BANGOR — Sleepless nights are the norm for high school basketball coaches during tourney time, their attempts at a few winks suddenly interrupted by the smallest of details noticed on a game film hours earlier.
Jeff Hart has had plenty of those experiences during his 29 years as the boys varsity coach at Camden Hills of Rockport and its predecessor, Camden-Rockport High School — a run that has produced more than 400 victories, five state championships and now 10 Eastern Maine Class B titles after the unbeaten Windjammers’ 73-55 victory over Ellsworth at the Bangor Auditorium on Saturday night.
But game planning for his opponents wasn’t his major reason for lost sleep this tournament week.
On Monday Hart and his wife, Melissa, welcomed a new daughter into the world.
Julia Ann Hart weighed in at seven pounds, nine ounces and was 20.5 inches long with “hands like Rondo,” according to the proud father, referring to Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo.
“I’ve gotten absolutely no sleep,” added Hart, whose team will play Cape Elizabeth for the state title at 8 p.m. Friday at the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland. “It’s been pretty exciting, and everybody’s healthy so it’s been cool.”
Hart missed Monday’s team practice to be with his wife and new daughter, and then had Friday’s practice snowed out.
“It’s been an interesting week,” Hart said.
Panthers take the inside track
The Central Aroostook boys basketball team was ousted by Shead of Eastport in the Eastern Maine Class D quarterfinals a year ago, partly the result of the Panthers’ 8-of-41 shooting from beyond the 3-point arc.
During this year’s run to the program’s fourth regional title in seven years and sixth EM crown overall, the undefeated Panthers’ six core players — Dan Brewer, Steven Decker, Caleb Kelly, Mike McClung, Logan McLaughlin and Brendan York — attempted just 27 3-points in their three tourney wins combined.
“Last year when we were down here we shot ourselves out of the tournament,” said Central Aroostook coach Tim Brewer. “Our kids played hard last year, it’s not like our kids didn’t show up and play hard, we just didn’t shoot the ball. We shot 40 threes last year and if we make 20 we set a tournament record, there’s different ways to look at it. But we just made eight.”
A key to the team’s reduced reliance on long-range shooting this tourney season has been the play nearer the basket of Kelly and McClung, the team’s two leading scorers.
“I think the big difference this year for us is that Mike was able to establish himself inside as a low-post presence,” said coach Brewer. “We were able to go there and work off him, and Caleb on the high post fit with him perfectly.
“And my guards were able to knock down enough shots to keep people honest and they moved the ball well and were able to penetrate, so overall as a team that’s how we get it done.”
Central Aroostook’s top six players attempted just 11 3-pointers in Saturday’s 49-26 victory over a Jonesport-Beals squad that ironically had overcome a record-setting barrage of 20 3-pointers by Washburn to win its semifinal.
Still the memory of that stunning loss 12 months ago serves as a ringing reminder that for this year’s Central Aroostook team, the offense runs from the inside out.
“Ever since that game we’ve had a burning desire to go back to the states,” said McLaughlin, whose team will face Richmond next Saturday at the Bangor Auditorium for the gold ball. “And that’s what we’re doing now.”