May 20, 2018
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Success of MDI, Presque Isle teams will be expensive for fans at Wednesday’s semis

Linda Coan O'Kresik | BDN
Linda Coan O'Kresik | BDN
Mount Desert Island fans cheer for their girls team during the Trojans’ quarterfinal win over Winslow on Saturday at the Bangor Auditorium. The MDI and Presque Isle girls and boys teams will play in Wednesday semifinals at Auditorium with the girls game at 3:35 p.m. and the boys game at 7:05 p.m.
By Ernie Clark, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — The price of success can be rather expensive for some high school basketball fans.

Take supporters of the Presque Isle and Mount Desert Island of Bar Harbor boys and girls teams.

Those schools will meet twice Wednesday, beginning with the girls semifinal between the Wildcats and Trojans scheduled at 3:35 p.m. to the Eastern Maine Class B afternoon session at the Bangor Auditorium.

The MDI-Presque Isle boys semifinal is the next game on the day’s docket at 7:05 p.m., but because it is the first game of the two-game evening session, fans of either school wanting to see both their teams play in the back-to-back games will have to pay two separate admission fees — at $8 per session for adults and $5 per session for students.

“Everything is all predetermined ahead of time,” said Dick Durost, executive director of the Maine Principals’ Association that sponsors the tournaments. “The way the schedule is set up, sometimes the luck of the draw allows you — particularly on the first weekend — to have both teams in the same session.

“But by design most of the sessions have either two boys games or two girls games so that if you win you also get to watch the team you play next.”

Revenues generated from the annual high school basketball tournaments held in Bangor, Augusta and Portland largely subsidize 26 other sports championships staged by the MPA throughout the academic year as well as other activities involving National Honor Society, student council, drama, debate, speech contests and one-act plays.

“I think people forget how many activities what we’re doing here supports,” said Durost. “Other than basketball, there are only three or four other sports that take in more money than their expenses are, and most of them have no income at all and we still have all the expenses.

“So like it or not, and I don’t mean it to sound callous, we depend on the basketball tournament to support all of those other events.”

Durost said while admission to the high school basketball tournament is more expensive than what schools charge for regular-season games, there also are more expenses involved.

“When people go to their local high school and might pay three or four dollars to get into a game for an adult and one to two dollars for a student, they have to remember that everything that’s happening in that gym they’re already paying for through their own school budget.

“When they’re coming here, we’re paying for the facility, we’re paying for the officials, we’re paying for the ticket sellers, the security, the police and fire department, and even after we pull all those things together we still have to have the money left over to put on all those other events that we do.”

Boys and girls basketball teams from the same school playing in back-to-back sessions or even back-to-back games in different sessions is not an unusual occurrence.

A similar scenario involving one school played out Tuesday, when the Sumner of East Sullivan girls faced Dexter in the final game of the morning session and the Sumner boys played Calais in the first game of the afternoon session.

“I understand that for people it can be a stretch for their funds,” said Durost, “but for most people, particularly in Eastern Maine, they plan for this all winter and to do anything differently we couldn’t do what we do for all kids throughout the year.”

Durost added there are all-tournament passes and 10-session passes available to alleviate the admission cost for fans, but he believes the tournament ticket still represents a good value for a fan’s entertainment dollar.

“Eight dollars for an adult and five dollars for a student sounds like a lot of money and it is,” he said. “But you pay the same to go to a movie and when you go to a movie you don’t get to hang around and watch other movies.”

Donato’s basketball shadow

John Donato’s coaching success long preceded his current stop at Lawrence of Fairfield, where he’ll lead the Bulldogs into Wednesday’s Eastern Maine Class A girls basketball semifinal against Cony of Augusta.

Donato was the longtime girls basketball coach at Houlton High School, where he guided the Shiretowners to nine Eastern B titles and four state championships between 1982 and 1993.

Today, several children of his former Houlton players are making their own marks at this year’s Maine high school basketball tournament.

Brothers Zach and Nick Gilpin of Eastern A top seed Hampden Academy are the sons of former Houlton player Carol Bubar Gilpin, while current Houlton star Kyle Bouchard and teammate Dan Howe are the sons of two other former Shiretowners, Karen Spurling Bouchard and Stephanie Swallow Howe.

In addition, Bangor sophomore center Cordelia Stewart — whose team will play Mount Ararat of Topsham in Wednesday’s other Eastern A girls semifinal at the Augusta Civic Center — is the daughter of yet another former Houlton player under Donato, Barbara Nagle Stewart.

And this coaching tree of sorts isn’t limited to Eastern Maine.

Sisters Jaclyn and Ashley Storey, teammates on the girls basketball team at Western B Greely of Cumberland Center, are the daughters of former Houlton player Amy Wilde Storey.

Gravel to be an Explorer

Senior Jerry Gravel of Scarborough has his future planned out, at least in the near term, but he has enjoyed his high school career.

The young man set two state records at the Class A boys state championships Monday at Bowdoin College’s Greason Pool, the 200-yard individual medley (1:53.07) and the 100 breaststroke (57.83).

Next are New England and Eastern Zone meets with his club team.

“So I have two more big ones [before college],” he said, “but I don’t know that they’ll have the same atmosphere and hype they have here.”

Then it’s off to college in the fall.

“In November I committed to La Salle [University in Philadelphia],” Gravel said, agreeing that it’s a little larger venue than he has been competing in regularly.

He’s looking forward to it.

“My [200 IM] is the fastest there,” he said with a smile. “I think [the coach] is thinking now he made the right decision.”

Reporter Dave Barber contributed to this report.

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