Bangor’s Ed Kohtala deserves to be Maine’s HS basketball coach of the year

Regardless of how the Bangor High boys basketball team finishes the season in the Eastern Maine Class A Tournament, its new coach, Ed Kohtala, has to be the Maine high school basketball coach of the year for all classes.
Kohtala, a former UMaine assistant coach, took over the most successful Class A basketball program in the past 20 years and most basketball experts figured that if the Rams went 9-9, then that would be a good season.
They finished with a 13-5 regular-season record.
With only one player returning with any varsity game experience, junior Alex Campbell, Kohtala has taken an inexperienced group of players and molded them into a team that has been in every game and has only lost to Hampden twice, Lawrence twice and Edward Little once.
Bangor has been in four overtime games this season and won all four.
Besides replacing a legendary coach in Roger Reed, Kohtala was not hired until the end of August so he had no contact with the players for a summer program and could not watch them play this fall due  to a new Maine Principals’ Association rule.
So the first time he saw his players were on the first day of tryouts. With less than three weeks and 15 practices before the opener on Dec. 2, Kohtala had to select his varsity team and get ready for the opening game of the season against Class A favorite Hampden at Red Barry Gym.
Even though Bangor lost that opener, it did not go down without giving Hampden a very tough go of it. Bangor went on to finish fourth and will face No. 5 Lewiston in a quarterfinal at 8 p.m. Saturday.
Kohtala took this inexperienced group of players and developed them into a very cohesive basketball team relying on its strengths, good quickness, several good 3-point shooters and a little size that translated into a top contender.
The Rams have made good comebacks to win several close games and that is the sign of a well coached team.
Many coaches win when they have the best talent, but what really separates excellent coaching jobs from average coaching jobs is not what a coach does when they have the best talent, but what a coach does when they do not have the best talent.
Kohtala has already put his stamp on the Bangor program and has proved that he was a great choice to succeed Reed.
The Rams have proven that they can win on the road. Kohtala’s positive personality and coaching skills have his team developing the poise needed to win these close games.
He has certainly made an outstanding adjustment from college assistant to head high school coach.
I think his best traits are that he has been very positive with his team and has excellent team and player discipline. You never see him criticize his players in the media. If he has nothing good to say, then he says nothing at all. This is the sign of an excellent coach.
Also, he has demonstrated outstanding bench decorum as he does not react to officials calls or his players actions in a negative light.
The Bangor players seem to enjoy playing for him and show this by putting forth outstanding efforts to win games when they trailed in double figures.
Also, the new coach has been very gracious in his media comments about the success of the Bangor program in the past and has said that it has helped a great deal in the success of this season’s team.
Ed Kohtala is a first-class act and Bangor is very fortunate he decided to step down from the college ranks and return to high school coaching. He certainly is the state’s high school basketball coach of the year.
Good luck too the Rams and coach Kohtala in the upcoming Class A tourney.

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