Forty-two basketball games in a dozen days. Those are my numbers and I’m sticking to ’em.

Other than the workers and the hearty handful of spectators who get their weekly pass punched prior to every session of the regional tournament at Augusta Civic Center, nobody watched as much hoop last week as I did. In lieu of applause, please consider donations toward my much-needed counseling.

I missed my kid’s winter vacation, my wife’s birthday, Valentine’s Day, sleep, exercise and balanced meals while losing my mind and loving every minute of it.

The allure of tourney week in its excessive entirety is difficult even for people who consider themselves diehard fans to understand. You either get it or you don’t.

Why would any human being drag himself out of bed at 9:15 a.m. and drive 20 minutes with duct tape holding his eyes open to watch a Buckfield-Islesboro girls’ quarterfinal game, you ask? Hello! What else should I have done? Sit down at the home computer for an hour and catch up with my creditors? Watch Rosie fight with Elisabeth on “The View?” Chip the ice off my leaking roof?

Please. Some of you people are so responsible.

Besides, you need me camped out in the cavernous auditorium so you can catch up with all the stuff that happened while you were contributing to the economy and communicating with the ball-and-chain and the brood. And believe me, stuff did happen. If I could remember it all, I would be dangerous.

Before I suppress whatever recollections remain, let’s take a quick look back at the ups and downs of the 2007 Eastern Class A and Western B, C and D tourneys:

Up: Half-court offense. It’s simple. The teams that knew how to run one (Bangor, Mountain Valley, Boothbay, Dirigo and Gould boys and Cony, Messalonskee, Mt. Abram and Hyde girls) were successful. Those who preferred to run, shoot and pray probably handed in their uniforms after the first weekend.

Down: Bands and cheerleaders. Not enough schools have them, and many of those who do show up seem passionless and more concerned with eating snow cones. An up within the down to the Dirigo jazz/rock ensemble and the Lawrence pep band for their solid, old school effort, particularly the Lawrence bandleader who sang and led cheers through a karaoke/carnival midway sound machine. Great stuff.

Up: The people running the show. In the interest of full disclosure, Augusta tournament director Mike Burnham is a longtime friend and mentor of mine, but his branch of the tourney continues to run smoothly and splendidly under his leadership.

Down: Fans who don’t know the rules and refuse to shut up. Quick, define traveling, palming the basketball, double dribble and the three-second violation without making me suffer a mini-mal conniption fit or laugh coffee through my nose. BZZZZZZZZ! Time’s up. May the laryngitis be with you.

Up: Prep schools. Gould and Hyde won Western D titles Saturday. I know, I know, Rangeley and Richmond and Bingham and Jackman sympathizers, they have the freedom to accept kids from California and Texas and Florida, and they have three times more students than your school. One, do you really believe any kid transfers to Gould solely for athletic reasons unless he’s a skier? Two, if anything, your kids have the advantage because they’ve played together since peewees. And three, the Maine Principals’ Association is solving your problem by tinkering with the numbers to move those two into Class C next year. Tip your hat and move on.

Down: Cumberland County Civic Center. It has a killer atmosphere for hockey games, high school graduations, manufactured home shows, Disturbed concerts and state funerals. Faced with the prospect of watching a high school basketball tournament game there, it is easier to get fired up for an open microphone poetry jam.

Up: Doug Lisherness and Heidi Deery. Unlike some of the haunts we cover, the fine folks of Northern Franklin County seem to appreciate their basketball coaches. I certainly hope so. Lisherness of Western C girls’ champion Mt. Abram and Deery of Western D girls’ runner-up Rangeley are good people, good role models and good coaches in good communities.

Down: Zone defense. My kingdom and my tournament ribbon for a game – one game isn’t asking much, is it? — in which the combatants have the courage to play straight-up, man-to-man for 32 minutes.

Up: FOX Sports Radio out of Waterville/Skowhegan, WOXO and WTBM of Norway/Rumford, WKTJ of Farmington and Maine Public Broadcasting Network for their continuing service of bringing the games to the people who either aren’t healthy or wealthy enough or blessed with as much free time as get-a-lifers such as I.

Down: Close games. There admittedly weren’t as many as I expected. Did the poor people confined to the Western A and B tournament in Portland see a game closer than seven points all week?

Up: Winthrop girls. I saw them play at Lisbon the first week of January, albeit short-handed, and I wouldn’t have given them a chance of finishing 5-13 and getting into a preliminary game. So of course the Ramblers caught fire and reached the Western C final. Nice work, ladies.

Down: My weight, blood pressure and bank account beginning this week, now that life is back to a normal routine. I’m so glad Tourney Week, like Christmas, only comes once a year. And I already can’t wait until next year.

Kalle Oakes is a staff writer. His e-mail is [email protected]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.