BANGOR, Maine — Christian McCue will be vying Saturday night for the title of Mr. Hampden Academy, a fundraising event at the school for Project Graduation in which contestants will be judged on entrance, sportswear, talent, evening wear and an interview question.
But even if that competition doesn’t go his way, McCue will be able to fall back on a title bestowed upon him a night earlier for his mastery of such skills as shooting, dribbling, passing, rebounding and defense.
McCue, who led Hampden to the Class A state championship game this winter, and Alexa Coulombe, who helped McAuley of Portland to back-to-back Class A state crowns in 2011 and 2012, were named the state’s 25th Mr. and Miss Basketball during the Maine McDonald’s/Maine Association of Basketball Coaches’ annual senior all-star banquet Friday evening at Husson University.
“It pretty much means everything,” said McCue. “I’ve spent a long time playing basketball and I’ve always sort of dreamed of this award. I didn’t really think it was possible until this year, and a lot of people always questioned whether I was good or not but this award makes you feel good, it really validates everything.”
The 6-foot-2-inch guard was one of three finalists for the award along with 6-6 center Cam Sennick of Mt. Blue of Farmington and 6-2 guard Cole Libby of Bonny Eagle of Standish.
A four-year varsity player and two-year starter for coach Russ Bartlett’s Broncos, McCue averaged 17.2 points and 3.1 assists per game during the regular season in leading Hampden Academy to a 17-1 record and the No. 1 seed in Eastern Maine Class A. He also led Eastern Maine Class A with 44 made 3-point goals and was named the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A North co-player of the year.
McCue subsequently was selected as the Bangor Daily News’ Eastern A tournament most valuable player in leading Hampden to its first regional championship since 2006 before the Broncos fell to Deering of Portland 59-50 in the state final.
“The team success is always first,” said McCue, who is considering Massachusetts Institute of Technology and McGill University in Montreal, among his future academic destinations. “I had a good ride with my teammates, and that really meant everything to me, being with my friends one last time. We didn’t win that last game, but it was still a great experience.”
McCue made significant adjustments in his individual game this year, shifting from off-guard to point guard after the graduation of Graham Safford, a 2011 Mr. Basketball finalist.
“It was definitely out of necessity,” said McCue of the move. “I was always used to sitting behind the 3-point line and shooting up threes, but this year I had to work more on getting my teammates involved and taking it to the basket.”
McCue said the experience he gained from playing with Safford a year ago was instrumental in the growth of his game this winter.
“He really showed me the level of intensity it takes,” said McCue. “He never took a night off no matter what game it was, and he really showed me how to play to my potential every night.”
Coulombe, a 6-2 center, led McAuley to a 42-2 record over the last two seasons, including a perfect 22-0 mark this winter that was culminated by the Lions’ 54-41 victory over Cony of Augusta in the state championship game.
“It’s the best,” said Coulombe, who has accepted a basketball scholarship from Boston College. “To win as a team and then to get this award is just the best way to end my senior season.”
A first-team Bangor Daily News All-Maine selection as a junior, Coulombe was a first-team Southern Maine Activities Association player this year who averaged 12.0 points, 9.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 4.0 blocks per game in leading coach Bill Goodman’s club to the No. 1 seed in Western Maine Class A.
Coulombe subsequently was named MVP of the Western A tournament for the second straight year.
Other finalists for Miss Basketball were Mia Diplock of Cony and Meagan Gribbin of Windham, who earlier this week was named the state’s Gatorade player of the year.
“It’s such an honor,” said Coulombe. “I was mentioned with two of the best players in the state in Meagan and Mia and I think all of them deserve it, so for me to be picked is just a great honor.”
Maine McDonald’s weekend events continue Saturday with senior all-star games beginning at 9:15 a.m. with East vs. West in C-D girls, followed by A-B girls at 11 a.m., A-B boys at 1:15 p.m. and C-D boys at 3 p.m. Also scheduled during the day are the state free-throw shooting contest at 8:30 a.m., a girls 3-point shooting competition at 10:30 a.m., award presentations at 12:15 p.m. and a boys slam dunk competition at 2:30 p.m.
Game day tickets are available at the door and are good for all four games. Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for students.
Net proceeds from tickets, souvenir sales and programs go to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Maine. More information is available at www.rmhcmaine.org.