Sunday, May 19, 2013
Any snowmobilers or ice fishermen from away who happened to be in Jackman on Saturday night might have heard the commotion and thought, this little town really rocks on the weekend.
The town celebrated the Forest Hills High School boys basketball team's Class D state championship Saturday night and it celebrated in style, complete with a parade and fireworks.
"It was like Fourth of July-type fireworks" said Forest Hills head coach Anthony Amero, who guided his team to a 55-48 win over Central Aroostook of Mars Hill at the Bangor Auditorium.
The win gave the Tigers their first boys basketball state championship and first state title of any kind since the girls basketball team won a Gold Ball in 1997. When the Tigers returned to Jackman at about 9 p.m., one of the first things the team saw from its bus was a makeshift Gold Ball, created from Christmas lights, hanging from a crane.
"It was insanity," Amero said. "The streets were lined with people. We had the parade from when we first came into town."
"I don't think the town's going to forget this day as long as anyone lives," senior Evan Worster said.
Following the parade, the victory was celebrated with a reception at the school where the Gold Ball was passed around. During the three hour bus ride from Bangor to Jackman, the nine Forest Hills players took turns sitting with the Gold Ball and wearing the nets they cut down in victory.
"That's the first time I've had the kids where they didn't want to stop and eat. They wanted to get back to Jackman as quick as possible," Amero said.
Last season, the Tigers lost the state championship game to a very strong Jonesport-Beals team, 83-45.
"That was a really good Jonesport team. They had everything. Height, speed, just everything. They were unbelievable. That game was motivation. We learned a lot from that game," senior Derick Ouellette, who scored 13 points and grabbed eight rebounds in Saturday's win, said.
Amero said when he checked his email Sunday morning, he had notes of congratulations from Forest Hills alumni as far away as Florida and Alaska.
"There was a lot of alumni at the game. It was awesome," Amero said. "Just sharing it with everybody is fantastic."
Amero said there was nine seconds left in the game when he realized his team would win the state championship game. He called a timeout to let the Tigers know how close they were to making school history.
"We called that timeout to let the kids know not to do anything foolish," Amero said.
The Tigers graduate two talented starters, Worster and Ouellette, but return three sophomore starters and sixth man and will be contenders again next season. Worster is a semifinalist for the state's Mr. Basketball award and Ouellette was the MVP of the Western Class D tournament. In the state game, Ouellette played excellent defense on Steven Decker, Central Aroostook's top scorer, holding him to eight points.
"With Evan we lose another coach, really. He's always analyzing. He's such a smart kid. He knows the game," Amero said. "Derick is a smart, scrappy player who does everything you ask him to."
Travis Lazarczyk -- 861-9242