Saturday, December 7, 2013
From staff reports
University of Maine women's basketball coach Richard Barron, whose first season in Orono ended Friday in the quarterfinals of the America East tournament, was on hand at the Cumberland County Civic Center, sitting courtside (along with Black Bears assistant Amy Vachon) for the Class A championship game between McAuley and Cony.
"Obviously I'm evaluating the kids, but it's also important for me to get out and be seen and learn the different high school coaches and show interest in them," he said. "It's an important part of my transition to Maine."
Barron has been to southern Maine before, to watch McAuley (which was coached by Vachon to a state title last year) and Western Class B champion Lake Region.
He spent a lot of time watching tournament games at the Bangor Auditorium and was recently at the Augusta Civic Center.
"I think it's really neat how the whole state seems to look forward to the state tournament," said Barron. "It's great to see the communities come out and support their kids."
Barron's first season in Orono ended with an 8-23 record.
Vachon, by the way, has ties to both Class A finalists. She played for Cony when her father, Paul, was the coach. And she led McAuley to a championship last year. She was also an assistant to her McAuley successor, Bill Goodman, at Greely.
Asked who she was rooting for, she replied, "McAuley. I know those girls pretty well."
NICE TOUCH by the McAuley girls to have seniors Mary Leasure and Kate Liziewski snip the final cords of the net following the Lions' 54-41 victory against Cony for the Class A state championship.
Neither played much this season, but the Lions felt it was important to have them cut the net down.
"They may not have played much but they were leaders on this team," said senior Alexa Coulombe, who will play at Boston College next year.
Leasure said it's a very special memory to end her career.
"I feel like I'm a leader on the bench," she said, clutching the Gold Ball while wearing the net as a necklace. "I get everyone fired up for the game and I think that's a big part, too.
"I definitely feel special."
CONY COACH Karen Magnusson silenced a lot of critics by leading a young team (seven sophomores on the roster) to the state title game.
After her first two seasons -- a preliminary-round loss and a non-tournament season -- there were rumblings in Augusta.
"There's always questions when someone is not winning," said Paul Vachon, the Cony AD and coaching legend who preceded Magnusson. "Were there rumors? Yes."
But Vachon never listened to them.
"We were confident in her effort, her passion and her ability to coach," he said. "She is as passionate as a coach as she was as a player. And we knew we had a good person who would be a great role model for the kids."
MCAULEY BROUGHT a large crowd Saturday to the Cumberland County Civic Center. The home side of the building was close to full. And those were all Lions fans because the Deering crowd hadn't arrived. The MPA has a separate admission policy for the Class A state finals.
For a school with an enrollment under 300, the crowd was impressive.
"We have a lot of alumni and parents of alumni who return to watch us play," said McAuley Athletic Director Joe Kilmartin.
Kilmartin also said the team has developed a loyal following over the years because of the program's success. He said many fans don't have any connection to the school other that wanting to watch good schoolgirl basketball.
IT WAS A SEA of purple and white for the Class A boys' state final -- those being the school colors for both Deering and Hampden Academy.
Prior to 2001, Deering had been in only one state basketball final, in 1937, when it lost to Winslow.
In the last 12 seasons, Deering has played in five state championship games, with the last three against Hampden.
-- Staff Writers Mike Lowe and Tom Chard contributed to this report.