Two of the smallest schools in the state had two of the biggest celebrations on Saturday.

The Rangeley girls and Valley boys won the Class D basketball state championships on Saturday at the Augusta Civic Center. For each team, the win was a chance to reflect on the basketball-rich tradition at their school.

“I think today is day for us all to relax at home and think about what we accomplished,” Rangeley senior Blayke Morin said on Sunday afternoon. “We’ll celebrate more at school (Monday).”

For Rangeley, it was the first state title since 2004. With it’s 55-44 win over Easton, Valley earned its first Gold Ball since winning six straight from 1998 to 2003.

Valley coach Luke Hartwell said his Cavaliers are enthusiastic toward honoring Valley basketball traditions, so much that they insisted on eating a celebratory meal at Pizza Hut in Skowhegan, the same restaurant where Hartwell and his Valley teammates celebrated their state title wins of the late ’90s and early 2000s. From there, the Cavaliers received a police escort the final 25 miles home to Bingham.

Valley’s bus driver is Scott Laweryson, father to senior guard Cody Laweryson and also Bingham’s fire chief. Laweryson arranged for the team to be met five miles outside of Bingham by fire trucks, and that’s where the parade back to school began, Hartwell said.

“The great thing about a state championship is, it brings the community together,” Hartwell said.

Rangeley had a similar trip home. After a team meal at Red Robin in Augusta, the Lakers were met by their police escort approximately 30 miles from home. They had a parade, and a reception at the gym.

Both schools were well-represented by alumni in the Augusta Civic Center bleachers on Saturday. Morin said she noticed a few of her former teammates in the stands directly behind the Rangeley bench during the Lakers’ 28-22 win over Shead.

“Next year, I’ll probably be sitting right there, too,” Morin said.

The Lakers and Cavaliers received congratulations from alumni and fans scattered across the country.

“I talked to some older alums. A few texted me and told me how proud they are of where the program is now,” Morin said.

Hartwell said he recognized dozens of former Valley players in the crowd at Saturday’s game. Among them was Brian Andre, the 6-foot-8 center who played with Hartwell on a handful of Valley championship teams.

“Right after the game, Brian Andre gave me a big bear hug,” Hartwell said.

Hartwell said he’s received numerous calls and text messages of congratulations, including a call from former Valley coach Dwight Littlefield, who coached the six Cavalier title teams from 1998-2003, and Mark Gaudet, a 2004 Valley grad who is stationed with the Army at Fort Riley, Kansas.

Morin said she thought Rangeley coach Heidi Deery had the Lakers’ Gold Ball, and would bring it to school on Monday. Morin hoped a tradition from 2004 would be honored this year.

“In ’04, each girl had (the Gold Ball) at her house for a night,” Morin said.

At Valley, tradition dictates the Gold Ball makes the rounds through area businesses before taking its place in the school’s trophy case. After Friday’s practice, the final workout before the championship game, Hartwell brought his team out to the lobby and asked his players to look at the six Gold Balls in the trophy case. Now, Hartwell said, close your eyes and visualize a seventh state championship trophy in there with the others.

“The goal is gold,” Hartwell said. “We said it all year long.”

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

<URL destination=””>[email protected]

</URL>Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.