Mid-February is here and that means another Maine High School Basketball Tournament is upon us. For many, including me, this is my favorite time of the year. We might have a snowstorm during tourney week, but there is always one day when you leave the Cross Center with warm rays of the sun on your back. It makes you think spring for a fleeting moment.
Anyway, now that we have the pleasantries out of the way, here are a few things to look for as you head to the tourney.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. #1 and #2 seed from last year are prevalent in those same spots this year, on both the boys and girls side. Just a few, like the Bangor, Hampden, Caribou, and Jonesport Beals boys as well as the Hampden, Hermon, Dexter, and Southern Aroostook girls were #1 or #2 seeds last year, and lookie here. They are #1 or #2 seeds this year. Let’s just say these schools and coaches have built good, strong programs.
Lack of the undefeated. In all Northern Maine classes AA-D, there are only four undefeated teams, and of those, only the two in Class D are #1 seeds. In fact, the only other two, Dexter boys and Calais girls are in Class C. That means the AA, A, and B boys and girls don’t have an undefeated team.
Just remember, if you make the playoffs, only one team in your class will win their last game. Deep thoughts for you.
Get there early. If you haven’t been to an event at the Cross Center in Bangor over the last six months, you will be surprised to see metal detectors and bag check lines. I don’t have any issue with this other than the time it takes. The lines move very slowly and if you aren’t ready to empty your pockets, you won’t make many friends. Do everyone a favor. Leave your big purse and pocket knife in the car. Bring your wallet, phone, and keys. That’s all. Don’t be that guy.
25 years – For me, this is my 25th year of being involved with the high school basketball tournament. I started doing stats and sideline reporting for WZON as a freshman in college. I worked my way up to the play by play role for several different stations, and for the last 13 season, have had the opportunity to call at least one state final per year on statewide television.
Back in the day, I refereed several tourney games including a handful of regional finals, and this year, should our fortunes be good, I may have the chance to coach on the tourney floor (If we can win our prelim game at MCI against a really good Huskies team).
All I’m saying is that I think it’s been a pretty good basketball career for me considering I never played a minute on the tournament floor. I wanted to be there but the teams I played on weren’t good enough. Maybe I didn’t get enough shots or maybe I took too many. You can research that to find out.
With that said, it’s almost time to tip things off. Friday afternoon is the start of the first session at the Cross Center. I plan on being there. How about you?
BY TOBY NELSON