Stearns Gym Was the 50″s “Hoosiers” For Maine High Schools

After my column today in “Off the Rim” about “Hoosiers” at Greenbush last Thursday, I thought it would be informative to discuss the high school version of “Hoosiers” in the 50’s era of Hoosiers.

It was the small gym at Stearns High School in Millinocket.

I played there 3 years as a player in from 1952 to 55. I coached there for 9 years, 1 at Fort Fairfield and 8 at Bangor.

This was the toughest place to play as a player and as a coach.

Small court with a balcony around both ends and one side opposite the players benches and floor bleachers. There were bleachers under the balcony.

You couldn’t shoot from the corners at each end because of the balcony overhang would blcok the shot.

Stearns did not lose many games in “The Pit”.

It was also the first gym in Eastern Maine to install glass backboards. In fact, because it was regular thick heavy glass, the rim was attached to a 1 foot wooden board that ran along the bottom of the backboard.

When the horn blew to start the game it sounded like a freight train was coming right thru the tunnel of a gym.

The first high school game I coached was in Novemeber of 1961 and it was in this Stearns Gym when I was at Fort Fairfield.

In fact. we won that game in sudden death overtime. Back then the overtime was 3 minutes and if the game was still tied after that 3 minute overtime then the game went to “Sudden Death”.

“Sudden Death” was the team that scored the first 2 consecutive points won the game. 2 straight foul shots, or a 2 point basket. If a team scored a foul shot and the other team made a basket or 2 foul shots in a row they were declared the winners.

We won the tap and won that game when one of my players made 2 foul shots in a row within a minute of the Sudden Death Overtime starting.

One of my Bangor teams was the only team ever to score 100 points in a game against Stearns at the “Pit”. The player that scored the 99 and 100 points was a transfer from you guessed it….Stearns.

I was fortunate in the 9 years that I coached there that my teams won more than they lost.

Also, another very tough place to play in the 50’s and 60’s was at Cunningham Gym at Presque Isle. Long and Narrow it was a very tough place to win.