SOUTH PORTLAND – Southern Maine Community College hosted the Western Maine Conference girls and boys senior all-star games Tuesday night. The teams played hard and put on a show, lighting up the scoreboard with long passes, spectacular set-ups and slam dunks galore, although the atmosphere remained friendly and relaxed. Players often laughed off missed shots and smiled when they got stuffed or otherwise denied, and very few fouls were committed or called. The girls’ “White” team won their matchup by a narrow 55-52 margin, while in the boys’ bout, the “Blue” team emerged triumphant, 96-80 – but it was obvious that what these athletes will remember from Tuesday night’s exhibition is the fun they had and the minutes they played, not the points they tallied or the victories they secured.
“I think it’s a great opportunity to honor the seniors that’ve given so much to the conference and our program,” girls White team coach Paul True, who regularly coaches for Lake Region, said after the game. “It’s a fun way to end the season.”
Both halves of the girls’ game were a tug-of-war. The teams stayed neck-in-neck early, with a variety of players contributing baskets, including Waynflete’s Martha Veroneau, Old Orchard Beach’s Anna Foss, Freeport’s Leigh Wyman, Gray-New Gloucester’s Haylee Cote, and Cape Elizabeth’s Kisa Tabery. Blue took an 18-16 lead as the minutes passed, but White soon took over, going up 27-26 at the half.
During halftime, the girls’ competed in a 3-point competition, a rapid-fire tournament in which each girl had 45 seconds to take up to 20 shots from five different stations spaced evenly around the three-point line. With nine 3-pointers in the final round, Veroneau, the 2013 Miss Maine Basketball, won the contest.
In the second half of the game, the score remained close, and was tied on several occasions. After it hit 46-46, White drained two consecutive threes, though Freeport’s Aubrey Pennell battled back for Blue, dropping in two 3-pointers of her own. The difference came from the free-throw line, with White ultimately getting their final three points there for the win.
“It’s nice to be able to play with people you’ve played [against] for the past four years,” Veroneau said, after the game.
Marquis MacGlashing of York looked at it another way.
“I think it’s fun—I get to play against Emily [Campbell, also of York], and her and I have been playing together since third grade, so it was nice to finally get to play against her for once, for a while,” she said.
Kisa Tabery of Cape Elizabeth was inclined to agree with Veroneau. “It’s really fun just to be on the same team as some of the best opponents in the league,” she said.
For the White team, Foss had a pair of points, Wyman had four, Tabery 10 and Cape Elizabeth’s Marlo Dell’Aquilla nine. For Blue, Old Orchard Beach’s Christina Colman scored five, Cote had three, Pennell eight, and Lake Region’s Sydney Hancock three.
The boys’ game was more one-sided. Blue leapt out to an early lead and never relinquished it. By halftime, they’d gone up 49-39 on contributions from every player in the lineup, including York’s Aaron Todd, who had 12; Waynflete’s Mohammed Suja, with seven; and Lake Region’s Mike Triglione, with five.
“We’ve played against each other a lot over the years,” Triglione said of how his team melded, despite not having practiced together or even met as a group prior to Tuesday. “So you know how most kids are going to play. It worked out pretty good … This is straight-up pick-up, right here.”
The boys also had a 3-point competition at halftime, but the real action was in the slam-dunk contest, which eight players took part in. Falmouth’s Charlie Fay eventually came out on top.
Fay had more than one big dunk in regular play as well—in fact, the boys all appeared to take great pleasure in firing pyrotechnics for the crowd’s delight. They threw long passes to one another and regularly attempted to set each other up in flashy fashion. When it worked, the crowd roared with amusement, and when it didn’t work, the crowd roared with amusement anyway.
“It was fun. We didn’t play much defense,” Triglione said. “I say it’s ‘all-star game’ defense. Just letting them go by, get the dunk, whatever. There was some good playing going on, even though it wasn’t a hundred percent on defense. A lot of good offensive plays.”
The “all-star game defense” allowed both boys’ teams to run the up the score. Four players on each side tallied points in the double digits, including 11 for Cape’s Chris Robicheaw. Nearly every player drained multiple baskets, including York’s Zach Leal, who had nine; Cape’s Henry Babcock, with six; and Triglione, with eight. At the final buzzer, the opponents shook hands, as usual—but of course, many of the players were shaking hands with regular-season teammates.
“This game is all about having fun,” coach True said, “but at the same time, I think the competitive spirit of some of the kids kind of stands out, and you can see what has enabled them to be so successful during their years.”
“It’s a competitive game ... but it was still fun and relaxed,” Cape Elizabeth’s Tabery said. “It was just good to have one last game of basketball. It was a great way to end the season and four years of playing.”