HOWLAND, Maine — The Penobscot Valley and Dexter boys basketball teams squared off in Howland last week in a game that featured a few more bells and whistles than either team would have preferred.
The evening’s junior varsity game ended early, leaving considerable time before the scheduled 6:30 p.m. varsity tip-off.
So players from both teams were casually shooting around on the court when suddenly the fire alarm sounded.
A check of the situation revealed there was no fire, but instead a malfunctioning sensor in the recently installed fire alarm system, according to Penobscot Valley coach Jamie Russell.
With no one in the area to repair the malfunction immediately, the alarm continued to sound and accompanying emergency lights in the building — including over the gymnasium exits and near the scoreboard — flashed at regular intervals every 30 to 45 seconds.
“It was a regular pattern,” said Russell. “It would stay on for a while, maybe a couple of minutes, and then it would go off. Then just when you thought it wasn’t coming back on again, it would come back.”
After determining the nature of the malfunction, Russell, Dexter coach Peter Murray, the game officials and school officials met to discuss whether to postpone the game or play through the noise.
“There was a concern about whether or not the players and coaches could hear the officials’ whistle,” Russell said, “but they tested that before the game started and found that wasn’t an issue.”
The alarm continued off and on until being shut off midway through the second half.
“I couldn’t tell you when it finally stopped,” said Robbie Hallett, a junior guard on the Penobscot Valley basketball team. “Once we started playing, I didn’t even notice it.”
Penobscot Valley, which led 12-10 at halftime, went on to a 39-21 victory.
“It was a strange evening,” said Russell, a 27th-year varsity coach who earned his 300th career win earlier this season. “I’d never been through anything like it.”