A few random sporting thoughts while recovering from that refreshing walk through the snow out to the mailbox to get Thursday morning’s paper and thinking about the shoveling ahead …
… I don’t know what the national high school basketball rulemakers have in mind, but it’s time for that semi-circle in the lane near each basket that separates player-control fouls from defensive blocking fouls to filter its way down from the pro and college ranks.
More than a few situations have arisen in recent high school games where players have literally raced to a spot UNDER the basket to assume a defensive position in hopes of inducing a player-control foul as the shooter seeks to land after shooting a layup.
As it is now, the foul goes against the shooter if defensive position is established, but it seems that if the defender is within a foot or two of the basket the offensive player already has won that battle. …
… The first three weeks of the schoolboy basketball season portend perhaps one of the most competitive Eastern Maine Classes B, C and D tournaments when it is held for the final time at the Bangor Auditorium come February.
No clear-cut favorites have emerged in any of those three classes, and no unbeaten teams remain in Class B where Oceanside of Rockland-Thomaston, Camden Hills of Rockport and Medomak Valley of Waldoboro occupy the top three spots.
Each is 4-1, with Oceanside defeating Medomak Valley, Medomak Valley defeating Camden Hills and Camden Hills defeating Oceanside — with those three games decided by a combined 12 points.
Presque Isle and Old Town, from a similarly wide-open Big East Conference are next, with Presque Isle edging Old Town in overtime during their first regular-season meeting.
In Class C, four teams are beginning to separate themselves from the pack, with Houlton, Lee Academy, Calais and Penquis Valley of Milo the lone remaining unbeatens. Houlton already owns an early season victory over Class B Presque Isle, and on Wednesday night outlasted Class D contender Hodgdon in overtime.
A revealing matchup among the four could come Saturday afternoon when Penquis visits Lee.
Class D is led by defending state champion Jonesport-Beals and its University of Maine-bound senior forward Garet Beal, but the Royals face plenty of competition in their bid to become the first team in the division to win back-to-back regional titles since Central Aroostook of Mars Hill in 2004-05 and 2005-06.
Deer Isle-Stonington, an EM finalist last February, took Jonesport-Beals to overtime in their first meeting of the season, while Hodgdon and Machias similarly have shown their mettle in road defeats, Hodgdon in overtime at Houlton and Machias in a seven-point loss at Calais.
Central Aroostook of Mars Hill and Washburn join Jonesport-Beals in the unbeaten ranks, as does perhaps the surprise team in the division to date, the 5-0 Bangor Christian Patriots.
Surely there’s lots to look forward to in the Auditorium’s high school basketball swan song.
… An article earlier this month about the death of former Maine high school and college basketball coach Jesse Bedwell produced a spate of follow-up emails about his penchant for storytelling and for getting himself in the middle of stories.
It turns out that the Indiana native’s Maine coaching debut came during the 1960-61 season at Falmouth High School.
And, of course, given Bedwell’s nature, there was a backstory, according to Murray Spruce of Bolivia, N.C., a senior on Bedwell’s lone Falmouth team.
Bedwell originally was hired to coach at Freeport High School — a powerhouse at the time — when the previous coach, Bryce Beattie, opted to step down.
“But Beattie changed his mind and reassumed the coaching job,” wrote Spruce. “Bedwell was furious and told Freeport, ‘I am going to find a coaching job in the Triple C Conference and come back and beat you.’
“Well, he did just that as Falmouth went up to Freeport that season and beat them. Only two years earlier, Freeport beat Falmouth by a score of 116 to 33 or something crazy like that. They led at halftime like 56-2! I remember sitting on the bench as our team got the ball across halfcourt once!”
Spruce also related another Bedwell anecdote that involved the coach’s occasional leanings for personal embellishment.
“He told us the story about him going to Puerto Rico to ‘try out’ for the Kentucky Wildcats under Adolph Rupp,” wrote Spruce. “Yes, tryouts! I don’t know if they were ‘legal’ under collegiate recruiting rules, but Bedwell was cut and, obviously, didn’t go to Kentucky.”