Alden Gregory is not unlike most Maine high school basketball fans, sharing a love for the sport and understanding its importance in helping the non-snow lovers among the populace cope with the most challenging time of year.

He just has a better seat for the games than most, one that has moved even closer to the action with his recent promotion to boys varsity basketball coach at Piscataquis Community High School in Guilford.

“It’s what I love to do,” said Gregory, the Pirates’ junior varsity coach for the last five years. “Winter without basketball is no fun.”

Gregory replaces Jamie Russell, who stepped down this spring to become girls varsity basketball coach at Central of Corinth, where he teaches.

“I’ve got nothing but respect for Jamie,” said Gregory. “Basically a lot of how I coach is based on how he coaches. I learned a ton.”

Gregory grew up in Swanville, graduating from Belfast Area High School in 2004 and from Castleton (Vermont) University in 2008.

He played guard on the basketball teams at both the high school and collegiate levels before joining the coaching ranks, initially at Shapleigh Middle School in Kittery.

Gregory took a one-year break from the sidelines to secure teacher certification before relocating to the Guilford area to take a job as an elementary school teacher and begin coaching under Russell.

Gregory inherits a veteran PCHS varsity team that graduated only two players after finishing the 2016-2017 season with a 9-9 record good for seventh place in Class C North. The Pirates defeated No. 10 Bucksport in a playoff prelim before being ousted by No. 2 Fort Fairfield in the regional quarterfinals.

“We have a really good group this year,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of seniors coming back and a corps of young guys who want to learn, and if they put their minds to it and are willing to do the work I think they’ll be a good team.

“We don’t have a ton of size but we’re quick,” he added. “We can get chaotic, we’ve got some good shooters and we’ve got some smart kids and some talented kids.”

Leading the returning cast will be senior Bryce Gilbert, who ranked among the state’s leading scorers last winter at nearly 25 points per game.

“Bryce is a great kid who leads by example,” said Gregory. “What I always tell my other kids is that Bryce isn’t great because he was born great. He’s great because when we’re done with practice he keeps practicing.”

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Ernie Clark

Ernie Clark is a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters...