These awards were not necessarily awarded to a man and a woman, but to the top coach of a boys’ team and the top coach of a girls’ team.
With only three veteran players returning this winter, not much was expected of the Cape Elizabeth boys’ basketball team.
As it turned out, the Capers should never be overlooked.
Cape Elizabeth has become a program that others envy, thanks in large part to the hard work of coach Jim Ray, who did a tremendous job this winter, molding untested players with his returning talent, all of which resulted in an unexpected trip to the Class B Final, the Capers’ third state championship game in four seasons.
For doing a masterful job this season, for sustaining a great program and for being so respected among his peers, Jim Ray is The Forecaster’s choice for our Southern edition Winter Coach of the Year of a boys’ team.
Ray is a longtime fixture in town. His name is still prevalent in the record books after his stint as a standout player for the Capers. He graduated in 1980 after starring in basketball and also playing soccer and baseball. Ray played basketball at the University of Southern Maine. He coached the Cape Elizabeth girls’ team for two seasons, then served as an assistant with the boys’ program before taking over for the 1994-95 season.
It wasn’t long before Ray had the Capers among the Western B elite, but every year from 1999 through 2002, they were ousted in the regional final. After a semifinal round loss to Greely in 2003, Ray’s contract initially wasn’t renewed, but after a public outpouring of support, he returned. He’s had Cape Elizabeth in the playoffs 14 straight years and in 2008, finally got over the regional final hump and won the Western B title. The Capers lost to Maranacook in the 2008 state game and Camden Hills the following year. In 2009-10, they fell to eventual champion Falmouth in the regional final.
That figured to be the end of title runs for awhile, but Ray, with the support, dedication and determination of seniors Theo Bowe, Cam Brown and Joey Doane, decided otherwise. Ray, who said that he’s driven more by the doubting of others than anything else, got the most from his leaders and brought along untested sophomores Henry Babcock and Chris Robicheaw and also got key minutes from senior Kyle Danielson.
An early win at Greely created confidence and Cape Elizabeth wound up 14-4, good for the No. 2 seed in the region. The Capers’ playoff run almost ended in the quarterfinals, but they rallied past Wells in the quarterfinals. In the semis, they avenged two regular season losses with a win over York. Then, in the regional final, Cape Elizabeth got off to a hot start and rolled past Yarmouth to return to the state game.
There, as heavy underdogs, the Capers almost pulled off an epic upset behind Bowe’s 36 points, but ultimately fell by nine to Camden Hills. More evidence that Ray’s teams can never be counted out.
“I had very coachable kids,” Ray said. “We stressed being good teammates and taking care of the little things.”
Ray has taught Industrial Technology at the high school since 1985. He’s been able to coach his two sons and has accumulated 237 victories. He’s not sure how much longer he’ll coach, but the sport is much richer for his presence.
Jim Ray, our Southern edition Winter boys’ Coach of the Year, has created a special program. Expect the wins to keep on coming.
Cape Elizabeth athletic director Jeff Thoreck’s comment: “I believe longevity is an important attribute to Jim’s success. He has built a strong program over the years by teaching players how to play the game and what it takes to be a successful player and teammate. The message I consistently hear Jim conveying to the players relates to his team philosophy. I think what sets Jim apart from other coaches is that he not only communicates core values but personally adheres to them as well. I’m not sure if there is any coach that prepares his players to compete and maximize their potential better than Jim. This was clearly evident in the state championship game. I know Jim and the players were disappointed in the end result, but the effort and determination that was displayed on the court that evening inspired the entire community.”
2009-10 winner: Joe Robinson (South Portland hockey)
2008-09 winner: Derek Veilleux (Scarborough track)
2007-08 winner: Phil Conley (South Portland basketball).
2006-07 winner: Tony DiBiase (South Portland basketball)
2005-06 winner: Jay Mazur (Scarborough hockey)
2004-05 winner: Jason Tremblay (Cape Elizabeth hockey)
2003-04 winner: Jim Ray (Cape Elizabeth basketball)
2002-03 winner: Matt Townsend (Scarborough basketball)
2001-02 winner: Paul Brogan (South Portland indoor track)
Two years ago, Chris Roberts shook Cape Elizabeth’s girls’ basketball program from the doldrums. Last winter, she and her team were a double-overtime loss away from making it to the quarterfinals.
This season, no one expected anything from the Capers, but on Feb. 22, they found themselves at the Portland Expo for a quarterfinal game.
For the first time in 15 seasons.
The one-time Cape Elizabeth standout player has proved to be the ideal leader for this ascendant program and in light of yet another superb job, The Forecaster is naming Chris Roberts our Southern edition Winter Coach of the Year, of a girls’ team.
Roberts grew up in Cape Elizabeth, playing soccer and softball, in addition to basketball (she remains a fixture in the record books). She played basketball in college at Colby and after spending a year as an assistant coach in Scarborough, returned home for the 2007-08 season.
That first year, the Capers managed just one victory (they won just 18 times total from 2000-01 through 2007-08), but Roberts turned things around her second year, as the team won seven times. After the close call a year ago, she did another superb job this winter.
With just one senior on the roster, Emily Donovan, and just one other player (junior Kayla Raftice) returning who had seen ample playing team, the deck appeared stack against Cape Elizabeth having much success, but the Capers won six of their first eight games, upset Lake Region and wound up 9-9 for the second year in a row.
This time, its record sent Cape Elizabeth directly to the Portland Expo for the quarterfinals, the program’s first appearance since Roberts took the Capers to the 1996 regional final. Eventual state champion Leavitt ended the dream with a decisive win in the quarterfinals, but this team surpassed all expectations.
“I was encouraged over the summer,” Roberts said. “The team came together. I didn’t think we could make it to the Expo, but we got off to a great start. I want us to get back and go further. We have a lot of kids who love basketball. I want us to get to where the boys’ program is.”
Roberts has done a great job rebuilding the youth program and getting younger players to step right in and produce. That was very evident this season.
Roberts, who lives in Portland, wants the program to post its first winning record since 1996 and her kids to experience winning a game in the tournament.
As long as she’s at the helm, competitiveness and triumph will be the order of the day. Chris Roberts, our Southern edition Winter girls’ Coach of the Year, once again proved she’s as good they come at getting the most out of her kids.
Cape Elizabeth athletic director Jeff Thoreck’s comment: “Chris has brought her knowledge, enthusiasm and heart to the program. She is an outstanding coach and positive mentor for our female athletes. Chris led the team to their first appearance in the Western Maine tournament in 15 years, which happened to be Chris’ senior year. All this and her dedication have helped to build a stronger, more confident program. We are extremely fortunate to have Chris and her staff working with our students.”
2009-10 winner: Jim Seavey (Scarborough basketball)
2008-09 winner: Chris Roberts (Cape Elizabeth basketball
2007-08 winner: Bre Fortiguerra (Scarborough hockey)
2006-07 winner: Ron Kelly (Scarborough Indoor track)
2005-06 winner: Deven Morrill (Cape Elizabeth Nordic skiing)
2004-05 winner: Ron Kelly (Scarborough Indoor track)
2003-04 winner: Mike Giordano (South Portland basketball)
2002-03 winner: Kerry Kertes (Cape Elizabeth swimming)
2001-02 winner: Tim Kipp (Scarborough swimming)