BANGOR, Maine — The scoreboard lights at Husson University’s Newman Gymnasium had a hard time keeping up with the updates when the teams at the 33rd McDonald’s High School Senior All-Star Games hit the hardwood Saturday.
Four teams hit the 100-point mark, including three of the four victorious squads.
Honors for the highest-scoring team went to the East Classes A/B girls, who defeated the West stars 119-66.
The games, conducted by the Maine Association of Basketball Coaches, are a showcase for many of the state’s most talented seniors as they leave high school basketball behind. Many of the girls and boys will embark on collegiate basketball careers.
But there is more to the all-star weekend than the game scores. They are also a charity fundraiser. For the past 25 years, the four contests — two boys and two girls — have been sponsored by McDonald’s of Maine and they help raise money for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Maine.
“It’s fun to see everyone here,” said Presque Isle guard Chandler Guerrette, “but we also know in the back of our minds that it has a good cause, so it feels good to do that as well.”
Part of the weekend’s events included a trip to the Ronald McDonald House of Bangor on Friday.
“We … took a tour of that and talked to a couple of people who have been there,” Guerrette said. “I never really knew what it was, so it’s kinda nice to know that every time you go to McDonald’s, you’re helping out. I didn’t know that.”
The opportunity to see some players as teammates and friends that just days or weeks earlier might have been regarded in a different light was also welcome.
“I think it’s a huge honor, just to be among such talent, both academically and athletically,” said Emily Campbell of York. “It’s a huge honor, definitely. And I had a fun weekend, it was great.”
And that was after the East A-B girls, led by Jordan Knowlton of Camden Hills of Rockport and Guerrette, had roared past Campbell’s West squad.
“All these teams, there’s no weak link,” said Campbell, who led her team with 14 points. “I think everyone is very good and brings a lot of strength to the floor, so it was definitely a quicker-paced game and more skilled. People are making their shots more often than not as we saw in the East team. They were just making every shot.”
Knowlton finished with 22 points and Guerrette scored 20, including 18 in the second half when the East as a team scored 79. Kristen Anderson of Leavitt of Turner Center, Ashlee Arnold of Edward Little of Auburn, Megan Ireland of Presque Isle and Gabby Foy of Mt. Blue of Farmington each added 12, and Josie Lee of Cony of Augusta had 10.
“I like playing with this group of girls,” said Guerrette. “We just get out and run, and can shoot pretty well.”
Anna Hickey of Falmouth was right behind Campbell with 13 points for the West.
“What an athletic group. I admire the grit of some of those kids,” said Edward Little coach Craig Jipson, who coached the East stars along with Jeff Hudson of Presque Isle. “The Guerrette girl showed why she played so well in the states. They were so unselfish and it was such a great weekend. So much fun and such a great way for the seniors to end their high school career.”
Jipson handled the game a lot like any other he coaches. He delivered vocal instructions to some of his players, especially Arnold.
“It’s always fun to coach any game,” said Jipson with a smile. “I coach year round. I’ll have freshman baseball coming up, can’t wait for summer basketball. It’s so much fun.”
The girls game followed on the heels of the West’s only win, a 112-89 thumping of the East in the A-B boys game.
Aaron Todd of York topped the West with 20 points, while Labson Abwoch of Deering of Portland had 15 and Tanner Hyland of South Portland and Thiwat Thiwat of Deering had 14 apiece.
Tyler Brooks of Presque Isle was the top East scorer with 18 points, Kyle Boucher of Maranacook of Readfield posted 17, and Matt Palmer of Hampden Academy added 10.
The West jumped out to a 9-0 lead before Brooks caught fire. He hit four baskets in 1:32 of the first half (the games are two 20-minute halves) to keep the East in for a while, but the closest the East was able to get was five points (26-21) with 13:33 left in the first half.
Both teams tried to excite the crowd by making dunks, and the crowd did respond when the dunks snapped the nets.
In the A-B girls game, Anderson brought exclamations from the crowd with a behind-the-back pass to Abbie Eastman of Oxford Hills of South Paris as the two led a fast break. Eastman finished with an easy layup.
Garet Beal of Jonesport-Beals scored 34 points and Mitch Worcester of Washburn added 25 as the East C-D all-stars posted a 113-100 victory over their Western Maine counterparts in Saturday morning’s first game. Atencio Martin of Traip Academy in Kittery led the West stars with 25, and Carrington Miller of Valley of Bingham had 18.
In the final matchup, the East C-D girls pulled out a tight, 74-70 win over the West on Saturday afternoon.
Lacey McQuarrie of Hodgdon and Jillian Woodward were the only East players in double figures with 13 points each. Alex Mooney of Stearns had nine points. On the West side of the ledger, Jamie Plummer of Richmond was tops with 15 points, and Sarah Caron of Boothbay and Miranda Smith of Mount Abram of Salem had 12 points each.
The MABC also awarded several honors and held other events.
Emily Keene of Spruce Mountain of Jay/Livermore Falls won the free-throw contest for the girls, making 49 of 50, and Colton Bivighouse of Katahdin of Stacyville did the same for the boys with 45 out of 50.
Before playing the final game, Caron warmed up by winning the 3-point contest, while Steve Lewis of Fort Fairfield won the dunk competition.
Tony Hamlin, who recently announced his retirement as the boys basketball coach at Penquis Valley in Milo, was recognized for surpassing 400 victories. His Patriots’ state-title win was No. 401 for Hamlin. Other coaches were recognized for reaching 100, 200 or 300 victories.
Kevin Bennett photos