With the high school basketball tourneys tipping off this week, it has been a time to reflect on 70 years of tourney memories as a fan, player, coach and official.
In 1947, I was 10 and watched the Bangor Rams under coach Fred Pinkham win the Eastern Maine L title, beating Stearns 51-34 at the University of Maine’s famous Memorial Gym, the Pit.
The Rams beat Morse of Bath 60-44 to win the Class L state title, then lost to Durfee High School of Fall River, Massachusetts, in the New England tourney, 52-39.
It was the first year I followed basketball and I attended all of Bangor High’s home games at the old Bangor Auditorium.
Here are some other memorable dates that stand out for me.
– 1948: Coach Red Barry’s first Bangor team wins the Eastern Maine tourney at UMaine, beating Waterville in the final 62-47, then loses to Cheverus in the state game 35-34.
– 1955: I played on Bangor High’s Class L state championship team and we went on to place third in the New England tourney, beating Hillhouse of New Haven, Connecticut, 66-60 in the consolation game at the old Boston Garden. We finished with a 21-2 record and Danny Drinon was named first team All-New England after scoring 72 points in the tourney.
– 1955: I accomplished an unusual feat that I believe still stands as a tourney record for all classes as I scored the first two points in each of Bangor’s three tourney games.
– 1956: Bangor wins the first Eastern Maine L championship in the new Bangor Auditorium, beating Stearns 71-54, but lost to Morse in the state final 52-33.
– 1956: Many tourney greats are on the first Bangor Daily News All-Maine team.
– 1959: Bangor loses in the New England finals to Hillhouse 59-41. Bangor had upset John Bapst in the Eastern L final 61-54 and beat Lewiston in the state final 65-64 after starting out the season 0-4.
– 1961: The Maine Principals’ Association adopts four classes: LL, L, M and S. The format changes from three days to a week and the LL tourney doesn’t begin until the weekend after the L, M and S Eastern finals.
– 1963: Morse beats Stearns in the LL state final, but Stearns then beats Morse in the New England tourney to win a five-state team title as Connecticut teams didn’t participate in the last year the tourney was held at Boston Garden.
– 1963: Orono loses to Gorham by one point on a foul shot with one second left in the Class L state final.
– 1967-68: Our Orono team goes 21-1 and wins the Class L state title.
– 1969: Caribou’s Mike Thurston’s shot from beyond half-court beats Westbrook in the Class LL state at the Bangor Auditorium. I didn’t witness this because I was coaching Orono in the Class L state final at Colby College where we beat York 64-45 and finished 22-0.
– 1970: Longtime Stearns coach George Wentworth guides his team to its fourth Class LL state title.
– 1970-71: The MPA changes the names of the classes to A, B, C and D.
– 1971: Eighth-seeded Brewer upsets my No. 1 Bangor team in the Class A quarterfinals after we had beaten them twice in the regular season.
– 1972: My eighth-seeded Bangor team knocks off unbeaten and No. 1 Houlton after we lost to them twice during the regular season.
– 1977: Bangor is seeded seventh and we upset No. 2 Mt. Blue in the quarterfinals but lose to No. 3 Nokomis on a very odd, game-ending call in the semifinals.
– 1986: Dexter beats Rockland in the fifth overtime in the Eastern Maine B final in a game delayed by the Auditorium’s leaky roof and doesn’t end until 12:18 a.m.
– 1986: Waterville beats Lawrence by over 50 points in a regular-season game, but two weeks later, Lawrence upsets Waterville in the Eastern A final.
– 1987-88: The 3-point shot is implemented.
– 1989 and 1990 — I’m coaching at John Bapst and our teams win back-to-back Class C state titles with a 19-3 record each season.
– 1992: Bangor wins its first Eastern Maine title in 30 years, but loses to South Portland in five overtimes in the state final.
– 1993: Rockland loses twice by over 20 to John Bapst in the regular season and loses to Bapst 32-30 in a slow-down game in the Eastern B final. My John Bapst team wins the state title with a 22-0 record and that other team three miles up Broadway, Bangor, wins the Class A state title with a 19-3 record.
– 1993: Jonesport-Beals wins its ninth state title under coach Ordie Alley, the most state titles for any Maine high school coach.
– 2001: Bangor upsets heavily favored Deering at the buzzer on Joe Campbell’s rebound put-back.
– 2005: Ninth-seeded Hampden wins a prelim, upsets first-seeded Bangor and goes on to become the lowest-seeded Class A team to win a state game.
– 2011: Bangor wins its 10th Eastern title and eighth state crown under coach Roger Reed.
– 2012: Hampden wins its first of four consecutive Eastern Maine Class A titles. Coach Russ Bartlett goes on to guide his teams to six Eastern and three state titles since 2005.
– 2016: The first tourneys with five classes.
Bob Cimbollek is a retired high school basketball coach and athletic director.