Busline League court athletes

St. George Dragons breathe consistent life into winning basketball on peninsula

Small school provides big fun, success for players, supportive fans
By Mark Haskell | Jan 22, 2019
Photo by: Mark Haskell Scene from Bristol at St. George Busline League middle school basketball on Jan. 7.

Tenants Harbor — Over the past three years, a new start, new coach and new outlook has breathed new life into the St. George Elementary School seventh- and eighth-grade boys and girls basketball programs.

Since the 2015-16 season, the peninsula’s two court teams have set impressive benchmarks, particularly the girls, who could eye their fourth straight Busline League small school division championship game berth in the coming days.

Led by Chris Mills, the Dragon girls recently were 10-0 and have done little else in that time but stockpile victories.

Watch video and see more photos below.

The Dragon girls have advanced to the league championship game each of the past three seasons and earned one league title in 2017. In that time, St. George, which competes in the league’s small school south division, has amassed a 52-2 record against south opponents and a 53-4 mark overall.

The Dragon boys — also led by Mills the past two years — also hoisted a league championship trophy in 2017 and recently were 9-1 in this year’s campaign.

Both school and community pride has never been lacking at St. George School.

“When we won the boys and girls championships [a few years ago] in Wiscasset, we had the entire side of that gym just packed,” said Mills. “There must have been 400 people there. The other side between both teams there were maybe 50. It’s a big pulse of the community.”

“One of the reasons our basketball teams have done well over the years is definitely the feeder program we have from the St. George Recreation Program,” said Cheryl Worthing, who has been the athletic director at the school for three decades. “The Rec. Department has a progressive, skills-based program for students in grades K-6. The fact that student-athletes enter the middle level athletic program with the skills to compete greatly enhances our program.”

She added that “our teams also seem to do the best when we have consistent coaching,” which Mills has provided in spades. Prior to coaching the middle school teams, he coached girls recreation programs in St. George six years.

“Chris has a way of bringing out the best in each player on his team,” said Worthing. “Sometimes it’s with his soft encouraging words of support at practice and sometimes it’s with his loud passionate advice from the sidelines of a game. No matter how it is delivered it is positive, specific and encouraging.”

“At this level, there are a lot of kids that are capable and want to play at the next level,” said Mills. “Then you have a group that just want to be part of a team and a basket makes them feel like a million bucks. So you’re trying to create a good environment for all the kids, not just the superstars. It’s more about trying to bring everybody up to that level.”

It has not always been smooth sailing for the Dragons, though the school has stockpiled its share of Busline League championships in various sports.

One year after Regional School Unit 13 and School Administrative District 50 combined its districts to form Oceanside in the fall of 2011, there was a three-year window where the school did not have official athletic programs.

St. George School students, within the newly-formed Oceanside school district, played their sports in the Thomaston/Rockland area with the Mariners.

And, just like that, the school, for all intents and purposes, lost its athletic identity.

Mills said, during that time, “It was almost like a piece of the school was missing.”

“It was a very difficult time for our kids, our school and our community,” said Worthing. “I felt like a large part of who our school was, was gone. The fields stood unused and the gym was quiet. Many students chose not to play. The staff and coaches at RSU 13 did their best to accommodate our students, and I’m glad the opportunity to play was there, but because of different time schedules the schools had, our students had to either leave classes early every day to make it to practices on time or arrive late if they took the bus. They also had to arrange their own transportation home from practices and games in Rockland. It was just a difficult time for student-athletes from our school.”

However, the schools athletic programs returned in the fall of 2015, and the basketball teams, in particular, hit the ground — or rather, court — running.

“Everyone was really excited,” said Mills. “The parent groups that do the refreshments and that kind of stuff and just the idea of school pride I guess is a big part of it. It keeps the parents real close to each other and it gives everyone an excuse to be together. I think it was a major thing in the community [having the team back].”

