Edward Little’s John Shea shoots against Oxford Hills’ Colby Dillingham during the Class AA North championship in Portland last month. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

John Shea dominated in the post this winter and scored 30 or more points eight times while leading Edward Little to the Class AA North final.

Shea’s stellar season was awarded last week with the Mr. Maine Basketball award and then a commitment to play basketball at the University of Maine at Orono on the same day.

The senior forward also has been chosen as the Sun Journal’s All-Region Boys Basketball Player of the Year.

Shea talks often about his will to win, and it was a reason that UMaine interim head coach Jason Steadman offered him a spot on the team, but throughout the season he also pointed out the role his teammates played in his success.

“Realistically, my mentality is to just go battle,” Shea said. “In my head, no one in the state can guard me, and I feel confident in saying that, especially with the numbers I put up this year. It has to do with my teammates. They just put me in positions for me to score. Not a lot of teams know how to play post defense, but we know how to run a post offense. They’re the ones getting me open.”

His relationship with his teammates dates back to long before any of them played for the Red Eddies.


Shea grew up in the same neighborhood as Edward Little coach Mike Adams, and Shea often rode his family’s lawn mower down the road to hang out at Adams’ house and play basketball with the coach’s son and his future teammate, Marshal. Shea also attended Edward Little’s summer youth basketball camp for as long as Adams can remember.

In high school, the players go out to eat after home games, hang out on off days, and when they argue in practice, they quickly shrug it off.

“In practice, I’ll be the first to tell you that there is a lot going on,” Shea said. “Us getting mad at each other, a lot of yelling at practice and just getting on each other. We’re basically a group of brothers, so we get over it within five minutes of practice and no one takes it personally. I think that’s a big reason why we were able to be so successful is because we are all coachable. We’re all coachable with each other, with coaches, and that’s the reason we surprised a lot of teams this year and how far we made it with a record of 18-3.”

The connection between Shea and his teammates made the Red Eddies tough to defend.

“I would say planning for him was so tough because he attracted so much attention on defense,” Lewiston head coach Elgin Physic said. “That would open up cuts and open shot opportunities for the other players, like Marshal and Eli (St. Laurent) and Patrick (Anthoine) and some of the other players, and then if you defended well he was relentless on the offensive boards.”

Edward Little defeated Lewiston three times over the course of the season, all close battles.


The Red Eddies defeated Oxford Hills twice in the regular season but fell to the Vikings in the Class AA North final. Coach Scott Graffam said that defending Shea was a focus of Oxford Hills’ defense from the first day of practices to the end of the season.

“We started planning on how to guard him from day one this season,” Graffam said. “Even as we played other teams, John was always first and foremost our focus. We knew in order to be champions we would have to defeat EL. We brainstormed many schemes, none that really worked in our regular season games, as he had 30 and 31 points. It wasn’t until the tournament that we had a modicum of success.

“He’s a great competitor, scorer, and the best around-the-rim player we faced. Well-deserved Mr. Maine, and North AA Player of the Year. And as he informed me at the McDonald’s All-Star game, the only time his team lost to Oxford Hills in his four years was the AA North championship in overtime.”

Slowing Shea was a focus for teams across the state. Adams constantly challenged Shea and nit-picked his game in practices. While it frustrated Shea at times, it also helped him average 26 points, 12.5 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game this season. 

The player-coach relationship the two had was a big reason for the team’s success and it’s a relationship that will continue into the future. 

“I’ll be the first to tell you that he gets on me every single practice for the littlest things,” Shea said. “That’s him showing me that he cares and he wants me to be the best version of myself as possible. I don’t take that for granted. Sure, sometimes I don’t agree with him in certain situations, but at the end of the day, he’s really the person I probably look up to the most.


“He’s taught me a lot in life, sports, anything, over the last few years. Especially when we go in at 5 a.m. and we talk about everything from sports to life and we’ll just be talking about stuff and he won’t even know it but I’ll take away a few things that he said on whatever we were talking about and use it to my advantage. I think that’s the impact he has on myself and others on the team. I am really grateful for him, Troy Barnies, (trainer) BJ Nichols, and just the great people in my life. I wouldn’t have been able to achieve all this without them.”

Shea is the second Edward Little player to win Mr. Basketball, joining 2007 winner Troy Barnies. Shea also tied Barnies’ school record for points in a game when he put up 44 against Hampden in the second game of the season. The Red Eddies coaching staff made sure Shea knew that he could play even better.

“When we are on any of our players, we see what you can be, what you can do,” Adams said. “We wanted to make sure John wouldn’t be satisfied with just scoring 44 because you could get more rebounds or more assists. You can be better.

“It’s been fun to work with him and he’s always taken the coaching well. He’s always seen the big picture of everything we’ve done. I’m glad we’ve had the relationship we’ve had, and I’m excited to see him at the next level. I know he’s going to do well because he’s a good person.”

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