Craig Jipson, far right, and the Edward Little bench celebrate near the end of the 2011 KVAC championship game. Jipson, who coached the Red Eddies for 12 season, has been named the new head coach at Lewiston. Sun Journal file photo Buy this Photo

Assuming there is a high school basketball season in 2020-21, Craig Jipson will be spending it on the sideline as Lewiston’s girls varsity coach rather than Poland’s.

Craig Jipson will be the next girls basketball coach at Lewiston High School. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Jipson, who was named Poland’s girls varsity basketball coach in the spring, stepped down from that job before coaching a game for the Class B school to fill the vacancy at Class A Lewiston. The Lewiston school committee unanimously approved his hiring Monday night.

Jipson, who said he told Poland he was stepping down last week, said Lewiston was a better fit for him as he resumes his head coaching career.

“I’m so fortunate to have the chance to work for two different incredible schools. Unfortunately, the Lewiston job opened up later,” Jipson said.

“(Poland athletic director) Don King was absolute class,” he said. “I can’t say enough great things about Don King and the people in Poland.”

King could not be reached for comment Monday. The school announced last week on its Twitter account that assistant coach Jake Webb has been promoted to varsity head coach.

Jipson, 55, 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. He stepped down to coach his son, Storm, as an assistant coach for the Edward Little boys team the last three seasons.

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.

“Craig’s got extensive experience. He’s spent 20-plus years coaching basketball and his knowledge and experience really stands out when you talk with him,” Lewiston athletic director Jason Fuller said. “His track record shows that he can turn a program around and do it quickly.”

Jipson replaces Lynn Girouard, who resigned last month, citing irreconcilable differences with parents.

Lewiston finished 4-15 last year, losing to eventual Class AA state champion Oxford Hills in the regional quarterfinals.

The Blue Devils have never won a state championship, losing to Mt. Blue in their only state title game appearance in 1999 in Class A.

Lewiston reached the regional final again in 2003, losing to Catherine McAuley to finish 15-6, its last winning season.

With the second-largest enrollment in the state, Jipson said he believes Lewiston is “a sleeping giant” in Maine girls basketball and welcomes the challenge of awakening that giant, which he said includes building the right foundation.

“I just think that program can take off and be great,” said Jipson, who was able to watch Lewiston play a couple of times last season. “There are some older girls who are really hungry to win and a very talented freshman class coming in. They have an outstanding administration and AD in Jason Fuller, and great facilities.”

“I’m going to roll up my sleeves and be really involved in youth basketball and the middle school program. Everything is there for the program to be successful,” he said.

Jipson said one of the reasons he thought Lewiston would be a better fit was that the program and Class AA are more suited for the type of tenacious defense he wants his team to play.

“I think anyone who has seen me coach knows we’ll play a match-up zone, use three different presses and get after it on defense,” he said. “With Lewiston’s personnel, it’s such a good fit.”

“I think the hard part is that AA girls is just absolutely loaded,” he added.

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