As records fall, Jonesport-Beals star Garet Beal plays through the pain of losing his father

Jonesport-Beals basketball standout Garet Beal holds a photo of his dad, Lindell Beal, who died in July at age 43.
Courtesy of Grace Kate Photography
Jonesport-Beals basketball standout Garet Beal holds a photo of his dad, Lindell Beal, who died in July at age 43.
Posted Feb. 01, 2013, at 1:13 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 01, 2013, at 6:26 p.m.
Pam, Garet and Lindell Beal (from left) are seen with the 2012 state championship trophy after Jonesport-Beals' victory in the Class D final last March.
Courtesy of Diane Beal
Pam, Garet and Lindell Beal (from left) are seen with the 2012 state championship trophy after Jonesport-Beals' victory in the Class D final last March.

BEALS, Maine — Pam Beal sees more of her husband in her son with each passing day.

It might be Garet Beal’s growing appreciation for all things outdoors, including hunting and ice fishing.

Or it’s watching her son head to a local store each Thursday to pick up a copy of Uncle Henry’s classified ad magazine.

“That was something his father always did,” she said. “Now if it’s Thursday, Garet’s got to go pick up his Uncle Henry’s.”

Those who follow high school basketball along Moosabec Reach and throughout Eastern Maine also are finding plenty of similarities between Garet Beal and his father, Lindell.

Garet, a senior at Jonesport-Beals High School, surpassed his father’s 26-year-old single-game school scoring record with 55 points eight nights ago in a victory against Woodland.

The younger Beal now is on the brink of breaking his dad’s 25-year-old school career scoring record of 1,605 points. Garet scored 36 points in his team’s 71-52 victory at Calais on Thursday night, bringing his total to 1,557 with the Royals’ next two games scheduled at home Friday night and Saturday against Vinalhaven.

And with Garet Beal — a first-team Bangor Daily News All-Maine pick a year ago who already has accepted a basketball scholarship from the University of Maine beginning next fall — averaging 37 points per game this season the career scoring mark seems destined to become his as soon as this weekend.

There’s just one thing missing — Garet’s dad isn’t alive to see it happen.

Lindell Beal, a third-team All-Maine selection as a senior at Jonesport-Beals in 1988, died in his sleep of natural causes on July 16. He was just 43 years old.

His sudden death stunned the community, but particularly an only son who saw his dad not only as a basketball mentor but as much more.

“I probably haven’t completely come to grips with it,” said Garet some 6½ months later. “I have those days when I really struggle, and there are some days when he gives me the strength to get through it.

“It’s definitely different without my dad. Like every father and son, we had our share of arguments when we didn’t see eye to eye, but my dad was my best friend.”

Kindred basketball spirits

The height that helped shape both Lindell and Garet Beal’s basketball careers — Lindell stood 6-foot-7-inches as a senior and grew another inch or two after graduating from high school, and Garet stands 6-5 — should come as no surprise.

They are among the many descendants on Beals Island of Barnabas Coffin “Tall Barney” Beal III, a legendary Down East figure during the mid- and late-1800s who was known as a man of great stature — ranging between 6-foot-6 and 7 feet tall, depending on the source.

Stories of Tall Barney’s feats of strength included him knocking out a horse with a single punch on a downtown street in Portland, or turning over a scow by himself while 14 crewmen who had just tried unsuccessfully to do the same thing tried to hold down the scow.

For Lindell and Garet Beal, their feats of accomplishment turned more toward traditional athletics, particularly basketball.

As a freshman at Jonesport-Beals, Lindell Beal helped coach Ordie Alley’s Royals win the 1985 Class D state championship, and he went on to earn Class D all-tournament honors as both a junior and senior as well as capping off his career with All-Maine accolades.

“Ordman had Lindell play in the post a lot,” said Gordon Faulkingham, the current Jonesport-Beals boys basketball coach and a longtime friend of Lindell Beal. “But he could handle the basketball and he could shoot the three. He was quick and lean, he was a bigger version of Garet.”

Lindell went on to play one semester of basketball at the University of Maine at Machias before settling into the lobstering business and later marrying Jonesport’s Pam Crowley, his high school sweetheart.

Garet Beal was born in 1994, and it wasn’t long after that father and son discovered a common bond in basketball.

“Growing up we always talked about basketball,” said Garet. “My dad was always telling me about when he played, and other people talked about how good he was. I always wanted to be like my dad.”

It also wasn’t long before Lindell Beal realized that his son’s athletic talents were special even by the standards established at Jonesport-Beals — a program that had produced nine Class D state championships in boys basketball between 1970 and 1993.

“We had a basketball hoop in the yard, and they’d play one-on-one,” said Pam. “When Garet was in the sixth grade, Garet beat him for the first time. Lindell wasn’t one to slack off and it was then he figured out that this kid was going to be a better basketball player than he was.”

