Jim Ray’s teams at Cape Elizabeth won five regional titles since 2008, and captured the Class B state championship in 2015. Forecaster file photo

CAPE ELIZABETH — After 26 years of teaching fundamentals and life lessons and winning basketball games at an impressive clip, Jim Ray has stepped down as Cape Elizabeth’s boys’ basketball coach.

Ray, 59, confirmed Friday that he is done after 350 victories, five regional titles and the 2015 Class B state championship.

“It’s a lot of work,” Ray said of coaching. “It’s not just showing up for games. I absolutely loved being on the floor with the kids, but I wonder if maybe it’s better for someone else to have a chance.”

Ray, a 1980 Cape Elizabeth graduate who went on to star at the University of Southern Maine, returned to his alma mater as an assistant coach, then took over the Capers’ program in 1994.

Ray’s teams were long known for close calls, losing in the Western Class B final every year from 1999 to 2002, then falling in the state final in 2008, 2009 and 2010. But in 2015, Cape Elizabeth rallied to beat Medomak Valley on Ethan Murphy’s buzzer-beater, winning the program’s first Gold Ball since 1988.

“I couldn’t have scripted that any better,” said Ray. “That’s one time I’m glad I didn’t call timeout.”

“I’ve never met anyone more organized than (Coach Ray) is in every aspect of the game, and he stole a state championship because his kids knew what to do with just a few seconds left,” said legendary coach Bob Brown, who first met Ray when Ray attended his summer basketball program in the late 1970s. “When you play for him, you learn fundamentals. Passing, defense, rebounding, the whole nine yards. His consistency is remarkable and he’s a man of character. That’s what impresses me the most.”


The Capers nearly won another championship in 2019, but fell in double overtime to Caribou in front of a raucous, capacity crowd at Cross Insurance Arena when Tanner Carpenter’s bid for a buzzer-beater was off target.

“I’ll never forget the hush that came over the crown when that ball went up,” Ray said.

This past winter, Cape Elizabeth started 4-11 but won its final three regular-season games. Then, as the No. 7 seed, the Capers upset No. 2 Spruce Mountain in the Class B South quarterfinals before losing to Wells in the semifinals.

Through Ray’s tenure, no team got more out of the sum of its parts.

“We’ve always been about working as a team,” Ray said. “We’ve always had talent. Maybe not the depth of talent of some (rival) programs, but the kids got the most out of each other and enjoyed doing it.”

“Jim was probably the best coach I ever hired,” added former Cape Elizabeth athletic director Keith Weatherbie. “I used to say that he did more with less talent than any other coach in Maine. He was an extremely hard worker and expected the same out of his athletes. I had played basketball in college and thought I knew a lot about the game, but I was always amazed watching his practices. I can’t say enough good things about him.”


Ray helped kids, including his boys, Tommy and Nick, reach their potential as players and young men.

Theo Bowe, a 2011 graduate who, along with his former coach, was one of the finest players to ever put on a Cape uniform, said Ray’s influence served him well long after his playing days concluded.

“Playing for Coach Ray was an incredibly valuable experience for developing basketball skills, but more so for developing life skills,” said Bowe, who is about to graduate from Harvard Medical School and begin a medical residency in Philadelphia. “He was an expert in teaching young people to take responsibility for their actions, to develop a work ethic and to work well as a member of a team. While winning was always the goal, Coach Ray was clear that it was to be done the right way, with preparation, dedication and teamwork. The lessons I learned and skills I gained playing for Coach Ray have served me very well beyond the court.”

Ray, who teaches industrial technology at Cape Elizabeth High, said he’s uncertain if he’ll return to the game, but for now, he’ll “pick up some new interests.”

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