LINCOLN, Maine – With three head coaches in the past two seasons, the Mattanawcook Academy boys basketball program has been in search of stability.
School officials believe they have found that stabilizing influence in Lucas Turner, recently hired as the Lynx’s new varsity coach after seven years in the same capacity at Monmouth Academy.
“We were looking for a foundation guy,” said Mattanawcook athletic administrator Bill McCarthy. “Lucas Turner has connections to the area, and from what he’s done at Monmouth, we think we’ve got someone who’s going to work right down through to the youth systems and put in the time necessary to get this program straightened out.”
Turner, 36, replaces Chris Bryant, who left after last season by mutual agreement after the Lynx finished 2-16 in Class B North.
A Howland native, Turner played sports at Penobscot Valley High School before moving on to the University of Southern Maine, where he played tennis for two years.
He got his coaching start in basketball with five years as a varsity assistant at Gray-New Gloucester High School before taking the varsity post at Monmouth Academy for the 2009-10 season.
Monmouth went 30-135 during its first nine seasons back in Class C after moving up from Class D before Turner arrived.
Turner guided the Eagles to a 74-70 record with six postseason berths, including regional quarterfinals in 2011, 2013 and 2014. The 2011 game was the first Class C quarterfinal for Monmouth since 1977.
“It was all just going back to defense and starting there, fundamental man-to-man defense and outworking the other guy,” said Turner. “I tell the kids when you do that, the scoreboard usually takes care of itself.”
Monmouth went 11-7 last winter to finish 10th in Class C South before falling to No. 7 Old Orchard Beach 68-65 in a preliminary game.
“For the last seven years, Monmouth’s really been home,” said Turner on Monday, his last day of school at Monmouth before summer vacation. “I teach here and coach here, and we’ve had a pretty successful run while I’ve been here, but it’s just something about home that draws you in, and when the [Mattanawcook] opportunity came, I applied, and here we are.”
Turner, who will teach economics at Mattanawcook, was one of five applicants for the basketball opening.
He began acclimating himself with his new players during a tournament at Lee Academy last weekend.
“From what I’ve seen so far, there’s definitely some talent there,” Turner said. “There’s a good young group of kids, a lot of freshmen and sophomores, and they’ve got a couple of seniors coming back.
“They do play in Class B North, and I’m pretty sure they’re one of the smaller-enrollment schools there, but it’s a good group of hardworking kids, and they seem eager to learn some basketball, which I hope I can provide,” he added.
Turner plans to conduct practices on Mondays during the summer and have his team participate in the Bangor High School league on Wednesdays.
“The summer is huge because I think it’s a change of philosophy from what they were running last year,” said Turner, who is married with two children. “Just getting to know the kids and them getting to know me and then my philosophy, that will give us a heads-up come November so I’m not teaching a whole new system then.
“I tell the kids that in November you’ll thank the June you for coming,” he said.