Since beginning my basketball column for the Bangor Daily News in November of 2011, I’ve had a lot of tough assignments, but picking my all-time all-tourney team from players I coached is the toughest.
Here’s my team, based on play in Eastern Maine tourney games:
Peter Gavett, Orono: He grew nine inches from his sophomore to senior year, had point-guard skills at 6-foot-7 and a wingspan of 7 feet, 2 inches. He was the best individual defensive player I coached, could play off his man and still keep him from getting off a shot. He led Orono to an undefeated 22-0 record and Class B state title in 1969 and runner-up finish in EM Class B in 1968. He’s my all-tourney Most Valuable Player.
Willie Gavett, Orono: Peter’s older brother was a 6-4 leaper and was the toughest player I coached physically or mentally who could dominate inside on both ends of the court.. He’s the first player I coached that dunked the ball. No tourney opponent wanted him to guard them and they didn’t want to guard him. He led Orono to the East B title 1967 and runner-up in 1966.
Ken Rassi, John Bapst: A 6-11 center, he led John Bapst to a 22-0 record and Class B state title in 1993. He was the last of the true back-to-basket post players in Maine high school basketball. He was doubled and tripled teamed so much we had to develop a special offensive set featuring player floor spacing that made teams pay a heavy price of doubling or tripling him. We named this offense “Rassi” and had the” Rassi Rule,” which meant he had to touch the ball once before we took a shot unless it was a layup.
Sean Casey, Orono: A 5-11 point guard who started as a freshman and started all 82 games from 1964 to 1968. He was the commensurate tourney point guard who created for his teammates and made them better players. He started nine tournament games, the most for me. He was like having a coach on the Auditorium floor. He helped our team win the East title in 1967 and finish second in 1966 and 1968.
Bruce Withington, Bangor: A 6-3 guard who was the quietest player I ever coached but let his actions speak loudly on the floor. He started in three consecutive Class A tournaments and led us to an upset of the No 2 team in 1977. He was the purest shooter I ever coached and the best teammate. I had to tell him not to pass so much and take more shots as he was always concerned to share the ball with teammates even though he was the best player.
Other players who stand out for contributions on my teams are:
Brett Soucy, John Bapst: A 6-3 guard who sacrificed the most as he went from scorer on one of our East B title teams and then to point guard for another title team in the early 1990s.
Artie Mathieson and Dorian LeBlanc, John Bapst: They’re my most improved players. The 5-10 Mathieson went from a 12th player on the junior varsity team as a sophomore to a starting point guard on our East runner-up team in 1988 and East title the next season in Class C. The 6-4 LeBlanc progressed from a sub on our 1992 East B runner-up team to starting point guard on our East B title team the next season.
With another tourney in full swing, many other players are turning in outstanding, memorable performances. I had many fine tourney performers as well in my 29 years as a coach besides those mentioned today and I’ll always appreciate their contributions.