Extra pressure is causing top teams to fall in Eastern Maine tourney

What is Webster’s definition of the word upset? The number one definition is: force or be forced out of the usual positions.

This definition is in full force for the Eastern Maine High School Basketball tourney.

In Boys Prelims there were 7 upsets, 1 in B, 2 in C and 4 in D in the 17 prelim games and in the Girls Prelims there were 5 upsets. 4 B  and 1 in C of the 17 games. That is 12 upsets out of 34 games for 35 percent. of the East’s Prelims games

The biggest upset in the prelims was the Jonesport-Beals  boys seeded 16th, traveling all the way up to Washburn. A bus trip of 400-plus miles round trip and they upset the number 1 Washburn team 66-63 in what I think has to be the lowest seeded team to ever upset a number one team in the history of Maine High school Basketball. Also, it could be the only time a number 1 team has not made the tournament.

Remember last year’s 18-0 Jonesport-Beals boys were upset by the 8th seeded Easton Bears in the D Boys  quarterfinals.

Another big upset in the  D Boys Prelims was 13th seeded DI-Stonington upsetting number 4 Shead of Eastport.

On the Girls side of the prelims, there were 4 upsets in the 5 prelim games, the biggest upset was number 13 Waterville over cross-town rival 4th seeded Winslow  43-34.

These prelim upsets are even more remarkable as the games are played on the home court of the higher seeded teams and the lower seeded teams had to travel (many miles in some instances like Jonesport-Beal Boys) on a school night.

In the tournament, the first 2 high school tournament games  ever played at the Cross Insurance Center saw two upsets in a row. The first was 6th seeded Old Town over 3rd seeded MDI 57-44 and 10th seeded Ellsworth, who upset 7th seeded Medomak Valley 47-44. then did the same to 2nd seeded Camden Hills 71-62.

In the last Boys B game on Saturday, the 8th seeded Hermon Hawks upset number one Oceanside in the biggest upset of the day 68-63.

All of the higher seeded Girls B teams won their quarterfinal games.

In Class A Boys, 6 seed Oxford Hills upset 3rd ranked Bangor 44-41 and the Messalonskee girls upset 2nd seeded Lawrence in quarterfinal action.

Many basketball fans love to see the underdog pull the big upsets. However, the biggest upsets are when the number 1 team is defeated in the opening round of the prelims or the tournament.

Having been involved in such situations as a coach and being on both ends of the spectrum, I can tell you from experience as a coach that the joy of victory by the players is not as extreme as the agony of defeat. Especially if the number one team is undefeated.

Why do these upsets happen? There is extreme pressure on the number one team, especially if they are unbeaten because they are in a no-win situation. If they win, big deal, they should have won, and if they lose…What happened? You should have won.

Undefeated teams who are upset in the opening round by an 8 seed loses everything. An undefeated season, their number 1 seed, and a chance to win the tournament and the game..

Many times after these big upsets of an 8 over a 1, the 8th seed winner loses in the next game in  the semifinals to either the 4 or 5 seed.

Also, after all is said and done, usually when the No. 1 seed in the East loses, then the West team goes on to win the state title.