FAIRFIELD — Folsom Gym was not meant for social distancing. The home of the Lawrence High School basketball teams, Folsom is one of the smallest gyms in Class A.

A Lawrence-Waterville boys basketball game used to be an event. Friday night, it was a lopsided 79-37 Lawrence victory, not a throwback to when the Bulldogs and Purple Panthers were among the region’s powerhouses.

Fans should be crammed into Folsom. There should be an announcement over the PA asking people to please make room for the fans coming in.

Folsom was not built with pandemics in mind. What gym was?

The Lawrence pep band be in the corner by the lobby doors playing the Doctor Who theme. There’s nothing in that corner but rolled up cheering mats.

There’s no Rowdies.

The Rowdies are Lawrence’s student section. Let’s just call them boisterous. They sit in the bleachers directly across from the Lawrence bench, and they jump and hoot and practically spill on to the court.

The Rowdies would’ve loved the steal Dylan Coombs made 30 seconds into the game, a few feet from where they would’ve been yelling at Waterville players like they owed them 20 bucks. The Rowdies would’ve gone nuts when Lawrence’s Nic Blaisdell dunked right before the half.

Lawrence senior Zach Nickerson would’ve been a home crowd favorite, making five 3-pointers on the way to a game-high 18 points.

“It’s different. It’s definitely different,” Nickerson said of playing in front an empty gym. “Usually this is the loudest gym in the conference.”

This used to be as big a rivalry as there was in the area. Once upon a time, Lawrence and Waterville were among the alpha teams in Class A East, getting in each other’s way on a regular basis at the regional tournament in the old Bangor Auditorium, replaced by the Cross Insurance Center a few years ago.

Waterville’s Ethan Hobart tries to save the ball in a game against Lawrence on Friday in Fairfield. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

For a time, the Waterville-Lawrence regular season games was popular enough to play at Colby College’s Wadsworth Gymnasium, replaced this year by Colby’s brand-new athletic center and in the midst of being torn down.

Declining enrollment dropped Waterville to Class B over a decade ago, and despite being miles apart, the team just don’t play each other anymore. In this shortened season, schedules are created with geographic balance more in mind than competitive balance.

Waterville is young. The Panthers roster has no seniors. Waterville’s starting lineup included four sophomores and a junior. That was no match for Lawrence’s experience. The Bulldogs started five seniors and have six on the roster.

The old rivalry doesn’t mean much for today’s players, who didn’t grow up watching it and may only hear of it through the stories from coaches and teachers. The old stories that make their eyes roll.

Friday’s game wasn’t close. But it was a game. That’s the sentiment we’ll hear the rest of the season.

“Better than no basketball,” Nickerson said. “Better than nothing.”

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