During the 1981 Eastern Class B girls basketball tournament, Mount View’s Emily Ellis (11) set multiple records that still stand 40 years later. Photo provided by Emily Ellis

Editor’s note: This is a story in our new series, “Center Court Rewind,” in which we look back at some memorable games, performances and players from past high school basketball tournaments.

It may have been 40 years ago, but Emily Ellis remembers it like it was yesterday.

In 1981, Ellis had one of the most impressive tournament runs of any Maine girls basketball player. A Mount View High School senior, Ellis broke multiple records during the Eastern Class B playoffs, a run that included the program’s first regional championship.

Forty years later, Ellis still holds four tournament records in what is now Class B North. They include: Most field goals in a tournament (34), most free throws scored in a tournament (29), most points in a single tournament game (43) and most total points in a tournament (97). In fact, three of those records — free throws, points in a single game and total points in a regional tournament — still stand as tournament marks for all of Class B.

“I never knew this until a few years ago,” Ellis said. “Someone said ‘You know you still hold the record.’ I thought they meant the single game (scoring) record, which I knew was 43, because that game I will never forget. What I didn’t realize was that there were several other records.”

The Mustangs’ run during the 1981 tournament was not much of a surprise. Mount View reached the Eastern Class B final the season before, falling to Stearns, 34-23.

Ellis got off to a hot start in the 1981 tourney at the Bangor Auditorium. She scored 36 points in a 64-50 quarterfinal win over Mt. Desert Island.

“I can’t play ball and keep track of points, I’ve never been able to do that,” said Ellis, now 58 and a real estate broker/owner of the Emily Ellis Team in Bangor. “At the end of that game, and it was a big deal, because we had just gotten to the Eastern B final, but we lost. We were so concentrating on this game. So, 36 points in that first game, and I remember going into the stands (after the game) and my mom, my dad and my aunt, who was my fourth grade teacher, she just loved keeping the book and statistics. She said ‘You know, you had 36 points in that game.’ I just looked at her like she had three heads, and my parents were just beaming. We were so excited to win the first game and just have a great performance. As soon as that game was over, I remember thinking ‘Well, that will never happen again.'”

Ellis would score her record-breaking 43 points in a 78-53 win over Hampden Academy in the semifinals.

“There was one time (during the game) and I made a move on the baseline, kind of tripped over my feet, it was not a graceful move,” Ellis said. “(Hampden’s) Amy Posey always tells this story whenever I see her. She’s like ‘Yeah, Emily’s falling down, she looks around, and we’ve got all the rest of her teammates covered. So she just hauls off and chucks it somewhere near the basket.’ I remember getting up off the ground, and everybody was heading in the other direction, so I assumed that somebody must have tipped (the ball) in. Later, when we watched the video, they were like ‘Yeah, you fell down and still made the basket.’

“We just had a lot of respect for Hampden, we would be really up for these games,” Ellis added. “I would just remember all summer long, playing in my yard against an invisible opponent, and making my moves and scoring over (Hampden’s) Laura Bishop. In my head, I played so many games. It’s like the stuff you dream about. Here we are, we’re in the tournament, the entire community was there. It was a big deal — Mount View has 11 towns (connected to the school) — and it was like the stuff of the dreams you dream of.”

The Mustangs kept the momentum going, topping Houlton 56-48 for Mount View’s first regional title (the Mustangs have only one additional regional title since, in 1987).

“I did a basketball clinic up in, I think it was in Houlton when John Donato was (coaching there),” Ellis said. “I had a trivia question for the girls: Who was the last team that knocked off Houlton before the Shiretowners went on their great run of state tournament records (Houlton would make nine appearances in the Class B final from 1982-1993, winning four Class B titles). Nobody would guess Mount View. John was like, ‘Go ahead, rub it in.'”

Ellis suffered an ankle injury near the end of the regional final against Houlton. The Mustangs would fall one game short of a Class B title, losing 50-38 to Gorham in the state final. It was Gorham’s fourth consecutive Class B championship. Mount View finished the season 19-1.

Emily Ellis, center right, chats with, from left, Joanne Palombo-McCallie, Cindy Blodgett, and Sandi and Suzanne Carver during the 2018 Maine Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Ellis, who had success at Mount View High School and the University of Maine, was a 2015 inductee. David Leaming/Morning Sentinel file photo

“I ended up spraining my ankle in that Houlton game, right before the end,” Ellis said. “I didn’t really practice much that next week before we played Gorham. I remember Coach had pulled me out a couple times when we played Gorham, because my ankle was swelling up. But I was like, ‘Coach, we don’t have another game. Just put me back in.’ And I’m a senior, (my high school career) is done, over.

“Literally, everyone we knew and loved around those little, tiny towns was all in for this event. It was so special. Just the feel of being a part of doing that, and with it being the first time Mount View ever really did that kind of thing. It was so special.”

Ellis’ career at Mount View would just be the beginning of a Hall of Fame career. The 5-foot-10 center would go on to play at the University of Maine, and by the end of Ellis’ career in 1985, she would hold 20 program records. She finished her UMaine career with 1,696 points and 623 rebounds. Ellis would go on to play professional basketball for a time in Finland and Austria, the first UMaine female athlete to do so.

Today, Ellis is a part of the University of Maine Hall of Fame, the Maine Sports Hall of Fame and the Maine Basketball Hall of Fame. Her No. 40 was the first number ever retired — for a male or female athlete — by the Black Bears.

Forty years later, Ellis is proud of her high school tournament records, but is ready to pass the torch to the next generation.

“I look back and go, ‘How can it be, 40 years later, with a 3-point shot (available), that (scoring) record is still standing?” Ellis said. “It just seems odd to me. I’ve been secretly rooting for somebody to break that record. I feel like it’s time.”

 

Dave Dyer — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Dave_Dyer

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