Thoughts while taking a break from finding somewhere to put all the snow.
… A significant milestone may be reached at Van Buren on Friday night when Central Aroostook of Mars Hill boys basketball coach Tim Brewer seeks his 200th career victory. What makes the pending accomplishment even more significant is that Brewer is in just his 11th year as the varsity head coach at his alma mater, with his 199-28 record in regular-season and tournament play representing an remarkable .877 winning percentage.
That includes a 25-7 postseason effort including Class D state championships in 2005, 2006 and 2008. And of those seven tourney losses, three came against that year’s eventual state champion and a fourth came against that year’s Eastern D winner.
The Panthers enter Friday’s game with a 15-0 record this winter, with Brewer’s mix of uptempo offense and aggressive defense enabling the Panthers to outscore their opponents by nearly 25 points per game while allowing just 46.8 points per contest.
With talented big men in 1,000-point scorer Caleb Kelly and Mike McClung, veteran perimeter players in Logan McLaughlin, Dan Brewer and Brendan York, Central Aroostook is primed for another lengthy tourney run at the Bangor Auditorium later this month.
Tim Brewer’s coaching amid the highest of expectations is a major reason why.
… Tis the season when those on the outside looking in complain that the quality of high school basketball in the state is worse than ever. But just what are we comparing today’s players to anyway, the good old days when a multitude of Mainers routinely went on to Division I programs? That never happened.
Clearly the game is different these days, with the players more physical and the defenses being coached more sophisticated. Kids don’t shoot as well as they once did, either, a reality that may be attributed to at least two factors. One is the 3-point arc, which has turned many offenses into searching out either layups or 20-foot jumpers and nothing in between. Another is that kids are shooting less on their own as basketball has evolved into playing games year-round.
And a shot clock isn’t the panacea it’s being made out to be for all the ills of the game, it’s just going to rush kids into taking the same shots that already aren’t going in.
What will address the complaining, at least in the short term, is the excitement of the upcoming tournament and the teams and individual heroes who will emerge. Enjoy the games.
… Speaking of the tournament, it won’t be quite the same this year with Wednesday’s death of Lawrence “Red” St. Louis. St. Louis, a former athletic standout at Orono High School who went on to a long career as a high school and college basketball and softball official, has been a fixture at the Bangor Auditorium during Tourney Week where he helped out with the officials and generally spread good cheer throughout the building with a sense of humor that ranged from self-deprecation to a gentle ribbing of his friends.
Everyone who met Red St. Louis has their own story about him. Mine isn’t so much a story, but just the knowledge that no matter my mood on a given day, whenever I ran into Red at the tournament or at a Bangor High School game, by the time our conversation ended I had a smile on my face.
The world could use a lot more people like Red St. Louis.