JONESPORT — The Jonesport-Beals boys basketball team will have a new coach next season.
Gordon Faulkingham, who has served as the school’s junior varsity coach under Vincent MacLean Jr. for the last six years, has been selected to take over the Royals’ varsity post after the local school board opted not to renew MacLean’s contract.
“I think the community was ready for a change,” said interim superintendent of schools Denis Howard, who indicated that Faulkingham was the unanimous choice of the Moosabec CSD committee after both he and MacLean were interviewed by that board last Thursday night.
“I really can’t say much, but from what I know of Vinnie he’s a good man,” added Howard, who became interim superintendent of the Jonesport-Beals school system in late April. “He has strong character, and he was truly dedicated to his work, no question.”
MacLean guided the Royals to a 16-1 regular-season record this winter good for second place in the final Eastern Maine Class D Heal point ratings. Jonesport-Beals then defeated Fort Fairfield and Washburn to advance to the Eastern Maine Class D championship game where it lost a 49-26 decision to eventual state champion Central Aroostook of Mars Hill.
“I wish we could have won the Eastern Maine title,” said MacLean, who was named the 2011 Eastern D coach of the year by the Maine Association of Basketball Coaches as well as the Downeast Athletic Conference coach of the year. “I thought I deserved another chance, but that’s not up to me.”
MacLean became just the second boys varsity basketball coach in Jonesport-Beals history when Ordman Alley retired in 2005.
MacLean, a point guard on Alley’s 1983 Jonesport-Beals state championship team, guided the Royals to a 68-48 record over six seasons with five postseason appearances and three trips to the Bangor Auditorium.
MacLean has continued to coach despite being diagnosed with lymphoma in February 2009 — in fact, he coached the day he received the diagnosis in an Eastern D preliminary-round game at Katahdin of Stacyville. MacLean said his continuing battle with the disease has not affected his work on the sidelines.
Fans of the iconic Maine small-school basketball program — which has produced nine state championship teams and 13 Eastern Maine champs since its inception in 1969 — have had renewed state title aspirations for the last two years thanks to a young nucleus of players led by Bangor Daily News All-Maine forward Garet Beal, guard Matthew Alley and center Justin Alley.
In 2010 the Royals advanced to the Eastern D semifinals before losing a last-minute 52-50 decision to Schenck of East Millinocket, which went on to win the state title.
This year’s team lost one of its key returning players before the season started when forward Tyler Turcotte died in an automobile accident on Sept. 2.
MacLean’s overall record during 14 years as a varsity coach is 135-128, including a six-year stint at Narraguagus of Harrington highlighted by an Eastern Maine Class C championship season in 1997.
MacLean also coached the Jonesport-Beals girls varsity in 2004 and 2005.
Before joining the varsity ranks at Narraguagus he coached junior varsity boys basketball for one year and spent eight years coaching at the grade-school level.
“I’ve done this for 14 years at the varsity level with 12 postseason appearances and five tournament appearances,” said MacLean, who hopes to return to the coaching ranks soon. “I feel my credentials and record speak for themselves.”
Faulkingham was a member of four state championship teams during his playing days at Jonesport-Beals in the early 1970s.
Now a Marine Patrol officer with the state Department of Marine Resources, Faulkingham coached basketball at the pee-wee and grade-school levels locally before joining MacLean’s staff at Jonesport-Beals.
He also served as the Royals’ varsity soccer coach for three years, and currently is the school’s golf coach.
“If I can’t have the coaching job, I’m glad Gordon got it,” said MacLean. “He’s a good man and a good coach, and he deserves the chance.”
Jonesport-Beals employs a fairly unique hiring process for coaches in which the incumbents must apply annually for their positions and must undergo interviews along with any other candidates by the school board each year before hirings are made.
It’s a process that has its flaws, said MacLean, a Jonesport resident.
“Someone needs to be a voice for a lot of people here,” he said. “We need to take a long look at people who are getting on the school board for the wrong reason, just for the hiring and firing of coaches.
“If a parent wants to be on the school board, fine, but if they have a kid playing sports, boy or girl, they should exclude themselves from voting on coaches. It’s a conflict of interest.”