The girls returned and made a run to the league championship game in the 2015-16 season before ultimately falling to Lincolnville. But the Dragons responded with an undefeated season in 2016-17 season with a win over Hope to claim the league championship.

That same year, the Dragon boys also completed a dream season by knocking off previously-unbeaten Lincolnville for the league title.

Then, last season, the Dragon girls again saw their hard work pay off by advancing to the league title game for the third straight season, though they ultimately lost to Hope in a rematch of the previous year’s title tilt.

Now, the Dragons teams look to be back in the running again to compete for league crowns.

Worthing said, “Fifth- and sixth-graders talk to me about not being able to wait until they get to play for Chris.”

“That’s the highest accolade I can think of for a coach,” said Worthing. “I think it’s fair to say that Chris Mills will have a place in the St. George basketball community for as long as he wants. He is building a legacy and St. George is lucky to have him.”

And, with Mills coaching both teams, it appears, based on the past three years, the sky is the limit for both programs.

“We decided to do both [teams], and it’s worked,” he said. “I’m with them when we travel regardless. It’s a little more work, but now I’m really invested.”

This year’s championship games, weather permitting, are scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 9, at Lincolnville Central School.

Bristol at St. George basketball
St. George hosts Bristol on Jan. 7 in middle school basketball. (Video by: Mark Haskell and Zack Miller)
Scene from Bristol at St. George Busline League middle school basketball on Jan. 7. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Bristol at St. George Busline League middle school basketball on Jan. 7. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Bristol at St. George Busline League middle school basketball on Jan. 7. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Bristol at St. George Busline League middle school basketball on Jan. 7. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Bristol at St. George Busline League middle school basketball on Jan. 7. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Bristol at St. George Busline League middle school basketball on Jan. 7. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Bristol at St. George Busline League middle school basketball on Jan. 7. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Bristol at St. George Busline League middle school basketball on Jan. 7. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Bristol at St. George Busline League middle school basketball on Jan. 7. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
(Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Bristol at St. George Busline League middle school basketball on Jan. 7. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Bristol at St. George Busline League middle school basketball on Jan. 7. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Bristol at St. George Busline League middle school basketball on Jan. 7. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Bristol at St. George Busline League middle school basketball on Jan. 7. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Bristol at St. George Busline League middle school basketball on Jan. 7. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Bristol at St. George Busline League middle school basketball on Jan. 7. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Bristol at St. George Busline League middle school basketball on Jan. 7. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Bristol at St. George Busline League middle school basketball on Jan. 7. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Bristol at St. George Busline League middle school basketball on Jan. 7. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Bristol at St. George Busline League middle school basketball on Jan. 7. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Bristol at St. George Busline League middle school basketball on Jan. 7. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Bristol at St. George Busline League middle school basketball on Jan. 7. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Bristol at St. George Busline League middle school basketball on Jan. 7. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Bristol at St. George Busline League middle school basketball on Jan. 7. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Bristol at St. George Busline League middle school basketball on Jan. 7. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Bristol at St. George Busline League middle school basketball on Jan. 7. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Bristol at St. George Busline League middle school basketball on Jan. 7. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Bristol at St. George Busline League middle school basketball on Jan. 7. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Bristol at St. George Busline League middle school basketball on Jan. 7. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Bristol at St. George Busline League middle school basketball on Jan. 7. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Bristol at St. George Busline League middle school basketball on Jan. 7. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Bristol at St. George Busline League middle school basketball on Jan. 7. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Bristol at St. George Busline League middle school basketball on Jan. 7. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Bristol at St. George Busline League middle school basketball on Jan. 7. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Bristol at St. George Busline League middle school basketball on Jan. 7. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Bristol at St. George Busline League middle school basketball on Jan. 7.
Scene from Bristol at St. George Busline League middle school basketball on Jan. 7. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Bristol at St. George Busline League middle school basketball on Jan. 7. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Bristol at St. George Busline League middle school basketball on Jan. 7. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.