Northern edition Winter Coaches of the Year

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Ridge

Hart

Photo courtesy Danielle Peterson.

Boys’ Team

BILL RIDGE—Freeport basketball

Freeport’s boys’ basketball team produced its best season in a decade, posting a winning record and making the playoffs and while the Falcons’ run was inspirational, it wasn’t all-that surprising, considering who was at the helm.

Bill Ridge, who two years ago led Freeport’s baseball team from obscurity to the Class B state final, helped turn around the basketball team this winter and for his efforts, is The Forecaster’s choice for our Northern edition Winter Coach of the Year, of a boys’ team.

Ridge, who has been ably assisted in both sports by Scott Shea, grew up in South Portland and played baseball at Cheverus. He took over the Freeport basketball program in 2015. After the Falcons won three games his first season, they won five times in 2016-17.

This winter, Freeport turned the corner and turned heads in the process. The Falcons were competitive in just about every game and wound up 10-8. As the No. 8 seed in Class B South, they hosted Lisbon in a preliminary round game and won with ease, 66-44. That sent Freeport to the quarterfinals where it faced top-ranked Wells, a team the Falcons had upset a week-and-a-half prior. Again, Freeport gave the Warriors fits, even leading briefly in the fourth quarter, before Wells went on to a 52-45 triumph (the Warriors would take the regional title).

“It’s been a unique ride for us,” said Ridge. “The community stepped up. They were awesome. The seniors did a great job bringing the program to this point and now they’re handing it over to underclassmen who are capable.”

Ridge is embarking on his fifth season as baseball coach (at the ripe age of 30) and also teaches special education in Freeport.

It was quite a basketball season in Freeport and Bill Ridge, our Northern edition boys’ team Winter Coach of the Year, was a big part of the resurgence and triumph.

Previous winners:

2016-17 Travis Seaver (Greely basketball)

2015-16 Dave Halligan (Falmouth basketball)

2014-15 Dave St. Pierre (Yarmouth hockey)

2013-14 Rob Hale (Greely swimming)

2012-13 Deron Barton (Falmouth hockey)

2011-12 Adam Smith (Yarmouth basketball)

2010-11 Adam Smith (Yarmouth basketball)

2009-10 Marc Halsted (Yarmouth hockey)

2008-09 Barry Mothes (Greely hockey)

2007-08 Craig Sickels (Freeport basketball)

2006-07 Adam Smith (Yarmouth basketball)

2005-06 Jorma Kurry (Falmouth track)

2004-05 Scott Rousseau (Falmouth hockey)

2003-04 Barry Mothes (Greely hockey)

2002-03 John Maloney (Yarmouth basketball)

2001-02 Scott Matusovich (Yarmouth hockey)

Girls’ team

MIKE HART-Freeport basketball

Freeport’s girls’ basketball team had established itself as a contender prior to this season, but this winter, the Falcons became a phenomenon, a squad that won games, as well as the hearts of their fans as they made a run to the regional final for the first time since the bicentennial year of 1976.

Pulling the strings and getting the most of his players was fourth-year coach Mike Hart and for his effort, Hart is The Forecaster’s choice for our Northern edition Winter Coach of the Year, of a girls’ team. 

Hart played for Maine Basketball Hall of Fame Coach Tom Maines at Morse, then later served as a coach at Fryeburg Academy and Morse before becoming Freeport’s coach for the 2014-15 season. After going 2-16 his first year, Hart led the Falcons to nine wins in 2015-16 and 10 a year ago, but each of those campaigns ended with losses to Gray-New Gloucester in the quarterfinals.

This winter, with a strong core of experienced seniors returning and the addition of senior standout Allie Goodman, Freeport had high hopes and didn’t disappoint.

The Falcons would win 14 regular season games, their most since 1991-92. They earned the No. 3 seed for the Class B South tournament, the program’s highest-ever ranking, then held off Wells to win a quarterfinal round game for the first time since 1977. Next up, Freeport edged Poland to reach the regional final for the first time since 1976 and while the Falcons fell just short, losing to Lake Region, they became the feel-good story of the tournament as they made history.

“I’m proud of the girls for working hard all season long,” Hart said. “They really have a lot to be proud of. They made great memories for themselves. They’ll never forget those moments.”

While graduation will take its toll on the program and Freeport will be viewed differently next season, expect the Falcons to remain in contention.

As long as Mike Hart, our Northern edition girls’ team Winter Coach of the Year, is leading this program, it will give its all every game and every season. 

Previous winners:

2016-17 John Folan (Greely track)

2015-16 Christina Strong (Yarmouth basketball)

2014-15 Joel Rogers (Greely basketball)

2013-14 Jeff Haley (Yarmouth/Freeport hockey)

2012-13 Nate Guerin (Greely hockey)

2011-12 Jay Lowery (Yarmouth basketball)

2010-11 Mark Ouellette (Greely Alpine skiing)

2009-10 Rob Hale (Greely swimming)

2008-09 Billy Goodman (Greely basketball)

2007-08 Nick Nash (Yarmouth basketball)

2006-07 George Conant (Falmouth basketball)

2005-06 John Keyes (Falmouth swimming)

2004-05 John Folan (Greely track)

2003-04 Jim Seavey (Greely basketball)

2002-03 Jim Seavey (Greely basketball)

2001-02 Eric Austin (NYA basketball)

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter:@foresports.

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Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.