You won’t it listed on any calendar, but consider this the start of high school basketball’s second season in Central and Northern Maine.
Last week’s ice storm, the damage it caused, and the massive power outages which followed have forced widespread postponements and cancellations of games, practices and events across the state.
Some schools haven’t been able to hold a practice since New Year’s Eve… and it’s beginning to show.
At a girls basketball game between Bucksport and John Bapst Monday, most of the girls on the court looked like they were either trying to run with someone else’s legs or sprint down the court while dragging lead weights and cement blocks behind them.
In fact, at one point during the first quarter, Bucksport starting guard Kara Henderson was overheard saying “I am so out of shape!” while playing defense.
She probably wasn’t alone.
“We recognized at halftime that we didn’t have our legs,” admitted Bucksport coach Mike Archer after the game.
The score after the first quarter was 5-2, 11-11 at the half, 19-18 after three, and a 34-32 final (Bapst won).
“I think it took the kids 16 minutes at least just to get going. That’s just being rusty,” said Bapst coach Len Miragliuolo.
Despite having only one game and one practice session since Jan. 5, Miragliuolo’s team still made out better than many others.
The Bucksport girls had just one session – an impromptu, one-hour shoot-around Saturday – in the 10 days prior to their Monday game.
“That wasn’t a practice. That was seven girls showing up for a shootaround and shower,” said Archer.
Archer, who made the session strictly voluntary for safety reasons, thought the school had electricity, but found a darkened gym when he arrived in the morning.
“I came in to shower Saturday morning around 9:30,” he said. “When I got here, we didn’t have power. All we had was the emergency lights and some sunlight shining in from the outside of the lobby.”
Since there wasn’t enough light or players to run drills and a full practice, Archer had the girls shoot free throws.
“What else are you going to do? Go home and sit in the dark? Might as well shoot, run around and get warm, and maybe grab a shower or something,” he said.
Things have been tough all over.
“We played Saturday and [Tuesday], so we’ve had two games and no practices since the end of the year,” said Foxcroft Academy boys coach Paul Withee. “But the way we’ve played the last two games, I told the kids maybe we should have time off like this more often.”
“This is our third postponement and we’ve only had two practices since we got back to school [Jan. 5],” said Bangor boys coach Roger Reed. “Even tonight [Tuesdau], we tried to practice but the power went out again.”
It was the second Bangor practice cut short by a power outage since Friday.
“I think we practiced one day last week. It’s going to be interesting to see where we are conditioning-wise when we get back because we’ve been a long time since we’ve really had a game,” said Reed, who had his own power outage to deal with.
Reed’s house in Glenburn was without power from Thursday through Tuesday afternoon.
“I think everybody’s pretty much in the same boat,” he added. “There’s some that are in worse shape than us.”
Like Cony in Augusta, Waterville, Messalonskee in Oakland, Lawrence of Fairfield, and Winslow, where school won’t be back in session until Tuesday – a month after the start of Christmas break.
Some schools like Waterville are even resorting to drastic measures like cancelling midyear exams and extending the second grading quarter a week.
“I always wondered what it would be like to be like one of those teams up north that go on [potato] harvest break in the fall,” said Reed. “Now, it’s almost like we went on harvest break ourselves, and I can tell you I don’t like it.”
“Even with the harvest break, I think they still have practices. This has just been phenomenal,” said Withee.