BANGOR — Today we celebrate basketball in Maine. We celebrate long bus rides and practices, pickup hoops in the driveway and tournament games played in front of thousands of fans. We celebrate walking into a warm, loud gym on a cold, quiet winter night.

We celebrate friends and family, teammates and coaches. Today we celebrate the Maine Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2016.

On Sunday afternoon at the Cross Insurance Center, the Hall welcomed its third class of inductees. Twenty-three players and coaches, five Legends of the Hall — contributors to the growth of Maine basketball — and two teams, the 1995 Cony High School girls and the 1947 Patten High School boys, made up the Class of 2016.

What a team we could build with the Class of 2016. A frontcourt including Colby’s Harland Storey and Bowdoin’s Chris Jerome, Thomas’ Joe DeRoche, Foxcroft Academy’s Dean Smith or Camden’s Charlie Wootton. A backcourt with Waterville natives Kevin Whitmore and Gregg Frame, with Lawrence’s Mike McGee, or Cony defensive standout Meaghan Lane Kolyszko. When an important shot must be taken, get the ball to Van Buren’s Matt Rossignol or Vinalhaven’s Raymond Alley.

Who coaches this team? Is it IJ Pinkham, who has won more than 600 games at Boothbay High School? Is it Tony Hamlin, who has more than 400 wins? How about Lenny MacPhee, who won 322 games coaching at UMaine-Farmington, or Fern Masse, who’s been an important piece of the Lewiston-Auburn basketball community for 60 years. Maybe McGee can serve as player/coach, since he won 350 games coaching Lawrence.

Today we celebrate those we have lost, longtime Dexter coach Ed Guiski and University of Southern Maine coach/athletic director Dick “Doc” Costello.

Today we celebrate moments, like DeRoche scoring 63 points for Thomas in a game against St. Joe’s College, or Rossignol coming up big in the University of Maine’s shocking win over Michigan State at the Bangor Auditorium.

Today we celebrate those little moments in life that determine our fate. If then-Dartmouth College football coach Buddy Teevens doesn’t decide to move quarterback Kevin Whitmore to tight end, then Whitmore doesn’t transfer to Colby, where he decides to play basketball for his father, following the path that leads Kevin to joining Dick Whitmore in this hall of fame 25 years after his college graduation from Colby.

We celebrate those wise choices.

“How lucky are all of us to be here today,” said Brunswick High boys basketball coach Todd Hanson in his presentation of Kevin Whitmore, Hanson’s high school teammate at Waterville. Sooner rather than later, Hanson will join his friend in this hall, as either a player or coach.

We celebrate those who keep the game flowing and in control, the referees, with the induction of Bob McAllister. A John Bapst graduate, McAllister is the only Maine native to be an NBA official.

Today we celebrate perseverance and tenacity. In his presentation of Frame, former Waterville coach Ken Lindlof described a player who came off the bench as a junior, only to work hard in the offseason to average close to a triple-double as a senior. Lindlof tried to describe Frame’s position, was it point guard or point forward, before putting it simply.

“He played basketball,” Lindlof said.

Former Cony coach Paul Vachon recalled Lane Kolyszko as a defender who brought opponents to tears. Her eight steals were key to Cony’s win in the 1987 Class A East championship, as the Rams marched to their first state championship. Coaches often speak of hoping players give above the line effort, Vachon said. At Cony, that became playing above the Meaghan Lane Line, and there’s no higher compliment than that.

Today we celebrate rivalries, watching Dick Whitmore, who coached men’s basketball at Colby for 40 years, present both Storey, one of his players, and Jerome, who harassed Whitmore as a player for Bowdoin.

“The wonder of it all was, it was so much fun,” Whitmore said.

Today we celebrate all of this. Most of all, we celebrate the Maine Basketball Hall of Fame’s Class of 2016, and we say thank you.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

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</URL>Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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