June 02, 2020
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Here’s the best of the first 20 years of North boys basketball in the 2000s

Gabor Degre | BDN
Gabor Degre | BDN
Dirigo High School's Clayton Swett (left) and Calais High School's Tyler Nyles go up for a rebound during the Class C boys State Championship game at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor in 2015.

It’s hard to believe 20 percent of the “new” century already has passed, but with those 20 years have come plenty of schoolboy basketball memories.

Here’s a look at the best programs each class has had to offer in the North region so far during the 2000s.

Class AA — Bangor Rams: Certainly Bangor did most of its recent championship work before the fifth basketball class was added in 2016, but the Rams’ return to gold-ball status in Class AA last winter has restored the program among the best in Maine, regardless of class.

Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
The Bangor High School Rams celebrate their victory in the boys Class AA state basketball championship game at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland on Saturday night.

Bangor’s new century began with three Class A state titles in four years, starting in 2000 and highlighted in dramatic fashion by Joe Campbell’s tip-in at the buzzer that lifted coach Roger Reed’s club to a 57-56 upset of Deering of Portland in the 2001 final.

Led by a succession of Bangor Daily News All-Maine first-team performers like Campbell, Zak Ray, Mark Socoby, Alex Gallant and Ryan Weston, the Rams also won the Class A gold ball in 2003, 2007 and 2011 and another Eastern Maine title in 2008.

Bangor went a combined 62-8 while winning its 2000, 2001 and 2003 state crowns.

The Rams returned to glory in their fourth year of Class AA competition, capturing the 2019 Class AA crown behind the state’s Mr. Basketball, Matthew Fleming, and guard Damian Vance.

Class A — Hampden Academy Broncos: Hampden’s emergence among the state’s elite coincided with Russ Bartlett’s arrival as head coach at his alma mater.

Hampden broke through by winning the state championship behind 6-foot-10 center Jordan Cook in 2005, the last year the Eastern A tournament was held at the Bangor Auditorium before being moved to the Augusta Civic Center.

The Broncos fell to Deering of Portland in their rematch at states a year later, but Hampden went on to capture four consecutive Eastern Maine “A” titles from 2012 through 2015 with state championships in 2013 and 2015.

Carter F. McCall | BDN
Carter F. McCall | BDN
Hampden's players and fans celebrate seconds after Nicholas Gilpin hits the game-winning three point shot at the Augusta Civic Center on Friday, February 22, 2013.

That 2013 championship run featured Nick Gilpin’s buzzer-beating, 30-foot shot — off an assist from older brother Zach — that pushed the Broncos past Lawrence of Fairfield 40-39 in the Eastern “A” final.

Hampden went 83-5 during that four-year stretch, including a 43-game winning streak from the start of its undefeated 2012-2013 campaign until a loss to Portland in the 2014 state final.

Hampden most recently won the Class A North crown in 2018.

The Broncos’ lineups have featured two Mr. Basketball selections in guards Christian McCue (2012) and Nick Gilpin (2016), while Zach Gilpin was the 2014 Maine Gatorade Player of the Year.

Class B — Camden Hills Windjammers: The Rockport school was a Class B juggernaut under longtime former coach Jeff Hart, winning five state championships and two more Eastern Maine titles between 2001 and 2011.

Camden Hills secured three gold balls in five years early in the century, winning it all in 2001, 2002 and with an undefeated 2005 team featuring BDN All-Maine first-teamer Tim Stammen.

After another regional title in 2007, the Windjammers won three consecutive Eastern “B” crowns between 2009 and 2011 with state championships in 2009 and 2011.

The 2009 team, undefeated at 22-0, featured first-team BDN All-Maine choice Gordon Fischer leading a youthful roster that included impact sophomores Tyler McFarland, Graham Safford and Keegan Pieri.

McFarland went on to be a three-time BDN All-Maine choice and the state’s Mr. Basketball after the Windjammers again went undefeated to win it all in 2011. Safford later transferred to Hampden Academy and also was a Mr. Basketball finalist and BDN All-Maine first-team choice in 2011.

Camden Hills went 63-3 between 2009 and 2011, with its lone tournament loss a 72-65 overtime decision to Falmouth in the 2010 state final.

Class C — Calais Blue Devils: This Down East school was a powerhouse early in the 2000s, winning three state championships and five Eastern “C” titles between 2002 and 2009 before adding a fourth gold ball in 2015.

After a regional crown in 2002, coach Ed Leeman’s Blue Devils peaked with three gold balls in 2006, 2007 and 2009 along with another Eastern Maine championship in 2008.

Perhaps the biggest moment of that run came in the 2009 state final when Cal Shorey’s 3-pointer with 17 seconds left gave Calais a 40-39 victory over a Dirigo of Dixfield team led by 6-9 center Thomas Knight, who went on to play at Notre Dame.

Joshua Bright | BDN
Joshua Bright | BDN
Undefeated Calais holds the Class C boys basketball state championship trophy aloft after their 70-66 defeat of Boothbay at the Bangor Auditorium in 2007.

Calais had a 63-game winning streak from the start of the 2005-2006 season until a loss to Winthrop in the 2008 state final.

The year after Leeman stepped down, Chris Woodside stepped in and guided a veteran Calais team featuring seniors Kyle Johnson, Tyler Niles, Andre Paul and Nathan Newell to the 2015 state crown.

Class D — Central Aroostook Panthers: The Mars Hill school ended an eight-year state championship drought — while Western Maine’s Valley High School of Bingham won six in a row from 1998 through 2003 — by defeating the Cavaliers 79-62 in the 2005 final.

The Panthers went on to win three state titles in four years under alumnus Tim Brewer with gold-ball celebrations in 2006 and 2008.

The 2006 team featured BDN All-Maine guard Andrew York, while the 2008 run became memorable when 5-7 guard Manny Martinez lofted a shot over 6-10 center Marc Zaharchuk of Richmond with eight-tenths of a second left in the state final to give Central Aroostook a 54-53 victory.

John Clarke Russ | BDN
John Clarke Russ | BDN
The Washburn girls and Central Aroostook boys basketball teams advanced to the state finals with victories in the Eastern Maine Class D finals in 2011 at the Bangor Auditorium. Later, members of CAHS celebrate after beating Jonesport-Beals 49-26.

Central Aroostook added a fourth state crown under Brewer in 2011, capping off an undefeated season by again defeating Richmond in the championship game.

The Panthers compiled a 142-10 record between 2005 and 2011, including 23-3 in postseason play.

Central Aroostook added its most recent regional title in 2013 and have played in Class C for the last two years.

 


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