Spruce Mountain girls basketball coach Zach Keene shouts directions to his players during a February 2018 postseason against Gray-New Gloucester at the Portland Expo. Sun Journal file photo

Zach Keene is out as Spruce Mountain’s girls basketball coach.

Keene confirmed Friday that he had been ousted but declined further comment. He was in Bangor as an assistant coach for the University of Maine at Farmington baseball team, which was playing a doubleheader at Husson University.

Spruce Mountain athletic director Marc Keller declined comment when contacted by the Sun Journal on Friday.

The Phoenix went 24-33 in Keene’s three years as coach. They reached the tournament in his second and third years, losing in the Class B South quarterfinals in 2018 and preliminary round in 2019.

According to Mallory Bonnevie, Keene’s wife, Keene was informed by Keller that he would not be rehired on Thursday during his annual after-season evaluation meeting. Keene was told the school district was reopening the position and he was free to reapply for it.

Bonnevie did not specify what reasons Keene was given for his firing.

“(S)mall petty things/reasons that will come out shortly,” Bonnevie said in an email to the Sun Journal. “Nothing remotely close to fireable offenses!!”

In an email to the Sun Journal, junior guard Jaycee Cole said she felt the firing was unjustified.

“Many players have come to me and expressed that they are not playing if Coach Keene isn’t coaching,” Cole said. “I would hate to see Spruce Mountain girls basketball fall apart because of bad judgement. As a captain of the basketball team, I think Coach Keene would be the best thing for us.”

Keene supporters have posted on a Facebook page called “Making a difference in RSU 73” that they will hold a meeting next Monday in the Spruce Mountain High School library. The meeting is open to the public and starts at 6 p.m.

Linda Flagg of Jay, who runs the page, said supporters are angry at what they say is a pattern of poor treatment of coaches by administration.

“This is an issue that we’ve been having in our district for some time,” Flagg said, “where it’s personal, not professional, and we’ve had coaches terminated for unjustifiable reasons.”

Bonnevie’s father, Mark, coached Spruce Mountain varsity football during its inaugural season in 2011, then was dismissed by a plurality of the RSU 73 school board.

“I am very disappointed to have to express my feelings about this same issue again,” said Bonnevie, a member of Jay High School’s 2009 state championship girls basketball team, “but now I am going through this situation with my husband. I am very disappointed, but not surprised.”

Keene, a Livermore Falls High School graduate, was the third girls basketball coach since Jay and Livermore Falls joined to form Spruce Mountain in 2011, preceded by Gavin Kane (2011-14) and Chris Bessey (2014-16).

Spruce Mountain coach Zach Keene speaks with his players during a summer-camp practices in Jay in 2018. Sun Journal file photo

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