Many local youth basketball players were at their best on and off the court on seven consecutive Sundays, Sept. 27 through Nov. 8, during the Dirigo Fall Basketball League at eastern Maine sites.
The first five weeks were at the Skehan Gym in Hampden and the last two at Husson University’s Newman Gym in Bangor. More than 125 games played at both sites.
As I watched the boys and girls high school and middle school teams play each Sunday, it was interesting to see that most of the teams were made up of players from the same schools, with a few exceptions.
Teams traveled as far away as from Jackman, Greenville, Calais, Cherryfield, Millinocket, Winslow and Sabattus along with other traditional Eastern Maine areas — now designated as North teams — along with teams from Greater Bangor.
Many players, coaches, parents and fans drove many miles to take part in the league.
The coaches volunteered their time and efforts and their high school coaches should give them a big thank you. High school coaches have to follow Maine Principals’ Association sports season rules and can’t coach or watch their players in fall games.
High school coaches still benefit from fall basketball as the main difference between fall basketball and spring basketball is that the fall teams are mostly made up of school teams and the spring teams are made up of all-star teams preparing for the state AAU tournament to qualify for the AAU National Tournament in Orlando, Florida.
The coaches, players, parents and fans behavior and sportsmanship were outstanding and very positive during the Dirigo Fall Basketball League games. In all of the games played in Hampden and Bangor, only two technical fouls were called.
The officials, most coming from the Bangor area, accepted just $25 per game. One traveled all the way from Millinocket. Most did two games each Sunday while some even did three or four.
The two sites ran the gate and concessions as fundraisers, which paid for the use of the facilities. The sites also provided the timer and the home team ran the scorebook.
I saw players and teams improve from Sunday to Sunday. The entire program at the sites I supervised were positive experiences for the officials, players, coaches and fans.
Another big positive from the league occurred on Sunday, Nov. 1, when the Seventh Annual Taylor Charity Tipoff Tournament raised more than $35,000 for family programs dealing with domestic violence and abuse. The tourney was held at seven different sites around the state with 200 teams from Saco to Bangor competing.
Teams raised money individually while parents and fans paid by donations at the gate where each team received credit for the funds. The team that won the event was the team that raised the most money, not the team that scored the most points or won the most games.
The Old Town Junior Coyote girls seventh- and eighth-grade team won the event not only at Husson, but for all the sites in the corporate division by raising over $4,000.
Others pitched in for this great cause as Husson donated its gym, provided the timers and did the setup for the games. Officials also donated two games and site supervisors donated their time.
The student work crews at Husson and the Hampden Recreation Department did outstanding work and I’d like to express my sincere thanks to them as well as directors Shelly Abbott at Hampden, Jason Harvey at Husson and Trudi Gillen, site supervision of the charity event.