The 1990s gave us the hit television shows, “Friends” and “Seinfeld.” In professional sports, the Dallas Cowboys won three straight Super Bowls to cement its place as the team of the decade in the National Football League. Michael Jordan was firmly entrenched as the best player in the National Basketball Association, and arguably the greatest basketball player of all time.

Locally, the high school basketball tournament at the Augusta Civic Center featured an array of big-time moments, as well as the birth of a dynasty.

It was also a hot time for the high school basketball tournament in the state of Maine. Here are five great moments from the the 1990s decade at the Augusta Civic Center, presented in chronological order.


1992: Nothing but Love 

Jeff Love’s buzzer-beating shot gives Ramblers Class C title over Washington Academy.

Winthrop was already a formidable opponent prior to the 1991-1992 season. But the events that transpired during the Class C final that season against Washington Academy is what truly elevated the program.


After a mad scramble for the ball, Jeff Love was able to heave a 3-pointer that beat the buzzer to give the Ramblers a wild 67-66 victory to deliver the program’s first state title since 1965.

“I just picked up the ball and fired it,” Love said after the game. “I thought time was going to run out when I shot it.”

Love’s shot capped a dramatic comeback for Winthrop, which trailed 61-49 early in the fourth quarter but outscored Washington 18-5 down the stretch.

The Winthrop boys basketball team edged Washington Academy 67-66 in the 1992 Class C final at the Augusta Civic Center. The Ramblers trailed by 12 points with just less than six minutes in the game, but stormed back to pull out the victory. A story on the game appeared on the front page of the March 2, 1992 Kennebec Journal.

Washington took a 66-64 lead after Derek Feeney hit a free throw with nine seconds left. Winthrop center R.J. Jenkins had the ball on the ensuing possession before it was knocked loose. Love promptly grabbed it and made his shot.

Love finished with 22 points. It was the first of back-to-back Gold Balls for the Ramblers, who beat Limestone 90-57 the following season for the Class C title.



1994: Day for the ‘Dogs

The Madison girls basketball team wins first regional title with win over Boothbay.

Under the watchful eye of head coach Al Veneziano, the Madison girls basketball team became one of the more consistent central Maine programs over the last 30 years. The Bulldogs made their mark in the 1993-94 season when it beat Boothbay 61-31 for their first Western Class C championship.

“It was a very good team,” Veneziano said. “They worked well together, had great teamwork together. They just felt very comfortable in the Augusta Civic Center and really rose to the occasion.”

The Madison girls basketball team won its first regional title when it sank Boothbay in the 1994 Western C final at the Augusta Civic Center. The story appeared on the front page of the Feb. 28, 1994 Morning Sentinel.

The Bulldogs leaned on their length, with 6-foot forwards Andrea Clark and Audra Linkletter leading the way. Clark averaged 16 points and 12 rebounds a game, while Linkletter averaged 12 points and as many rebounds a game. In the victory over the Seahawks, Madison set a tournament record for 3-pointers (16) and 3-pointers made in a game (8). Senior Lori Bouchard had five 3-pointers against Boothbay.

“(Boothbay) packed it inside,” Veneziano said. “They had a decent game plan. We just came out firing. Lori Bouchard, Tonia Post, Vicki LeBlanc. Lori had a bunch of (3-pointers) in that game. They mainly played us (that night) to stop the inside, but the guards stepped up.”

The luck for the Bulldogs ran out in the Class C final, when they dropped a 55-40 decision to defending state champ Calais, which won its 43rd straight game.



1994: Showdown at the Civic Center

Bob Davies, T.J. Caouette each score 40 points as Old Orchard Beach tops Winthrop in Western Class C semifinal.

Bob Davies (Old Orchard Beach) and T.J. Caouette (Winthrop) were two of the best in the state in the 1993-94 season.

Davies and Caouette would square off on Feb. 24, 1994 in a Western Class C semifinal at the Augusta Civic Center. The game had plenty of hype and buildup.

Both players delivered, as Davies, a senior, and Caouette, a sophomore, each scored 40 points for their respective teams. But Davies, a 6-foot-4 point guard, also added 16 rebounds, eight assists and six steals, leading the Seagulls to a 71-63 victory.

“I don’t remember the game details so much, but I do remember what (Davies) said to me,” Caouette said. “I remember him saying something about how I’m young and how he’s a senior. Something to that effect of, ‘You’re a young boy, you’re going to learn how to play.’ Something like that.”


Winthrop standout TJ Caouette announces his intention to attend Villanova during a Nov. 9, 1995 press conference. Caouette and the Ramblers were involved in several big-time games during the Class C tournament in the Augusta Ciciv Center this decade. Portland Press Herald file photo

Caouette, then a 6-6 forward, tried in vein to lift the Ramblers, scoring 24 of the team’s 32 points in the second half. But it wasn’t enough.

“When I look back, I’m like, ‘man, I felt like I probably tried to do too much,'” Caouette said. “That kind of hurt the team, I think, in the end. We were a young team. I think experience, when you get to the tournament level, is a huge factor that’s not really accounted for a whole lot. Having been through the process, being older and smarter and how to fit within the teamwork. And I remember thinking I probably tried to do too much back then, and you can’t do it. Basketball is a team sport… Kudos to Old Orchard, though, they had a great team. Bob Davies was electric. He could, offensively, light it up with everyone.”

Davies — the current and longtime boys basketball coach at Thornton Academy in Saco — would win the Mr. Maine Basketball award that season. He led Old Orchard Beach to the Class C final. But the Seagulls fell 82-65 to Schenck High School.

Caouette, who won the 1996 Mr. Maine Basketball award, went on to play at Division I Villanova, twice making appearances in the NCAA tournament.


1995: Birth of a dynasty

The Dirigo girls win the first of 11 consecutive Western Class C titles.


In some sports, three consecutive titles makes for a dynasty. Starting in the 1990s, the Dirigo girls basketball team would go on to string together a run of titles that would last more than a decade.

The streak of 11 consecutive Western Class C titles began in 1994-1995. Thanks to the play of guard Rebecca Fletcher (11 points per game) and forward Nikki Dominiczak (10 points per game), the Cougars cruised during the regular season and entered the Western Class C tournament as the No. 1 seed.

The Cougars would meet No. 2 Madison — which had won the Western C title the previous year — in the regional final. Dirigo jumped out to a 20-5 lead early the contest, and went on to win 65-46. Fletcher led Dirigo with 22 points and added nine assists. Guard Gretchen Curtis added 13 points, while Dominiczak had 12 points.

Dirigo fell 49-45 to Schenck in the Class C final. But the Cougars would return the following season and beat Calais 65-57 for the Class C crown.


1996: When two become three

Three officials are used on the floor for the first time in the Maine high school basketball tournament.


It was a practice that actually debuted in Aroostook County 25 years prior. But by the 1996 tournament, the entire state was ready for three officials to run the court during the high school basketball tournament.

In 1995, the Maine Basketball Commission revealed in a study that a third official should have been used in 82 of the 128 tournament games that season, according to state basketball commissioner Peter Webb. The study included a referee review.

“You have better coverage with the three-man system,” Augusta-based referee Mike Parquette said at the time. “When the ball crosses the half-court line, you can break up the forecourt into three pieces of a pie. If the ball is on the other side of the court, the official doesn’t have to worry about watching (the ball). He can look for things that are happening away from it.”

In the 27 years since, the three-person crew has stuck, a staple of the Maine high school basketball tournament.

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