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Thornton Academy fielded its first boys basketball team during the 1903-1904 season; the Maroon and Gold finished an abbreviated schedule with a record of 2-2. In the early years of the program, Thornton Academy played its games at Hamilton’s Hall on Beach Street until the construction of the George Addison Emery Gymnasium (currently the school’s library) on its Main Street campus. As the sport of basketball progressed through the 1950’s, the Thornton program outgrew the Emery Gymnasium facility. Thornton Academy basketball used the Saco Armory (currently the Saco Parks and Recreation center) for a few seasons in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s prior to the opening of the William S. Linnell Gymnasium in 1963. Linnell Gymnasium has been the site of all Thornton home basketball games for the past 56 seasons.
Thornton Academy has a rich history of boys basketball that dates back to its earliest years. The 1920-1921 Maroon and Gold team, coached by Arthur F. Davis, claimed the State of Maine championship. Coach Jim McGaffin led Thornton Academy to 127 wins from 1958-1971, and his 1968-1969 team claimed the Big Seven (currently SMAA) championship. More recently, under the leadership of current Golden Trojan head coach Bob Davies, the 2008-2009 squad won the Class A state championship. The Davies era (2003-present) has been the most successful in the program’s history with 201 victories and four appearances in championship games.
A number of outstanding players have donned the Maroon and Gold over the years. Bob Warner is the program’s all-time leading scorer with 1218 points and later played at the University of Maine, where he was inducted into that school’s athletic hall of fame. Jeff Griffith was a high scoring forward of the early 1960’s; his shots versus Cheverus at the end of regulation and again in overtime in 1961 propelled Thornton to a berth in the regional championship tournament. James Morse won the prestigious George Vinall Trophy in to leading the 2008-2009 squad to a Gold Ball. High-scoring forward Andrew Shaw was a two-time, all-conference player who was also selected to the Bangor Daily News All-State Team on two occasions.
The Thornton Academy girls basketball program offered its first varsity team during the 1902-1903 season. The program claimed State of Maine championships in 1905-1906 and 1913-1914 as a result of having won its league; the latter team under Coach Wilson was 10-1 for the season. In the 1960’s under the leadership of Coach Dorothea Vlahakos the girls program dominated its competition, including undefeated seasons in 1964-1965 and 1965-1967.
As the Title IX era dawned in the mid-1970’s and the Maine Principals’ Association (MPA) sponsored tournaments for girls, Thornton Academy emerged as one of the top teams in southern Maine under Coach Phil Curtis. Curtis led the Golden Trojans to regional championship games in two of the first three years that the MPA offered tournaments; his 108 victories are the most of any girls basketball coach in the history of the school.
The Golden Trojan boys were once again one of the top teams of the mid-1980’s under Coach Dick Agreste. Agreste’s 1984-1985 team won the SMAA championship and won 19 games, a school record. More recently, the Golden Trojans won an MPA Class A regional championship in 2014-2015 under current head coach, Eric Marston. In the process, Marston’s team tied the school record of 19 wins that was established thirty years earlier.
The Thornton Academy girls basketball program has featured some of the top athletes ever to don the maroon and gold. Mari Warner scored 677 points from 1974-1976 and later followed in her brother’s footsteps at the University of Maine; she later became a Division I basketball coach at the University of Albany. Suzanne Picard was a hustling guard for Thornton Academy basketball in the late 1990’s; she was a 1000-point scorer for both her high school and college (Saint Joseph’s College of Maine) programs. Kaitlyn McCrum was a finalist for the Miss Maine Basketball award during her senior season of 2014-2015 and was a four-year standout at Colby College in Waterville.
The typical Thornton Academy boys and girls basketball season consists of 18 regular season games and five non-countable exhibition dates. The Thornton Academy boys program traditionally plays in a holiday tournament at Nashua, New Hampshire. The girls program also competes in one or more preseason tournaments as a means of preparing for the regular season. For regional postseason purposes, the Golden Trojans are grouped in the Class A South region and traditionally compete against some of the top programs in southern Maine.
All home boys and girls basketball contests take place at Linnell Gymnasium. Participation in Thornton basketball is a six-day per week commitment with occasional regular season games taking place on Saturdays.
Tryouts for Thornton Academy’s basketball teams take place during the month of November. The varsity level is reserved for the school’s most highly skilled players. Students still developing their skills and novice players are assigned to the junior varsity or first teams.
The school also fields a boys entry in the Maine Association of Independent School Athletic Directors (MAISAD) league. Boys not earning a spot on one of the other school teams may participate on the MAISAD squad. Many of the students who compete for the MAISAD basketball team are members of the school’s residential life program, but that team is also open to interested day students as well. Practices generally take place in the evening.