There’s no doubt about it — this one is going to sting for a while.
The Biddeford boys basketball team had an excellent chance to reach the regional finals on Wednesday night but the Tigers weren’t able to close things out against a strong Westbrook squad.
It will probably take a while for the Tigers to realize this but what they accomplished this season will be remembered in Biddeford for a long time.
This team will never know what it feels like to reach a regional final or make it to a state title game, but they will always be remembered as the group that brought the program back from the basement of Maine high school basketball.
When some players would have given up on the sport and not put in the effort after a pair of 1-win seasons, this group of Tigers stuck together and did everything the right way.
Biddeford coach Justin Tardif talked after Wednesday’s loss about the group of seniors being “the key” to the Tigers’ turnaround over the last few years — and I couldn’t agree more.
Guys like Kyle Norton, Jackson Oloya, DeSean Cromwell and Jerome Criado could have easily used their first two seasons with the program as an excuse to develop bad attitudes and just go through the motions in their junior and senior campaigns.
They refused to let the disappointment of those 1-17 seasons bring them down, and the reward was back-to-back playoff appearances and a 16-win campaign.
The Class of 2018 was a great example for the younger players in the Biddeford program and they are the reason why Tigers fans should feel optimistic about the future.
I also have to give credit to the Biddeford High School administration for trusting Tardif during those rough years at the start of his coaching tenure.
Some schools would have decided to make a change after winning just two games in three years but the leaders at BHS clearly saw that Tardif was building something special.
I remember one of my first years up here when the Tigers were struggling through a 1-17 season. I have seen a lot of basketball teams playing games late in a rough season and a lot of times you can tell the players had already quit on their coach.
That wasn’t what I saw from the Tigers during those tough years. I watched as Tardif’s team battled for 32 minutes every time they stepped onto the court. It was also evident that the young coach wasn’t going to give up on his players and he knew that a 16-win season was going to come sooner rather than later.
So while it was tough to watch the Tigers’ season come to an end like it did on Wednesday, I couldn’t help but think back to just a few years ago when a trip to Cross Insurance Arena was simply a fairy tale for this program.
This team has truly brought Biddeford basketball back to life — and no matter how long he coaches, I can guarantee that Tardif will remember the Class of 2018 and what they did for the program forever.
— Sports Editor Pat McDonald can be reached at [email protected] or at 282-1535 ext. 322. Follow the Journal Tribune Sports Department on Twitter @JournalTsports.

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