Usually, the “road to the Bangor Auditorium” is traveled by high school teams hoping to win basketball championships.
This year, the state’s small-college teams also will be converging on the state’s most historic hoop venue. The Bangor Auditorium will be the site of this year’s Maine Athletic Conference tourney on Sunday and Monday.
A dozen MAC teams will play for that right during quarterfinal action Wednesday and Thursday nights at the home courts of the higher seeds. The women play Wednesday, the men Thursday.
Coach Kissy Walker’s No. 1 Husson women will look on intently after earning a first-round bye. The Lady Braves of Bangor take a 21-5 overall record and a 10-2 MAC mark into Sunday’s semifinals.
On Wednesday, defending MAC champ St. Joseph’s College of Standish plays UMaine-Machias; 1994 runner-up UM-Farmington takes on Thomas College of Waterville; and UM-Presque Isle travels to the University of New England in Biddeford.
The men’s matchups Thursday will send Thomas to ’94 league runner-up UMPI; UNE to defending champ Husson in Bangor; and UM-Machias to UM-Farmington. Top-ranked St. Joe’s drew the bye.
In Wednesday’s games, St. Joe’s boasts the MAC’s leading scorer in Danielle Bouchard, who is averaging 22.3 points and 11.3 rebounds in 24 games. Coach Mike McDevitt’s Lady Monks boast some talented guards in Andrea Gibson of Calais and Fort Kent’s Neile Joler.
The Clippers are paced by Becky Tower of Eastport, who is averaging 16.9 points and a league-best 14.2 rebounds.
UMPI boasts good scoring balance with Kelly Picard of Madawaska (14.6 ppg, 12.8 rpg), Michelle Davis of Ellsworth (14.2 ppg) and Keli Daigle of East Millinocket (13 ppg). Old Town’s Heather Brewer has averaged a MAC-leading 6.3 assists.
UNE counters with Stacy Fondak (13.9 ppg, 7.2 rpg), who is coming off a sprained ankle.
In Farmington, the Beavers eye another title shot with Dawn Ann Higgins of Fairfield (15.2 ppg) and Searsport’s Bree Robert (6.7 rpg) among the catalysts. Thomas is led by Angie Ramos (14.9 ppg, 11.8 rpg) and Tee Fecteau (12.9 ppg).
On Thursday, Chris Casavant (17 ppg) of Presque Isle, Simon Mitchell (6.3 apg) and Glenn Sharp lead UMPI against Thomas. The Terriers are paced by Chris Pearce (21 ppg).
Husson presents UNE with a balanced attack, sparked by Xavier Joyner, Obadiah Johnson and Rick Sinclair of Hermon. The Red Knights’ keys include Lenny Cole of Benton (18 ppg), Byron Spinney (18 ppg) and Millinocket’s Aaron McDonald (7 rpg).
UMF leaders Dan LeGage (18.3 ppg) and Wes Daggett of Thomaston (15.9 ppg, 9.1 rpg) will be tested by UMM that features Josh Fannon (17.2 ppg), Jagos Medenica (15.4 ppg) and Barry Schramban (10.4 rpg).