January 10

Boys' basketball notebook: Straight shooter Cousins back at South Portland

The former standout has jayvee Red Riots on target.

By Tom Chard tchard@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

South Portland junior varsity Coach Dave Cousins shouted out a shooting tip to Matt Pelletier after he missed a 3-pointer during Tuesday’s game against Scarborough. The next time down the floor, Pelletier drilled a 3 from the right side.

Jake Moody

PLAYER OF THE WEEK

Jake Moody, Wells: Moody went over the 1,000-point plateau for his career when he scored 25 points in a game against Cape Elizabeth which the Warriors lost, 59-48. He is the first boys’ player in school history to reach the milestone. Moody is averaging 26 points a game.

HONORABLE MENTION

Nick Thibeault, Gorham: Thibeault scored 27 points with eight rebounds and two blocks to lead Gorham to a 49-31 win over Cheverus. It was Gorham’s biggest win to date and improved its record to 4-4.

Tom Coyne, Falmouth: Coyne scored 24 points in a 67-54 win over York. In the previous game against Cape Elizabeth, Coyne had 22 points, including 12 points in the second quarter as Falmouth outscored Cape 23-8.

Jack Fiorini, South Portland: Fiorini had 21 points and 13 rebounds in a 48-31 win over Massabesic, and 15 points and 10 rebounds in a 66-53 win over Scarborough.

AREA TOP 10

1. Falmouth

2. Portland

3. Bonny Eagle

4. Deering

5. Greely

6. Brunswick

7. Morse

8. Yarmouth

9. Waynflete

10. Cheverus

If anyone is qualified to offer such tips, it would seem to be Cousins, one of the best shooters in Red Riots’ history. Cousins is back at his alma mater as the junior varsity coach and assistant varsity coach.

“It’s great to be back in this (Beal) gym,” said Cousins. “I have some great memories here.”

Cousins, now 51, played on back-to-back undefeated Class A state championship teams in 1979 and 1980. As a senior, Cousins was the Red Riots’ leading scorer with a 20-ppg average and a career-best 43 points against Westbrook. Cousins played before the 3-point shot was instituted. After high school, he played at Bentley College in Waltham, Mass.

Cousins returned to Maine a couple of years ago after working as the marketing director for the Barre-Montpelier Times-Argus in Vermont. He now works for Direct Maine of Maine and as a substitute teacher at South Portland High.

“I always wanted to coach and never did it,” said Cousins who lives in South Portland with his wife Jean.

Cousins approached South Portland Coach Phil Conley shortly after he returned to the state and asked if there were any openings on his staff. There weren’t, but there was one at Scarborough High where Cousins coached the junior varsity last season. South Portland had an opening this season and Cousins was hired.

“Dave has been a perfect fit,” said Conley.

“He works extremely hard for the program. After an hour and a half of JV practice, Dave will stay for the two-hour varsity practice. He loves to teach basketball and loves to be around the kids. I talk about the rich tradition of South Portland basketball to the kids. Dave is a big part of that tradition.”

Conley credits Cousins with helping improve a young Riots backcourt. Cousins loves to work on shooting.

“It’s satisfying because most everyone wants to work on their shot, which is perfect for me because shooting is my passion,” said Cousins.

“I love teaching shooting. When they see themselves improving, it makes it rewarding.”

Cousins grew up in an era when kids shot alone at a driveway basket or played pickup games. There were no AAU teams. During the winter, Cousins would wear a glove on his left hand as he put up shot after shot with his right.

“When I was young, we shot at 81/2-foot baskets in South Portland Grammar School League,” he said.

“We didn’t have to bring the ball down to our hip to reach the basket because we could reach the basket shooting the proper way with the elbow in, your pointing finger in the middle of the ball, the ball flowing off your finger tips with everything aligned to the basket. I tell my players to catch the ball in stride and shoot. For me, it was a natural feel.”

When Cousins got to high school, the Riots were loaded with talent with the likes of Brett Brown, the current Philadelphia 76ers coach, and Vinall Trophy winner Ken Lynch, who formed a powerful backcourt combo. Cousins was a year behind Brown and Lynch in school and averaged around 8 points per game his junior year.

(Continued on page 2)

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