BANGOR — John Shea capped a dominating season by being named the winner of the Mr. Maine Basketball award as the state’s best senior boys basketball player.

Shea, who helped Edward Little reach the Class AA North final against Oxford Hills and come within a possession of returning to the state final to defend its 2020 title, joins Troy Barnies (2007) as the only Red Eddies to win the award.

“It was definitely a goal at the beginning of the season,” Shea said. “The biggest part about it was my teammates and coaches, trusting me, putting me in positions to score. Without them, none of this happens.”

Edward Little’s John Shea, center, sits with the Mr. Maine Basketball trophy that he won at the McDonald’s All-Star game Saturday at Newman Gymnasium at Husson University in Bangor. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Shea beat out the two other finalists, Ellsworth’s Hunter Curtis and Falmouth’s Brady Coyne, for the coveted honor.

Jaycie Christopher of Skowhegan won the Miss Maine Basketball award as the state’s best senior girls basketball player, emerging from a trio of finalists that included Wells’ Grace Ramsdell and Gorham’s Anna Nelson.

Christopher’s honor caps off a decorated senior season that also included a Gold Ball as Skowhegan won the Class A championship, and a new record as the school’s top scorer in both the boys and girls programs.


“It feels pretty good. Knowing that my teammates and my coaches and my family and our community got me here, it just makes it even more special,” said Christopher, Skowhegan’s first Miss Maine winner. “This senior season was everything I could have ever imagined since I was a little kid. It was a dream come true.”

Both Shea and Christopher worked not only to create their own success and their teams’ success, but also to help build the future of their respective programs.

“He was really the cornerstone of us offensively. … They did everything they could to take him away,” said Edward Little coach Mike Adams, who won the 1990 Mr. Maine Basketball following his senior season at Mt. Blue. “But bigger than that was what he does for our program. He involves himself with our youth camp in the summertime. … Every day, Monday through Thursday, he’s helping run our youth camps, and he’s the face of our youth camps.”

Mr. Maine Basketball winner John Shea of Edward Little High School gives a speech as he thanks his mother Bridget Shea, back center, at the McDonald’s All-Star game Saturday at Newman Gymnasium at Husson University in Bangor. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Senti

With Shea in the post, the Red Eddies rolled. He averaged 27 points and 12 rebounds per game as Edward Little went 16-2, grabbed the No. 1 seed in AA North and challenged for another Gold Ball.

“It was a monster year,” Adams said.

The 6-foot-6 Shea was the favorite to win Mr. Maine Basketball from the start of the season, when he scored 30 points and grabbed 14 rebounds against Oxford Hills and 6-foot-10 Colby Dillingham. A 44-point game against Hampden, tying Barnies’ modern program record, and 36-point effort against Lewiston followed, and Shea was off and running.


“It was definitely special,” Shea said. “I knew that I’m able to dominate the paint whenever I need to to get a bucket. The biggest thing for me was cutting down some weight, and I did that, and I’m continuing to do that to be able to play at the next level.”

That domination wasn’t always a given. Shea works closely with Barnies, and he said Barnies worked to get a thought into his head during training.

“His favorite word to use with me is don’t be ‘soft,'” Shea said. “That’s one of the biggest things I try to reign in on, to try to be as hard as I could on kids and do my best to put my body into someone and go get a bucket.”

As the year, and Saturday, proved, the approach worked.

“I’ve had this dream ever since I was a little kid,” Shea said. “To be able to join Troy as the second person in program history to do this, it’s pretty special.”



Going into the season, the Boston University-bound Christopher said being crowned the state’s best senior wasn’t on her mind.

“Honestly, it was never something that I ever thought about,” she said. “The only thing that mattered to me was winning a Gold Ball. Whatever it took to do that was what I was going to do.”

Skowhegan’s Jaycie Christopher, left, receives the Miss Maine Basketball trophy from Maranacook girls basketball coach Karen Magnusson at the McDonald-s All-Star game Saturday at Newman Gymnasium at Husson University in Bangor. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Becoming the caliber of player that wins this award, however, was always the plan. Well before she made her varsity debut as a freshman, Christopher was focusing on excellence.

“When I was in seventh grade, I started working out in the morning before school,” said Christopher, who said she takes between 400 and 700 shots after practices. “That’s really the time that I think showed me what it really took to be great. Those 5:30, 6 o’clock workouts, lifting, getting shots up in the morning, sprints, that kind of stuff, that’s where it’s done. Once you get into the season, you’re just ready to go.”

As her skills progressed, so did her drive, stoked consistently by her father, athletic director Jon Christopher.

“My dad was always there to kind of knock us down,” she said. “I could have had a really good game, and he’d be like, ‘You had four turnovers. That’s not good enough.’ He’s always there to humble me, and that was just so important.”

The end result was a player who did it all on the court this season. Christopher, who was named the Gatorade Maine Girls Basketball Player of the Year earlier this month, averaged 25 points per game while sporting both an athletic finishing ability and a lethal pull-up game, and she also averaged 11 assists and seven rebounds per game while running the floor, anchoring the defense and setting up her River Hawks teammates on offense.

“That’s what I feel most (proud) about, is the amount of work she’s put into building our program,” Skowhegan coach Mike LeBlanc said. “Not just her legacy, but our legacy now. She’s just a great person and well deserved it.”

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