LISBON FALLS

It was a task unlike anything Jake Gentle had taken on.

Here he was, a young first-year coach of the Lisbon High School girls basketball team in 2002/03, with his Greyhounds riding a 115- game losing streak that began years before.

To say the least, those first few years were a struggle for Gentle as he tried to turn around a lost program.

Fast-forward to the 2012/13 high school hoops season and one will find Gentle, now a father and a season removed from coaching girls basketball after handing the reigns of the Lisbon program over to Julie Wescott.

These days, he’s trying to resurrect another program that has fallen onto hard times: the Lisbon boys basketball team.

LISBON HIGH SCHOOL boys basketball coach Jake Gentle (top photo) makes a point during a recent practice. Gentle takes over the Greyhounds this season after turning around the girls program during his eight-season run. In the bottom photo, Lisbon girls basketball coach Julie Wescott, second from right, discusses things with her Greyhounds after the final day of tryouts. The Lisbon boys open at home against Mt. Abram on Dec. 7, while the Greyhound girls host the Roadrunners on Dec. 8.

LISBON HIGH SCHOOL boys basketball coach Jake Gentle (top photo) makes a point during a recent practice. Gentle takes over the Greyhounds this season after turning around the girls program during his eight-season run. In the bottom photo, Lisbon girls basketball coach Julie Wescott, second from right, discusses things with her Greyhounds after the final day of tryouts. The Lisbon boys open at home against Mt. Abram on Dec. 7, while the Greyhound girls host the Roadrunners on Dec. 8.

How tough has it been for the Lisbon boys?

Over the past six seasons, the Greyhounds have compiled a 5-103 record. There was a 49-game losing skid from Jan. 27, 2007 to Jan. 8, 2009, and a 22-game run that ended with a 45-36 victory over Winthrop this past January.

So, what does Gentle expect from his boys squad?

“I’m seeing them being very attentive and eager to learn,” said Gentle, whose Greyhounds open at home against Mt. Abram on Dec. 7. “The biggest disadvantage we have is that we didn’t get our summer program in, and I was hired late, which puts us behind the eight-ball in offensive and defensive philosophies.”

Gentle recalls very little in similarities between the girls that he took over and this year’s boys program.

“When I came in to coach the girls, it had been a decade without success, and the girls just didn’t play a lot and the skill level was lower than it should of been going into varsity,” said the coach. “The guys just need to learn how to win. They love to play and are always looking for ways to get better.”

Girls success

Gentle compiled a misleading 56- 88 record in his eight seasons at the helm of the girls squad. It took Gentle three full seasons, with Lisbon winning just three times (3-51), before he began to see the fruits of his and his players’ labor.

After an 0-2 start to the 2006/07 season, Lisbon turned things around, rolling to a 9-9 record and the team’s first postseason berth since declining an invite in 2001/02 after an 0-18 season. All the teams made the playoff field then, and the Greyhounds were deep into their struggles.

Lisbon defeated Poland in a Western Maine Class B preliminary before losing to Falmouth at the Portland Expo in the Western B quarterfinals.

Seasons of 11-7, 13-5 and 14-4 followed, giving Gentle a 47-25 mark over four seasons.

“I was proud of the run the Lisbon girls had,” said Gentle. “All the girls worked hard to build the program up. From where we started in 2002 to where the program is now under Julie, things have certainly gotten better and they expect to win.”

Gentle, who led the Lisbon girls soccer team to a 12-1-1 record and the No. 1 seed in Western C in the fall, looks to improve on the one-win hoops campaign from last year.

“Many of these players have played AAU basketball, so their skill level is there, so the biggest challenges will be to limit runs by our opponents,” said Gentle. “You can’t allow a six-point or seven-point run, call a timeout, and come out and allow another six-point or sevenpoint run.”

And, his expectations?

“I expect us to be competitive and play hard for 32 minutes every night,” said the coach. “I believe many of the teams in our conference are ahead of us right now in their development, so we have to play hard every minute and not let up.

“There are so many great teams in the Mountain Valley Conference. From Dirigo, who last year might have been the best team in the state, to Boothbay and Spruce Mountain, there are a lot of great coaches in this conference.”

