New Old Orchard Beach boys basketball coach Mike Burke yells out instructions during practice on Thursday.

New Old Orchard Beach boys basketball coach Mike Burke yells out instructions during practice on Thursday.

OLD ORCHARD BEACH — Last season, the Old Orchard Beach boys basketball team went 12-8 and made a run to the quarterfinals of the Class C playoffs in longtime head coach John Regan’s final season on the bench.

The Seagulls may have a new leader as former Westbrook coach Mike Burke takes over as the OOB head coach, but they also bring back pretty much the entire team from last year.

“Coach Regan certainly didn’t leave the cupboard bare,” said Burke. “Five of the top six returning, a handful of returning starters, some kids that made some great strides this summer, kids that have done a nice job this fall, I feel pretty good about the product we should be able to put out there.”

Burke was happy to get a head start with the Seagulls as he was hired soon after the 2014-15 season ended.

“The nice thing was I was hired in the end of the spring, which allowed me to have a summer program with them and these guys couldn’t have been any better to me this summer. They were fantastic getting here, being involved and doing all the things you’d expect an older group to do,” said Burke.

Leading that group is senior point guard Erik Hogan, who Burke will rely on this season – both on and off the court.

“Erik’s that kid, he’s your point guard, he’s your leader, you talk to him about things as the season goes along and he gives you an accurate pulse about the perception and things like that. His value goes far beyond his ability of the court,” said Burke.

Burke will also rely on junior Evan Christensen, who showed flashes of brilliance during his sophomore campaign with the Seagulls.

“He’s a physical kid that has a ton of talent. If he can manage playing without fouling and moving into that leadership role as opposed to a role that’s smaller, then he will be very successful,” said Burke.

Rounding out his starting five will be sharpshooter Zach Hirst and talented big men Joe Anderson and Sam Custeau.

“It’s really a pretty good combination. Erik at point guard, Hirst can shoot the ball, a couple bigs in Joe Anderson and Sam Custeau and you round it out with Evan,” said Burke, who also feels he has some younger players who will step up. “(We have) some sophomores that continue to develop in Ian Regan and Kyle Allen … by the end of it, hopefully we will be playing our best basketball in February.”

Burke brings plenty of experience with him – both as a player and as a coach. He was a star for Gorham back in the mid- 1990s and helped lead the Rams to a state championship in 1996.

“I played 10 of my 70 career games in Augusta,” said Burke, who wants to get back there as the leader of the OOB program. “Playoff basketball and February break is synonymous with the Augusta Civic Center for me. I’m looking forward to getting up there and try to make a run at it.”

The former Gorham standout would eventually take a job as an assistant coach at South Portland before coaching the Westbrook varsity team for the past two seasons.

Burke believes he has learned a lot from all of his previous stops.

“Plenty of things have been passed down from some very good coaches I’ve been around. I’ve been fortunate to be a part of some very good programs,” said Burke.

One thing Burke believes will help the Seagulls prepare for a postseason run is a tough schedule.

“The schedule is difficult based on the availability of Class C South schools. The schedule we end up playing will be a lot of Class B schools and a lot of teams that we won’t end up playing in the tournament,” said Burke, who said playing teams like Kennebunk over the summer and in the preseason has already helped his team.

The Seagulls may not get through their regular-season schedule unscathed, but Burke knows the tough schedule will make them better down the stretch.

“Obviously, the idea is to play the best competition, especially early, and see if you can progress as the season goes along,” said Burke.

Burke also knows that no matter how tough the competition is, his team needs to get plenty of victories to be in a good position for the postseason.

“It will be important to win, it doesn’t matter who you play, you don’t get (playoff) points for losses,” said Burke.

Sports Editor Pat McDonald can be reached at [email protected] or at 282-1535 ext 322. Follow the Journal Tribune Sports Department on Twitter @ JournalTsports.

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