Abby Hasson, right, who formerly worked as an assistant at South Portland, under her mother, Lynne Hasson, left, is the new Portland girls basketball coach. Contributed photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Hasson Family Coaching Empire is expanding.

Across the bridge.

Into Portland and into history.

Last week, Portland High announced that Abby Hasson has been hired as the Bulldogs new girls’ basketball coach, replacing Gerry Corcoran, whose contract wasn’t renewed back in August.

Hasson, 27, is a South Portland Red Riot through and through, starring for the Red Riots a decade ago (she was South Portland’s 2011 Winter Female Athlete of the Year) and more recently, serving as an assistant coach under Lynne Hasson, her mother.

When the Bulldogs and Red Riots square off, it’s quite likely that it will mark the first time in Maine high school basketball history that a mother is coaching against a team led by her daughter.

Needless to say the Portland-South Portland rivalry is about to be ratcheted up a major notch and Abby Hasson, for one, welcomes the challenge.

“Obviously being from a South Portland family, Portland is one of those storied rivalries, so when I told my family (I took the Portland job), there were some jokes cracked, but they are all thrilled for me,” said Abby Hasson, who played at the University of Southern Maine and the University of Maine-Farmington, before serving as an assistant for both Portland and South Portland. “I can’t wait for the SP-Portland game. There was plenty of smack talk about that at our Thanksgiving dinner table.”

“I am looking forward to the ‘Battle of the Bridge,'” said Lynne Hasson, who also starred as a player for South Portland in the early 1980s. “Those should be great, competitive games. It’s kind of funny because Portland was the team I hated the most in high school. I’m sure (former Portland) Coach (Ed) Feeney is getting a good laugh. I told Abby when she got the job that I would support her, but never wear Portland apparel.”

Portland and South Portland nearly met in last year’s Class AA state final, but the Bulldogs lost, 45-35, to Oxford Hills in the Class AA North title game to finish 17-4.

All hoops, all the time

To say that Abby Hasson came of age in a basketball family would be an enormous understatement.

Chris Hasson, Abby’s father, coached Scarborough’s boys’ team early this century. Lynne Hasson is entering her eighth year as South Portland’s girls’ coach, having led the Red Riots to the Class AA state final last winter (losing to Oxford Hills, 49-38). Connor Hasson, Abby’s brother, also played at UMF and has served as an assistant coach with the Cape Elizabeth boys’ team and her two youngest siblings have made a mark in the sport as well. Maddie Hasson starred at Bowdoin College, was named the Division III National Player of the Year last winter and is currently playing in Ireland, while Riley Hasson made a name for himself throwing his body all over the floor in helping South Portland win regional titles in 2016 and 2017.

Abby Hasson’s immersion in basketball and coaching from a young age makes her ideal to succeed at Portland, according to her mother.

“First off, Abby has a passion for and knowledge of the game that comes from growing up around it and having two parents that love it,” Lynne Hasson said. “She naturally picked up a lot. She grew up with basketball pretty much from the day she was born. I was always coaching and so was Chris and we’re just connected with so many basketball coaches from our coaching and playing days.

“I think Abby has the ability to instill her passion in her players. She has always loved basketball and for years, I think the highlight of her summer was being a counselor and then a coach at ‘Hoop Camp.’ She knew all 90 of the girls’ names within hours and the girls loved her. She made everything kind of crazy and fun. High energy and very outgoing. She was like the Pied Piper up there. I think she really connects with and is great with kids. She always has been. She has the unique ability to have fun while still challenging and motivating her players. She is a players’ coach and will listen to her players and allow them the opportunity to be leaders.

“She also has a huge support network that will be important for her at the beginning. Abby has connected with many coaches through her playing days, her coaching at summer camps, her family connections and her association with the Women Basketball Coaches in Maine (a group that started this summer). Members of this group were instrumental in giving her advice in the process of applying for and interviewing for the Portland job.

“I’m very happy for Abby and know she is ready and will do a great job. She is getting a great group of young, talented female athletes.”

Lance Johnson, Portland High’s new athletic director, feels that Abby Hasson’s ability to relate to her players is a great asset.

“Abigail Hasson is passionate about the game of basketball and dedicated to building respectful and trusting relationships with student-athletes,” Johnson said. “One of her main goals as a coach is to connect with student-athletes to motivate and empower them as people. She is a student of the game who understands that athletics is an extension of the high school classroom and that the life-lessons taught on the court can contribute to a successful future for our student-athletes.”

Primed to succeed

Abby Hasson inherits a very promising team, the type of squad that might be favored to win it all if there were a traditional postseason tournament (currently, an abbreviated 12-game basketball season is on tap, but no state playoffs).

Two Division I-caliber standouts in Amanda Kabantu (who has verbally committed to Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts) and Gemima Motema (who will play at Northeastern University in Boston) return for their senior seasons and after coming so close last year, Portland is primed to have a memorable year, regardless of how it’s structured.

“Having coached at South Portland last year and seen the Portland team in action, I’m eager to get started,” Abby Hasson said. “This is a talented, athletic, smart group whose potential is limitless. More importantly, they all seem to be great young women. I look forward to getting to know each of them and working together to build a bond that will make this season something special.

“Getting a head coaching position has always been a goal of mine. For it to be at Portland, where I got my first experience coaching high school basketball, just makes it that much more special. I am extremely grateful to have this opportunity with a storied program like Portland.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

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