March 18, 2010

They came and saw a team that conquered

From staff reports

AUGUSTA — As expected, Thornton Academy’s first state championship game brought a large following from Saco and former alumni living elsewhere.

That includes former athletes such as Bryce Roberts, class of 1958, and David Staples, class of 1970. Roberts, who lives in Cape Elizabeth, is a former longtime Maine golf pro. He was a three-sport standout for Thornton in cross country, basketball and baseball.

Staples, who lives in Farmington, played basketball under Coach Jim McGaffin and was a starting forward on strong teams from 1968-70.

Staples was sitting with Dick Martin, also a member of the class of 1970, and a basketball and baseball standout. Martin lives in Saco and is a regular at Thornton sporting events. His nephew, Kory Martin, played for Thornton last season.

Accompanying Roberts was John McNabb, a Thornton alum and a member of a well-known Thornton athletic family.

EDWARD LITTLE was two minutes away from winning its first state boys’ basketball title since 1946 when things fell apart. The Red Eddies, who beat Bangor 50-35 that year, last played in a state final in 1957, losing 75-69 to an Old Town team led by Skip Chappelle and Don Sturgeon.

The Eddies also won a state championship in 1941, also beating Bangor.

IAN BARWISE isn’t the only player in recent years to win state titles with two teams. Alvin Weisberg was a sophomore when Cheverus beat Mt. Blue 63-52 in overtime in 1997, then scored a season-high 21 points in the 1999 final to help Portland defeat Lawrence 77-58 and complete a 22-0 season.

BRENDA BECKWITH, the Messalonskee girls’ coach, teaches at Winslow, thus missing important bonding time with her players during the school day.

But last summer she and her players had a bonding experience that will last a lifetime. The team spent three weeks in Wyoming, where Beckwith taught when she graduated from college. “We barnstormed across Wyoming,” said Beckwith. “It was a great time, safe, and we had a lot of fun.’’

Beckwith and her players received a big surprise Friday night when their host family in Wyoming – Gary and Connie Igo – showed up at a reunion banquet for the families that made the trip.

Gary Igo, who turned 61 on Saturday, said he got a call in early February inviting him and his wife. “We had no idea we’d be at this game,’’ he said before Messalonskee played Deering for the Class A championship. “We just wanted to surprise (Beckwith).’’

THE CLASS B girls’ final Friday night featured standout centers Morgan Frame of Waterville and Nicole Taylor of York.

They were teammates on the New England Crusaders, an AAU team out of Nashua, N.H., last summer.

“It was fun,’’ said Frame. “Before the game I wanted to go over and say, ‘Hi Niki.’ But she was pretty serious.”

Staff Writers Tom Chard and Mike Lowe contributed to this report.

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