New Easton girls basketball coach hopes to rebuild program

3 years ago

EASTON, Maine — Emily Hill has both a short-term plan and long-range goals as the first-year girls varsity basketball coach at Easton High School.

The immediate mission is to boost interest in a program that has scored just one victory during the past two seasons and this winter has five freshmen and four eighth-graders among 12 girls playing the sport at the school.

The longer-range aspiration is to restore the program’s competitiveness at least to a level it achieved not long ago. The Bears had a string of .500 or better seasons as recently as from 2011 through 2015 when they compiled a combined 53-37 regular-season record, including back-to-back 12-6 campaigns in 2014 and 2015.

Easton finished 10-8 as recently as 2017.

“I want to keep this position so I would love to get these girls to a place where we’re competing for some hardware in the future,” said Hill, a former player at Houlton High School whose previous basketball coaching experience included a year at the middle-school level in Old Town.

“We want to get girls interested, we want to get more girls showing up and turning out and practicing their skills from fifth, sixth and seventh grade on so what I can do with them at the varsity level will become even more productive. That’s what I’m hoping for.”

This year’s Easton squad will be led by juniors Maggee Currie and Kaylee Boyce along with sophomore Kenzie Legassie.

Joining those veterans is a promising first-year class comprised of Olivia Keep, Isabella Hollis, MaKenzie Kinney, Amelia Bate and Grace Ellis, a former ice hockey player.

Four eighth-graders — Chloe Lento, Madison Bridges, Grace Sloan and Caitlyn MacPherson — also will compete for playing time.

Easton is scheduled to play two regular-season games apiece against Ashland, Katahdin of Stacyville, Van Buren, Washburn and Wisdom of Saint Agatha and one game each against Central Aroostook of Mars Hill and Fort Fairfield.

The regular season is scheduled to conclude on Feb. 27, with the possibility of an Aroostook County postseason tournament in early March.

Hill said she already has witnessed considerable improvement from her players during several weeks of Maine Principals’ Association-sanctioned “skills and drills” workouts held in December after the start of the regular season was delayed due to COVID-19 concerns.

“From where we started to where we are even now, I’m thrilled,” said Hill, a seventh- and eighth-grade English and social studies teacher in Easton. “We’ve got a young team but to see the improvements they’ve made already, that’s what keeps me going.

“It’s a hard year no matter what, but just to see that improvement from week to week or even from practice to practice is what I’m looking for in the short term.”