Following the bouncing basketball …
Leave it to the small schools to provide the most exciting game of tourney week. Such was the case when Calvary Chapel Christian Academy defeated Central Aroostook 86-80 in overtime Saturday to win the Eastern Maine Class D title at the Bangor Auditorium.
It’s not like I’m keeping stats, but I’d bet that the Class D tourney, and that game especially, would lead the tourney in number of times players dove on the floor or out of bounds after a basketball.
The pure hustle of players on both sides in the Class D final and the enthusiasm they displayed was unmatched in the tourney.
Another refreshing aspect of the game that stood out was the sportsmanship the teams displayed. When the players went sprawling over the floor, leaving their mark on the auditorium hardwood, an opposing player was ready to help them up – after the whistle had blown, of course.
I’m the first to admit that I’m not a big fan of the three-point shot because it has become an overused weapon in high school basketball, while other offensive skills such as pulling up for the midrange jumper and driving to the hoop have been underutilized. However, players for Calvary Chapel of Orrington and Central Aroostook of Mars Hill use a good mix of all of the above.
They both showed they could hit the three-pointer, pull up for the jumper or take the ball to the hole. Calvary Chapel’s Josh Madden and Central Aroostook’s Bryan Grew best epitomized this balance of offensive skills.
And both players showed they knew how to play defense and rebound.
It was Grew I felt sorry for when he missed a six-footer off an offensive rebound in the final seconds of regulation that could have given his team the victory. To some it looked like an easy shot, but, as Maine PBS-TV broadcaster Ken Lindlof astutely observed, it was a very difficult shot to make.
Grew had to put the shot up quickly, Lindlof explained, straight on from the baseline, without the benefit of the backboard.
There was no hanging of his head for Grew when he missed the shot. Instead, he regrouped and tried to help his team win in overtime.
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Few may disagree that one of the most memorable plays of the tournament was made by Houlton’s Mark Socoby in the waning seconds of the Class C boys final between Houlton and Washington Academy of East Machias. With his team in a spread offense, the left-handed Socoby fired a bullet pass from near midcourt to a wide-open Danny Bartlett for a layup with 12 seconds left to give his team a secure four-point lead.
It’s one of those passes that’s made because of Socoby’s great court awareness – knowing where all his teammates are on the court and knowing he had the zip on his left arm to get Bartlett the ball.
Socoby is drawing some attention from Division I college coaches, such as the University of Maine’s John Giannini. While Socoby’s offensive skills have been impressive, it didn’t seem like he had to expend as much energy on the defensive end – something that would be demanded on the Division I level, especially from a disciplined coach like Giannini.
One aspect of Socoby that has some of us on press row chuckling a bit is his height listed in the tourney program – 6-foot-6. Ah-huh. Looks more like 6-31/2, maybe 6-4.
Then again, the talented youngster is just a sophomore. By his senior year, maybe he will be 6-6.
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“I think we need a building large enough to seat 7,500 people. But, rather than skimp for size, I am in favor of a well-constructed, completely equipped building, sacrificing seating capacity for other essentials. I believe the building should have adequate ice skating facilities.”
It’s interesting how some things never really change. Those quotes were from Albert Smaha of Bangor in a March 1954 Bangor Daily News story by Bud Leavitt, asking Bangor residents whether a new Bangor Auditorium should be constructed.
Sports editor Joe McLaughlin can be reached at 990-8229 or email@example.com.