Forget football for a minute, and a certain game that won’t be as interesting as the commercials. Let me tell you about how super a week can get.
All you need is a tank of gas and a road map to some of the state’s basketball hotbeds.
Now you’ve got a one-way ticket to Hoopville. It’s that place that sports scribes try to go each night, and actually find a few times a year. A place where special things happen. Cool things. Hoop things.
And then, every once in a while, you seem to follow the magical road show from one end of the state to the other, and at the end of it all, you sit back and think, Did I actually see all this?
It was four days, six games, a couple of hot dogs here and there. Three blowouts, three nail-biters, and much, much more.
It was all hoop, all the time. And it was quite a ride.
Monday, Orono: The Orono High girls are good enough to bear mention on their own. They’re athletic, skilled, and the defending state Class B champs.
But sometimes the really good stuff happens when you’re not expecting it. When you might have made a trip to the bathroom. When you were going to grab a Coke.
In Hoopville, you don’t want to blink.
You might miss a 12-year-old kid winning himself 40 bucks by nailing a half-court halftime shot.
Or you might not be listening when people tell you that the kid’s name is Mike Thurston. He’s the son of another Mike Thurston, the guy everybody around these parts associates with half-court shots – he won a state title with one, back in ’69, dontcha know.
Deja vu in Hoopville.
Tuesday, Newman Gym, Bangor: The Husson men took care of business against UMaine-Farmington in the nightcap, but the real game was the opener, when Kissy Walker’s Husson women again proved that they are just good enough to play anyone tough, and just unlucky enough to lose all the close games in ways that make you shake your head until it hurts.
Katie Nye’s desperation drive ended with an offensive-foul call with three ticks left. Braves lose by two.
Wednesday, Alfond Arena, Orono: Andy Bedard finally, really comes home.
When the Rumford kid came back from Boston College to play for State U, he was immediately popular. He scored 39 in his debut against mediocre Hampton.
But his sky-scraping, buzzer-beating Cat-killer against Vermont annointed him “hero” for the first time.
Forget the fact that Maine did nothing but stink up the joint for the opening 15 minutes. Bedard has made Maine legit.
Thursday, Bernard P. Currier Gymnasium, Standish: Take 1,000 people who hate your guts, pack ’em into your local K. of C. hall, and let everyone scream about your bloodlines, your haircut, and … oh, yeah … your hoop skills.
That’s what it’s like at the Chamber of Horrors at St. Joseph’s College.
For the final time, Husson and the Monks battled there.
Walker’s Braves lost another heartbreaker, and Husson’s men got a thumping. The Monks head off to celebrate. But wait.
At 11 p.m. – more than an hour after the last fans have left for the night – St. Joseph’s reserve Hiro Hirano walks in out of the snow and drops a duffel bag at midcourt.
He didn’t break a sweat in his 26-second stint. He unpacks a couple of balls and gets back to work. The week’s not done.
It’s just another night in Hoopville.
John Holyoke is a NEWS sportswriter.