It was back in the mid 1980s and has been lost in the fog of decades of more wins and accompanying championships.
But Saturday’s win at Lisbon might be one those victories the Spruce Mountain coach may not soon forget.
Kane’s Phoenix beat the Greyhounds 61-34 and secured for him his 500th career victory.
“It’s certainly a nice milestone,” Kane said following the game. “It’s really not about me. It never has been. It’s about all the kids that I’ve coached and a great staff that I’ve had working with me. It’s also for the schools and communities of Rangeley, Dixfield, Dirigo High School and Spruce Mountain High School. I think all of them really are a part of this.”
Kane was unaware of Saturday’s milestone until the Phoenix had won the game. Lee Hixon, the Spruce Mountain assistant principal and athletic director, presented Kane the game ball and a plaque following the win. Kane was congratulated by his team as well as friends and family.
Kane’s career mark now stands at 500-98. He is now one of just a few Maine high school coaches that have reached the 500-win plateau.
“I knew the 500 might possibly come sometime later this year but I actually did not know coming into today’s game that if we won that it would be the 500th,” Kane said.
Kane shared the victory with his coaching staff of many years. Matt Clark has been with Kane for many years, dating back to that first win in Rangeley back in 1985. Rebecca Fletcher, a former Dirigo player for Kane, and Greg Gagne have been with him at Dirigo and Spruce Mountain.
“I don’t remember that first win,”Kane said. “I don’t remember who it was against back in Rangeley. That was a long time ago.”
Though the coaching staff had hoped to keep the news from the team beforehand, a few of the players had learned about it weeks ago.
“It’s a great experience,” senior guard Ladesta Tracy said. “Not many coaches have the chance to reach 500 or be part of teams that reach 500.”
The players had t-shirts made to honor the occassion and had flowers to present to the coach, who was also celebrating his birthday Saturday as well.
“It was amazing,” said senior forward Victoria Ouellette. “It’s a great achievement. I’m so proud to be part of it.”
Kane celebrated his 100th win with the Rangeley boys and was with the Dirigo girls when celebrating wins 200, 300 and 400. Sharing this milestone with the Phoenix was a welcome part of the event.
“This is a great group of kids,” Kane said. “They’re a very enjoyable to around. You can’t really make comparisons because I really care about each and every team we’ve coached over the years. With the new program and consolidation at Spruce Mountain, it’s really been enjoyable to share this with the kids.”
Kane’s coaching career began in Rangeley for the 1985-86 season. He finished with a 110 wins during nine seasons with the Lakers. That included eight playoff appearances and one state title in 1989.
He then started with the Dirigo girls in the 1994-95 season. He coached the Cougars for 13 seasons and won 263 games. His run with Dirigo was one of the most successful in Maine girls’ hoop history. His teams never missed the playoffs and claimed six state titles and 11 straight regional crowns, a state record. The Cougars also won 12 straight Mountain Valley Conference championships and had a 136-game winning streak in the MVC.
At one point, he coached both the Dirigo boys’ and girls’ teams and then focused solely on the boys’ program for a few seasons before taking an assistant coaching position at the University of Maine. He finished with 74 wins with the Dirigo boys’.
After his stint at the Division I level, he returned to girls’ high school basketball with the newly-formed Spruce Mountain Phoenix in He had 36 wins with the team coming into this year and the Phoenix are currently 17-0.
“I’ve always been fairly hard on the kids,” Kane said. “I’ve pushed them to want to achieve things that maybe they didn’t realize they could achieve. That’s really been one of my main goals for these teams to get them to reach beyond the limits that they think is possible for themselves. The consistency, the hard work and the expectations we have for our kids have really been a big part as to why we’ve been successful.”
Spruce Mountain got 15 points from Emily Keene in the win over the Greyhounds. Samantha Richards added 11 while Alex Bessey, Nicole Hamblin and Brooke Tracy each added six. The Phoenix had 11 different players score.
Spruce Mountain jumped out to a 20-6 lead in the first. Lisbon had over 15 turnovers and watched the Phoenix break the game open with 14 straight points to end the first.
Lisbon hung tough in the second half and showed some character to stay in the game. The Greyhounds got eight from Adrianna White and seven from Katelyn Fowler. Mia Durgin added six.