When the Bangor Rams beat the Bonny Eagle Scots for the Class AA state title on Saturday night, they proved that valuable life lessons can be learned even when experiencing disadvantages.
Instead of being negative in life, you can just go forward and control the things you can.
Right from the beginning of the season with everyone returning and another transfer, the Rams were picked to be a serious contender to dethrone defending state champ Edward Little of Auburn.
That occurred along with adjusting to new first-year head coach Brad Libby and the pressure was on Bangor right from the very start.
Based on location, Bangor is the only true North school in the North division for Class AA basketball and Class A football as their closest opponent in both sports is Lewiston.
The football team has been undergoing long travel for its trips for many seasons and the basketball team started doing so in 2016 when the Maine Principals’ Association adopted five classes for basketball.
Long road trips can be tough on a basketball team and Bangor endured them during the regular season with games at Lewiston, Windham, Oxford Hills in South Paris, Thornton Academy in Saco and Edward Little in Auburn.
Then, for its three postseason games in Portland, Bangor rolled up 780 miles, compared to a total of 124 its three opponents traveled to the same site.
The tough thing for players on these long winter trips is that they are by school bus and can be tiring and uncomfortable.
Future tourney games for Bangor in Augusta and Bangor are unlikely given the location of their opponents and the Rams will have to consider Portland as their tourney home but Bangor has shown a history of being able to win in Portland despite the travel distance and the fact that some of its opponents just have to cross a bridge to get to the Cross Insurance Arena.
It was refreshing to see that Bangor drew excellent crowds for its three games in Portland as fans made the long drive to support their Rams.
Once it got to the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland, Bangor faced the same things all teams face when playing at the MPA tournament sites: a college court 10 feet longer than a high school court and the fatigue it can cause on players, more difficult shooting backgrounds and two or three 3-point shooting lines that can confuse players
The Rams, however, didn’t seem to worry about things they couldn’t control. They just tried to control things they could.
The Bangor coaches and administrators did a great job in taking this opportunity to look at this as a valuable life lesson for positively overcoming obstacles they couldn’t control while striving for success.
In the two North tourney games in Portland and the state final, the Bangor boys adjusted to the CIA court far better than their three opponents. The Rams handled Portland 61-41 in a semifinal, Edward Little in the North final 56-52 and then beat Bonny Eagle 58-48 for the Class AA state championship.
Bangor scored 58.3 points a game while holding its opponents to 47 ppg.
Congratulations to the Ram players, coaches, administrators and fans, from a former Bangor player, basketball coach and athletic director who remembers even longer trips to Aroostook County, but in comfortable coach buses instead of school buses.
The Bangor boys basketball team won its school’s 106th state athletic championship and will get to hang another banner in Red Barry Gymnasium.
They really adjusted successfully after being a preseason favorite, getting a new young head coach, long trips, and playing on a college court. They did so in a positive manner while learning a valuable life lesson during their championship quest.
They made me very proud to be a former Bangor Ram.