After two weeks of midwinter madness, suddenly there is a vacuum in the high school basketball world.
The tournaments are over – finished in February, no less — and save for the McDonald’s East-West Senior All-Star Games next weekend, it’s essentially mud season somewhere beneath the snowpack and frozen turf it covers.
So what else is there to do but dream of green grass and reflect on the games just past?
I could lament the lack of offense during tourney play, especially in the state finals when only the Camden Hills of Rockport boys scored more than 60 points in their victory and the eight champions averaged just 50 points in their wins.
But those who say low-scoring games are by definition boring didn’t see Calais’ 40-39 victory over Dirigo of Dixfield C boys final, a game that was riveting from start to finish. Blue Devils coach Ed Leeman devised a strategy to give his team a chance to win and the players executed the plan despite having the slimmest of safety nets.
I could lament the mediocrity in free-throw shooting, and certainly the game would be better if kids could shoot better than 50 percent from the line.
But who could forget Brett Bradford of Bangor Christian, after a timeout called specifically to freeze him, nailing two free throws with 2.4 seconds left as the No. 9 Patriots upset unbeaten top seed Fort Fairfield in their Class D quarterfinal.
But whether you like where the game is heading or not, each postseason still brings with it special teams, players and moments.
Teams of the tourney: Waterville girls, Camden Hills boys. Anything less than a state title would have been a major disappointment for both of these dominant teams. That each was tested in its state final merely showcased another common trait, the ability to cope with adversity, and served to make their championship-game efforts even more satisfying as the crowning achievement in undefeated seasons. Honorable mention: Woodland girls, Deering of Portland girls.
Coach of the tourney: Ed Leeman, Calais. Sophomore forward Cam Shorey went down with an ACL tear before the season began, leaving the defending EM champs even thinner than anticipated. But Leeman stuck to his defensive roots, and gradually developed the team offensively, incorporating a fast break that proved dev-astating during the regional tournament. He then shortened the state final with more deliberate play to enable Calais to edge a favored Dirigo team. Honorable mention: Mike McGee, Lawrence boys; Troy Cilley, Woodland boys.
Player of the tourney: Morgan Frame, Waterville: The 6-foot senior was the difference for the Purple Panthers, especially in the state final against York when she had 22 points and 19 rebounds as Waterville earned a 54-42 victory over York. Honorable mention: Tyler McFarland, Camden Hills; Cal Shorey, Calais; Gordon Fischer, Camden Hills; Chad James, Woodland.
Unsung heroes: Aaron St. Pierre, Woodland; Kiefer Lammi, Camden Hills: St. Pierre emerged as a defensive stopper during tourney play, while Lammi worked efficiently behind the scenes on a star-studded Windjammers squad. Honorable mention: Jeremy Carr, Calais.
Shot of the tourney: Cal Shorey, Calais. With his team down by two points, Shorey made his fourth 3-pointer of the game with 17 seconds left to provide the margin of victory over Dirigo. The Blue Devils’ center had missed badly from long range just 30 seconds earlier but quickly regrouped to capitalize on his second chance.