FORT FAIRFIELD, Maine — Larry Gardner tried to keep it quiet that he was approaching 300 career victories as a Fort Fairfield High School basketball coach.
Gardner achieved the milestone Saturday as his girls’ basketball Tigers defeated Limestone Community School/Maine School of Science and Mathematics 55-38.
“Not that many people knew about [the 300th win], only a couple of really close friends,” he said Monday. “Once the news media heard it about, everybody was calling.”
Gardner started his coaching career with the Tiger boys from 1980 to 1989.
“We won two Eastern Maine championships, in 1984 and 1988, the only two the boys have won,” he said.
After taking time off as his own children grew up, he returned in 1998 to coach the Tiger girls.
“This is my 15th year as the girls [team’s] coach and we’ve won 199 games,” Gardner said.
Saturday’s win was only the sixth game of the season for the 4-2 Tigers, and Gardner was happy to get the win to help the team more than for his own achievement.
“We needed a quality game, a quality win,” he said, “and Limestone is a quality team.
“I’m more ecstatic about that [win]. We need some wins to build our confidence.”
The next win will be his 200th as the girls coach, but he isn’t thinking of that.
“The numbers will take care of themselves,” he said. “We just need to win some games.”
He said some head coaches get too much glory when they win and too much criticism when they lose.
“It’s nice to win, but you need to share it,” he said.
The Tigers’ goal is to reach the tourney at the Bangor Auditorium one more time before it’s torn down.
“We want one more time on that floor,” Gardner said.