BANGOR — Their first basketball game at the storied Bangor Auditorium will be the building’s last.
And that’s fine with Boothbay Region senior point guard Anthony DiMauro, who described the playing surface as “slippery” and with plenty of “dead spots” after practicing on the polished hardwood for the first time earlier this week.
DiMauro leads a surprising Western Maine championship squad into the Class C state final at 8:45 p.m. Saturday against Penquis Valley of Milo, the Eastern Maine champion. Both teams are 19-1.
The same slippery adjective could be applied to DiMauro, a four-year starter at point guard who will do his best to avoid any dead spots in the basketball game itself.
“We like to get out and run,” he said. “When things slow down, we struggle.”
The Seahawks are coming off a 70-52 victory over Waynflete in last weekend’s regional final, a game venerable Coach I.J. Pinkham called the best of their season.
“I thought we were too young to get to this point,” said Pinkham, who sports a 558-277 career record through four decades of coaching. “Certainly, their play is not consistent, but they played pretty well last week.”
At the bottom of Pinkham’s emails, beneath the address and phone number of Boothbay High, where he teaches math, is a quote from author Rudyard Kipling: For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.
That sense of the pack, of subjugating self in favor of team, is evident in the way Pinkham’s teams play and practice. The top two scorers, DiMauro and sophomore forward John Hepburn, average about 16 points per game. The other three starters all chip in two or three field goals per game. The bench usually goes only two deep.
When Pinkham wants to stop action during practice, he simply calls out “Whistle” rather than blow one himself. The players are attentive, but clearly having fun. They listen to the bespectacled man with the soft rasp in his voice.
“When he talks, everyone will shut up and listen to him,” said burly senior forward Linc Simmons, in other seasons a two-way tackle who throws discus and puts the shot. “He’s really calm about everything and that just builds our confidence back up. He’s not worried about anything.”
Part of that assurance stems from having a leader such as DiMauro running the floor show. Pinkham knows that the sum can be much greater than the parts when the parts mesh well.
“He makes us go,” the coach said of DiMauro, a right-handed thrower of baseballs and footballs but a left-handed shooter of basketballs.
“Even if it’s a night where he’s not scoring a lot of points, he makes sure the other guys have their opportunities.”
DiMauro gave up other sports once he entered high school, although he said he may return to the baseball diamond — he was a pretty fair shortstop and pitcher — for his senior spring. That he would be the varsity point guard as a freshman three years ago was never much in doubt.
“I didn’t have anything better, that was the situation,” Pinkham said. “He’s very skilled. He’s very dedicated. He works every day, either in the weight room or on his shooting, and it has paid off for him.”
At a supple 6-foot-1, DiMauro gets his share of rebounds (7.0 per game) as well as assists (6.3). As a sophomore, he was part of the team that reached the Western Maine final before losing to Dirigo. His freshman and junior years, Boothbay lost its playoff opener.
In Boothbay’s quarterfinal victory over Wiscasset at the August Civic Center last week, DiMauro surpassed 1,000 points for his career. For a four-year starter, that number could have been much higher.
“But he’s a distributor,” Pinkham said. “He likes to get everybody involved.”
That sense of team chemistry is heightened by a fraternal sense of belonging in the Boothbay program. The Seahawks have three sets of brothers — Anthony and Joseph DiMauro, Evan and John Hepburn, and Linc and Shawn Simmons.
With four basketball courts within a 100-yard radius in Boothbay — two at the YMCA, one at the elementary school and one at the high school — this group grew up playing together.
“They really do get along,” Pinkham said. “It’s a nice group of kids.”
This year marks the fifth time Boothbay has reached a state final in Pinkham’s 36 seasons at the helm. The Seahawks lost to George Stevens Academy in 1979, lost to Penquis in 2000, beat Piscataquis in 2001 and lost to Calais in 2007.
Now, on Saturday night, they’ll have the honor of shutting down the old barn, with a chance to make one more golden memory.
“That would be pretty cool,” said DiMauro.
Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at: