February 10, 2013

The Baron was the king at Van Buren

Matt Rossignol led a small school to an Eastern Class C final that drew more than 6,000 fans.

By Mike Lowe mlowe@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

The Bangor Auditorium has been part of Matt Rossignol's life for, well, as long as he can remember.

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Matt Rossignol: “I remember one day running to our car and telling my dad that someday I was going to play there.”

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Now coach of the Van Buren High girls' basketball team, Rossignol remembers making the 3-1/2-hour drive to Bangor with his parents to watch tournament games during February vacation week.

"You went there dreaming about when it would be your time to run onto that court," he said. "I remember one day running to our car and telling my dad that someday I was going to play there."

Boy, did he. Rossignol, known as the Baron from Van Buren, played in some of the most memorable games in the history of the Bangor Auditorium.

"Yeah, I had a lot of big memories there," he said.

Rossignol, who scored 2,257 points in his high school career, tossed in 51 in the 1985 Eastern Class B semifinals against Schenck of East Millinocket. That year he set two regional records that still stand: points (103) and field goals (37).

But Rossignol and the Crusaders lost to Dexter in the regional championship game that year.

"There were 6,500 people there that night," said Rossignol. "It was an unbelievable crowd. A lot came to see if I could top the 51. I couldn't, and give credit to Dexter. It was very disappointing to lose our last game."

Rossignol played at the University of Maine and scored 1,297 career points. He also had a big hand in perhaps the program's signature victory, an 84-81 win over Michigan State in 1986 at the Auditorium. He scored 23 points, hitting 5 of 9 3-point shots.

Once his playing career ended, Rossignol began coaching -- and bringing his teams to the Bangor Auditorium. He had successful stints as the boys' coach at Houlton, Van Buren and Madawaska. He's in his third season as girls' coach at Van Buren, where he coaches his daughter Parise, who is on her way to breaking his career scoring mark)

"It's about the kids now," he said. "Coaching is exciting but it doesn't match the experience as a player. I want the girls to realize that this is what it's all about, that there are a lot of people running around this state wishing they had played there.

"I want them to soak it up and enjoy the memory of a lifetime."

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:

mlowe@pressherald.com

Twitter: MikeLowePPH

 

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