High school playoff basketball in Maine goes back more than a century. A variety of venues from across the state have hosted postseason action, including: Edward Little High in Auburn; Bates College; Colby College; the University of Maine’s venerable Memorial Gymnasium; the even more venerable Portland Exposition Building; and, of course, the beloved Bangor Auditorium.

But the construction of the Augusta Civic Center in 1972 was a game-changer. Newer. Larger. Centrally located. It was the perfect place to host Maine’s high school hoop tournaments. 

The Civic Center was the home of the first championships for boys (1973) and girls (1975), then hosted the Western B, C and D tournaments from 1978 through 2005 while alternating the B and C/D finals with the Bangor Auditorium. The building also hosted a few Class A events in the early years.

Two of the Civic Center’s groundbreaking moments, the 1973 Cony boys championship and the 1975 girls championships, are covered elsewhere in this series. Here are five more great moments from the Augusta hardwood, presented in chronological order. 

1974: Gimme five

The Jonesport-Beals boys win an unprecedented fifth straight state title.

Before Valley or Carrabec or Washburn made hoisting Gold Balls an annual tradition, Jonesport-Beals was the original Maine basketball dynasty. Formed in the late 1960s by the merger of two smaller high schools, the Royals quickly established themselves as a Class D powerhouse. All that stood in the way of a fifth straight championship on March 2, 1974 was Bingham’s Valley High, a first-time finalist.


Although Jonesport-Beals rolled out to a 20-6 lead, Valley refused to roll over and trailed 51-43 after three quarters after Royals’ leading scorer Rick Fagonde (22 points) fouled out. But behind the scoring of Dan Purington (19 points), the Royals pulled away with a 24-14 fourth quarter to win the game, 75-57, and its fifth straight Gold Ball. 

The Morning Sentinel of March 4, 1974 tells the story of Jonesport-Beals’ fifth straight Class D boys title.

“The final score … was not a true indication of how hard the Royals had to play to cop their fifth straight D title,” the Morning Sentinel proclaimed in the March 4 edition. 

Fagonde and Purington, both 6-foot-3, and reserve Mike Smith (6-4) dominated the boards against the smaller Cavaliers.

The Royals finished 18-3, with all three losses coming to schools in higher classifications.

Although Jonesport-Beals has since added five more Gold Balls to its trophy case, the steak of five straight titles was later broken by … Valley, which won six straight from 1998-2003.



1974: Leaving on top

The Hall-Dale boys send their departing coach out a winner with the Class C title.

Just a couple hours after Jonesport-Beals’ five-peat, Hall-Dale was on a mission of its own: win its second Class C boys title in four years and give coach Gary Barrett a win in his final game. The sixth-year mentor had previously announced his intentions to step down to concentrate on his new job as a principal in the Hall-Dale school system.

The Bulldogs sent their coach out with a workmanlike 63-47 win over Shead. Cameron Brown, later a national scoring leader at UMaine-Farmington, netted 24 points while future Bowdoin College starter Dick Bachelder added 16 and Mike Wheelock 10.

Cameron Brown, left, coach Gary Barrett and Dick Bacheld, lift the Gold Ball after Hall-Dale won the 1974 Class C title. Photo provided by Gary Barrett

“The 1973-74 Hall-Dale basketball story is a brilliant one in the history of the school’s athletic annuals,” Kennebec Journal sports editor Ken Marriner wrote in the March 4 edition. “It’s the saga of a team that dedicated itself to giving Barrett all the Class C blue chips in his final year of coaching.” 

As for Barrett, he couldn’t stay away from the sidelines. He returned to Hall-Dale in 1979 and stuck around through 1983, compiling a final record of 152-48 while remaining a Hall-Dale principal throughout his second stint. 



1974-77: Making up for lost time

After having gone without a title since 1935, the Rumford boys win three Class A championships in a four-year span.

In 1973, the Rumford High boys were foiled by Cony 67-61 in the first Class A championship game held at the Civic Center. When you hadn’t been in a state final since 1953 and hadn’t won it all since 1935, those losses tend to hurt. But rather than worry about what might have been, the Panthers dusted themselves off and won three of the next four titles from 1974-77.

