Great to see long time basketball friends enter Maine Basketball Hall of Fame

Last Sunday at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor, it was great to see some of my personal long time basketball friends join me as a member of the Maine Basketball Hall of Fame class of 2018 as either an Inductee or as a Legend.

My Husson basketball coach Del Merrill was inducted into the Hall posthumously with his son Bob Merrill being his father’s presenter, and he did a great job. My wife, Judy, and I sat at the Merrill Family Table with Bob Merrill, his two sisters and their husbands. I just wrote a blog about Del going into the Maine Basketball Hall of Fame last week.

Next was Dwight Hunter, inducted as a Hall of Fame Legend, the longtime AD at Caribou High School who I played against in high school in the Bangor-Presque Isle rivalry in the mid 50’s and then continued on in college in the later 50’s as Dwight played for Aroostook State Teachers College now known as University of Maine at Presque Isle when I was at Husson as we played each other three times each season. Also coached against Dwight when I was at Fort Fairfield in 1961-62 and Dwight coached Caribou. Then as AD’s Dwight at Caribou and myself at Bangor and John Bapst we continued our friendship.

Thaxter Trafton who was inducted as a Legend in the Hall I met for the first time when we, Bangor High School, played Morse High School of Bath in the 1955 State Championship game played at the Old Colby Field House. Thaxter guarded me in that game and then two years later we were teammates at Husson College. Our friendship continued when he was employed by the City of Bangor running the Old Bangor Auditorium and I was coaching at Bangor High School as we played and practiced at the Old Barn.

Bill Fletcher the former Mattanacock Academy of Lincoln Basketball coach when I was coaching at Orono in the 60’s where we became good coaching friends was inducted into the Hall as a Legend. Our friendship continued throughout our careers as athletic directors. Bill at Dexter and Brewer and myself at Bangor and John Bapst. Also, we always saw each other during the February tournaments as Bill was the MPA’s Tournament Director for many years and I was bringing my Bangor and John Bapst teams to the tournament.

Leroy Patterson, one of the greatest athletes to ever play at Bangor High School was inducted into the Hall Posthumously and his son Ryan Weston was his presenter and he too did an excellent job. I knew Leroy ever since the early 50’s when he played in the Bangor YMCA Pee Wee basketball league. You could tell back then at an early age that he was going to be an outstanding basketball player. I followed Leroy’s career through Garland Street Junior High School and Bangor High School and his 33 year career at the University of Maine as a member of the Campus Police Department. Also, played semi-pro basketball in March of 1962 after Leroy lead Bangor to the Eastern Maine Class L Championship. When coaching baseball at John Bapst in the 80’s I always hired Leroy as an umpire. I reffed quite a few basketball games with Leroy over the years.

Those 5 were people that I was connected with all through my career either as a player, coach, official or athletic director or as a combination of.

Also, coached against Hall of Fame inductee Jim Bessey when he was at Mt. Blue and I was at Bangor coaching in the 70’s. Jim entered the Hall as an inductee Sunday. Jim brought his Cougars to Bangor for our annual Bangor Christmas Tournament and we met in the Class LL Tournament once in 1977.

Met Joe Russo, another Hall inductee, the extremely successful coach at Portland High School with 5 Class AA or A State Championships and 2 runnersup brought his Bulldogs to the Annual John Bapst Basketball Tip Off Tournament at the Old Bangor Auditorium in November when I was coaching at Bapst. Then in December we would go to Joe’s annual Christmas Classic held at the Portland Expo Building in the late 90’s. Hadn’t seen him in 18 years in person.

Special congratulations to my 5 close friends and the 2 coaches I mentioned and also congratulations to the other 15 inductees that made the Maine Basketball Hall of Fame Sunday as either a Hall Inductee or as a legend.

Bob Cimbollek
“Off the Rim” BLOG
Bangor Daily News