Some basketball tournament thoughts as I drive from the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor to the Augusta Civic Center…

• On Wednesday, the opening game of the Class AA North tournament between Deering and Cheverus drew a historically bad crowd. Fewer than 300 tickets were sold and the Augusta Civic Center was filled primarily by shadows and memories.

One can find a few valid reasons for such tepid turnout. For fans getting out of work in the Portland area at 5, unless you could knock off early, getting to Augusta for a 5:30 tipoff is tough. Cheverus is a private school, and those typically draw smaller crowds than public schools, which tend to have greater community support.

One reason for the small crowd, and one I’ve heard quite a bit, doesn’t fly at all, and that’s “the game should’ve been in Portland.”

After the Maine Principals’ Association voted to expand high school basketball from four to five classes, it was agreed that the Class AA North tournament would be held at the Augusta Civic Center. For the teams coming out of the old Class A East — Bangor, Lewiston, Edward Little and Oxford Hills — Augusta is just as close, if not closer, than Portland. For the first time, the Portland area schools would have to — GASP — travel to play in the tournament.

The way some fans have reacted to this development, you’d think they were being asked to drive to Mars. If Wednesday’s no-show parade was a protest of sorts, Portland area fans need to quit whining and grow up.

It’s approximately 55 miles from Portland to Augusta. Fans of schools in Aroostook and Washington County see your 55 miles and laugh. When they drive 55 miles, they’re not even halfway to the Cross Insurance Center.

Portland fans complaining about the new tournament site should make the short trip north to some games, instead of pouting. They’re missing some good basketball.

• Shame on any school band that doesn’t come play the tournament when its team is on the court. I can’t think of a better, more fun gig. I heard three versions of Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” over the weekend, and each was fantastic.

• Best performance of the opening weekend goes to Messalonskee’s Sophie Holmes, who scored 34 points in the Eagles’ Class A North quarterfinal win over Waterville. Holmes made six 3-pointers, one off the regional record set by Lawrence’s Dawn Anne Higgins 25 years ago.

Best boys performance goes to Valley’s Cody Laweryson, who scored 23 points and grabbed 17 rebounds in the Cavaliers Class D South quarterfinal win over Rangeley.

• Best shot of the opening weekend goes to Hampden Academy’s Courtney Dunton, who made a buzzer beating jumper on Friday night to beat Nokomis in the Class A North girls quarterfinals.

• Bangor, you have a beautiful, first class facility with the Cross Insurance Center. It’s the finest arena in the state. Now, please do something about the parking lot. It’s a rutted, twisted mess. There are potholes that would fit the entire Deering-Cheverus crowd.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

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</URL>Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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