Rumford’s run began with an 87-71 win over Lawrence in the Class A final in front of 5,500 fans at the Civic Center. Doug Roberts and Jim Mooney scored 24 points apiece as the Panthers set a record for most points scored in a final. 

The Kennebec Journal of March 17, 1976 describes Class A champ Rumford’s rout of Class B Lake Region for the “undisputed” state boys basketball title at the Augusta Civic Center.

Westbrook took the Class A crown in 1975, but Rumford returned in ’76 with an 81-80 victory over Lawrence in front of a Civic Center crowd of 6,200 that included U.S. Sen. Ed Muskie, who played for Rumford in the early 1930s. Down by 11 in the fourth, Lawrence whittled away at Rumford’s lead, only for the Panthers to hang on with a pair of Roberts free throws with five seconds left. 

Three nights later at the Civic Center, the 6-5 Roberts scored 50 points in a 99-73 rout of Class B champ Lake Region in a unique matchup to determine which school would represent Maine in the New England schoolboy tournament. (The Panthers went on the win that title, too.)

In ’77, Rumford handled Cheverus 56-42 for the A West at the Civic Center and routed Stearns a week later in Bangor to complete its mini-dynasty.


Rumford High is no more — it merged with Mexico High to form Mountain Valley in 1989 — but the rechristened Falcons went on to win Class B titles in 1990, 1994 and 2007.

1978: Rams, tough

The Cony boys win their most recent state title.

Confetti. Basketball nets having around the players necks. Adoring fans. And a big shiny Gold Ball in the center. That was the lead photo on the March 20, 1978 Kennebec Journal after Cony dismantled South Portland 83-62 to win the Class A boys title in front of 6,500 at the Civic Center. It remains the Rams’ most recent championship.

Cony trailed 32-31 at the half only to pull away in the third and fourth quarters. Gary Towle scored 36 points and Ray Felt added 22 points and led the team in rebounds despite aggravating a left knee that was heavily bandaged from a cartilage tear earlier in the season.

The front page of the March 20, 1978 Kennebec Journal spreads the news of the Cony boys basketball team’s Class A state championship victory at the Augusta Civic Center.

“Oh yeah, it hurt,” Felt told the KJ after the game.

The Rams were 28-for-35 from the free throw line. 


“You can’t play catch-up on a team that shoots and handles the ball as well as they do,” said South Portland coach Bobby Brown, a Cony alumnus. “They maintain super poise.”


1978-81: Writing history

Gorham establishes the first girls’ dynasty with four straight titles. 

Girls basketball became an official Maine Principals’ Association sport in 1975. With a new endeavor always comes the firsts — first title, first superstar, first buzzer-beater, etc.

Gorham gets the honor of being the first dynasty, with four consecutive Class B titles from 1978-81 while going 85-1. All four Class B West crowns and the 1979 and ’81 state titles were won at the Civic Center. 

The Portland Evening Express from March 3, 1979 describes the Gorham girls basketball team’s second straight Class B state title.

The 1979 title, a 79-52 rout of Stearns, extended the Rams’ winning streak to 44 games. Kelly Butterfield, a future University of New Hampshire standout who played on all four Gorham title teams, scored 24 points despite sitting out a quarter with foul trouble while sister Karen, who later played at Bowdoin, added 11. Carol Lachance had 14 points and 16 rebounds.

In ’81, Kelly Butterfield was the only returning starter from the ’80 title team, but it hardly mattered. Gorham held future UMaine star Emily Ellis to 10 points in a 50-38 win over Mount View, which had averaged 61 points per game during the season. Gorham point guard Carol Philbrick scored 19 points and the 5-11 Butterfield added 16. A total of 54 fouls were called and six players fouled out. 

“We lost four starters from last year’s team,” coach George Stevenson told the Evening Express afterward. “We knew we had Butterfield back but we didn’t know if we could get the ball to her.”

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