More than half of Maine’s basketball teams won’t play a full regular season
When Maine’s high school basketball regular season ends on Thursday, more than half of the state’s teams will not have completed a full 18-game schedule.
Based on the Maine Principals’ Association’s Heal points standings and remaining games listed in the schedules of teams entering Wednesday night, 146 of the state’s 263 basketball teams — or 55% — will play less than 18 games. regular season. On the girls’ side, 74 of the 131 teams will not play 18 games, compared to 62 of the 132 men’s teams.
The impact was felt, to varying degrees, in all five classes.
In 2019-20, the last full season before the coronavirus pandemic, only 16 of 265 teams (eight men’s teams and eight women’s teams) played less than 18 games. Twelve were Class D teams and the other four were Class C.
The main reason for fewer games this winter was, of course, COVID. Add to that a shortage of officials, bus problems and some wintry weather, and the postponement was all the more difficult. Importantly, post-season tournaments are open to all teams this season, so there has been less incentive to complete a schedule.
“With COVID the spread continues, that’s why we went to an open tournament and changed the way we did the healing points,” MPA executive director Mike Burnham said.
Healing points are now calculated using the number of games played by a team as a divisor, instead of the number of games on a team’s original schedule. This change came into effect for the spring 2021 season.
“It worked well and hopefully relieved the pressure of putting all those (catch-up) games at the end of the schedule,” Burnham said.
Basketball tournaments begin next week for most classes, though a handful of playoff games are needed this weekend.
At York High, students have moved to remote learning and all sports have been canceled from January 8-17. The Wildcats basketball teams (along with their boys’ and girls’ hockey teams) had four canceled games during that span. Only one was postponed. Then last Friday’s snowstorm wiped out the games. York’s girls’ and boys’ basketball teams will enter the Class B tournament with 14 games under their belt.
“My coaches and I thought the solution was not to play four or five games a week,” said York sporting director Jeff Oliver. “Teams gain a lot by training after a game. This gives coaches the opportunity to teach their players and improve with every game. When you play back to back, you lose all of that.
Other schools have taken a different approach. Most notable was Gardiner, where the women’s basketball team scheduled a rare doubleheader on Saturday. The Tigers, a top contender in Class A North, won both games and then beat rival Lawrence on Tuesday to move to 15-1. Gardiner played Morse on Wednesday and will end his five-game, six-day streak at Skowhegan undefeated on Thursday.
“I think the most important thing is knowing that if we can get there, we owe it to the kids to give them every chance to play,” Gardiner coach Mike Gray said. “When it comes to high school athletics, they’ve missed enough already.”
Gardiner star forward Lizzy Gruber, a 6-foot-4 junior, said when Gray first proposed the idea of playing two college games on the same day, “I was like, ‘Ha, ha. It will not arrive. It can’t happen. And then our coaches and our AD (Nate Stubbert) did it.
In Saturday’s two wins over Camden Hills and Messalonskee, Gray went deeper into his bench.
“It gave some kids who don’t normally have that chance to shine a little brighter,” Gray said, adding that the experience would be memorable.
“Looking back, I’m sure it all fades, but I think they’ll remember that random Saturday where we played two games in a row,” Gray said.
Like York, Brunswick also had a school closure the week before the Martin Luther King holiday on January 17. side.
“I thought, and the administration felt, that trying to honor as many games as possible would be great for our community,” Brunswick athletic director Aaron Watson said. “We packed them up, but we were aware of the safety of our players. And, you know, the kids played five times a week. Three in a row is hard. We drew the line with that, certainly for hockey, but we felt confident (to) go back to back and have four games in a week.
As expected, reduced hours were more common in smaller schools. The Class D island schools of Vinalhaven and North Haven will likely end up with just nine games for their boys’ and girls’ teams.
Across Class D, 20 of the 24 men’s teams and 20 of the 23 women’s teams will not reach 18 games.
Class C teams also lost several games, with 29 of 38 girls’ teams and 22 of 37 boys’ teams playing 17 or under. Many teams are unlikely to play more than 14 games.
In class B, nine of the 32 men’s teams and 13 of the 31 women’s teams will not play 18 games.
Seven of the 22 men’s teams and nine of the 22 women’s Class A teams will end up with less than 18 games.
In the 17-team AA class, four boys’ teams and three girls’ teams will not complete their full schedule. Class AA North boys are the only region in the state where each team is expected to complete an 18-game schedule by Thursday.
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