Former Edward Little basketball standout and current Maine Bulldogs player Wol Maiwan, right, drives to the basket during Sunday’s home opener against the Vermont’s Bennington Martens at the Lewiston Armory on Central Avenue in Lewiston. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

LEWISTON — Trevor Irish thinks the first-year Maine Bulldogs can spark an interest in basketball in Lewiston.

“It’s something I am excited about; when I was here in high school, we had regular gym (sessions) and now we have a basketball team in Lewiston to promote the culture of Lewiston basketball,” Irish, a player for the Bulldogs, said. “I am happy and that’s the first thing I said when I found out there was going to be pro basketball in Lewiston: Hopefully, we can turn it into a basketball city.”

The Bulldogs, which play in the American Basketball Association’s East Region’s Blue Division, had their home opener Sunday at the Lewiston Armory, where they lost to the Bennington Martens 127-104

Irish, who played for Lewiston High School and was on the 2014-15 Blue Devils team that reached the Class A regional final, is one of a handful of local talent on Maine’s roster, including former Lewiston teammate Tykeem Gaines and Wol Maiwen of Edward Little.

Maiwen, who played at the University of Maine and Franklin Pierce University, is also glad to get a chance to play semiprofessional basketball close to home after graduating from Franklin Pierce earlier this year.

“It feels great; I have a lot of support here and I have a lot of people who look up to me,” Maiwen said. “It’s a great opportunity to represent Maine, especially during this time.”


While the game didn’t go the Bulldogs’ way, coach Willie Ponds, who played for the Boston Celtics in 1985, said the team is still trying to find its footing as an expansion franchise.

“I was excited for the home opener and our growth,” Ponds said. “Most teams have been in the league for three or four years. Even though we may have lost by 24, that game wasn’t as lopsided as it seemed. We came back; we could have gone ahead. They made runs; we made runs back. My team grew tonight — I really think they did.”

Former Lewiston High School basketball star and current Maine Bulldogs center Trevor Irish blocks the shot of a Bennington Martens player during Sunday’s home opener at the Lewiston Armory on Central Avenue in Lewiston. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal


Maine Bulldogs coach Willie Ponds watches the game during Sunday’s home opener at the Lewiston Armory on Central Avenue in Lewiston. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

The Martens (4-1) opened the game up in the first quarter when they were leading 10-7; they rattled off 14 straight points for a 24-7 lead. Tobias Holmes sparked the run for Bennington.

He finished the first quarter with 11 points and had a team-high 27 points for the game.

Holmes said he and his teammates wanted to go to the basket.


“Attacking the rim, we didn’t want to settle for too many jump shots,” Holmes said. “We wanted to create space, get easy layups.

The Bulldogs (1-2) made their own run to close the deficit to 32-26 at the end of the opening quarter. Sam Booey had 13 of his game-high 31 points for Maine in the quarter.

“He was tough for us to guard,” Martens coach Henry Rolle said of Booey. “That’s what made it tough — he made jump shots, and he can drive to the basket.”


The second quarter saw the Bulldogs chip away at the Martens lead, getting within a point three times.

With Bennington leading 42-41, the Martens stretched the lead to 51-41 before Maine cut the lead in half. The Martens went into halftime with a 61-51 advantage.


Holmes was the offensive leader for the Martens in the second quarter.

“He did great setting us up also,” Rolle said. “Basketball is a game of runs and we wanted to have more runs than Maine did.”

Maine Bulldogs basketballs sit in a rack during Sunday’s home opener at the Lewiston Armory on Central Avenue in Lewiston. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Irish, who played junior college basketball at Central Arizona CC before playing three years at Division I Long Beach State until the 2021-22 season, had eight of his 14 points in that second quarter for the Bulldogs.

Irish said the team is still feeling each other out.

“We have a little bit of growth to do, especially against these teams that have been together four years,” Irish said.

Maiwen started to get his offensive game going in the third quarter by scoring six of his 15 points.


Bennington took a 93-81 lead into the fourth quarter after Juwan Malone had 13 of his 24 points in the third quarter.

“I feel like in third because I was relaxed in the first half — they didn’t zero in on me,” Malone said. “Because Tobias was going off, that opened up my game. We work like that. When I am hot, he lets me go and when he’s hot, I let him go.”

The fourth quarter saw fatigue set in for the Bulldogs and the Martens outscored them 34-23 in the final 12 minutes.

Ponds said Maine didn’t make the plays in the fourth as they did in the first three quarters.

“I don’t think we ran out of gas; I think we didn’t execute as we should,” Ponds said. “That’s the learning curve.”

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