Maine basketball hall: Fortin, Meader, Clark to be inducted

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The second class will be inducted into the Maine Basketball Hall of Fame on Sunday at the Cross Insurance Arena in Bangor at 1:30 p.m..

Out of the 29 inductees, four have local ties, including Denis Clark, Dick Meader, Paul Fortin and Wayne Champeon. The hall will also be recognizing six Legends of the Game, including official Mike DiRenzo of Auburn and the 1954 Ellsworth boys’ basketball team that defeated South Portland in the Class LL championship game, now known as Class A.

For Meader and Clark, sixth grade was an important year for both men as they set out on their basketball journey.

“Wanting to be a basketball coach since I was in the sixth grade probably,” Meader said. “Being one all my life has been a great culmination to that.”

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Meader played his high school basketball at Solon High School where he was the school’s all-time leading scorer. He played his college basketball at the University of Maine at Farmington. He was an assistant coach at the University of Maine where he received his masters. He later went to coach at Thomas College for 17 years and just completed his 23rd season at UMF.

Between Thomas and UMF he has 450 wins and has been named coach of the year at least once in each of the last five decades. He also opened up the Pine Tree Basketball Camp in Waterville with Dick Whitmore, which he ran for 38 years before stepping away in 2011. The camp served 38,000 athletes under Meader.

One of his biggest accomplishments he said is the amount of Maine kids he has coached.

“A lot of kids will stop me and say how much that (the Pine Tree Basketball Camp) meant to them and how it was the highlight of their summer,” Meader said. “That has been a very rewarding thing, and one of the reasons why I tried both at Thomas and especially Farmington to have Maine kids on our teams. There’s probably no question I have coached more Maine kids than anybody in the state.”

Clark played his high school basketball at Winthrop, playing varsity all four years from 1961-65. He scored over 1,500 points, led the Ramblers to the 1964 Class L championship game — what is now Class B — where they fell to Ellsworth in their pursuit of a perfect season. A year later as a senior, he averaged 22.5 points a game as Winthrop finished 16-2 and captured the Class L championship.

“I was called down in the sixth grade to play for the junior high team,” Clark recalled. “I made the varsity team as a freshman and I was the starting point guard. I scored 27 points in my first game because the other guard didn’t guard me. I stood at the top of the circle and he was collapsing and clogging up the middle. I just said to myself, ‘you are going to have to guard me,’ so I kept shooting until he did.”

He went onto Springfield College in Springfield, Mass., where he amassed 1,588 points from 1967-70. During his senior year, he averaged 27.8 points per game, which still stands as a school record and also had a 50-point performance against Holy Cross, which remains a school record. For his efforts that season, he was a First Team All-American.

After his college career was over, he was drafted by the NBA in 1970 by the Detroit Pistons in the 15th round, but didn’t play in the league.

He said the honor this weekend is going to be special.

“It’s the most important one I am in. I will put it that way,” Clark said. “I am in the Springfield College Athletic Hall of Fame and the New England Basketball Hall of Fame. I been in them for quite a number of years, but to be in this one it’s the biggest statement for me. I must have inspired kids to pick up a basketball and play along the way. That makes me feel good so I am really honored.”

 Fortin led Lewiston to the Class LL championship in 1960 with a 81-64 victory over Brewer as the Blue Devils completed an undefeated season. The team went on to play in the New England tournament. He moved onto Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas, where he was a letterman from 1962-64. His college coach said he was the best 6-foot-5 player in college basketball. He was inducted into the Auburn-Lewiston Sports Hall of Fame in 1990.

Champeon made his mark as player with Greenville High School where he won a Class M State Championshp — the present day Class D — in 1954. He was a letterman winner from 1958-61 with the University of Maine and a member of the school athletic hall of fame. He’s also a member of the Maine State Sports Hall of Fame. After his playing career, he coached Edward Little in addition to Foxcroft Academy.

The other inductees are Bob Warner (Thornton Academy/University of Maine), Gary Towle (Cony, Providence and Assumption College), Dan Drinon (Bangor/Ventura Junior College and University of San Francisco), Edward “Bo” McFarland (Scarborough/Bowdoin), Maureen Burchill Cooper (Deering/USM), Ted Shiro (Waterville/Colby College), Peter Kelley (Caribou and Phillips Exeter (N.H./Harvard), Nick Scaccia (Sanford/Colgate), Emily Ellis (Mt. View/Maine), Marcie Lane Schulenburg (Cony/Boston University and New Hampshire), Steve Condon (Presque Isle/Leicester Junior College and Maine), Ray Bishop (Morse/USM), Keith Mahaney (Maine), Liz Coffin (Maine), John Norris (Bangor/Georgetown and Maine), John Edes (Ellsworth/Colby), Jack Coyne (Cheverus/Maine) and Ed Marchetti (Morse/Colby).

Clark remembers the time he faced Edward “Bo” McFarland in the state tournament.

“When (Roy) Chipman (Clark’s coach at Winthrop) gave us assignments for defense when we played (Scarbororough) in the tournament, Chipman assigned me to another player other than Bo-Bo,” Clark said. “After he gave the assignments, I went up to him and said: ‘If I don’t guard Bo-Bo, I ain’t playing.’ I knew how important it was because I knew if Bo-Bo got off that, we were going to have a tough time. I just said, ‘absolutely we can not let him get going, we cannot get him going.’ I ended up guarding him. It all worked out for our benefit.”

The coaching inductees are Dick Barstow (Central Aroostook/Presque Isle), Gene Hunter (South Portland/Morse), Dwight Littlefield (Valley), Art Dyer (Medomak/Westbrook), Bruce MacGregor (Husson) and Roger Reed (Bangor/Bangor Christian).

Pete Webb is being inducted for his officiating career with 1,500 games under his belt and served as the state’s assistant basketball commissioner for 13 years. He was also named as the commissioner for the last 25 years. He was also the President of the International Association of Approved Basketball Officials in 2002.

The other five Legends of the Game are Bob Whytock (Official/Assistant coach at Old Town), David Dorion (JV coach at Morse), Kim London ( JV coach at Katahdin), Marcia Adams (Cony/All American Red Heads), George Hale (Broadcaster), Bernard McKenzie (Assistant coach at Old Town).

The 1954 Ellsworth team lost in the semifinal round of the 1954 New England Tournament, 54-53, to Hillhouse (New Haven, Conn.) in front of 13,000 fans at the old Boston Garden. Inductee John Edes had 27 points in the contest and named as an All-New England Selection.

“I was up there for last year for the first one. Tony Hamlin, who’s in charge of the process, does a great job with it,” Meader said. “It’s a great banquet and a lot of people who you haven’t seen in a while. I look forward to seeing everyone up there.”

nfournier@sunjournal.com

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