Editor’s note: One in a series on tournament basketball memories at the Bangor Auditorium, which is hosting its final tournament this season. Part IV: five top boys players.
BANGOR, Maine — Through the decades, numerous players have thrilled fans with their uncanny shooting, tenacious rebounding, crafty dribbling, gritty defense and poise in pressure-packed situations.
Here are some of the individual schoolboy performers whose play at the Bangor Auditorium has withstood the test of time.
Danny Coombs, Brewer
One could fill a Maine basketball hall of fame roster with the large-school players who starred at the Bangor Auditorium. After 52 years, one still stands out.
Danny Coombs played for Brewer High School from 1957-1960, during an era when storied names dotted rosters across the region. Only he has owned an Eastern Maine tournament standard for more than half a century.
Coombs etched his name in Maine hoop lore during the 1960 Class LL tournament. The smooth-shooting left-hander scored 104 points in spearheading Brewer’s charge to the regional title.
Coombs, a 6-foot-5 forward, could score inside and outside. He connected for 41 field goals in three games, a record that also remains intact.
“He was a beautiful player,” said former longtime Bangor High coach Roger Reed. “He was stylish and he was really a nice shooter.”
Coombs’ efforts for coach Larry Mahaney’s Witches included 34 points versus Cony and 31 in a semifinal victory against Waterville. In the title-clinching win over Presque Isle, Coombs went 14-for-25 from the field and 11-for-13 from the foul line on his way to 39 points.
Coombs, an all-tourney pick in 1959 and ‘60, also earned BDN All-Maine honors both seasons, including a first-team nod as a senior.
Ralph Mims, Brunswick
Ralph Mims guaranteed Brunswick would have a permanent and prominent place in Bangor Auditorium history.
He was quick enough to play guard, big enough to work in the frontcourt and versatile enough to dominate from either spot. He garnered all-tournament accolades three times, one of only a handful of players to achieve that status.
In nine tournament games from 2002-04, the 6-3 Mims averaged 24.6 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.7 steals.
“Ralph Mims is the best player I’ve seen, hands down, in my 23 years,” Lawrence High coach Mike McGee told the BDN in 2005. “His senior year, he had an average team around him, but he made those guys better.”
As a sophomore, Mims poured in almost 25 points per contest to lead coach Todd Hanson’s squad to its first regional championship and its initial state title [in Portland].
Two years later, in Brunswick’s EM title game victory over Bangor, Mims connected for 41 of the Dragons’ 54 points, including 34 straight at one point. He also grabbed 15 rebounds and made five steals.
A week later, in Portland, he set a state-final record with 46 points and 18 field goals in a loss to Portland. Mims was a three-time All-Maine first-teamer.
Gary Towle, Cony
Cony High of Augusta produced a long line of basketball superstars during the 1960s and ‘70s. Perhaps none shone more brightly than Gary Towle.
Towle had a brilliant season during 1977-78, when he helped power coach Dave Pound’s Rams to an unblemished 22-0 record that culminated with a Class A state championship.
Towle was a fluid player who built his reputation around the ability to score — from just about anywhere on the court. He did just that during Cony’s run to the regional title.
The 6-1 guard/forward was a model of efficiency in spite. Towle scored 101 points in three games, including 38 in the Rams’ 87-59 win over Presque Isle in the final. That performance included 14 of 15 accuracy from the foul line.
His efforts also included 32 points in a quarterfinal victory against Brewer and 31 in a semifinal decision against Waterville. Towle not only averaged 33.7 points in Bangor that March, he shot 63 percent (39-for-62) from the floor and 85 percent (23-for-27) from the stripe.
The elusive Towle , who scored 54 points in a regular-season win over Bangor, was an all-tournament and All-Maine selection in 1978, then went on to play at both Providence and Assumption colleges.
Tony Tobin, Limestone
When the 3-point arc was adopted for Maine high school basketball in 1988, everyone wondered how the dynamic might change the game.
Tony Tobin of Limestone provided a stunning example of how to integrate the 3-point shot into an already potent and versatile offensive package.
The 5-8 guard was the catalyst for coach Jason Tarr’s 17-3 team, which won the program’s first and only regional title. Utilizing exceptional quickness, both off the dribble and on the defensive end, Tobin was a handful.
The shifty senior averaged 41 points, five assists and three steals in three games, culminating in a 47-point outburst in Limestone’s championship victory over Washington Academy.
Tobin established all-classes Bangor Auditorium records for points (124), field goals (45) and 3-pointers (17) in a tournament. Even taking away the 3-pointers, the resulting 107 points would have ranked first all time.
“He’s the quickest player I’ve seen,” Tarr said in summarizing Tobin’s career 20 years ago. “He had the ability to take games over, but he matured a lot in a basketball sense and realized it takes a team.”
Tobin, a two-time all-tourney choice, gained a spot on the All-Maine second team as a senior. He went on to play at Husson College in Bangor.
Matt Rossignol, Van Buren
Perhaps no player dazzled eastern Maine basketball crowds at the Bangor Auditorium over the years more than Matt Rossignol.
He was the featured attraction when coach Bob Hebert’s undefeated Crusaders arrived in Bangor in 1985. The senior guard with the textbook jump shot, crafty ballhandling skills and clutch demeanor put the team on his shoulders.
Rossignol’s signature game came in the semis, an event BDN sportswriter Mike Dowd described as “an electric night, when the Bangor Auditorium rocked on its 30-year-old foundation.”
He amassed a tournament-record 51 points, including a single-game mark of 17 field goals. Down the stretch, he maneuvered through the defense and made 13 of 14 foul shots to ice it.
“It put us into position to win a championship, which we’d never done,” Rossignol said years later. “I would have been happy if we’d won and I scored five. I remember that the basket seemed real big. That was one of those nights. It was like I was in a dream-like state.”
Rossignol had 24 points in Van Buren’s title-game loss to Dexter. He averaged 34.3 points and set Class B records with 103 points and 37 field goals.
The two-time all-tourney and three-time All-Maine player starred at the University of Maine and still holds three 3-point shooting percentage marks.