BANGOR, Maine — An NCAA Division I national champion, an NCAA Division III player of the year, numerous major-college performers and record-setting high school and college coaches are among the members of the inaugural Maine Basketball Hall of Fame induction class announced Wednesday.
The announcement was made during press conferences in Portland and at the site of the hall’s display area in the second-floor concourse of the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.
The first class, which represents all regions of the state, will be inducted during a ceremony scheduled for 4:30 p.m. on Aug. 21, also at the Cross Center.
Inductees include 16 players, five coaches, one official and one contributor, as well as the 1944 Waterville High School basketball team that won both the state Class LL (now Class A) and New England championships.
The Maine Basketball Hall of Fame also will recognize a slate of Legends of the Game, people who were instrumental in the early development of Maine basketball. These luminaries will be honored with a special plaque at the Maine Basketball Hall of Fame Concourse.
The induction ceremony is scheduled to be the first of what will be an annual event for the Maine Basketball Hall of Fame.
Among the player inductees are Lisa Blais Manning, the four-time All-Maine guard from Westbrook High School who went on to start at Old Dominion University for four years and help the Monarchs win the 1985 NCAA Division I championship; and Matt Hancock, a Lake Region of Naples product who was named the 1990 NCAA Division III Player of the Year while playing at Colby College of Waterville.
Other players being inducted are former Old Town High School, Maine Central Institute and University of Maine star Skip Chappelle, Joanne Palombo-McCallie (Brunswick HS, Northwestern) who coaches at Duke, Rachel Bouchard (Hall-Dale HS, UMaine), Brett Brown (South Portland, Boston University) who coaches the Philadelphia 76ers, Danny Coombs (Brewer HS, Seton Hall), Don Crosby (Cony HS of Augusta, Boston College), and Brad Moore (Hall-Dale HS, Colby).
Also to be inducted are Joe Harrington (Morse HS of Bath, Maryland), Jon MacDonald (Stearns HS of Millinocket, Maryland), Steve Pound (Stearns HS, Acadia University), Jack Scott (Ellsworth HS, Husson University), Johnny “Swisher” Mitchell (Waterville HS, Rhode Island), Matt Donahue (Westbrook HS, Southern Maine), and Doug Roberts (Rumford HS, Acadia University, Clark University).
Coaches to be inducted include Ordie Alley (Beals HS, Jonesport-Beals HS), Bob Brown (Rockland HS, Williams HS of Oakland, South Portland HS, Edward Little HS of Auburn, Bonny Eagle HS of Standish, Cheverus HS of Portland, University of Southern Maine, Boston University, St. Anselm College), Paul Vachon (Messalonskee HS of Oakland, Cony HS of Augusta), George Wentworth (Stearns HS), and Dick Whitmore (Hall-Dale HS, Morse HS, Colby College).
The late Jim DiFrederico of Millinocket will be inducted in as an official. Former York High School athletic administrator Bob Butler, a longtime compiler of Heal points, tournament records and other historical information related to Maine basketball, will be honored in the contributor category.
“Legends of the Game” to be recognized are Anita Belanger, a 2,000-point scorer from Mattawamkeag High School; Stella McLean, a longtime University of Maine at Farmington coach and 2,000-point scorer from New Gloucester High School; Clara Swan, a former coach at Husson University; Durwood Heal, creator of the Heal point ratings; Tony Tammaro, legendary Down East basketball official; Wally Donovan, former Waterville High School coach; Bill Mansfield, former Winslow High School coach; William Hanscom, former University of Maine player and Presque Isle High School coach; and Charlie Wotton, Maine’s first basketball commissioner.
Vachon, Chappelle and Pound were on hand for the press conference in Bangor, and each said he was honored to be inducted in the first class.
“For me to be chosen with this group of people is beyond words. I don’t think I can say more than that,” Vachon said.
“Without my players, I wouldn’t be standing here today,” he added. “Some day, I hope they can do the same type of thing I’m doing here today.”
Chappelle is looking forward to more members joining the hall and is pleased of its placement in Bangor after several years of effort.
“It’s been a long time coming — recognizing basketball people in a hall of fame setting,” he said. “With all of the hall of fames coming around now — high schools, colleges — it’s a great thing to do to honor the people of the past.”
Pound said he was really touched to be included in the first class.
“I’m very, very honored and humbled from the standpoint that I’ve received so much from the game of basketball — an opportunity to get educated and travel and to impact other players who have coached,” he said, adding that he also appreciated being able to represent his community and town.
Players become eligible for induction 20 years after their playing days conclude. Coaches with 20 years of experience are eligible immediately, while those whose careers were less than 20 years must wait 10 years after their last coaching assignment for eligibility.
“We looked at models from other states,” said Tony Hamlin, athletic director at Penquis Valley High School in Milo and chair of the MBHOF selection committee. “With the (20 years), when someone plays and has a great career it allows time to put some perspective on his or her career.”
The 20-year waiting period for players means some stars of the recent past, including record-setting former Lawrence of Fairfield and University of Maine All-American Cindy Blodgett, will have to wait several more years until being eligible.
Hamlin said the waiting period is not directed at Blodgett or any other particular player, but that it allows provides more opportunity now for the hall to induct some of the older worthy candidates sooner while they remain in good health.
Blodgett, who went on to play professionally in the United States, France and Korea after graduating from UMaine, played her last professional game in 2003. That would mean she would be eligible for the Maine Basketball Hall of Fame induction in 2023.
“Nobody’s trying to keep anybody out, I’m sure Cindy will be a unanimous choice once she becomes eligible,” Hamlin said.
The Maine Basketball Hall of Fame is designed not only to identify and honor elite participants; there will be other achievement and contribution categories, each one having specific criteria.
Basketball fans may order tickets for the induction banquet by visiting the Maine Basketball Hall of Fame website at www.MaineBasketballHallofFame.com. The cost is $40 per ticket, and the induction ceremony is open to the public.
People interested in supporting the Hall of Fame may become a “Friend of the Hall” for a $25 donation. “Friends of the Hall” will receive a Maine Basketball Hall of Fame decal suitable for display in their car windows.