AUBURN – Friends will tell you if they think you’re making a rash, wrong decision, and Lynn Girouard’s did.

When Miss Maine Basketball 1999 told her inner circle that she’d continue her career at Central Maine Community College for at least two years, the reaction was fast, and OK, maybe a little bit furious.

“Not everybody approved of it,” Girouard said. “They were like, ‘Are you serious?’ They knew I was basically all signed up to go to USM.”

The University of Southern Maine was in the NCAA Division III national title picture every year, as it remains today. CMCC was a junior college program, less than a decade old and hardly steeped in tradition.

Girouard, one of the stars of a regional championship team at Lewiston High School, changed all that.

Bucking convention and tradition, she eventually transferred her school credits into a local Bachelor’s degree program and became the first woman to play four years for the Mustangs. Girouard made CMCC a fixture in the small-college tournament, which it hosted in back-to-back seasons during her stay.

Ten years later, her career (1,648) and single-season (648) point totals stand alone as school records. And Girouard has earned a distinction that might never have been hers at Southern Maine or Saint Joseph’s or Husson.

She will be inducted into the New England Basketball Hall of Fame in the junior college category. The ceremonies are set for the weekend of Oct. 9-10 at Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut.

“It’s kind of a shock and a great honor,” Girouard said. “It was totally out of the blue.”

Girouard’s success on the current never fit the description.

From her days in the local youth leagues, Girouard was part of a vaunted class that included fellow future college stars Kristi Royer, Bianca Belcher and Lakeesha Holloman.

After Royer chose Bowdoin and Belcher selected Colby, there were audible whispers when the state’s premier senior player chose an in-town school without a history.

It didn’t take long for life to rear its head and confirm that Girouard made the correct decision.

“I’m a big family person, and with my sister and my brothers, it seemed like everybody was spitting out babies at the time. I didn’t want to miss any of that,” Girouard said. “Then when I lost my dad about a year after I started college, I realized that I probably would’ve had to come home for my mother’s sake. It ended up being the best thing.”

In terms of immediate playing time and impact on a developing program, Girouard’s choice of CMCC was proven correct from day one.

Girouard led CMCC to an undefeated regular season and a top-three finish in the nation in her first two seasons.

“We hosted a team called Mt. Aloysius in the national tournament,” Girouard said. “The gym was packed. The other team had a player and we went back-and-forth all night hitting 3-pointers and trying to guard each other. It’s one of those games I’ll never forget.”

Playing in CM’s intimate Kirk Hall with a who’s-who of former tri-county high school stars became contagious. And when CM began a co-op with USM’s Lewiston-Auburn College that allowed students to transfer credits directly into a four-year program, Girouard took advantage of the opportunity to prolong her career in familiar territory.

“I was going to stay two years and transfer, but it just so happened that I stayed four years and got two degrees out of it,” Girouard said. “I don’t think it would have worked out the way it did if I’d gone to any other school.”

Girouard enters the hall on the strength of her college exploits, but her earlier accomplishments with the Blue Devils might be worthy in their own right.

Her touted senior squad fell victim to Mt. Blue and the first of future University of Maine great Heather Ernest’s back-to-back state titles, but not before Lewiston stormed to conference and regional crowns without a fight.

“All the way up through elementary to AAU to high school to college, I had good coaches. And I was a pretty coachable kid. You learn a lot when you’re coachable,” Girouard said. “I learned different things from all of them, and they all played a role in the player I was.”

Girouard continues to play her well-rounded game each winter in the Auburn Recreation Department women’s league.

“It’s basically just a way to get good exercise now. It’s pretty competitive, though. The older women don’t like to lose,” she said with a laugh.

Having celebrated her 3-year-old daughter’s birthday on Friday, Girouard expects to be involved in hoops for the long haul.

“She’s the pride and joy of everything I do,” Girouard said. “I’m anticipating that she probably will be involved in sports somehow.”

And you can bet that wherever the young lady decides to go to college, Mom will support the decision.

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If you’re a Red Sox or Patriots lifer, you’ve probably found yourself watching the final outs of the 2004 World Series or the winning drive of Super Bowl XXXVI for the 36th time and fearing a different ending.

Andy Bedard knows the feeling. Whenever the 1994 Mountain Valley High School boys’ basketball team holds an impromptu reunion and projects the grainy evidence of a certain, glorious Friday night onto a flat screen, the opening minutes make Bedard a little queasy.

“We start to watch the tape and I wonder, ‘How the heck did I score 53 points?’ Those first few shots I was happy to hit the foam on the bottom of the backboard,” Bedard said. “I don’t know if it was a timeout that turned it around, or what. But Coach (Matt) Kaubris, like he always did, just said keep shooting and the shots eventually would fall.”

Oh, they fell. Dropped, drained and swished to the tune of an all-class state championship record that may never be broken.

