The inaugural class of the Maine Basketball Hall of Fame includes a father and son, a coach and two of his players and three women who helped to usher in the growth of girls’ high school basketball in the state.
At a press conference Wednesday morning at the Cumberland County Civic Center, the recently formed Maine Basketball Hall of Fame announced the names of its first class of inductees who will be honored Aug. 21 at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.
Tony Hamlin, vice-chairman of the MBHOF directors and the chairman of the selection committee, called it “an important day for Maine basketball.” Hamlin, a former head coach at Morse, South Portland and Penquis Valley high schools, introduced the 16 players, five coaches, one official and one contributor who will be honored.
The father and son combination to be inducted are Bob and Brett Brown as a coach and player respectively. The coach and two of his players are Dick Whitmore, Brad Moore and Matt Hancock. The women inductees who were trailblazers in improving the quality of girls’ basketball are Lisa Blais Manning, Rachel Bouchard and Joanne P. McCallie.
Conspicuous by her absence in the inaugural class is Cindy Blodgett, a star at Lawrence High and the University of Maine. The MBHOF established the rule that a player isn’t eligible until 20 years after his or her playing careers are over. Blodgett’s last season at Maine was 1997-98.
“There will be a healthy discussion of who’s not in,” said Hamlin, who played guard at the University of Maine in the early 1970s.
The idea of MBHOF began four years ago. It got serious two years ago.
“We’ve been going full steam at this for the last nine months,” said Hamlin.
“People behind this movement have put a lot of time in. We have a nominating committee with a combined 720 years of basketball experience. There was a lot of discussion on the nominations. We wanted to do it the right way. The committee felt 16 players, five coaches, a referee and a contributor was a good number for the first year. We’re not locked into a set number of inductees each year,” he said.
Hamlin said the purpose of the MBHOF is to honor the history of Maine basketball by paying tribute to the individuals who have impacted the sport, collecting and preserving the artifacts and keeping the game strong for the future.
The hall of fame will be housed at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor. The history of Maine basketball is already on display in the concourse at the Cross Center.
The inductees (players) are:
Lisa Blais Manning: She was all-state player at Westbrook High all four years, leading the Blue Blazes to four straight Class A titles. Blais Manning was a four-year starter at Old Dominion University in Virginia where she helped her team win the NCAA championship.
Rachel Bouchard: She was a two-time all-state player at Hall Dale High and carried her talents to the University of Maine where she was North Atlantic Conference Player of the Year two consecutive years. Bouchard was also named a Kodiak All-American twice. She ranks as one of the Black Bears’ greatest players.
Brett Brown: Brown was a two-time all-state player at South Portland where he led the Red Riots’ to two Western Maine championships and a Class A state title in 1979. He accepted a full scholarship to Boston University where he played for Coach Rick Pitino. Brown was MVP of the Terriers his sophomore year. Brown is currently the coach of the Philadelphia 76ers.
Skip Chappelle: As a standout at the University of Maine from 1959 to 1962, Chappelle led the Yankee Conference in scoring three straight years. He later became the head coach of the Black Bears for several years. Chappelle led Old Town High to the 1957 Class LL state title before prepping a year at MCI. Chappelle was drafted by the Boston Celtics in 1962 where he became life long friends with K.C. Jones.
Danny Coombs: Coombs was an all-state selection at Brewer High in 1960 and scored 35 points in the Class A state championship game. He set an Eastern Maine Class A tournament record for points with 104 (three games) in 1960. He went to Seton Hall University on a basketball scholarship before signing a pro baseball contract. Coombs pitched seven years in the major leagues.
Don Crosby: Crosby was all-state, all New England and a Scholastic Magazine All-American at Cony High in 1966. He led the Rams to the Class A state title and accepted a basketball scholarship at Boston College. He was a member of the 1969 Eagles team that was a runnerup in the NIT.
Matt Donahue: In three seasons at Westbrook High, Donahue scored 1,513 career points in the pre-three-point shot era. He was a first team all-state player his junior and senior seasons. He set the single game Westbrook scoring record with 57 points against Deering in 1970. He led the Blue Blazes to the Western Maine title in 1969. The Blazes lost to Caribou that season in the state final on a half-court shot by Mike Thurston. Donahue continued his career at USM where he averaged 25 points a game.
Joe Harrington: Harrington led Morse High of Bath to the Class LL state title with a win over Stearns in 1963. The Shipbuilders lost to Stearns for the New England title at the Boston Garden. Harrington was a two-year all state player who later played for Maryland and Coach Lefty Driesell. The Celtics drafted Harrington in 1967. Harrington was later the head coach at Hofstra, George Mason, Long Beach State and Colorado. He was also an assistant with the Toronto Raptors.
Matt Hancock: Hancock led Lake Region to the 1985 Class B state title and was named all-state. That was only the beginning. At Colby College, Hancock was a Division III All-American three straight years. In 1990, he was named the Division III Player of the Year. He won the Division III national scoring title in 1988, averaging 33 points a game. He left Colby as Maine’s all-time college scoring leader.
