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High school basketball notebook: Coach makes most of midseason hire


NewsHubCoaching the Portland High girls’ basketball team – or any high school team – was probably the last thing Gerry Corcoran thought he would be doing in 2017.
Yet here he is, again standing on the sidelines and coaching the game he loves.
Corcoran became the Portland High girls’ coach on Dec. 27, just days after Jay Lowery resigned unexpectedly on Dec. 23. Lowery was in his third year as the Bulldogs’ coach and the team was off to an 0-5 start after winning only two games last season.
Athletic Director Rob O’Leary is simply glad that Corcoran – who played at Northeastern University, then professionally in Europe and South America before embarking on a winding coaching odyssey – was around and willing to take the position.
“He knows the game of basketball, that’s for sure,” said O’Leary. “I love that we have someone like that with us. It was a blessing that he was around.”
The 53-year-old Corcoran, a native of Hingham, Massachusetts, and his family moved to Maine in 2011 and have lived in South Portland since 2013. He’s pleased with the progress even though the Bulldogs have lost three more games.
“The girls are making me a better coach already,” said Corcoran. “We’re going to have some fun.”
He started his coaching career as an assistant at Connecticut under Jim Calhoun, whom he played for at Northeastern, then coached at several high schools and colleges in Massachusetts over the years. In 2007 he coached the Cape Cod Frenzy of the professional American Basketball Association for 10 games (also taking over midway through the season). When that team moved, he decided to turn his attention to his young and growing family.
So coaching took a back seat to other jobs. He had been a counselor at a correctional facility in Dedham, Massachusetts, speaking to inmates about drug and alcohol abuse. He now works at Opportunity Alliance, an community outreach program based in South Portland.
The past few years, Corcoran coached some youth AAU basketball teams but didn’t coach in the winter so he could watch his son, Connor, play hockey.
He had been introduced to O’Leary – like Corcoran, from Massachusetts – and the two met in December to discuss Portland’s struggling girls’ team. A couple of days later, Lowery asked if Corcoran would attend a practice. He did and began making plans to help some more.
“I don’t know what happened,” Corcoran said. “I got a call that Jay had resigned and they asked if I wanted to coach.”
Corcoran needed to make sure he could fit coaching full-time back into his life. Once he did, he was ready to go. He was finally approved for the position just hours before his first game, a 50-37 loss to Sanford.
Although the Bulldogs remain winless, Corcoran sees improvements. “Their learning curve is amazing,” he said of the players.
As a disciple of Calhoun, Corcoran is a proponent of multiple defenses – “kill them with confusion,” he said – and a fast-paced offense. He said the Bulldogs eventually will run set plays but “the best offense is that you go and don’t let the defense get its feet set. I want the girls to have some fun and score.”
He’s been especially impressed with senior guard Taylor Sargent, senior forward Kate Johnson, junior forward Shayla Eubanks and sophomore point guard Nettie Walsh.
This is the first time he’s coached a girls’ team.
“I’ve always loved the girls’ game and I’ve always known this,” he said. “There’s a purity to the game. It’s not played above the rim. It’s about fundamentals and shooting.”
The Red Eddies showed why just before Christmas when they beat all three Portland teams in succession: winning at Deering 62-54, topping Cheverus 71-51, then shooting down defending champ Portland, 76-70.
Edward Little is 7-0. A year ago it started the season 1-6.
“We’re good. No question about it and we’re good because they’ve worked really hard,” said Coach Mike Adams, now in his 16th year. “But we also know it’s just (through) Game 7 for us. We have to keep getting better. Those teams, they’re superior to us athletically.”
Edward Little returns Jarod Norcross- Plourde, a senior guard who averaged 18 points and 10 rebounds last season. This year more players are contributing. Darby Shea (six first-half 3s against Portland), guard Samatar Iman, and sophomore 6-foot-4 forward Wol Maiwen, the first man off the bench, have provided consistent scoring. Junior point guard Tyler Morin is a returning starter, and senior C. J. Jipson adds energy, defense and superior passing. With improved balance and experience, Edward Little has shown it can play multiple styles successfully.
The Eddies have two games left against teams currently with winning records (at Windham and at Oxford Hills). Going 18-0 is a real possibility. Adams said he’s heard and read others proclaiming his team as the best in the state. Now it’s his turn to offer a word or two of caution.
“I don’t know if there’s anyone who knows better than Edward Little how hard it is to win a state championship,” Adams said.
Edward Little’s last state title came in 1946. Adams coached his team to consecutive regional championships in 2009 and ’10 but lost in both state finals: to Thornton Academy 54-52, and then Cheverus, 55-50. Cheverus was stripped of its 2010 title 31 months later for using an ineligible player.
“The boys deserve the recognition for what they’ve done so far but we know we have to keep improving,” Adams said.
After Tuesday’s 46-40 loss to unbeaten Scarborough, Coach Lynne Hasson said the team has to play with more intensity. The score was 26-26 entering the fourth quarter.
“I guess we have to go back to the drawing board,” she said. “I talked to the kids about the fact that everyone might think we have one of the top teams around but we really have got to do it on the floor. It doesn’t matter what your reputation is or what your uniform says, you’ve got to come to play every night.

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