Saturday, February 26, 2011

Maine H.S Basketball Tourney Excites

Photo by Andy Molloy, Kennebec Journal
A gutsy baseline shot by Valley High School's Cindy Schultz in the final seconds to secure a 54-53 win over Greater Portland Christian and cap a superb 29-point individual performance. 

A gritty, controlled 34-22 win by the Richmond Lady Bobcats to advance to their first conference championship game in 10 years.

Plenty of pinpoint passes, fast breaks and 3-point shots from well beyond the arc.

It's high school basketball tournament time in Maine and this is how my family and I spent part of our February vacation.

Photo by Andy Molloy, Kennebec Journal
We took in five of the many games played over the past week and I could have easily camped out at the Augusta Civic Center all week if time and money allowed.

We personally knew only a handful of kids playing. It didn't matter.

Just like it didn't last year, when we introduced the kids to the tournament and they became fans of several schools they had never heard of.

In an era when professional sports and many college programs have been ruined by money, high school athletics in Maine have retained a pureness of competition and sportsmanship. One can find these qualities during any season, but there's something about basketball that makes it special.

Maybe it's the transition from the bleak, harsh coldness of a Maine winter to a warm gym full of energy and excitement. Or that fans can be closer to the action than at outdoor fields.

Whatever the exact reasons, there is a pageantry to Maine high school basketball. While not in-your-face flashy, it exists and is particularly displayed at tournament time.

Townspeople in their school colors fill up whole sections of auditoriums, cheering wildly as they are led by one or more face-painted high schoolers waving towels.

Exhuberent when their teams play well and win, they are equally upset but supportive when games don't go well and playoff elimination is imminent.

This whole atmosphere offers a stage befitting the players who take to the courts and play their hearts out.

For most, this or a future tournament will mark the end of their playing careers - whether they have the chance to cut down the nets after a conference or state championship victory, or leave the arena in defeat.

Regardless of the outcome, they'll have the chance to display their individual skills and the hard work, dedication and teamwork that got them there.

For the price of admission ($7 for adults and $4 for students), I guarantee you'll get your money's worth.

If you haven't seen a game this year, there's still time to catch some great basketball.

Take some time to check out everything that's good about high school athletics. You may just become a fan of a new team in the process.

No comments:

Post a Comment