Assorted thoughts in no particular order from the start of the winter sports seasons:

• I have had a chance to see one game so far this winter — the Winthrop boys basketball team’s 60-54 win over Hall-Dale last Friday.

Like most sports I’ve covered since moving to Maine, it’s the same game just a slightly different version than I’m accustomed to.

Colleagues had made me aware of some of the differences prior to heading to Winthrop, but as is often the case, hearing and seeing are two very different things.

Playing four quarters as opposed to two halves is actually pretty cool. It adds more excitement and more strategy to the game, with a greater emphasis on execution. Anyone who has covered or coached basketball knows how important understanding time and score is to late game situations, and in the format of quarters as opposed to halves it’s doubly critical.

The whole no shot clock thing, however, is something I can’t get on board with.

Sure you can make the same argument I just made about quarters and halves in relation to strategy without a shot clock, but in this case it’s a fundamental difference from modern version of the game.

There were at least a half-dozen times last Friday night when I watched a team play 40 or 50 seconds of great defense, only not to get rewarded. The offense just set the play up again and got back into another set.

Kudos for the players being smart enough to recognize those situations when things weren’t working and set up the offense again, but the defense should not have nothing to show for playing almost a full minute of sound defense,

I know if I were a coach that would frustrate me.

• The Thomas men’s basketball team has one more game — a Saturday home contest against the University of Maine at Presque Isle — before its winter break, but I don’t suspect 6-foot-2 junior guard Levi Barnes will be cooling off any time soon.

A graduate of Skowhegan Area High School, Barnes currently leads the North Atlantic Conference in scoring at 23.4 points per game despite the Terriers’ 2-7 record, That mark is good enough for 13th in the nation (Division III).

• Outside of the postseason, one of my favorite things about the NHL season is the Winter Classic. There is just something about watching hockey being played somewhere it’s not conventionally seen that adds to the intrigue.

My next thought would be how cool would that be to see a game like that here in Maine?

It’s something that would be a heck of an undertaking, but just think of a Skowhegan/Lawrence vs. Messalonskee on New Years Day at Keyes Field.

Again, it’s not something I’m expecting to see anytime soon — if ever — but it would certainly be cool.

• WHAT TO WATCH THIS WEEKEND: Messalonskee’s Nick Mayo went off for 41 points, 16 rebounds and three blocks in a 65-64 win over Mt. Ararat in overtime Saturday, and followed it up with another double-double against Brewer. What will the Eastern Kentucky commit do on Friday night when he leads the Eagles against Mt. Blue?

• EXTRA POINTS: Oak Hill vs. Winthrop boys basketball, Messalonskee vs. Mt. Blue girls basketball, Scarborough vs. Lawrence/Skowhegan hockey, Tiger Invitational wrestling tournament at Gardiner High School.

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