Maine’s version of ‘Hoosiers’ discovered in small local gym

Last Thursday afternoon I found Maine’s version of the famous basketball movie, “Hoosiers.”
I walked into a small gymnasium and there was standing room only.
It was class night for players/cheerleaders who were participating in their last home game.
After the roses were given out to the players who in return gave them to their parents, the National Anthem was played, and it was time to play ball.
As the game progressed there were no coaches up and yelling or screaming at the refs or
players. All you heard from the coaches was encouragement and positive feedback.
There was no loud music blaring. There were no high fives, no low fives, no chest bumping, and no trash talking. There were no attempted dunks, no hanging on the rim, and no hot-dogging.
The teams had players who tried to make their teams and teammates better.
There was very little one-on-one action. Teams tried to pass the ball around, and looked for their post players inside.
This was basketball as Dr. James Naismith must have imagined it should be played when he invented the game back at the Springfield YMCA in Massachusetts.
The game was played by the participants for the pure joy of it. A fun game, with action aplenty, as the players worked hard and gave 100 percent for every loose ball and every rebound.
The court was small, but that did not matter to the players. They were playing a game that they really enjoyed. It was a rivalry game between two close towns.
The point guard for the home team and the point guard for the visiting team stood out as they looked to make crisp sharp passes to open teammates. They looked to pass first, shoot second and dribble third.
Both teams had good size for such small schools. Although the play was ragged at times, there were still some outstanding plays.
The crowd cheered on their favorites. Parents, sisters, brothers, grandparents, and friends cheered for good plays for both teams. They were really into the game for its pure enjoyment.
The game was close until the final few minutes when the visiting team pulled ahead to win.
Good sportsmanship was evident throughout the game by the players, coaches and the fans as they all enjoyed their chance to get away from the problems of the day for a couple of hours.
This was small-town basketball at its purest form.
Where was it, which small town, which high school game?
It wasn’t a high school game, it was a middle school game in the small town of Greenbush, just a few miles north of Old Town. However, to all involved it was basketball, to be played, to be coached, to be watched, to be enjoyed and to be officiated.
The only big differences between the gym from “Hoosiers” were the glass backboards at the Greenbush gym and its court was a little smaller.
The schools involved were the middle schools from Greenbush and Hichborn of Howland.
I have officiated a lot of games this year from grades 3-4 travel games to college games, but this one was one of the most enjoyable.
It was a journey back in time as I remembered all the small gyms that I had played in during my elementary, junior high, high school, college and semi-pro days in the 1950s.
These players didn’t need a big gymnasium, a regulation size court, or bands playing to enjoy the game of basketball. All they needed was a ball, a basket, a court and someone to ref the game.
The game gave me a chance to remember what the game is really all about. I played in the “Hoosiers” era of the 1950s and I want to thank my assigner, the coaches, athletic administrators, players, cheerleaders and fans for a fun-filled afternoon watching basketball the way it was meant to be played.
I officiated two games that day, girls and boys.
If you are in a basketball funk right now and tired of seeing the same old athletic game played over and over again at the NBA, college or even high school level, take the time to visit your local middle school and watch a game and you may also be drawn back to the “Hoosiers” of your basketball past.
After all, this is where those skills of the future high school players are developed and character is formed. We all should be thankful for the coaches at this level who provide an opportunity for these middle schoolers to enjoy the game of basketball as it was played in Greenbush.
What a great day of basketball for all involved.