March 19, 2019
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Five to be Inducted into Lee Academy Hall of Fame

LEE, Maine — The first recorded 1,000-point basketball scorer in Lee Academy history, Jon Whitten, is among five former student-athletes who will be inducted into the school’s athletic hall of fame Saturday.

The hall of fame dinner and induction ceremony will be held at 6 p.m. to cap off Lee Academy’s homecoming festivities.

Activities earlier in the day will include an alumni soccer match at 9 a.m. on the school’s new soccer field, followed by a varsity doubleheader against Penquis Valley of Milo. The boys match will be played at 11 a.m. and the girls match at 1 p.m.

This year’s hall of fame inductees also include a brother and sister, Tom and Karin Bird, and two teammates, Aarika Ritchie and Amanda Gifford, who were part of seven state championship teams.

Whitten, a 1956 Lee graduate, appeared in 66 basketball games and scored 1,028 points for a career average of 15.6 points per game. He saved his best for last, averaging more than 20 ppg as a senior. During Whitten’s three years as a starter, the Pandas had a 37-19 record.

In baseball, Whitten pitched a no-hitter as a sophomore and compiled a 5-0 pitching record his junior season in leading the Pandas to a 10-0 record. At the plate he batted over .400 as a sophomore and junior.

Whitten is being inducted posthumously.

Tom Bird (2007) played soccer, basketball and tennis at Lee Academy. He was tennis MVP twice as well as a top-40 state singles qualifier in that sport, and he garnered All-Maine honors

in soccer.

But he really shined in basketball. Bird is the third-leading male scorer in school history, totaling 1,221 career points. He helped lead the Pandas to three tourney appearances, highlighted by a 32-point effort in the Eastern Maine final as a sophomore.

His 24-for-24 free-throw shooting performance during a game at Katahdin of Stacyville in 2006 was the most consecutive free throws made in a game nationwide that season.

Karin Bird (2008) was a standout on six Lee Academy state championship teams.

She played goalie on the 2005 and 2007 soccer title winners and was shortstop on the school’s first and only championship softball squad in 2006.

But like her brother Tom, Karin really excelled at basketball. She amassed 1,157 career points, good for second on Lee’s girls career scoring list, while helping the Pandas win state titles in 2005, 2007 and 2008.

She continued her prolific scoring at Thomas College, leading the Terriers’ conference in scoring twice and averaging 25 points per game as a senior to rank first in NCAA Division III.

Ritchie (2008) was a standout four-sport performer who was part of seven state championship teams.

She scored 105 goals in soccer to rank fourth in school history and eighth on the state’s list of career scoring leaders, and she helped the Pandas win 2005 and 2007 state titles.

Ritchie was a two-sport fall athlete, being a top runner on the school’s 2004 state championship cross country team.

She was an outstanding defensive catcher and a leading hitter on the Pandas’ 2006 state championship softball team. She scored 1,043 points in basketball while being chosen 2007 and 2008 Eastern Maine tournament MVP and a finalist for the Miss Maine Basketball Award in 2008.

Gifford (2008) was another four-sport Lee Academy standout who sparked the Pandas to seven state championships.

She was a high-scoring member of the 2005 and 2007 title-winning soccer teams, amassing 113 career goals to rank third in school history and fifth in Maine schoolgirl history.

Gifford also excelled on the trails as a top runner for the Pandas 2004 state championship cross country team, and she was a two-time All-Penobscot Valley Conference softball selection and a key member of Lee’s 2006 state championship team in that sport.

A 2008 Miss Maine Basketball semifinalist and twice a first-team Eastern Maine all-tournament selection, Gifford was a key contributor on the 2005, 2007, and 2008 state championship teams.

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