Gentle’s first boys squad includes returning seniors Brad Groh (forward),

Kyle Sheehan (F), Mason Haley (guard), Nick Collins (F) and Ryan Brewer (G), juniors Tucker Brannon (G), Kendal Roy (G) and Jacob Bremmer (center), along with sophomore returnees Kyle Bourget (G), Johnny Yim (F/G).

Sophomore Cole Greaves (F) and freshman Mike Kilby (F) are newcomers looking to crack the lineup.

Bremmer (6-foot-6), Greaves (6-3) and Kilby (6-2) give Gentle some height sorely missed in the recent past for the Greyhounds, who face key matchups at Winthrop (home, Dec. 10), at Wiscasset (Dec. 17), home against Carrabec (Dec. 21) and at home against Monmouth (Jan. 5).

Girls basketball

Coach Julie Wescott’s rookie season last year didn’t go quite as well as this year’s field hockey campaign to say the least.

Wescott led her Lisbon field hockey team to its first State Class C title this year, but was in basketball mode on the last of a three-day tryout recently, pushing her team to improve on last season’s 7-11 mark, which ended with a Western C preliminary loss at Waynflete.

“Last year, we got a taste of the playoffs, so I’m hoping we can build on that,” said Wescott, whose Greyhounds open at home against Mt. Abram Dec. 8 at 7 p.m. “I love this team and their attitudes are awesome. I love kids that are here to work hard, and everyone of these ladies do that every practice.

“My guards are quick, and I think we can be competitive and be very defensive-minded,” Wescott added. “It will be a building year, but down the road this hard-working group will get better and be competitive.”

The returning senior class features Bailey Madore (guard), Denise Thomas (forward/guard), Elyssa Hubert (G) and Jordan Kates (F/G), while the other returnee is sophomore Mia Durgin (G). The newcomers are seniors Chantel Poland (F/G) and Sarah Stone (F), juniors Abby Roy (F) and Katelyn Fowler (C), sophomore Mikayla Yanez (G) and freshmen Adrianna White (F), Bree Sautter (G).

Wescott feels her team’s weakness is size.

“Experience in the post is an issue, and we are small. But, everyone would like to have 6-1, 6-2 girls, but that is not the case for us this year,” said Wescott. “I expect Madison to be good, and everyone else in the MVC is pretty solid.”

Key dates for Lisbon include Dec. 15 (home, Dirigo), Dec. 18 (at Wiscasset),

Jan. 7 (at St. Dom’s), Jan. 16 (H, Wiscasset) and Jan. 29 (H, Hall-Dale).

Wrestling

It has been two years since Lisbon stood atop the State Class C wrestling podium, struggling through a rebuilding process.

Coach Mark Stevens isn’t predicting a return to form this year, but he feels his Greyhounds are on the right path.

“We have taken some time this season to discuss the tradition of wrestling at Lisbon,” said Stevens. “I believe we are one year away from contending again. We are on the right track. I have been very impressed with the work ethic. The kids have taken no shortcuts.”

Junior Zach Stevens, a state champion last year at 120 pounds, captains the Greyhounds along with classmate Tyler Bard, who took fourth at states last year. Zach Stevens moves up to 132 pounds, while Bard wrestles at 138. Junior David Moore (190 pounds) was fourth last year in the state meet at 171.

“My juniors have state championship wrestling experience, plus our schedule is again very challenging, which prepares us for the state meet at the Augusta Civic Center,” said the coach, whose grapplers open in a tough four-team meet at Dexter on Dec. 7. The meet includes Dirigo and Foxcroft Academy. “Those three teams I consider the favorites, along with Bucksport, Winslow and Madison, so we will see where we need to work.

Coach Stevens’ roster also has senior Ben Kates (a newcomer, 160), juniors David Dall (152), Josh Collier (145), Darius Slaugher (145, transfer from Colorado) and Alex Bennett (152), sophomores JD Martin (160), Cody Brauneis (106), Mike Demerest (132) and Jake Mulderick (113), and freshmen Ashley Patten (126), Ian Arsenault (130), John Pettingel (140) and Jordan Cole (123).

Lisbon holds its first home meet on Dec. 12 against Mountain Valley and York.


Comments are not available on this story.