Craig Jipson coaches the Edward Little Red Eddies during the final seconds of the 2013 tournament loss to Cony. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

That Craig Jipson wanted to get back into running his own girls basketball program wasn’t a secret, even three years ago when he became an assistant boys basketball coach for his best friend, Mike Adams.

Craig Jipson previously coached the Edward Little girls for 12 years before spending the past three seasons as an assistant for the Red Eddies’ boys team. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Jipson made it known his stay would only last until his son, Storm, a reserve as a sophomore and starting guard the past two years, completed his career at Edward Little. It was just a matter of finding the right situation.

Jipson didn’t have to wait long to find what he believes is the perfect situation, having been named the new girls varsity basketball coach at Poland Regional High School.

“(The past three years at Edward Little) coaching my son and his friends with my best friend Mike Adams was a dream,” said Jipson, who helped EL’s boys to Class A state titles in 2018 and 2020. “It’s time to go on to the next chapter.”

He replaces Tim Dolley, who went 23-33 in three seasons leading the Knights.

Jipson last served as varsity head coach at Edward Little for 12 years, leading the Red Eddies to three KVAC titles, three regional final appearances and a regional title in 2016.

In 20 seasons as a head coach, which also includes stints as the varsity girls coach at Oxford Hills and Gray-New Gloucester, Jipson has compiled a 264-130 record.

“His track record is very impressive,” Poland athletic director Don King said. “He was a successful basketball coach at Edward Little, and coming over before that from Oxford Hills where he turned the program around, and Gray-New Gloucester before that.”

King said Jipson’s emphasis on hard work, leadership and day-by-day commitment to improving will serve Poland players well.

Edward Little girls basketball coach Craig Jipson, right, and the Red Eddies’ bench erupt at what they think is the end of the game during the 2011 KVAC championship against Morse at Cony High School in Augusta. The clock still had a few more ticks left on it, but the Eddies celebrated again for real moments later. Sun Journal file photo Buy this Photo

After finishing 15-5 and reaching the Class B South semifinals in 2018, the Knights missed the playoffs each of the last two years with identical 4-14 records. They graduate three seniors this year.

Jipson’s teams are known for hard-nosed, full-court pressure defense, and he said he’s excited to match that approach with blue-collar athletes who will commit to the hard work needed to get the program back on the right track.

“Kids from Poland, Minot and Mechanic Falls used to go to EL, and I dealt with them a lot when I worked at the (Auburn-Lewiston) YMCA. They’re salt-of-the-earth kids. They’ve always been willing to work hard and they come from great families, ” Jipson said. “I’m just looking for a bunch of kids who are willing to work really, really hard.”

Poland also appealed to Jipson, who lives in Auburn and teaches physical education/health at Edward Little, because it isn’t far from home and work.

The Western Maine Conference was a selling point, too, since it gives him a chance to match Xs and Os again with some of his former coaching rivals from the KVAC.

“I coached against (Lake Region coach) Paul True when he was at Skowhegan, and we have Maranacook and Karen Magnusson on our schedule and (former Maranacook coach) Jeannine Paradis at Morse. There are a lot of old-time KVAC coaches on our schedule,” Jipson said. “There are so many great coaches in the Western Maine Conference that I’m looking forward to coaching against. Mike Andreasen has a tremendous program at Gray-New Gloucester, and the (2020 state champion) Wells coach, Don Abbott, is a great friend of mine, so I’m excited.”

Jipson impressed King with his respect for the level of competition in Class B and appreciation for how tough it is to win in the Western Maine Conference, which has produced every Class B South champion since 2011 and five of the past seven Class B state champions.

“For a guy who spent the last 20-or-so years at the Class A (and AA) level, he understands whether there is an ‘A’ or a ‘B’ next to your school’s name, that’s not always an indication of the level of basketball that is played,” King said.

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