December 25, 2013

HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS: Hoop Classic remains holiday tradition

Tournament at Augusta Civic Center includes several local team

By Matt DiFilippo mdifilippo@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

When the Maine Principals’ Association limited the number of “non-countable” dates, it made things trickier for local teams to hold holiday tournaments. This year, with Christmas falling on a Wednesday and many local teams having games Friday or Saturday, holiday tournaments in central Maine are scarce.

There’s still the annual Capital City Hoop Classic at the Augusta Civic Center. The girls will play their one-day tournament Friday, and the boys will play Saturday.

The boys field includes Boothbay, Cony, Dirigo, Forest Hills, Hall-Dale, and Waterville. The tournament has a long history of bringing in talented teams from other states. Cony boys coach T.J. Maines tried to revive that tradition, but in the process, he realized other states have their own regulations.

“I got a Boston-area team,” Maines said. “They committed, and then pulled out in November. They would have had to count all three (tournament games) as regular season games.”

Maines said he’s still happy with the tournament lineup. The Rams have lost leads in three of their four games this season, and he hopes to work on that Saturday.

“We’re playing to win the tournament,” he said. “We really need help closing games out, so this will help us with that.”

Ideally for the Rams, they will close out at least one game Saturday, and later in the season, Maines will be able to point to that as evidence to his players that they’ve done it before and can do it again.

“I think that’s the great benefit of this tournament for us,” Maines said.

The girls field features seven teams — Cony, Hall-Dale, Hampden, Lewiston, Madison, Oxford Hills, and St. Dominic. When Cony plays Hampden on Friday, that will count as a regular season game.

On the other hand, Mountain Valley Conference teams Madison and St. Dom’s play each other Friday, but that won’t count as a regular season game. Instead, the Bulldogs play at St. Dom’s on Jan. 7.

“I think we need to look at (the tournament) as an opportunity to play on the Augusta Civic Center floor — the idea of getting in there, getting a feel of the building, and just getting some games in there,” Madison coach Al Veneziano said. The Western C regional tournament will take place at the Augusta Civic Center

Madison recently lost one of its top player, junior Bronte Elias, to a season-ending knee injury. The Bulldogs have 11 other players, and Veneziano wants to use them all Friday to try out different combinations of players.

“We will have two games, and potentially a third game,” Veneziano said. “That’s a lot of games in one day. We use 10 (players) most of the time anyway.”

In Waterville, there’s a boys hockey tournament Friday and Saturday at Colby College. Waterville, Winslow, Brunswick, and Scarborough are the participants in the Central Maine Motors Tournament.

On Friday, Waterville plays Winslow at 11 a.m. (this counts as a regular season game) and Brunswick plays Scarborough at 1. Saturday’s games are Winslow-Brunswick at 11 a.m. and Waterville-Scarborough at 1 p.m.

Waterville coach Dennis Martin said the program uses the tournament as a fundraiser. Spaulding (Vt.) usually takes part, but Martin said they couldn’t make it because of scheduling issues. Waterville has had its own scheduling issues this past week, but those have been weather-related. The Purple Panthers were supposed to host Presque Isle on Saturday and Houlton/Hodgdon on Monday, but both games were postponed by the ice storm.

“Especially after getting these two games canceled, we’re going to be real hungry to play a game,” Martin said.

Waterville enters Friday’s play with a 2-0-1 record, while Winslow is 1-1-0.

“Any time you play Winslow, you might as well throw out the records,” Martin said. “It’s going to be a war.”

While Saturday’s game against Scarborough is an exhibition, it’s still a barometer for Waterville. Scarborough was ranked No. 1 in the latest Kennebec Journal/Morning Sentinel statewide Top 10.

“We’re going to play it like it’s a regular game, and go right at it, and see how we stand up against them,” Martin said. “Can we compete against one of the best teams in the state?”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243mdifilippo@centralmaine.comTwitter: @Matt_DiFilippo
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