YARMOUTH — This isn’t the first time Tom Panozzo has been with the Yarmouth girls’ basketball team for the first practices of the season.

It is, however, the first time he’s been the one arranging them.

“The first day of practice, you’re thinking ‘We could work on everything,’ ” Panozzo said. “You do just a little bit of everything, you realize how much better the girls are than you anticipated. … The dust settles after that first day of nerves.”

There are nerves for the players, and for the coach as well. Panozzo is in his first season as the Clippers’ head coach, following four seasons as an assistant under David Cousins. He’s not alone; new girls’ basketball coaches in the area include Doug Banks, who takes over for seven-time Class B South champion and 2014 state champ Paul True at Lake Region, Sandi Purcell at Wells, Danielle Pinkham at Bonny Eagle, John Young at Westbrook and Sara Morris at Morse.

For Panozzo, the chance to run a program was one he was looking forward to.

“It’s great. I think it’s fun because the community’s so great, and I’ve worked with these girls before,” he said. “I’m a competitive person and I’ve always loved basketball. I’ve done it in the past for the youth organizations and stuff like that, so you start realizing that you’re passionate about it and you just want to take charge and leave your mark on the sport.”


He takes over a team that has gone 34-18 over its last three full regular seasons. Yarmouth lost All-WMC picks Katelyn D’Appolonia and Maya Panozzo – Tom’s daughter – to graduation and are without scoring guard Ava Feeley, but the remaining Clippers were eager to begin the season and try to continue their success under a coach they know well.

“I think it’s going to be a little bit of a change from our coach we had last year, but I think it’s a change we’re ready for,” senior guard Delia MacDonald said. “He expects a lot of hard work and effort from everybody. He’s really big about becoming one big family, a team.”

Junior forward Cate King said the familiarity with Panozzo has made the transition easier.

“I’m in the same grade as his daughter, (guard) Neena (Panozzo), so he’s been coaching us since we were four years old,” she said. “He’s perfect for it, because he’s enthusiastic and he wants us to have fun, but he also wants us to work hard and be dedicated.”

Some of the new coaches, though, are stepping into a brand-new situation. Purcell, who takes over for 2020 Class B champion Don Abbott with the Warriors, was an assistant coach at the University of Southern Maine after a 1,000-point career at Keene State College. Pinkham, who replaces Scott Regan with the Scots, was an assistant at Southern Maine Community College.

“I wanted to be a high school math teacher and basketball coach ever since I was little,” said Pinkham, who does both at Bonny Eagle. “The time is a lot different. At SMCC, we started in August and we went all the way to March. … I’ve been so anxious to get going.”


Summer basketball and the first practices Monday and Tuesday saw Pinkham making her mark.

“This year, we’re seeing some more new-school, college-level stuff coming in,” senior center Kaitlyn Bartash said. “She’s bringing some new plays in. It’s pretty much all fresh, it’s definitely fun to start to learn new stuff.”

One of those concepts is an increase in aggressive, man-to-man defense. Another is urgency on offense, as Pinkham looks to bring a shot clock rhythm to her high school team.

“(There will be) a lot of spreading the floor out, teaching them different types of cuts and reads off things,” she said. “Quicker play too, trying to get more out of a set sooner than trying to wait and wait and wait. … I think I bring a lot of that set mindset to it. There needs to be a goal to that possession.”

The Scots were ready to get started.

“As soon as the snow started falling, we realized it’s basketball season, it’s starting up again,” Bartash said. “It was pretty electric, everyone was pretty excited to be back. We might be a little out of shape, but we’re excited.”

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