchard Beach on Tuesday. That normally wouldn’t be noteworthy, but it was the first loss for the Phoenix this season -- after finishing 0-16 last winter.
First-year coach Richard Polgar, who coached at the George School in Philadelphia the last six seasons, has the Phoenix in the No. 3 spot in Western D behind perennial powers Richmond and Rangeley.
Hyde does not play Richmond or Rangeley during the regular season, but could be a dark horse in the Western D tournament. Old Orchard Beach plays in Class C, and a few weeks before beating Hyde, the Seagulls defeated Richmond, 55-48.
“I think the chemistry of this team is incredible,” Polgar told the Portland Press Herald. “It’s one of the best teams I’ve coached in that aspect, in the way the girls play together and bring out the best in each other.”
SCARBOROUGH IS BOYS AND GIRLS HOCKEY TOWN
Scarborough has a chance to have dual state champions in boys and girls hockey this winter. The Red Storm boys are 12-1 under veteran coach Norm Gagne, who has won six state titles and nearly 600 games in his career. Four players have at least 20 points -- defenseman Nick Bagley (26), and forwards (Garrett McDonald (26), Trevor Murray (22), and Jack Rouselle (20). Goalie Dalton Finley has a 1.18 goals-against average and a .936 save percentage.
The Scarborough girls have been even stingier. Their record is 14-1-1, and they’ve allowed a total of nine goals in 16 games. Goalie Devan Kane, a junior, made the Maine Sunday Telegram all-state team as a freshman and as a sophomore.
GIRLS BASKETBALL TOP 10
1. McAuley (15-0) - Lions were undefeated last season, and are on their way this winter.
2. Deering (14-1) - Rams have proven they can win by scoring or grinding.
3. Cheverus (13-2) - Lost by four to Deering and by 21 to McAuley.
4. Scarborough (12-3) - Handled everyone on schedule except three teams above.
5. Edward Little (12-3) - If Red Eddies can put it all together, they’re the best in Eastern A.
6. Bangor (12-3) - Rams have won six in a row and eight of last nine.
7. Presque Isle (15-0) - Class B Wildcats are averaging 71.7 points per game.
8. Mt. Blue (10-5) - Inconsistent lately, but driven after crushing OT loss in last year’s playoffs.
9. Lawrence (11-4) - Center Nia Irving and point guard Dominique Lewis are among best freshmen in state.
10. Mt. Ararat (12-3) - No stars, but well-coached and can score inside and out.
BOYS BASKETBALL TOP 10
1. Hampden (15-0) - Broncos have allowed under 40 points in each of last five games.
2. Portland (13-2) - Might be the best of a deep Western A.
3. Deering (12-3) - Was cruising before losing last two games and scoring under 40 in each.
4. Falmouth (14-0) - Yachtsmen have run over the competition in Western B.
5. South Portland (13-2) - Beat Deering by 16 and Westbrook by 18, but can Red Riots sustain it?
6. Westbrook (12-3) - Could make case Blue Blazes should be higher after road win at Portland.
7. Lawrence (11-4) - Coach Mike McGee’s final team is among his best.
8. Edward Little (14-1) - Red Eddies haven’t faced Hampden and lost to Lawrence by 14.
9. Bonny Eagle (12-3) - Scots can light it up, but if you hold them under 60, it’s anyone’s game.
10. Bangor (11-4) - Young Rams are exciting and have experience in close games.
BOYS HOCKEY TOP 10
1. Scarborough (12-1) - Four different players tied for team lead with 11 goals.
2. Falmouth (9-2) - Yachtsmen have won last three games by an aggregate score of 33-3.
3. Lewiston (9-2-1) - Blue Devils have allowed 18 goals in 12 games.
4. Bangor (9-2) - Senior Parker Sanderson has 35 points in 11 games.
5. Greely (7-4) - Class B Rangers have held their own against Class A foes.
6. St. Dominic (7-3-1) - Saints are erratic, but can play with anyone.
7. Cheverus (8-2) - Junior goalie Jason Blier has a .935 save percentage.
8. Biddeford (5-6-1) - Tigers have had their moments against a brutal schedule.
9. Messalonskee (11-1) - Showdown with Greely looms on Saturday.
10. Camden Hills (10-0) - Steamrolling the competition, but schedule is suspect.