BANGOR, Maine — While the announcements of Hampden Academy’s Christian McCue and McAuley of Portland’s Alexa Coulombe as the state’s 25th Mr. and Miss Basketball were the highlights of Friday night’s Maine McDonald’s/Maine Association of Basketball Coaches banquet at Husson University, several other awards also were handed out.
Stacia Catherine Caron of Presque Isle and James Blanchard of Windham were presented the fourth annual Maine McDonald’s Spirit of the Game Awards.
Caron has served as the manager of the Presque Isle girls varsity basketball team for the past four years as well as manager of the school’s girls soccer team for three years. Due to a rare disease, she was born with no feet and just one finger on each small hand but has overcome those physical challenges to be a vital member of both teams.
In 2010, Caron was presented her school’s Athlete of the Week honor for her managerial work with the girls soccer program, an award previously reserved for players.
Blanchard, who has autism, has been a member of Windham’s varsity basketball program for four years and had the opportunity to play in several games, often during the last minute of the contest and often scoring baskets.
The Hampden Academy boys and Wells girls varsity teams received the Maine McDonald’s/Maine Red Claws Team of the Year Award for their efforts off the court.
Coach Russ Bartlett’s Hampden squad has contributed to Toys and Coats for Kids, volunteered with the local recreation department and assisted with the Hampden Boys Basketball Camp. Team members also are members of the National Honor Society and a variety of other school organizations while also participating in the school’s leadership program.
The Wells girls team, coached by Don Abbott, has raised more than $57,000 during the last three years for Breast Cancer Living Well programs at York Hospital in Wells and York Hospital, including nearly $27,000 this year alone through its third annual Shootin’ for a Cure event and by partnering with the Wells Rotary Club’s annual golf tournament.
George and Patricia Conant were named recipients of the Bob Brown Contributor Award for their efforts to improve the quality of Maine basketball. George Conant has been involved in Maine high school sports for more than 35 years. A former high school coach with stops at Dirigo of Dixfield, Greely of Cumberland Center and Falmouth, he has served as the Maine Association of Basketball Coaches’ executive secretary for the past 11 years.
Patricia Conant is a longtime school administrator at Dirigo, Livermore Falls, Falmouth and Scarborough who has served on both the BCD West basketball committee and the Western AB committee.
Travis Lee, sports director at WMTW-TV in Portland, received the Maine Association of Basketball Coaches Media Award.
And two members of the state’s All-Academic team, John Passarelli of Scarborough and Kelly Beisswanger of Wells, were named recipients of $2,000 Maine McDonald’s Academic All-State Scholarships.
Passarelli holds a 4.0 grade-point average and has served as class treasurer for all four years. Passarelli received the Rotary Youth Leadership Award and the Brandeis Book Award and is a member of the National Honor Society. He has received numerous honors and awards for academics and sports, including the Coach’s Award in Soccer and Basketball
and was named an Academic All-American in soccer.
Beisswanger is a recipient of the Phi Beta Kappa Award, the National Merit Letter of Commendation, and the St. Michael’s College Book Award. She serves as president of her school’s National Honor Society chapter and has maintained a 99 grade-point average throughout high school. Beisswanger has played basketball, lacrosse and soccer, serving as team captain in soccer and lacrosse for two years.
On Saturday between sessions of the Maine McDonald’s senior all-star games, the association recognized some of its members.
Named 2012 Eastern Maine boys’ coaches of the year were Bartlett of Hampden Academy (Class A), Jason Briggs of Waterville (Class B), Walter Crabtree of Sumner of East Sullivan (Class C) and Tim Brewer of Central Aroostook of Mars Hill (Class D).
Western Maine boys’ coaches of the year were Dan LeGage of Deering of Portland (Class A), Tyler Tracy of Poland (Class B), Travis Magnusson of Dirigo of Dixfield (Class C) and Wade Morrill of Valley of Bingham (Class D).
Eastern Maine girls’ coaches of the year were Karen Magnusson of Cony of Augusta (Class A), Mike Gray of Gardiner (Class B), Jessica Witham of Orono (Class C) and Mike Carlos of Washburn (Class D).
Western Maine girls’ coaches of the year were Tom Maines of Scarborough (Class A), Paul True of Lake Region of Naples (Class B), Al Veneziano of Madison (Class C) and Molly Bishop of Richmond (Class D).
Also recognized were coaches who achieved the following career victory milestones: 300 wins, Jamie Russell of Penobscot Valley of Howland and Joe Russo of Portland; 200 wins, Tim Bonsant of Cony of Augusta and Nick DePatsy of Medomak Valley of Waldoboro; and 100 wins, Glenn Billings of Deer Isle-Stonington and Kevin Millington of Windham.
The day wasn’t as much fun as Mia Diplock of Cony of Augusta would have preferred.
She pulled or partially tore ligaments in her right ankle in Thursday night’s Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Senior All-Star game, but she still made the best of it.
“They made me kind of like an assistant coach,” said Diplock. “I picked the starters, and I threw in a couple of plays.”
Karen Magnusson, Diplock’s coach at Eastern Maine champion Cony and one of the East A-B coaches, felt bad for Diplock.
“It stinks when stuff like that happens,” Magnusson said. “You want them all to go out on the court. … But I think she had a good time.”
Diplock said she did.
“It was a great experience. I’m glad I was still able to be a part of it,” she said.
Magnussons both got the call
Karen Magnusson wasn’t the only family member taking part at Saturday’s games.
Her husband, Travis, the coach of the state Class C champion Dirigo boys, was the West C-D boys coach.
“We were both named coach of the year,” said Karen Magnusson. “So when the email came [with the all-star coaching assignments], we were both on it.”
These games are more about the players having fun, but it’s a challenge to keep the coaching instincts at bay.
“In the last couple of minutes, the competitive juices come back,” said Travis Magnusson, whose team lost 74-71 to the East stars.
But Karen Magnusson, whose team won 95-92, pointed out that they have to put that feeling aside.
“The kids want to win, but with a minute left, you’re not going to hold the ball,” she said.