Peter Psyhogeos of Yarmouth floats a shot over Jake Fogg of York during the Clippers’ 50-41 win in a Class B semifinal on Tuesday at the Portland Expo. Yarmouth will play in the regional final at the Expo on Saturday, rather than at Cross Insurance Arena, as previously scheduled. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Todd Flaherty likes playing at Cross Insurance Arena. He has some great memories there, including regional and state championships won in that building by his Greely High girls’ basketball teams.

But when he heard that the Class A South and Class B South championship games were going to be played at the Portland Expo on Saturday instead of Cross arena on Friday, he wasn’t upset.

“Personally, I prefer the Expo for basketball,” he said Friday. “I think you see better basketball there, certainly better shooting. We’re happy to be there. It didn’t hurt our feelings one bit with the change.

“The Cross arena is fun and it’s certainly special. But for basketball’s sake, the Expo is my place. It’s big enough that you still get a special feeling there, too.”

Friday’s snowstorm forced the Maine Principals’ Association to adjust its tournament schedule. Friday’s games were postponed and sites were realigned in Portland on Saturday. Class B South will get the day started at the Expo with the girls’ game (No. 1 Oceanside vs. No. 5 York) at noon, followed by the boys’ game (No. 2 Yarmouth vs. No. 4 Medomak Valley) at 2 p.m. The Class A South girls’ game (No. 1 Brunswick vs. No. 2 Greely) will be played at 4 p.m., followed by the South A boys’ game (No. 1 Falmouth vs. No .3 Marshwood) at 6 p.m.

Yarmouth boys’ basketball Coach Jonas Allen shared Flaherty’s feelings about the Expo.


“We’re thrilled to be where we are,” he said. “(The players) really love the Expo and I do too. I think it a great venue for basketball. I think the (Cross Insurance Arena) sometimes feels a little big and empty. They are psyched playing at the Expo.

“It’s a lot more similar to what we’re used to. It’s bigger than a high school gym, but not as big as the Civic Center.”

The Expo, according to all the coaches involved in the four games Saturday, provides an intimate setting for basketball. It seats about 3,000 and the stands are only about 10-12 feet away from the court.

Members of the York High girls’ basketball team take the floor after a timeout in the second half of their Class B South semifinal win over Wells at the Portland Expo on Tuesday. The Wildcats return to the Expo Saturday for the regional final against Oceanside. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Cross Insurance Arena, still referred to as the “Civic Center” by many, seats over 6,700. And the fans are farther removed from the basketball court, which sits in the middle of a hockey rink that is home to the Maine Mariners.

“It’s certainly more intimate at the Expo, the fans are so much closer,” said Brunswick girls’ basketball Coach Sam Farrell, who grew up on Portland’s Munjoy Hill and attended games at the Expo his entire life. “And that has a bigger impact. At the (CIA), the fans are so far back behind the hockey boards, I don’t know if the fans can make a difference.

“At the Expo, the student section is right there. It’s brightly lit. It feels more like a basketball arena whereas the (CIA) is a hockey arena.”


The players also seem to like the Expo. Shooting at the Cross Insurance Arena can be a challenge with a cavernous backdrop behind the baskets. The Expo has a deeper backdrop than most high school gyms, but it isn’t as severe as the CIA.

“The Cross arena is definitely different,” said Greely senior guard Chelsea Graiver, who played there as a freshman and sophomore. “It is harder shooting there. The depth perception is off a bit. So it takes you a little bit to adjust. I know it took me three missed free throws before I hit one. I thought they’d all be long, but they were all short.

“Even passing is different. And you think the court is shorter than it actually is. So it takes a few minutes to make those first few mistakes before you adjust.”

Marshwood High boys’ basketball Coach Bobby Pratt signals to his players in the fourth quarter of the Hawks’ Class A South semifinal win over Greely on Wednesday night at the Portland Expo. Marshwood plays Falmouth for the regional final on Saturday at the Expo. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Brunswick senior guard Logan Brown, who played at the Cross arena as a freshman, said it is important to get as many shots in during pregame warmups as you can, to adjust to the different backdrop.

“You’ve got to get a feel for it,” she said. “Focus on the rim.”

Falmouth senior guard Brady Coyne, who has played three games at the Cross arena, said he doesn’t care where the game is played, but that there is a difference in atmosphere between the two buildings.


“As a player, the (Cross arena) is always cool, you feel like a big-time player being there,” he said. “At the Expo, if you get a big crowd it’s better. It’s hard to get the Civic Center packed.”

And, he noted, you can feel the fan energy more at the Expo.

“The Expo is a lot better when there are more people there,” said Coyne. “You can feel the vibrations on the floor. You don’t get that at the Civic Center. If you get a big crowd at the Expo, it’s definitely something.”

Underdog teams like Marshwood and York are glad they’re staying at the Expo and don’t have to adapt to another new environment. “For us, I think that’s a good thing,” said York girls’ Coach Jess Stacy, whose teams feeds off the fan energy.

And for teams like Medomak Valley and Oceanside, which moved to the South region this year and would normally be playing in Bangor at the Cross Insurance Center, the Expo has proved to be a good site.

“We like the Expo, it’s got some history to it,” said Medomak Valley boys’ basketball Coach Nick DePatsy. “And we’ve played well there so far.”

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