BANGOR — Jacob Godfrey had the slam dunk competition trophy in his hands and a beaming smile on his face.

Keenan Marseille didn’t have the trophy, but he had the smile. So did Max Mattson. And Nolan Hagerty, Jack Kane and Cameren Cousins.

“I love dunking,” said Godfrey, who won the event held during the Maine McDonald’s All-Star Games at Husson University. “We’re just having fun.”

Huh. Imagine that.

Fun came under attack during the postseason when at least four players were called for technical fouls for dunks, turning Maine into a national laughingstock, and the issue was given new life when Maine Basketball Commission head Peter Webb doubled down on the strict officiating.

“The issue comes in when we grasp the ring, which isn’t a requirement of dunking,” he said. “That’s what the rules say.”

Maybe so. But what’s better, strict, by-the-letter enforcing of an outdated rule from which the rest of the country has moved on, or letting the players — here’s that phrase again — have fun?

“You’ve got to throw some pep into it, somewhere,” said Mattson, a George Stevens senior.

So on Saturday, the shackles came off and some of Maine’s human highlight reels went to work. Yarmouth’s Hagerty threw one down, as did Wells’s Cousins. Marseille, a star for Class B champion Hermon, tossed the ball up, leapt, caught it and stuffed it in one motion. Mattson ran along the baseline, jumped, turned and threw one down with enough force to make the backboard wobble.

There wasn’t a whistle to be heard. It was glorious. Just the cheers, oohs and ahhs of the fans, rising in volume as the competitors tried to one-up each other.

“You’re not as nervous as during the game,” Marseille said. “If you rip the rim down (in a game), they’re going to call a technical. Here you can dunk it and everyone likes it.”

Well, almost everyone. Hopefully Webb or any like-minded officials weren’t on hand to see Greely’s Kane throw down a reverse and hang on the rim, swinging back and forth as the onlookers cheered on the spectacle.

It looked like a statement. Take that, the dunk seemed to say.

“I love the crowd’s reaction,” Hermon’s Godfrey said. “Slamming down a dunk and the crowd’s losing it, that’s the best part.”

Godfrey — who dunked two balls during his turn — Marseille and Hagerty made the final. Hagerty put down a two-hand reverse and earned 35 points, Marseille tossed the ball forward, caught it on the bounce and jammed it for 50 points, and Godfrey tried a move similar to Marseille’s and slammed it down with a windmill dunk to earn 60 points and the win.

“I’ve never seen him do that in my life,” Marseille said of his teammate’s winning dunk. “He’s never done that, I don’t know if he’s hiding that. It’s one of those things that just come up and you know how to do.”

“The crowd likes to see us rise up,” Godfrey said. “It’s probably the sound, really. It’s a thunderous sound, and just seeing an athletic person get up there and throw one down, it’s a great sight to see.”

Clearly, many of the dunks from the showcase aren’t practical for a game setting, but the hope is that the dunk in general — along with the rim-tugging that, sorry Mr. Webb, is often a necessary byproduct — will be embraced with more open arms in the years to come.

That’s the feeling of the fans, evidenced yet again by their enthusiasm Saturday. And it’s the players’ as well.

“I don’t like the rule, personally,” Mattson said. “Dunking’s a part of the game. It’s just a flashy layup that has a more likely chance of going in.”

“I think they should change the rule,” Marseille said. “Dunks should be a part of Maine. Athleticism’s getting bigger throughout the state, and all it does is get the crowd hyped and it gains momentum for the team.”

The contest ended, but one of its competitors wasn’t finished. During the Class C/D game afterward, Mattson got the ball on the break, raced towards the basket and saw poor Ian Regan of Old Orchard Beach slide over to defend.

“I had it in my mind I was going to dunk it once I caught the ball,” Mattson said, smiling. “You can do whatever you’re going to do. But I’m going to dunk it.”

The 6-foot-6 Mattson dunked it like the 6-1 Regan wasn’t there. The crowd erupted, as did the players — on both sides.

Regan had a smile as he got off the floor, and it came back when he returned to the bench later in the game.

“I got that charge,” Regan said.

“What you did is get posterized!” coach Chris Ranslow said, laughing.

Just some of Maine’s best players having fun.

Imagine that.

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

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Twitter: @dbonifantMTM