Players for the Forest Hills and Vinalhaven boys’ basketball teams wait to enter a game at Kennebec Valley Community College in Fairfield on Dec. 9. Anna Chadwick/Morning Sentinel

Anthony Amero has coached the Forest Hills boys’ basketball team for more than two decades, winning four Class D titles. Along the way, his Tigers have played in and won several lopsided games.

Blowouts, he said, are part of the game in Maine high school basketball, but infuriating opponents doesn’t have to be.

“(Scoring 100 points) is just something you didn’t cross with the old school (way of) coaching,” Amero said.

“I think the key to not getting the other team upset (in a blowout) is communicating with the other coach. We’ve had that conversation this year with three different opponents … You can tell (an opposing) coach, ‘Hey, I’m going to pull (my starters) in the fourth, rotate every four minutes. If you can communicate, you can make it a nice night for the kids and nobody walks away and feels bad that way.”

Basketball etiquette is in the public eye after Oceanside High boys’ coach Larry Reed said last week that his program received complaints about running up the score on its opponents. Oceanside, of Rockland, is 12-0 and averaging 94.8 points a game. The Mariners have scored at least 100 points in four games, including a recent 126-38 blowout of winless Belfast.

The complaints, which Reed said were relayed to Oceanside by the Maine Principals’ Association, has spurred fierce debate as coaches and athletic administrators grapple with the question: How much of lead is too much?


“You can’t just look at a (lopsided) score and have a bunch of comments. There can be a lot of dynamics going on,” said Thornton Academy girls’ basketball coach Suzanne Rondeau.

Belfast Athletic Director Susan Robbins expressed her concern to Oceanside Athletic Director Troy Smith after the Jan. 17 rout in Rockland. Robbins, in an email to the Kennebec Journal, said that some Oceanside starters were still playing late in the game and that the Mariners were using pressure defenses.


Using a pressure defense late in a lopsided game is a no-no, many in the game said Monday.

Madawaska High, which is at the top of Aroostook County, competes in Class C North. The girls’ basketball team is 1-9 and 11 of its 15 players had never played basketball before this season. The other four have limited experience.

“I go to last year, Fort Kent is our rival and we lost 61-14 and the other coach is still pressing up 50. I’m not in favor of that,” said Madawaska Athletic Director Matt MacFarland. “Look, you know our skill level, you’re not going to be getting anything out of it.”


This season, Madawaska has lost five games by at least 50 points. However, MacFarland said all its opponents took measures to slow the game down.

“(They) rotated their players, they took their starters out,” he said. “I have no problem if the freshmen and JVs are trying to score. It’s still up to (us) to try to stop them.”

The Traip Academy girls in Kittery are down to six healthy players after starting the year with 10. The Rangers, who play in Class C South, usually are competitive with their larger York County neighbors, but this season they’ve lost to Wells, 70-20 and York, 64-8.

“I think both those schools did the best they could to play in a way that was appropriate and positive for both programs on the floor,” said Mike Roberge, the athletic director at Traip and the former chair of the MPA Sportsmanship Committee.

He has been following the Oceanside situation and said that “it’s hard to make a judgment unless you’re there watching.”

Carrabec boys’ basketball coach Erik Carey, also the school’s athletic director, noted there is a difference between a 20-point lead late in the fourth quarter and “straight-up blowouts.” Carrabec (7-5) has won games by 52 and 44 points this winter.


“I’ve instructed my players that we’re going to pass the ball X number of times on offense,” Carey said. “We’re still going to move and play with the same pace and style but we’re going to have a set number of times we move the basketball.”


Rondeau, the Thornton Academy girls’ coach, said she wished she’d been more aware of what she was getting into before a 107-34 victory at Noble early in the season. Thornton brought only nine healthy players. Noble kept trying to push the pace by trapping the ball and shot a large number of 3-pointers, Rondeau said, constantly trying to accelerate the pace.

“The second game (a 78-18 win), we had two more on the bench and that helped (with substitutions),” Rondeau said.

Spruce Mountain coach Scott Bessey saw Oceanside’s scoring prowess in a 78-35 loss.

“I thought (Oceanside) played great and behaved great and did it the right way,” Bessey said. “They’re very skilled, very experienced, very strong and it’s hard to guard them.”


Bessey said no team should be penalized for its excellence.

“It should be kept in the hands of the players and the coaches and teams – and the governing bodies should stay out of it. It always polices itself,” Bessey said. “If I felt certain things were not taken into consideration – and that was not the case with Oceanside at all – it will get stored away and it will get returned if possible.”

Valley girls’ basketball coach Gordon Hartwell said he’s quick to use his substitutes. He’s had plenty of chances this season, too. Valley is 12-0 in Class D South and has won three games by 50 or more points. However, he also noted that his reserve players need a chance to play to their full potential.

“They’re putting in the same amount of work as anyone else. It’s pretty hard when you have your bottom five (on the roster) in, and that’s their moment, to tell them that, ‘No, you can’t do anything at all,’ ” Hartwell said. “There’s really only so much you can do (in a blowout win), other than not scheduling (the opponent).”

Leavitt boys’ basketball coach Mike Hathaway is also the Hornets’ football coach. Leavitt beat Oceanside 71-12 in the Class C state championship game in November. The star senior guards on Oceanside’s basketball team, twins Cohen and Carter Galley, were the Mariners’ quarterback and receiver in football. This winter, Oceanside basketball beat Leavitt, 114-42.

“In football I’ve always felt the first half is the first half and you play your starters. In basketball I’ve almost felt it is the first three quarters,” Hathaway said. “It’s not just that it’s a blowout, but also do I want my best player out there for a chance of injury.”

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