Foxcroft Academy boys basketball coach Toby Nelson talks to his players during a timeout. Nelson, who was appointed as the interim coach this season, has been hired on a permanent basis. Credit: Courtesy of Foxcroft Academy

Toby Nelson, who took over the reins of the Foxcroft Academy boys basketball team on an interim basis midway through the 2019-2020 season and guided the Ponies to a Class B North playoff berth, was named to the head coaching post on a full-time basis Wednesday.

Nelson replaces Tyler Erickson, who was dismissed from the job on Jan. 3. Both Erickson and Foxcroft head of school Arnold Shorey declined to discuss reasons for the dismissal.

Foxcroft was 2-6 when Nelson took over the team, but used key victories over No. 3 Washington Academy of East Machias and No. 4 Hermon during the second half of its schedule to earn the No. 11 seed for the Class B North playoffs.

The Ponies finished the regular season with a 5-13 record and then dropped a 75-69 prelim at No. 6 Maine Central Institute of Pittsfield.

“We have a ton of work to do as a team, both JV and varsity, over the summer,” Nelson said. “We graduate a class that provided us with plenty of scoring and just as much leadership. We are going to have to figure out how to replace that. I feel with the nucleus we have returning and a strong freshman class coming in, both in skill level and numbers, we can see good things happen to the program over the coming years.”

Two senior guards on the team, Caleb Crocker and Jed Dean, played in the recent Big East Conference all-star game. Crocker will compete in the state free-throw shooting finals on Saturday morning just before the 40th annual Maine McDonald’s Senior All-Star Games at Husson University in Bangor.

Crocker also was named to the All-Big East second team while junior forward Logan Martin earned All-Big East third-team recognition.

Another member of the Ponies, senior guard Jacob Raynes, was named to the Maine McDonald’s academic all-state team.

“As an administration, we were happy with the job Toby and his staff did with the basketball program through the end of the season,” said Tim Smith, Foxcroft’s associate head of school and athletic administrator. “We picked up a few really nice wins and had the opportunity to compete in this year’s playoffs.

“That’s all positive, but the growth of our student-athletes on and off the court during that time is an even better story.”

Nelson, who also works as the school’s chief communications officer, was a freshman and junior varsity basketball coach at Foxcroft for the last three years.

The 1995 Foxcroft Academy alumnus has been active in the sport since his playing days with the Ponies. He served as a board-certified official as well as a longtime broadcaster of high school basketball, most recently during the annual high school tournament with Maine Public Television.

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...