Cony senior guard Simon McCormick, front, is comforted by Hampden Academy senior Bryce Lausier after the Class A North championship game Friday night at the Augusta Civic Center. Morning Sentinel photo by Michael G. Seamans

A few bits and pieces while processing another hectic week of tournament play at the Augusta Civic Center…

1. One of the best parts about tournament time is the front-row seat to see not only the area athletes you’ve covered all season perform on the biggest stage, but the ones from outside the area that during the regular season you see either sparingly or not at all.

Two players, Hampden Academy’s Bryce Lausier and North Yarmouth Academy’s Te’Andre King, stood out in particular.

Lausier was a big name in Class A North this season, but it wasn’t until he came to play in Augusta that I could appreciate how dominant a player he is. Even before he led the Broncos to victory in the A North final, he saved Hampden’s season in the quarterfinals against Mt. Blue, scoring 17 points in the second half as Hampden rallied from a 28-20 hole.


He made every right decision with the ball in his hands, slipping artful passes through traffic for easy baskets or knocking down shots from wherever he felt like taking them. He seemed to always be the first Bronco to a loose ball or defensive rebound. A player like Lausier is good enough to negate whatever advantage his opponent has, and that played out that game. Mt. Blue played a terrific team game, but lost because it didn’t have Bryce Lausier.

Two days later, NYA’s King was just as formidable, scoring 34 points and grabbing 13 rebounds against Richmond. He was too much for the Bobcats to handle on both ends, and was scoring points both at the rim and from mid-range. It seemed effortless, and all the while King had the same blank demeanor. Just a player in the zone, and trying not to let himself get out of it.

Both players are Mr. Maine Basketball semifinalists. It’s well-earned, as fans at the Civic Center came to see.

 

2. The Hampden-Cony game was an example of the sportsmanship that’s on display during these tournament games. Lausier embraced the Cony players after the game, obviously thrilled for his side but sympathetic to what it meant to the other.

A lot of the players competing know each other outside of their high school teams, and they respect each other as competitors who put a lot of time, work and heart into the sport. They want to win so badly, they know exactly how they’d feel if they lost. So when they see someone else falling to that fate, they’re ready to offer the encouragement that they can.

Messalonskee girls coach Keith Derosby had a good quote on that subject after his team lost in the A North quarterfinals to Skowhegan.

“Not everyone can win. That’s the great thing about sports,” he said. “It’s also the bad thing about sports.”

 

3. The tournament delivered once again. It just took its time.

In the first few days, a few gems — the Medomak boys’ overtime victory over Skowhegan, for instance, or the Temple boys’ 55-53 win over Valley — were overshadowed by blowouts and games devoid of much drama. Games went according to the brackets and records for the most part, and the two biggest early upsets, the sixth-seeded Skowhegan girls over No. 3 Messalonskee and No. 11 Traip Academy girls over No. 3 NYA, were by 17 and 21 points, respectively.

The least competitive day was Tuesday, when the C South girls quarterfinals saw all four games decided by double figures, three by 20 or more points and one decided by more than 30.

Not exactly instant classics. But while upsets didn’t follow — top seeds took all six regional titles — the tournament finished on a high note.

On Friday, both A North finals were good, close games late, with the Hampden girls outlasting Gardiner 43-37 before the Hampden boys nipped Cony in a classic. In Saturday’s C South finals, the Winthrop girls fought Boothbay in an airtight 38-34 victory before the Winthrop boys took down Waynflete in a closer-than-it-sounds 39-30 result.

All in all, maybe not the craziest tournament the Civic Center has seen. But not bad, either.

 

4. Those Class C finals provided a good lesson for anyone that needed to hear it: low-scoring, defensive games don’t equal bad games.

It’s one thing if a game ends 39-30 because neither team could make a shot or handle the ball without turning it over. But that wasn’t the Winthrop-Waynflete game. That game was low-scoring in part because Winthrop recognized the urgency of the moment and worked methodically to generate open looks. The Ramblers knew they couldn’t afford empty possessions, so they moved the ball around until they saw the look they wanted. As time wound down, the tension went up.

The Winthrop-Boothbay final was similar, as the teams took their time to find an offensive rhythm before trading big shots down the stretch. A low-scoring game can be exciting for the reason a pitchers’ duel can be. There’s a thrill to the anticipation of a big moment.

 

5. Fan sections, as always, were a highlight of these tournament games. But man, we need some new chants.

The point of jeering from the stands is to get under a player’s (or official’s) skin, and it’s hard to do that with the same recycled taunts. Calls of “back-to-basics!” for traveling or “aiiiir-baaaal!” after bad shots get tiring after the millionth time hearing them. In the Erskine-Lawrence girls game, there were four “you-can’t-do-that!” chants in the first nine minutes. I kept track.

Chanting is great, but can we get some originality? The Messalonskee fans had the right idea. When the Eagles played Brewer, fans asked the official “which-one’s-your-son?” after a traveling call on a Messalonskee player. When the Messalonskee girls were losing and Skowhegan fans were piling on, those Messalonskee fans asked “who’s-your-mascot?”

Well played.

Lawrence fans deserve credit too. When the Cony boys were pulling away in the quarterfinals, Bulldogs fans chanted “Mt.-Blue-football!”, giving the Rams, some of whom played football and in that playoff loss to Mt. Blue, a sly dig.

Originality is never a bad thing.

If there’s one chant to keep around, it’s the “scoooore-boooard!” call at the end of the game. In the end, nothing matters more than the final score. And nothing hurts more than being reminded when you’re on the wrong end of it.


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