And Now We Come to the End

Wrapping up another tourney week

And Now We Come to the End

I took a couple days off after the State games on Saturday and I'm going to do this newsletter a little differently. It's been a couple of days and you've all read recaps from writers better than me, so I'm just going to write about a few things I noticed from Championship Saturday.

The Mount View/Monmouth game was a classic, with Sammy Calder and Monmouth erasing a double-digit first half deficit.

It all came down to this.


video courtesy of MPBN

Much like the Celtics game last night, Mount View took too long to get going and you probably shouldn't get bailed out by the refs if you end up with a shot like that.

It's the end of a fantastic run by a Mount View team that just destroyed the C North region.

Speaking of officials, there was a long delay in Augusta during the Valley game when one of the refs had to leave with an injury and they had to track down a replacement.

Can't say I've ever seen a ref get a "MVP!" chant

In the early set in Portland, the Brunswick girls finally broke through in Coach Sam Farrell's 15th season. The Dragons led by 2 after the first quarter and then out-scored Cony 35-6 to leave no doubt about it. Dakota Shipley had 21 points and 8 rebounds.

In the boys' game, Hampden's Zach McLaughlin had a chance to make a case for Mr. Basketball (or Gatorade POTY), as he was the last finalist to play. They actually led by 2 at the half, as GNG's best defender, Aidan Hebert, spent most of the half on the bench with foul trouble. McLaughlin had 8 in the half (albeit on 3/10 shooting) and 6 rebounds. But when Hebert returned, things went south. He was 1/10 in the second half and finished 4/20 from the floor with 5 turnovers and an Efficiency Rating of -2. Meanwhile, Nate Hebert took over. He had 9 points on 3/4 shooting in the third quarter as GNG took the game over for good. Hebert finished with 19 points and 8 rebounds and GNG won their first Gold Ball in 49 years.

So to compare the stat lines from the Gold Ball games:

Zach McLaughlin: 10 points / 4/20 (20%) / 8 reb / 2 asts / 5 to / -2 EFF / -11
Carter Galley: 9 points / 3/15 (20%) / 2 reb / 4 asts / 2 stl / 2 to / 2 eFF / -8

Pretty similar stat lines. Galley's EFF is better because he scored on fewer shots and had fewer turnovers.

Since we didn't get the clarity we were hoping for, I got Adam Robinson back on the podcast to sort out the Mr. Basketball race.

We've already heard from multiple parents. Most were very reasoned and supportive and one was not, which is an interesting strategy if you're trying to convince people your kid should win an award that has a sportsmanship component, but we all handle life differently, I guess.

You can also find it on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Facebook, or wherever it is you podcast. If you can, subscribe, rate, review, all those good things. I'm trying to do more of them this year and all of those things help.

I made a poll where you can rank the 3 finalists. The poll is here if the embed doesn't work.

Speaking of helpful, the great folks at First National Bank were kind enough to sponsor the LIVE stats for the ten Gold Ball games. Thanks so much to them. They've been doing great things for basketball programs up and down the coast for years now.

The Hockey Rink Formerly Known as the Civic Center gets a lot of criticism as a venue and for good reason. It's clearly the worst of the 4 and even a AA semifinal is kind of a slog. A class D quarterfinal in there would be a disaster. But the building can get up for a big game and when you get enough people in there, it gets LOUD.

It was pretty loud in the girls AA game as Maddie Fitzpatrick made short work of Gorham. She had 14 points and 11 boards.

Then, for the boys game, it got REALLY loud.


Windham came out white-hot and for a while, it looked like we might have a blowout on our hands. But Gorham battled back behind a tremendous performance from Gabe Michaud. He finished with 27/6/5 and for stretches single-handedly kept Gorham in the game.

This was a classic.

Windham wins overtime battle with Gorham for boys Class AA championship
Windham lost its grip on an early lead, but it held strong for a 62-58 victory to claim its first state title.

But I want to talk about something that happened late in the game, when things were mostly decided.

Let's go to overtime.


video courtesy of MPBN

This looks bad at first. It happened right in front of me. Gorham's Caden Smith goes to foul Windham's AJ Moody and at first glance, appears to tackle him. But it was very clear from the look on Smith's face that he had no intention of doing that. And why would he? They're down 2 with 8.6 seconds left. A comeback is not impossible here.

I think we all know that a lot of officials in Maine would call this an intentional foul.

But Jeff Mertzel didn't. You can see on the replay that he's very much on top of the play and saw that Smith's intent wasn't trying to tackle Moody. So he got in there, took control of the situation, and diffused it. You can't see it in the clip, but he basically says "not on my watch". He wasn't going to let a game that good end like that. Good for him. And then we got one of the better displays of sportsmanship you'll see. Caden Smith's leg cramped up (maybe part of the reason they fell?), so AJ Moody--with 8.6 seconds left in overtime of a State Championship game--grabbed Smith's foot and helped him stretch out the cramp. It was a really remarkable thing.

In the end, Windham won, the student section got louder.


video: me

And out came the championship shirts.

Windham Coach Chad Pulkkinen holds up his state champion shirt. [photo: me]

Don't worry. I asked the important question: the shirt were made by someone in the community, unbeknown to the team. If they had lost, they would have been on the next boat to a third world humanitarian aid situation, never to be seen again.

And so ends another season.

If you're curious, my Tournament totals were:

40 games scored. 43 watched.
1,273 miles driven.
12,898 words in the newsletter.

This season has been exhausting. And awesome. And exhausting.

Thanks so much to everyone who reads this newsletter every day. And thanks to everyone who came up to me during the tourney to say such nice things about what I do. It truly means a lot. I was overwhelmed by the kindness everyone showed me. And, of course, I'm extra thankful for everyone who subscribes and makes it possible for me to continue to do this. It means the world.

And stay tuned for spring sports. You'll be complaining about baseball rankings before you know it.


It looks like Ace Flagg is on Scal's AAU team.

And if you haven't seen some of the videos this kid is making for the Celtics' social pages, you really should check them out.

Meet Gage Duchon, the 20-year-old filmmaker behind the Celtics viral social media videos
The Celtics video producer learned how to use cameras and Adobe editing softwares on his own and is bringing a filmmaker’s perspective to help document a historic Celtics season.