So Lindell turned basketball mentor, sharing his stories about the game and his own basketball heroes with his son.

“He was a big Larry Bird fan and a big Pete Maravich guy growing up,” Garet said. “We’d spend a lot of time talking about how those guys shot the ball, and I’ve come to love how those guys played the game.”

That bond continued as Garet’s own basketball resume began to grow as he reached high school and also found success in the AAU ranks.

“Lindell was always his biggest supporter,” said Pam. “Garet was never pushed into basketball, but once he started playing they would discuss different aspects of the game, and Garet always would ask a lot of questions.

“Once Garet got into high school, they would critique and analyze the games when he got home, and if Garet had issues with his shot they would discuss it. Those conversations are something Garet has really missed.”

Garet joined his dad as a state champion last year, teaming with 6-6 center Justin Alley and point guard Matthew Alley to lead Jonesport-Beals to its first state championship since 1993.

“His father was so proud of him,” said Pam.

And as Garet Beal’s play drew the interest of college recruiters, that, too, became a topic of frequent conversation.

“Working the traps together we’d talk about me making a college choice a lot,” said Garet, who mulled attending Maine Central Institute in Pittsfield this year before that school ended its postgraduate basketball program. “He just wanted me to make the best decision for me, and he was proud of the chance I was getting.”

Then one evening in the middle of July, everything changed. The Beal family went to bed for the night, but as the son rose that Monday morning ready to leave for Florida and the AAU national championships, his father never woke up.

“It was such a shock,” said Pam. “It’s been tough. Garet has his days when it’s very hard, we both do. But for the most part we’re just pushing ahead.”

Playing through the pain

Pam and Garet Beal grieved their loss surrounded by their family, their school, their community and their basketball comrades.

“Everybody at Jonesport-Beals has had my back,” said Garet. “My coaches, my friends and my teachers have all really been there for me.”

Garet’s close friend Vinal Crowley stayed with him at Beal’s home in the immediate aftermath of Lindell’s death, as did Mitchell Worcester, a 2,000-point scorer from Washburn High School who made the 250-mile trip down from Aroostook County to spend time with his basketball buddy.

“He’s had so much support,” said Pam. “Lots of Garet’s basketball family, his high school teammates and AAU teammates, were right there for him.”

Basketball soon became an elixir of sorts for Garet, as a day after his father’s funeral he and his mother left for Florida to join his AAU team at the nationals.

“My sister somehow arranged for us to leave on Saturday, and that gave us a couple of days to relax once we got there because he had missed one tournament but the second one hadn’t started yet,” said Pam.

“I think going was the best thing for Garet, because he was able to get back to doing what he does best.”

And there’s little question that Garet Beal has established himself as not only among the top players in Jonesport-Beals’ storied basketball history but also among the best in the current crop of players statewide regardless of class.

He was named Maine’s Gatorade player of the year after leading the Royals’ championship run in 2012, and he’s leading the state in scoring this year as well as averaging double figures in rebounds to go with 7.5 assists and 4.0 steals per game while helping Jonesport-Beals remain undefeated in its first 14 games.

“With everything that’s happened I don’t know how he does it,” said Faulkingham. “It amazes me the way he goes out there and handles himself the way he does, especially when everybody knows he’s the best player in the state.”

Several of Garet’s accomplishments this winter have been the stuff of legend. He once scored 82 points in less than 24 hours, with 40 points on a Friday night against Sumner of East Sullivan and 42 more points the next afternoon in an overtime victory against Deer Isle-Stonington.

Then came the record-breaker against Woodland when he scored 55 points in barely 2½ quarters of playing time. He had 24 points in the first quarter alone and 42 points by halftime, capitalizing on a Jonesport-Beals defense that forced numerous turnovers, leading to multiple layups for Beal and his teammates.

Garet could only imagine what his father would have thought of the performance, which also included 10 rebounds, eight assists and six steals.

“He probably would have had a smart comment about it because that’s the way we were, but he definitely would have been proud of me, without a doubt,” he said.

Now Garet is poised to break his father’s career scoring standard, something that already had been the topic of conversation between them.

“They often went back and forth with each other about who was going to keep the records,” said Pam. “They joked about that for many years. Lindell would brag about how he was going to keep the record, and Garet would joke that he was going to break it.”

Once the record falls, Garet Beal’s focus will return to Jonesport-Beals’ quest for another state title, and then to the start of a new phase of his life at the University of Maine.

He does that with the belief that his dad will never be too far away.

“There’s no better feeling than having your parents say how proud they are of you,” said Garet. “I wish my dad could be here now saying how proud he is of me, and it’s a struggle not hearing him say that.

“But I feel like he’s with me in the gym when I’m playing, I feel like he’s there. It’s a good feeling, but it would be better if he was right here for me.”

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