“I was able to score the points I did at Colby because of Coach Whitmore,” said Hancock.
“He supported and encouraged it. I was a pretty good player in high school, but I changed as a player my first day on campus at Colby. A lot of it was just in the manner of how to approach the game. Everything I achieved at Colby was because of Coach Whitmore,” he said.
Jon MacDonald: MacDonald, like Harrington, played for the University of Maryland where he captained the team in the 1968-69 season. He was a teammate and roommate of Gary Williams, who would coach the Terrapins to a national title. MacDonald was a first team all-state selection all three years playing for Stearns High. In 1963, he was named All-New England. He was a high school Parade Magazine All-American.
John Mitchell: Affectionately known as “Swisher”, Mitchell was one of the best shooters in Maine high school history. His Waterville High teams compiled an overall record of 70-2 in the mid-1940s and won the Maine and New England titles in 1944. Mitchell played at Providence College where he was an All-New England selection. Mitchell served as an assistant coach at Colby College for head coach Dick Whitmore for 40 years.
Joanne P. McCallie: McCallie was a standout at Brunswick High where she was Class A all-state two years. She earned a scholarship to Northwestern University where she played for four years. McCallie coached at Maine where the Black Bears were one of the top teams in New England. She is currently the head coach at Duke University where she has the Blue Devils high in the national rankings.
“I just so enjoyed my playing days in Maine and growing up there,” said McCallie.
“It’s a fabulous honor. I’m absolutely thrilled. I’m a bit surprised (to go in as a player) because I only see myself as a coach now,” she said.
Brad Moore: Moore remains the career scoring leader at Hall Dale High where his number is retired. At Colby College playing for Dick Whitmore, Moore is still the rebounding leader and third-time career scorer for the White Mules. He was an All-Maine college first team selection as well as an All ECAC Division III choice and a third team Division III All-American pick.
Steve Pound: Pound was named Class A first team all-state his senior year in 1968 where he led Stearns to the state title.Pound scored 68 points in his first game as a senior and averaged 40 points his senior year before the three-point shot.Pound played at Acadia University where he ended his career as the school’s all-time scorer. He led his team to the Canadian National Championship.
Doug Roberts: Roberts led Rumford High to the 1974 and 1976 Class A state championships and the 1976 New England title. He was first team All-State his junior and senior seasons. Roberts scored over 1,400 career points. Roberts played at Acadia University and transferred to Clark University in Worcester, Mass. where he scored over 1,000 points and gained All-New England honors. Roberts was the long-time successful coach at Sanford High.
Jack Scott: Scott, who played for Ellsworth High in the mid-1950s, ranks as one of the top schoolboy basketball players to come out of Maine. He led Ellsworth to a state title and an appearance in the New England tournament. He received a scholarhip to UConn and later returned to finish his stellar collegiate career at Husson College. After college, Scott remained active as a basketball player in semipro leagues as a player-coach for his own team, Jack’s Five. He was a long-time teacher-coach at Ellsworth.
Ordie Alley: Alley won over 600 games coaching at Jonesport-Beals High School. That included 13 Eastern Maine titles and nine state titles, five of them in a row. Alley’s teams made the tournament in 37 of his 39 seasons.
Bob Brown: Brown coached high 50 years with 42 years as a head coach. He won over 600 games, winning four state titles and seven regional titles. Brown’s was a head coach at six Maine high schools and was also a college head coach at USM, Boston University and St. Anselm College.
“I’m very proud and honored to be a member of the Maine Basketball Hall of Fame,” said Brown.
“The players I coached allowed me to win games. Without them, I wouldn’t be here today,” he said.
Paul Vachon: Vachon coached the Cony High girls to seven Class A titles and 11 Eastern Maine titles. His teams won 451 games and made the tournament 23 straight seasons. His 91 percent winning percentage was one of the highest in the country.
George Wentworth: Wentworth is a legend in Maine high school basketball. The Notre Dame graduate turned Stearns High into a perennial champion and helped put the state on the New England basketball map as his Minutemen won the 1963 New England Championship.
Dick Whitmore: With 635 career wins, Whitmore is the most successful college coach in Maine history. His Colby College teams won 31 CBB championships and three ECAC titles. His White Mules made three NCAA tournament appearances.
“To be able to stand up with the quality of people here is an honor that I can’t completely describe,” said Whitmore.
Bob Butler (Contributor): Butler was the long-time statistician and historian for Maine high school basketball. The former York High athletic director compiled the Heal points for the Maine Principals’ Association for close to 60 years.
Jim DiFrederico (Referee): DiFrederico ranked as one of the top basketball officials in Maine for years. He died in 1985.
The MBHOF will also honor the 1944 Waterville High basketball team which captured both the state and New England championship.
Tickets to the induction ceremony can be obtained at www.mainebasketballhalloffame.com