Wednesday, March 12, 2014
By Tom Chard firstname.lastname@example.org
Justin Zukowski noticed Wednesday afternoon that something was missing on the new basketball court at the renovated Cumberland County Civic Center.
Zukowski, a standout player for Portland High, took a peak at the court after the press conference that announced the Maine McDonald’s all-stars and the semifinalists for Mr. and Miss Basketball.
The shining court had college and NBA 3-point circles, but it didn’t have a high school 3-point circle. With the Western Class A boys’ semifinals only hours away, it was too late to paint a circle to match the red circles for college and NBA.
“I saw that the court didn’t have the circle so I called my father,” said Zukowski.
Zukowski took a picture of the court. That picture was e-mailed to Dick Durost, executive director of the Maine Principals’ Association, which runs the basketball tournaments.
An hour before the game, Civic Center workers were taping circles at both ends.
The building, renovated at a cost of $34 million, hosted its first basketball games Wednesday. The arena has new cushioned seats, wider concourses, VIP boxes in each corner, eight new locker rooms, spacious meeting rooms and more rest rooms than it had before.
All new buildings have glitches, but this wasn’t one Civic Center General Manager Steve Crane expected. He was told around 4 p.m. that something was wrong with the court.
“It’s not something you want to hear before the first basketball game is played here,” said Crane. “The thing is, the MPA was in here two weeks ago and no one noticed the missing circle.”
Tournament officials said the 3-point lines will be painted overnight and will be ready for the Class B semifinals Thursday.
THE WELLS girls’ basketball team showed in Wednesday’s 49-30 win against Gray-New Gloucester it can do a lot of things well.
One is the ability to execute a delay offense.
“They not only have five people who can handle the basketball, they have five who can score the basketball,” Gray-New Gloucester Coach Mike Andreasen said. “That’s tough. Not a lot of teams can say that. We all seem to have a player out there who might be our offensive Achilles’ heel.”
Andreasen had this to say about unheralded Wells senior forward Sophie Lamb: “She was energized. Somebody must have plugged her in last night. She came out fierce, almost with bravado.”
THURSDAY’S 3 P.M. Western Class B girls’ semifinal between No. 2 Spruce Mountain and No. 3 Wells is a rematch of last year’s quarterfinal, when Wells shocked the unbeaten Phoenix.
For Wells (17-2), last year’s tournament success set the foundation for this season.
For Spruce Mountain (19-0), it created some doubts that may not have been completely vanquished by a tough 55-51 win against Fryeburg Academy.
“I think we were still battling some nerves (Wednesday). Not having won in (the Expo) I think came into play,” Spruce Mountain Coach Gavin Kane said. “Composure will be a big key for us.”
WHEN YOU’RE the back-up center to one of the state’s best players, you don’t get noticed very often.
But Meghan Van Loan, a junior for Lake Region and the back-up to Tiana-Jo Carter, had her moment Wednesday afternoon.
With Lake Region holding a 10-point lead against surging York in the closing minutes of the game, Van Loan grabbed the rebound of a missed foul shot and scored a basket to ensure that the Lakers would be moving on to the semifinals.
“She plays hard and she plays strong,’’ said junior guard Sarah Hancock. “She will do whatever she can to help this team with the minutes she gets.
“Working against Tiana in practice, for Meghan, she hates it, but it’s making her so much better. She’s improving and it’s great.’’
York Coach Rick Clark knew that basket was the clincher.
“She’s done that before,’’ he said. “We knew she could do it.’’
Tom Chard can be contacted at 791-6419 or at: