The debuts for a couple new girls basketball coaches couldn’t have gone much better.

The start of the season Friday marked the first times on their respective teams’ sidelines for Monmouth’s Katie McAllister and Rangeley’s Brittany DiPompo, and both came away victorious. The due has gone 4-0, with McAllister’s Mustangs topping Carrabec and Telstar, and DiPompo’s Lakers winning two against North Haven.

DiPompo had quite the task ahead of her coming into this season. Heidi Deery, the Lakers’ longtime coach with over 400 wins and three Class D state championships to her name, had to step aside for the season for personal matters, and it was DiPompo getting the nod to take her place.

DiPompo, however, wasn’t worried. During her four years as an assistant, Deery had groomed her for this kind of moment.

“Heidi had prepared not only the team, but her coaching staff as well,” DiPompo said. “I was able to learn from her, so it was a pretty smooth transition.”

That was evident in how the Lakers played, as Rangeley beat North Haven by scores of 76-16 and 92-32. DiPompo, however, did wonder how the team was going to respond to the coaching change, especially with a scrimmage scheduled two days before the opener providing the Lakers with their only preseason competition.

“I think at the beginning, it was a little bit of a shock for them to be hearing my voice as much as they did in practice,” she said. “But after that first scrimmage we had, we really realized what voice they were listening for. Instead of Heidi’s, they were starting to listen for mine, so they really made that adjustment.”

Replacing an icon, even if just for a season, is never easy, but the task becomes easier considering the Lakers return some proven tournament players in Olivia Pye, Lauren Eastlack, Gabby White, Ella Smith and Winnie LaRochelle, and are a clear Class D favorite.

“In the first conversation I had with Heidi, I definitely felt the pressure,” DiPompo said. “As we continued to talk, I realized it’s the same thing I’ve been doing every year for the last four years.”

HUNCH PAYS OFF

Monmouth’s McAllister had an important decision to make in her first game. Her team was tied with Carrabec in the closing seconds when the Cobras missed the back end of a 1-and-1, leading to a Monmouth rebound and a chance for the Mustangs’ coach to call a timeout and draw up a play for the winning shot.

Or so the book says. McAllister, however, played a hunch.

“Once they missed the free throw, I knew that the game was tied, but I did see a fast break opportunity,” she said. “Any coach (would) probably call timeout, but I saw the fast break opportunity, so I held back and it worked in our favor.”

Indeed it did. The ball went up Jordyn Gowell, who found Abby Flanagan for the winning layup in a 38-36 win.

“It was exhilarating, the way the game ended,” Flanagan said. “It was very, very exciting. What a way to start.”

The Mustangs followed up that victory with a 41-27 win over Telstar on Monday.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.