BANGOR, Maine — Conner Adams has watched basketball games at the Bangor Auditorium before, but he’ll get his first — and last — chance to play at the historic venue Thursday night when Bangor and Brewer play the last Class A interscholastic contests to be held at the aging edifice.
The varsity doubleheader, billed as the Twin Cities Basketball Classic, is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. with the girls contest between the two schools, followed by the boys matchup at approximately 7 p.m. The doors will open at 4:45 p.m., according to Brewer athletic administrator Dave Utterback, with one admission entitling the ticket holder to attend both contests.
“It’s going to be pretty great, it’s going to be pretty special,” said Adams, a junior center on the Bangor boys’ team. “It’s my first year on varsity and to get the opportunity to play our crosstown rival in one last game there is going to be fun.”
The Bangor Auditorium, which opened Oct. 1, 1955, is set to be torn down this spring and replaced by the Cross Insurance Center currently under construction and scheduled to open in September.
There had been no Class A basketball at the auditorium since the Eastern Maine regional tournament in that division was moved to Augusta in 2006 until Bangor and Brewer decided to play their mutual regular-season finales at the facility in 2011.
The move was designed by school officials to give their teams a chance to play at the historic Main Street venue, to ensure all fans had access to the games after earlier meetings between the teams had resulted in sellouts, and to continue fostering good sportsmanship between the rival programs.
“There’s a lot of differences playing there, especially because a lot more people can go to the games,” said Morgan Small, a senior forward on the Brewer girls’ team and a veteran of previous clashes against Bangor at the auditorium. “And the building is different shooting-wise.”
Bangor has swept the boys and girls doubleheaders played at the neutral site each of the last two years.
The Rams also defeated Brewer in both the boys and girls regular-season meetings earlier this season, but Thursday’s games may have a significant effect on each team’s tournament standing.
The Bangor girls are ranked third in Eastern A with a 13-4 record after Tuesday night’s 71-57 victory over Lawrence of Fairfield, and coach Katie Herbine’s Rams could finish as high as second in the regular-season standings with a second win of the season over Brewer.
Brewer, 8-9 after a 46-43 loss to Skowhegan on Tuesday night, is ranked eighth in the division, and while coach Andy Nickerson’s Witches have secured a postseason berth, what that berth represents remains to be seen.
Eighth-seeded Brewer is 11 Heal points behind No. 7 Skowhegan, and whether the Witches are able to pass the Indians in the standings and thus avoid a preliminary-round game may depend on the Brewer-Bangor outcome as well as Skowhegan’s regular-season finale against 12-5 Lawrence.
And while Brewer currently holds the home-court advantage for a potential prelim against 10-7 Cony of Augusta, the Witches lead the ninth-ranked Rams by just one Heal point, meaning that home-court edge likely will be determined not only by Brewer’s game against Bangor but also Cony’s game Thursday against 1-16 Erskine Academy of South China.
On the boys’ side, 12-5 Bangor is ranked fifth after its 46-33 loss at Lawrence on Tuesday night and coach Ed Kohtala’s club appears locked into an Eastern A quarterfinal at the Augusta Civic Center against red-hot Lewiston, whose nine-game winning streak has advanced the 12-5 Blue Devils to fourth place in the division.
Brewer, meanwhile, currently is on the outside looking in, its 10th place standing in Eastern A leaving coach Ben Goodwin’s 8-9 Witches two Heal points behind No. 9 Mount Ararat of Topsham for the ninth and final postseason berth.
Brewer may be in a must-win situation in its game against Bangor, though Mount Ararat also has a game remaining Thursday night at No. 7 Brunswick.
Utterback said both schools have invited travel team and youth league players from their communities to attend the game for free if they are wearing their team shirts.