Tribute set at Woodland High for Down East basketball legend

Posted Dec. 20, 2011, at 5:30 p.m.

A decade-long tribute to one of the legends of Down East basketball will culminate Wednesday evening at Woodland High School.

That’s when the officiating shirt worn by the late Tony Tammaro will be retired during a ceremony prior to the girls varsity basketball game between the Dragons and neighboring Calais High School.

Tammaro, one of the founding fathers and the longtime rules interpreter of the Downeast Board of Officials, refereed for approximately 60 years covering eight decades. He worked more than 5,000 high school games — including a run of 37 consecutive years working games at the Eastern Maine tournament at the Bangor Auditorium.

Tammaro, who also served in the Maine Legislature and on the Baileyville Town Council, also officiated college basketball games in New England, Harlem Globetrotters games and a Boston Celtics game.

Tammaro was inducted into the Maine Sports Hall of Fame in 1994 and the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame in 2000.

Tammaro died on Aug. 27, 2002, at age 82, and his officiating jersey initially was retired the following basketball season at Woodland High School in his hometown during a Woodland-Calais girls game.

Since then, Tammaro’s jersey has spent a year on display at the eight other high schools served by the Downeast board — Calais, East Grand of Danforth, Jonesport-Beals, Lubec, Machias, Narraguagus of Harrington, Shead of Eastport and Washington Academy of East Machias — before being returned to Woodland to be retired permanently.

Big three lead Big East

Three teams have raced to the top of the Big East Class B boys basketball ranks this winter, and Old Town coach Brian McDormand knows them all too well.

The Coyotes were off to an 0-3 start entering Tuesday night’s schedule, but the teams they have faced — Mount Desert Island, Ellsworth and Presque Isle — were a combined 11-0 with all of the victories coming by double digits and only Presque Isle’s 56-46 win over Houlton decided by fewer than 20 points.

McDormand is impressed by all three teams, including a tall and rangy Presque Isle squad that defeated Old Town 61-39 at MacKenzie Gymnasium on Saturday.

“These guys are obviously very athletic and big, they do things well and are well coached, as all three teams are,” said McDormand.

Old Town previously had lost at MDI 81-43 and at Ellsworth 64-40.

“Ellsworth’s strength is its athleticism,” said McDormand, whose team is being rewarded for its grueling start with two road games this week — a trip Down East to face Washington Academy of East Machias on Tuesday followed by a trip to Aroostook County to play Caribou on Friday night.

“They’ve got two very good go-to players in Nick Holt and Thomas Sawyer, and Kyle Haslam is a great complement to them. They have basketball savvy and they play well together,” McDormand said. “With MDI, it looks like it could be their year. They’re pretty deep in the frontcourt, strong and athletic, and their guards are solid. They’re a little different this year because they’ve got guys who can hit shots from the outside, so you choose your poison against them.”

The MDI-Ellsworth-Presque Isle triumverate will begin to sort itself late next week, when Presque Isle and Caribou stay overnight in Hancock County to face MDI and Ellsworth.

Presque Isle will face Ellsworth and Caribou will play MDI on Thursday, Dec. 29. The next afternoon, Caribou will visit Ellsworth at 2:30 p.m. and Presque Isle will be at MDI at 4:30 p.m.

“It’s going to be an awesome two days,” said Presque Isle senior guard Wilder York. “It’s a big part of our schedule, and we’ve really got to focus on those two days.”

The rematches will come in mid-January. MDI is at Caribou and Ellsworth visits Presque Isle on the night of Jan. 20, followed the next night by Ellsworth at Caribou at 12:30 p.m. and MDI at Presque Isle at 4:30 p.m.

MDI and Ellsworth also will meet twice during the regular season, on Jan. 14 at Ellsworth and at MDI in their mutual regular-season finale on Feb. 10.

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