Monday, March 10, 2014
By Dale Duff
Special to the Telegram
As the regular season turns to the postseason, high school basketball eyes remain focused on the Hampden Academy boys and Presque Isle girls.
Combine their numbers and you get a 102-game winning streak.
Talk to their coaches and you get similar answers about the bull’s-eye that comes with their streaks.
“We’ve gotten used to it; the kids understand and know they’re accountable to bring their ‘A’ game every night,” said Hampden Coach Russ Bartlett. “We live in the now moment. We only talk about how we win the next game.”
“Some of the kids are part of the streak, most are not,” said Presque Isle Coach Jeff Hudson. “Winning 62 games is a lot, and that’s not us right now. We want to win the next game.”
Hampden finished its second straight undefeated season in Class A. Add in tournament games, and the Broncos are riding a 40-game streak.
The Presque Isle girls completed their third consecutive unbeaten regular season and, going back to January 2011, have a streak that’s reached 62.
Both coaches said there was a key moment early in the season.
For Hampden, it was at Brunswick. The Broncos trailed late but rallied to win in two overtimes, 65-54.
“Brunswick was the first real test. Frankly, we were lucky to win,” said Bartlett. “But we learned something, that we stood around too much on offense, and we worked on that.”
Jeff Hudson remembers his team’s moment – the first game of the year.
“We were down 12 points late in the second half at Hermon. I don’t think anyone saw us undefeated at that moment.”
He’s convinced that mental toughness, common to past Presque Isle teams, propelled his team.
Now it’s tournament time and the competition gets tougher.
The coaches know the streaks will end sometime and are realistic about it.
“There’s going to be a day that it doesn’t work out for us. We understand that. Until that happens we try to keep winning without (the streak) trying to be a distraction,” said Bartlett.
“This team has overachieved all year and I’m proud of what they’ve done,” said Hudson. “We’ve kind of created a monster up here. A good monster.”
THE HOULTON boys finished with an 18-0 record in Eastern Class C. That means Shiretowner teams have completed undefeated regular seasons in three classes (1999 in Class B and 1972 in Class A).
THE JONESPORT-BEALS boys sored a win Friday over Deer Isle-Stonington and picked up enough Heal points to get the 16th and final playoff spot in Eastern Class D. A year ago, led by Garet Beal, the Royals were undefeated and a No. 1 seed.
CROSS CENTER replaces the old Bangor Auditorium for the Eastern Class B, C and D tournaments. The first game will be Friday, featuring the Mt. Desert Island boys against Old Town or Waterville.