The Bangor High School boys basketball team is back near the top of the Eastern Maine Class A standings as the 2009-10 regular season nears its completion.
A big reason why is 6-foot-6 senior center Clark Noonan, a first-year starter for the Rams who ranks among the team leaders in scoring and rebounding.
Noonan didn’t pick up the sport until his eighth-grade year, when at the urging of physical education teacher Lisa Richards he began playing intramurals and eventually landed a roster spot on his school’s “B” squad.
The 18-year-old son of Edward and Christine Noonan worked his way through freshman and junior varsity basketball during his first two years at Bangor High School, then saw limited duty on the varsity as a junior last season.
Q: What’s been the difference between last year and this year for you?
A: “Dan Taft was ahead of me last year, Zach Blodgett was having his breakout year, and I don’t think I was quite ready for varsity mentally and physically. But after attending camps and playing AAU and working out as much as I could — and my dad was a big part of that — I felt like I was getting better. I knew I just had to work to get where I wanted to go, so I just worked hard every day.”
Q: Where has your game improved the most during the last year, and where do you need to continue to improve?
A: “I’ve gotten better mostly with my post moves. [Longtime area basketball coach] Bob Cimbollek helped me a lot on my post moves, and I feel like I’ve gotten better at them. The No. 1 thing I want to work on is using my right hand. I have a lot of post moves where I make the move and use my left hand [Noonan is a natural lefty] when the opportunity is there to use my right hand, and that’s something I won’t be able to do at the next level.”
Q: So you hope to play college basketball?
A: “Definitely. I’ve had a couple of college coaches contact me, and I definitely want to play at the next level.”
Q: You also have been a successful soccer player at Bangor, helping the team reach this year’s Eastern Maine Class A final. How has soccer aided your ability to play basketball?
A: “Soccer really helped keep me in shape. I still worked out and did basketball drills, but soccer really kept me in shape as far as running. Soccer this year also helped me a lot mentally, because it was the first time I was thought of as one of the captains or leaders on the field, and I’ve tried to bring that part of it to the basketball team, where I can be a leader and try to be a model for the younger kids on the team.”
Q: With just one starter back from last year, how has your basketball team progressed this winter?
A: “It took us a couple of games and a lot of practices to come together as a team. After coach [Roger Reed] saw our first game, he said we had to work on nothing but defense, and we did that for a while. Then we started working on cutting down on our turnovers. The first few games of the year we had 20-something every game, but we’ve gotten better with that, too.”
Q: Has it made it more exciting to play basketball for Bangor this winter knowing that neighboring Brewer and Hampden Academy are having successful seasons, too?
A: “I definitely think it makes it better. The better the competition, the better it is to play. I’m glad there are teams out there that are playing as well as they are because it makes you pick up your own game.”
Q: What do you see as the keys to Bangor being successful in the upcoming tournament?
A: “Coach tells us that we’ll win games by rebounding and playing defense. The offense can come and go sometimes, but what has to be there all the time is our rebounding and defense. For me being a big man, those are the most important things to me anyway. I take great pride in shutting down my man.”
Q: Do you know what you want to study when you go to college?
A: “Definitely business. The past two generations of Noonan men have been businessmen, I think it runs in our blood.
Q: What’s your favorite class?
A: “Probably AP [advanced placement] economics.
Q: What’s your least favorite class?
A: “Probably math. It’s not that I don’t do well in it, but it’s just not my favorite.”
Q: Do you have any other major hobbies that aren’t related to school or athletics?
A: “Most of my free time goes to basketball, I like the game that much.”
Q: What do you imagine doing 15 or 20 years from now?
A: “Definitely living in New England, for one. I’ve never lived anywhere else; I guess I’m a true New Englander. In 15 or 20 years I think I’d like to be involved in running a business, or being in a position at a business that leads other people.”