There’s nothing easy about overseeing the Eastern and Western Maine basketball tournaments at the Augusta Civic Center. Just ask first-year tournament director Doran Stout. The tournament got under way Friday with Eastern Maine Class A girls action and continues through next Saturday.
Stout, who has been Erskine Academy athletic director the past 20 years, replaces Larry Labrie, who resigned the tournament director’s job after three years at the helm. Stout’s job was made considerably easier by the returning cast of volunteers, many of whom have been on the job each February for 25 years or more.
“I was amazed at how committed the people who are working this tournament are,” he said. “I got a list of probably 30 folks to call and I figured I’d be lucky if 15 of them wanted to come back. All 30 of them said ‘absolutely, we want to be there, we love it.’ “
Stout said his cadre of volunteers arrived at the Civic Center between 1-1:30 p.m. on Friday and “within 45 minutes this place was ready to go.”
The preparation for the tournament took most of Stout’s time and energy. Not only did he have to get paperwork out to the schools but he needed to stay in constant contact with the Maine Principals’ Association, which oversees the tournament. In addition to his volunteers, Stout said the Civic Center staff helps the tournament run smoothly.
“(Assistant director) Earl Kingsbury and (director) Dana Colwill are just unbelievable to work with,” Stout said. “What I really like about those guys is they get stuff done.”
Stout, who coached boys basketball for nine years before becoming AD at Erskine, said most of his work was done before the tournament started.
“That’s what everybody told me,” he said. “They said once the ball’s thrown up for the first game, the tournament kind of runs itself. It’s just about putting out fires, basically.”
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It’s been a roller coaster ride at the Augusta Civic Center during the last four years for the Skowhegan girls basketball team’s seniors.
“We have a ton of memories here,” Skowhegan senior captain guard Cheyenne Malloy said.
The seventh-seeded Indians bowed out of the tournament with a 61-48 loss to No. 2 Bangor on Friday night.
The Indians reached the regional semifinals last season after not making the postseason in the 2010-11 season.
When Malloy was a freshman, Skowhegan won the Eastern A championship.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Malloy said. “We’ve had some really good teams here.”
The Indians will lose five seniors to graduation, but coach Heath Cowan said they should be back again next season.
“We graduate some real nice kids but we have a good nucleus coming back,” he said. “We’ll look to build on it. We’ll get after it this summer and see what happens.
“Quite honestly, with the the teams we competed with in the regular season, I thought there was an opportunity for any team in this tournament to come down here and win three games. There are certainly enough things we can build on and make a run next year.”
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It was a long day and night at the Civic Center for Mt. Ararat girls coach Kelly LaFountain.
The No. 3 Eagles beat No. 6 Oxford Hills 51-37 in an Eastern A quarterfinal game that began at 3 p.m. Friday.
LaFountain planned to scout the following game between No. 2 Bangor and No. 7 Skowhegan. But that wasn’t all.
“I’ll be here all day,” she said. “I want to see some teams but I’m also kind of a basketball junkie. There are two teams in the bracket we have not seen — Bangor and Lawrence. I’ll stick around for the whole thing.”
The Eagles, who matched a program single-season record with their 16th victory Friday, came to Augusta on quite a roll. They won their final five regular-season games after dropping three straight in the middle of January. Mt. Ararat is holding foes to 38.5 points a game in its last six games.
“We made a commitment to defense,” LaFountain said. “We were in a rut for awhile. When you are down, you can start doubting yourself, but we pulled back out.”