Senior leads team through transitions
Basketball is a game of transitions, with a good team being able to effortlessly transition from offense to defense and vice-versa. This year, the Scarborough High School girls’ basketball team, including senior forward Courtney Alofs, is working hard to transition both on and off the court.
Alofs, a tri-captain on this year’s squad, is playing for her third coach in three years. In October, Ron Cote, a longtime coach at Biddeford High School, was hired to replace Tom Maines, another legendary basketball coach in the state who resigned in September after one year with the program.
“I love (playing for) Coach Cote. He is the nicest guy,” Alofs said before a practice Thursday, Jan. 3, a day after battling South Portland High School to a 42-30 win. “He’s your best friend and your biggest motivator. He’ll be on the sidelines jumping up and down. If you do something wrong, you’ll know it, because you will hear your name being yelled out.”
“He knows how to coach and he understands us all as players,” she continued. “We are happy to have him here in Scarborough.”
Cote, who spent last season as an assistant coach with the girls’ basketball program at Cheverus High School, is happy to be in Scarborough, a community he said embraces the game of basketball.
“People in the community have treated me well so far,” Cote said.
Nevertheless, coming to Scarborough, after more than three decades in Biddeford, has been somewhat of an adjustment for him.
“My reputation follows me to an extent, but as a new coach in a new community, you still feel like you need to prove yourself,” he said. “The people here – the community and the kids – have welcomed me.”
The Scarborough team, he said, is like many of the teams he has coached over the years in that it lacks substantial height. At 5-feet, 9-inches, Alofs is one of the tallest players on the team.
“I have coached for 36 years and I have never been blessed with a lot of height (on my teams). This team fits with my coaching style – pressing on defense and fast breaks on offense,” Cote said. “We are not big, but we have some athletes that enjoy playing that type of basketball.”
Cote and his coaching style is not entirely new to Scarborough. Cote worked as an assistant basketball coach under head coach Jim Seavey in the summer of 2011. That role ended when Seavey stepped down as head coach to take a role with the University of Southern Maine women’s basketball program in August 2011 and Maines was hired to take over the program.
Cote said he didn’t apply for the head coach job after Seavey left, but when he saw that the position had opened again a year later, it was his opportunity to get back into head coaching.
“I missed being a head coach,” Cote said. “When the job opened again, I knew I didn’t want to pass it up.”
He hasn’t regretted that decision.
“The girls have been very receptive to me and they have been super to work with,” Cote said. “I have really enjoyed it so far. They have great attitudes and are hard workers. That’s all you can ask for as a coach.”
Alofs said her goal for the team is to win a state championship like the team was able to do her freshman year.
“As a player, you go into the season hoping to win a state final. I think by experiencing that my freshman year, it drove me to want to go back there. This is my last opportunity. I really want to get that gold ball.”
It is looking like that could become a reality for the team, which, at 8-1, is ranked first in the league.
Cote said Alofs, who started playing basketball with several of her teammates when they were in kindergarten, has played a big role in the success Scarborough has achieved so far this season.
“She is one of the vocal leaders on this team. She sets a great example with her hard work and hustle. She plays hard and plays with great intensity all the time,” Cote said.
Scarborough is coming off a 58-57 three-overtime loss to Cheverus (9-0) Tuesday, Jan. 8. The next few games will also not be easy for the Red Storm. Next week, Scarborough faces third-ranked Deering High School (9-1) Tuesday, Jan. 15 and fourth-ranked McAuley High School (9-0) Friday, Jan. 18. McAuley, which is the defending state champion, ended the Red Storm’s season last year when they beat Scarborough 61-43 in the Western Class A Final Feb. 25 at the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland.
“We are focusing on one team at a time, because on any given night, any of the teams in the SMAA can upset you. We go through the same types of rituals for every game,” said Alofs, who also runs outdoor track.
It is important, she said, to maintain that focus.
“As a team that has been (to the state championship) before, we have to remain focused because we have the ability to go all the way,” Alofs said.
“We are more concerned about what we do best than changing for our opponent,” Cote said. “If we can do that, we feel we can beat anyone in the league. We just have to stick to our game plan.”
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