Bedard bedazzled Camden-Rockport (now Camden Hills) with off-balance runners from the Bangor Auditorium paint, slashing layups and 3-pointers launched from closer to half-court than the top of the key.

It was a performance that defined Bedard’s career and solidified his status as a Division I prospect despite his limited height (6-foot-1 in sneakers) and slender build (well under 200 pounds before the college weight room intervened). And now, ultimately, it probably was his ticket to the New England Basketball Hall of Fame.

Basketball took Bedard to Boston College, the University of Maine and ultimately a professional stint in Portugal. But when Bedard enters the relatively young hall Oct. 9, it’ll be for his exploits in three years wearing the cobalt blue and silver of his hometown Falcons.

“I think it’s just the pride of that area and those towns. We all grew up with a little bit of a chip on our shoulders,” Bedard said. “We always would rather play basketball for two hours than go to the movies. I remember the day after the state game, we were saying, ‘Who’s going to unlock the gym so we have a place to play?’ That’s all we thought about.”

Huge point totals on the tournament stage became Bedard’s calling card. Overmatched opponents became just as familiar, however, with his knack for a soul-crushing steal, a thunderous dunk or a no-look pass to an open teammate for an uncontested 3-pointer.

Bedard probably made his teammates better, but there’s no doubt it was a symbiotic relationship. Dean Boudreau (Central Maine Community College) and Shawn Spadea (CMCC and the University of Maine at Farmington) became college stars. Adam Dayon grew into a competitive weightlifter.

“Boudreau was probably the best 3-point shooter in the state,” Bedard said. “A lot of what I got was because teams couldn’t afford to leave him open.”

Mountain Valley’s battles with Winthrop — armed with their own Division I-bound anchor, T.J. Caouette — became the stuff of legend in those years. Every seat in the gymnasium would be sold and occupied by the start of the junior varsity game.

Those friendships and that unparalleled tradition made for a painful decision when Bedard chose to leave home and spend his senior year with the Maine Central Institute prep school basketball factory in Pittsfield.

“There were some players up there, let me tell you. It was a little different from the MVC,” Bedard said. “For about the first month, I’d go back to my dorm room after practice with my tail between my legs. It was something I had to do in order to build my skills to the point where I could play at the next level.”

Bedard spent two years at BC as a part-time starting point guard.

“We won a Big East championship,” he said, “and that year we played against all seven of the next year’s NBA lottery picks. That was a great experience.”

Sensing an opportunity for a starring role and a chance to punctuate his career close to home, Bedard and teammate Nate Fox transferred to Maine. His hopes of leading the Black Bears to their first NCAA tournament berth were dashed when Bedard broke his wrist in the America East conference tournament.

After brief stints playing in Europe and coaching at Maine, Bedard resigned from the top coaching job at Saint Joseph’s College before coaching a game and ventured into the business world. He started a company that is housed in the fourth floor of the Five County Credit Union building in downtown Lewiston.

“We do some real estate, some insurance, some financial,” Bedard said. “It’s good. I get to work with my brother (Joe, a former Division III track and field national champion). I get to see him and pick on him every day.”

Bedard is the father of a boy, 2, and a girl born Sept. 9. He suspects that the basketball won’t fall far from the tree but has shelved his coaching aspirations until that time.

And these days the only people who get a glimpse of Bedard’s hall of fame talent are teammates and rivals in the occasional men’s league game.

“It’s not the same. I used to laugh at those guys for being old and out of shape,” Bedard said. “I’m not laughing anymore.”

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High school boys

Andy Bedard, Mountain Valley

Steve Pound, Stearns

Nick Scaccia, Sanford

Jack Scott, Ellsworth

High school girls

Cyndi Meserve Bona, Livermore Falls

Liz Coffin, Ashland

Bri Fecteau, Westbrook

Linda Johnson Freeman, Scarborough

Julie Veilleux, Cony

High school boys’ coaches

Jeff Hart, Camden Hills

Charlie Katsiaficas, Ellsworth

Tom Maines, Morse

John Shaw, Rumford

High school girls’ coaches

Rick Clark, York

Roland Cote, Sanford

Prep school boys’ players

Archie Tracy, MCI

Prep school girls’ players

Amy Belliveau, Thornton

Division III men’s coach

Rick Simonds, St. Joseph’s

Division III women’s players

Joanna Brown, USM

Julie Roche Simpson, Bates

Division III women’s coach

Stefanie Pemper, Bowdoin

NAIA men’s player

Walt Edwards, Husson

NAIA women’s player

Jan Brinkman, UMF

Shara MacDonald, Husson

Junior college women’s player

Lynn Girouard, Central Maine CC

Multiple categories

Rick Boyages, Bowdoin/Bates (player and coach)

John Edes, Colby (player and referee)

Carol Bubar-Gilpin, UMF (high school and college player)


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