By Bob Cimbollek
Special to the BDN
In the 66-plus years I have been involved with high school basketball as a player, coach, official, TV-radio analyst and a fan, it has been argued at the end of each season over who is the best high school basketball team in Maine.
Many argue that the Class A teams would win 80 percent of the time against the B’s, C’s and D’s. The time has come to let the A’s prove that the 80 percent prediction is correct.
Were the Jonesport-Beals, Central Aroostook and Valley Class D teams the best teams in their state championship years? Were the Class C teams of Winthrop, Falmouth or John Bapst the best?
Were the undefeated Class B state champs of Camden, Mountain Valley, Rockland, John Bapst and Orono the best of the best?
Some of these teams did defeat the eventual state Class A champs during the regular season in exhibition games. Some that I recall were Class D Valley, Class C John Bapst, and Class B Orono over Class A boys state-champion teams of the same year.
Some basketball media, hoop coaches, players and fans have thought that the Maine Principals’ Association could hold a Tournament of State Champions for both boys and girls in all four classes in March one weekend after the state-final weekend.
The old argument from the MPA was that this wasn’t feasible because the Class A tournament was held by itself and ended two weeks after Classes B, C, and D ended. However, that format changed two years ago as all four classes now hold their tournaments the same week and end the last weekend in February or the first weekend in March.
This Tournament of State Champions could be on the next weekend which would be either the first or second weekend in March and would still be over by the week the Class A tournament used to conclude.
A possible schedule would have four semifinal games, with boys and girls on Friday, followed by two consolation games and two championships on Saturday.
This event could make big money for the MPA, which said it had a deficit in 2008 and ’09. This event would have the potential to clear more than $80,000 after expenses.
The MPA could run the event on a three-year rotating basis using the Bangor Auditorium, the Cumberland Community Civic Center in Portland and the Augusta Civic Center, if all three were available on a rotating basis once every three years.
Each of these basketball venues holds at a minimum of 5,500 people for basketball. If the event averaged 5,250 fans for each of the four two-game sessions that would be 21,000 attendance. If the MPA charged $10 for adults and $5 for students and 50 percent of the attendance was from each group of adults and students that would be a gross of $157,500 and the expenses would not be more than $75,000, thus a $82,500 profit could go to the MPA.
There are more Classes B, C, and D teams in the state then there are Class A teams and a democratic vote of teams in the four classes should be honored if the majority of teams voted to hold this Tournament of Champions.
This event could be Maine’s version of the movie “Hoosiers.” In the movie, Hickory High School won the State Indiana High School Basketball Tournament behind star Jimmy Chitwood as a team representing the smallest class in Indiana. “Hoosiers” was based on the little town school of Milan, Ind., winning the all-class tournament as a school from the smallest enrollment class in 1954. Milan proved it was the best team in Indiana with a game-winning shot from star Bobby Plump.
This is an idea whose time has come. A four-team tourney for boys and girls Classes A, B, C, and D state champions to decide on the hardwood, not on paper, who are the best high school boys and girls basketball teams in Maine.
Who will be Maine’s first Milan, Ind.? Who will be Maine’s first Bobby Plump?