The Nokomis and Cony boys basketball teams play in front of large crowd during a Class A North semifinal game on Feb. 23, 2022 at the Augusta Civic Center. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

AUGUSTA — There is a deep reserve of memories and moments at the Augusta Civic Center from the last five decades of hosting the Maine high school basketball tournament.

The building, constructed in 1972, has had its share of buzzer-beaters, near-misses and a treasure trove of electrifying performances. Its floor has collected tears of happiness and heartbreak after exhilarating victories and crushing defeats. It’s been the site for plenty of history, too, with the most significant coming in 1975 when the first girls basketball state champs were crowned.

From its first state tournament in 1973 through the Cooper Flagg Show in 2022, the ACC has been a staple of the sport for half of a century.

Next week, from Feb. 14-17, we will revisit some of the biggest moments in the history of the Maine high school basketball tournaments at the Augusta Civic Center.

The months-long project will feature stories from each decade, beginning with the 1970s. We will revisit some of the history-making moments, as well as unearth a Gold Ball mystery at a little known school that has since closed its doors.

If you love history and Maine high school basketball, we hope you’ll enjoy reading these stories as much as we did researching and re-telling them. You’ll be able to find everything at


The first state championship games at the ACC were played in 1973. In the Class A final, Cony edged Rumford 67-61 in front of 6,024 spectators. Dave Rollins scored 20 points that day to help carry the Rams. Other state final winners included Orono (Class B), Sumner (Class C) and Jonesport-Beals (Class D).

Kennebec Journal writer Ken Marriner wrote in the issue of March 30, 1973: “Augusta Civic Center, in its first year of operation, is a basketball mecca.”

In 1975, the State Principals’ Association (now the Maine Principals’ Association) formally recognized girls basketball as an official sport. The state title games were played in the ACC, with Gardiner (Class A) and Hall-Dale (Class D) earning championships.

The Bulldogs needed triple overtime to edge Katahdin, 64-62. Hall-Dale’s 6-foot-1 center Carla Cyr scored 39 points.

“I’m really proud of my girls, every one of them,” Hall-Dale coach Pat Bouton told the Kennebec Journal in a story published Feb. 17, 1975. “There was a lot of pressure out there, but the girls kept coming back.”

There is so much more.


Anyone recall which school became the first to sweep the boys and girls state finals in the same year at the ACC? (Hint: It happened in 1980). Also in 1980, how about the Hyde School in Bath and its controversial decision to compete in the Maine high school tournament as well as the New England Class B Prep School championships concurrently? On the morning of March 1, the Gorillas (now the Phoenix), beat Trinity-Pauling (New York) 85-67 in a prep semifinal at Simsbury, Connecticut.

The players then drive or flew (yes, flew) to Augusta to play in the Class C title game at the ACC. Hyde defeated Washington Academy 91-71 for the crown in a game that ended around 11 p.m. The following day, Hyde sank Suffield Academy in Connecticut, 91-77 , for the New England prep title.


More recently, in 2007, the Cony girls would win their second Class A Gold Ball in three years, but it wasn’t easy. The Rams needed a 63-60 overtime victory over Messalonskee in the East final. The Eagles forced OT thanks to a Chelsea Barker 3-pointer at the buzzer. A week later, Cony would edge McAuley 46-41 for its seventh Class A crown.

Fast-forward to 2013, when a freshman by the name of Nick Gilpin buried a 30-foot heave to beat the buzzer and Lawrence 40-39 in the Class A East final. Gilpin’s shot checked in at No. 4 on ESPN “SportsCenter’s” top plays of the day. The game also marked the end of the Mike McGee Era at Lawrence. McGee won 350 games and two state titles with the Bulldogs.

Stay tuned, basketball fans, because this is just a sampling of what’s played out inside the ACC since its 1972 grand opening. There is more to share and more to relive.

See you next week.

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