It’s 104 pages long and there are countless memories waiting to be unearthed and/or polished anew in a Bangor Daily News publication celebrating 15 years of Eastern Maine schoolgirl basketball.
“Girls Tourney Gold: Eastern Maine’s Road to the State Finals” offers a detailed trip down memory lane and should cause plenty of tournament moments to rebound with former players, coaches and fans alike.
The large, magazine-style publication, which utilizes an easy-to-read, newspaper-style layout featuring headlines, subheads, 436 game-by-game accounts, and nearly 200 photos, resulted several years ago from an idea by BDN executive editor Mark Woodward to do a book about tournament basketball.
“High school basketball in Maine is a tradition, a shared experience in Maine communities,” Woodward said. “The games, the players and the tournament atmosphere at the Bangor Auditorium are part of our common history, and the Bangor Daily News is uniquely able to tell the story.
“This book is the first in what we hope will be a series of quality publications chronicling the history of girls and boys high school basketball in Eastern Maine.”
Woodward’s idea was sparked after a popular BDN publication — “Headlines in History” — celebrating the paper’s first 100 years in existence.
BDN sports editor Joe McLaughlin compiled and edited the book and determined that the ideal way to start would be a game-by-game history on the first 15 years of the schoolgirl basketball tourney.
“With the coverage we’ve given both the boys and girls tournaments over the years, I knew we had ready access to the information, game stories and photo files necessary to do this kind of book,” said McLaughlin, a former Stearns High School varsity basketball player. “And the girls tournament provided a good template and ideal starting point.”
McLaughlin thought starting with the girls tournament made sense because unlike the boys tourney that dates back to 1922, the girls did not begin tourney play sanctioned by the Maine Principals’ Association until the 1974-75 season.
The MPA, the governing body for high school athletics in Maine, started sanctioning schoolgirl basketball a few years after the passage of Title IX, a federal law prohibiting discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal funds. The first tourney also coincided with the continuing evolution of the girls game away from its six-on-six rules to the current format.
Photos and stories in the book were taken from the BDN archives and originated from a talented group of BDN sportswriters and photographers. McLaughlin rewrote and edited the game stories into book form while the photos were compiled by BDN librarian Charlie Campo.
“It was a lot of work, but I did enjoy it,” said McLaughlin, a Millinocket native who began working at the BDN in November 1984. “It brought back and re-energized certain teams and memories for me.”
McLaughlin said it took awhile, but the biggest payoff from the labor-intensive project came when he was finally able to hold the finished book in his hands.
“Having everyone pull together to create this is a great thing, and the culmination is seeing it in book form,” he said. “When you finally hold it and see it in your hands, it feels like you’ve accomplished making it what you thought it could be.”
Also providing invaluable assistance in the book’s creation were graphic artists like Janine Pineo, who had the idea to break the compilation into two books and who came up with the page designs with Eric Zelz, who also designed the cover. Brian Robitaille and Becky Bowden designed and produced the inside pages.
“What they did was truly remarkable because they made each page different,” McLaughlin said.
The book recounts the first 15 years of the girls tournament and chronicles the 436 games played in that time period, from the quarterfinal rounds through the state championship games in Classes A, B, C, and D.
By using such a comprehensive approach with the book, McLaughlin hopes readers will be able to find their favorite games, teams and players fairly easily.
According to one local coach, that goal was accomplished.
“It’s very easy to read,” said former Caribou girls varsity coach Roland Duprey, who led the Vikings to a Class A state title in 1983. “I especially liked the article in the back about Stephanie Carter.”
Some of those standout players and teams include Cindy Rand of Hampden Academy and her 1976 Class A state champion squad, the great Houlton Shiretowners teams of the 1980s that won six Eastern and three state Class B crowns, the early versions of the Cony of Augusta dynasty that collected three straight Eastern Class A crowns (1987-89) and two straight state titles (1988-89), the Carter-led Schenck of East Millinocket teams that won three straight Class C states (1987-89) and Western Maine powerhouse Westbrook, which won four straight A titles with star player Lisa Blais from 1978 through 1981.
Duprey knew which teams he wanted to check out first.
“Well, I went to 1983 first. I have the tapes, of course, but it did take me back,” said Duprey, who coached the Vikings to back-to-back Eastern A titles in 1983 and 1984. “It’s a different way, and a good way, to bring people back to those days and those great teams.
“Sometimes there are things you’ve forgotten or not quite remembered as vividly.”
The book also includes stories by McLaughlin on Rand and Carter, what they did after graduation, and what they’re doing now.
The book retails for $15.75 and copies are available at the BDN offices at 491 Main Street in Bangor. It can also be purchased by calling the BDN toll free at 1-800-432-7964 or locally at 990-8000 and asking for the book division, or ordering online through the BDN store.