EAST MILLINOCKET, Maine — Growing up around the Schenck High School boys basketball program, Brandon Theriault was quite familiar with Steve LeVasseur long before he began playing for him.
“His son’s one of my best friends, so I’ve pretty much known him all my life,” said Theriault, now a junior guard for the Wolverines. “I think he’s a real good coach, but he does get a little angry sometimes.”
Surely LeVasseur is known as one of the more temperamental coaches in Eastern Maine, but he’s also been one of the more successful, as witnessed by his team’s 56-27 victory over Houlton at Gillis Gymnasium on Tuesday night – the 300th victory of his coaching career.
LeVasseur, a 1980 Schenck graduate, is now 300-133 overall in 22 years at the varsity level, including 209-99 in 15-plus seasons over two stints as the Wolverines’ boys basketball coach – an effort highlighted to date by the team’s undefeated run to the Class C state title in 1994.
LeVasseur also coached the Schenck girls team for four seasons, compiling a 72-15 record while leading the team to consecutive Class C state championships in 1987, 1988 and 1989.
The Husson College alumnus began his varsity coaching career in 1984 at age 21 at neighboring Stearns of Millinocket, guiding the boys varsity squad to a 19-19 record during two seasons of Class A competition.
“I’ve been lucky here at Schenck with the girls’ program and the boys’ program,” said LeVasseur. “I’ve had some teams with some talent, and I seem to get a lot out of my kids. They might not like me all the time, but I try to push them as hard as I can, and I’m out there during the summertime with them, too.
“I’m definitely proud to get to 300, and I’m happy to have been able to do it in a relatively short period of time.”
Theriault led Schenck to its seventh win in eight games this season with 18 points to complement a defensive effort that forced 28 Houlton turnovers and propelled the Wolverines to 23 unanswered points midway through the contest.
Zach McLaughlin had four steals and Jared Waite three steals and two blocked shots to aid that defense, while 6-3 senior Terry McCafferty came off the bench to add six points and seven rebounds.
Houlton (1-4) tried to make LeVasseur’s 300th win a frustrating event, utilizing offensive patience early in the contest in an effort to prevent Schenck from getting into its desired up-tempo offensive flow, but turnovers ultimately doomed the Shiretowners.
A follow-up basket by Jordan Codrey gave Houlton a 7-5 lead, but Schenck then ran off the final eight points of the opening quarter, including four by guard Eric Theriault – Brandon’s twin brother — to take a 13-7 advantage.
Houlton pulled back within 15-11 on a follow-up shot by Corey Woodworth with 6:37 left in the second quarter, but those were the Shiretowners’ final points of the half as Schenck ran off 17 straight to take a 32-11 intermission lead.
That offensive explosion was fueled by defense, specifically a trapping 3-2 trap that forced 10 second-quarter turnovers while allowing the Shiretowners just nine field-goal attempts in the period.
McLaughlin spearheaded that defensive effort with three steals in the second quarter alone.
“We pretty much just played possession by possession,” said Brandon Theriault, who had 11 points at the break. “If we play tough defense, the offense will come. We really haven’t gotten a flow on offense yet, but we will eventually. It’s getting better every game.”
Schenck maintained its defensive intensity early in the third quarter, forcing turnovers on Houlton’s first three possessions and extending its run to 23 straight points before Codrey scored with 5:22 left in the third quarter to cut the gap to 39-13 and end a Shiretowners’ scoring drought of 9 minutes, 15 seconds.
Woodworth led Houlton with seven points and six rebounds.