February 17, 2019
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Jamie Russell steps down as Penobscot Valley boys basketball coach

Brian Swartz | BDN
Brian Swartz | BDN
Jamie Russell

HOWLAND, Maine — Jamie Russell, who has amassed 304 victories over a 27-year coaching career, has resigned after four seasons of guiding the Penobscot Valley High School boys basketball team.

Russell secured his 300th victory early last season when the Howlers edged Stearns of Millinocket 36-35. PVHS, competing in its first year as a Class D team, concluded its schedule with a 5-13 record before dropping a preliminary-round game at Hodgdon.

“I just think they need somebody younger, a real go-getter, to step in and provide a new voice,” said Russell, who added that he hopes to coach again at the high school level.

Russell compiled a 40-37 overall record during his second stint at Penobscot Valley, which in recent years was one of the smallest schools in Eastern Maine Class C before dropping to the Class D ranks last winter.

The Howlers had a pair of breakthrough seasons under Russell, first in 2010 when the team went 11-7 during the regular season and then edged George Stevens Academy 62-61 in a preliminary-round game before a packed house at Sereyko Memorial Gymnasium to advance the team to its first regional quarterfinal at the Bangor Auditorium since 1987.

“I have a lot of good memories from coaching there,” said Russell, “but maybe the biggest one was that win over GSA. I felt so good not just for the kids but for the whole community, because the whole atmosphere was almost ‘Hoosiers’-like.”

PVHS lost to eventual state champion Washington Academy of East Machias in the 2010 quarters but knocked off the Raiders in the 2011 quarterfinals for the program’s first tournament victory at Bangor since 1980.

That win came on the heels of a regular season during which the Howlers won a school-record 15 games (15-3) to earn the No. 2 seed in the final Eastern C Heal point rankings.

After defeating WA, the PVHS team led by Bangor Daily News All-Maine senior center Joe McCloskey fell to Sumner of East Sullivan in the regional semifinals.

PVHS finished the 2011-12 season with just 12 players in the program, including five freshmen, from a school that has fewer than 160 students. Four starters from last year’s varsity will be back to play for the Howlers next winter.

Russell said there is optimism for the future to be found in the local youth basketball program, the Little Howlers, which boasted a healthy number of players from grades K-5 last winter.

“They need to go out and get a young gun to take over, and then they’ll have to be patient,” said Russell.

A Penquis of Milo graduate, Russell began his varsity coaching career at Penobscot Valley in 1986, with subsequent stops at Central of Corinth — where he continues to teach physical education — and Piscataquis of Guilford, where he guided the Pirates to the 2000 Eastern Maine Class C championship.

Russell also is a veteran Eastern Maine soccer official.

Bapst halts FA winning streak

John Bapst of Bangor’s 9-4 Class B baseball victory over Foxcroft Academy at Husson University in Bangor on Tuesday ended the Ponies’ run of 33 consecutive regular-season victories, which had stood as the longest current winning streak in the state.

Foxcroft jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning, but John Bapst took the lead for good with four runs in the bottom of the second and then rode the pitching of Nolan Weber and Jonathan Deschaine to the victory.

Coach Mark Chevalier’s Foxcroft club had not lost a regular-season contest since its first game of the 2010 season. The Ponies finished that season 15-1, then went 16-0 last spring and advanced to the Eastern Maine Class C final before falling to Calais.

Foxcroft, which has been reclassified by enrollment back up to Class B this season after several years in Class C, has a 2-1 record and will play next at Hermon on Thursday.

John Bapst, off to a 3-0 start under new coach Dave Gonyar, will play next at Mount Desert Island on Thursday.

Sennick to attend Wentworth Institute

Mt. Blue of Farmington basketball standout Cam Sennick will continue his career at Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston, according to a report on newenglandrecruitingreport.com.

The 6-foot-6-inch center averaged 16.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game this year in leading the Cougars to the Eastern Maine Class A championship game. He also led the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A ranks in blocked shots.

The four-year varsity player and two-year team captain from Wilton was named to the Bangor Daily News’ All-Maine first team, a finalist for the state’s Mr. Basketball and the KVAC Class A North co-player of the year.

Sennick also considered Coast Guard, Norwich and the University of Maine before opting to attend Wentworth, a Division III program that competes in the Commonwealth Coast Conference.

The Leopards went 17-11 this past season with a roster that included five Maine players: former Edward Little of Auburn standouts Corey Therriault, Eric Prue and Bo Leary; former Brewer High School star Ray Bessette of Dedham; and Casco’s Derek Mayo, who played at Lake Region of Naples and Bridgton Academy before attending Wentworth.

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