PORTLAND – Great atmosphere at McAuley High for Friday night’s Western Class A girls’ basketball showdown with top-ranked Deering.

The stands were full an hour before game time, with dozens of fans spilling over into the gym corners. Coaches from several colleges throughout New England — including Cindy Blodgett, the former University of Maine head coach now an assistant at Rhode Island — were nestled into a corner to watch.

Harvard, New Hampshire and Vermont were also represented.

Both teams were obviously amped during warmups.

Too bad they couldn’t get through the first quarter.

Slippery floor conditions forced the game officials to suspend the game with 3:01 remaining in the first quarter and Deering ahead 6-5. The game is scheduled to resume at that point at 2 p.m. Saturday at McAuley, though it could be moved to another site if the floor has not yet been made playable. That will be determined Saturday morning.

“It was totally a safety issue,” said veteran referee Barry Fuller. “We did everything we could to make it work. The athletic director (Joe Kilmartin) was fantastic. It just couldn’t be done.”

The game was stopped twice, the first just 50 seconds in for about 20 minutes after McAuley’s Allie Clement slipped in the corner. Kilmartin got down on his hands and knees to scrub and dry the floor, joined later by fans.

Play resumed but was halted with 3:01 remaining in the opening quarter after McAuley’s Jackie Welch slipped while dribbling the ball. At that point, Fuller came over to Kilmartin at the scorer’s table and said, “Unless we can do something different, we cannot continue.”

The problem area was directly in front of the fans’ bleachers. Kilmartin said the floor was slippery there for a couple of reasons.

He said calcium chloride had been spread on the walkways into McAuley and fans were tracking it into the gym. Rugs normally placed in front of the bleachers had not been set properly and many fans were walking along the side of the court.

“A film got on the floor,” said Kilmartin. “It’s just one of those things. We’ll get the janitor in here first thing (Saturday) morning and he can scrub it.”

Kilmartin said if the floor could not be made playable, he would try to move the game to Deering.

The players and coaches were obviously frustrated by the delays — the second one also lasted about 20 minutes — but glad that the game was discontinued.

“We saw two kids wipe out,” said Mike Murphy, coach of the 8-0 Rams. “It’s a healthy factor, a safety factor.”

“The kids’ safety is absolutely No. 1,” said Bill Goodman, coach of the 7-0 Lions. “I want the kids safe.”

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:

mlowe@pressherald.com

Twitter: MikeLowePPH