Tournament memories

Seahawks boys basketball: Years of excitement and heartache before 2001

Tue, 02/16/2021 - 8:00am

I remember reading it on the front page of the Boothbay Register: Star forward Paul Sherman suffered a severe cut (52 stitches!) on his right hand (shooting hand) and arm when his arm went through a cafeteria door window at the school.

Will this mean the team won’t be able to put up a good challenge for the 1967 Western Maine Class M championship against Old Orchard Beach?

I was 10 years old and starting my own basketball career and, like other Seahawk boys basketball fans, was stunned to hear the news. I went to that game and, despite the efforts of Sherman (who played with a heavy bandage but still led the team with 16 points), cousin Paul Lorrain and “my other Seahawk heroes,” the Seahawks, who finished second in the standings, got upset by the number five seed, Old Orchard Beach, 54-41, in the Western Maine Class M final. OOB lost the state final to Brownville Junction, 63-58.

The year after, the top-seeded Yarmouth Clippers prevailed, 63-51, over seventh-seeded Boothbay in the Western Maine final. Yarmouth went on to dominate Searsport, 83-62, in the state final.

What if?

“What if” seemed to follow the Seahawks boys basketball program for many seasons after … until 2001 when the Seahawks won their first (and only) state championship.

Perhaps the biggest “what if” happened just the year before the Gold Ball-winning year when coach I.J. Pinkham had what is arguably the best group of players the region had ever seen (Ben Smith, Tyler Tibbetts, Matt Thompson, Dan Williams, Jay Spoon, Ian McConnell, Bobby Deetjen, Mike Leighton, Mike Tomacelli, Bill Hardwick, etc.). What if Penquis hadn’t hit all those three-pointers? They did, however, and Boothbay lost, 58-45, at the Augusta Civic Center. Remember the heartache?

After the coach Keith Mahaney era (mid to late 60s), the Seahawks were guided by Walt Gorneau, Bob Strong and Jim Smyth (one year). The Seahawks made the tournament in ’69, ’70, ’72 and ’73 (under Gorneau) but each year were in the bottom tier of the top eight teams (7th, 8th, 8th and 6th, respectively).

In 1976, Smyth guided the Seahawks to the top of what was now Western Maine Class C (Boothbay had moved up from Class D). Boothbay made it past Carrabec and Wiscasset, but lost to second-seeded Fryeburg Academy, 64-50, in the regional final. Fryeburg went on to win the state crown, 73-64, over Searsport.

Fryeburg, along with another public/private school, Hyde of Bath, will figure into Boothbay’s basketball tournament woes as we move on from here.

In coach Pinkham’s inaugural year at BRHS (1977), the team made it back to the Western Maine Class C final, this time as a number 4 seed. An overtime win over Jay (86-79) and an upset over top-seeded Richmond (73-70) put the Seahawks in a matchup against second-seeded Wells in the regional final. The Warriors prevailed, 63-59.

After missing the tournament in 1978, Seahawk nation got its first taste of state championship basketball in 1979. Again the top-seed, BRHS cruised over Wells, 99-77, squeaked past the fourth-seed, Richmond, 62-61, and won its first regional crown by beating sixth-seeded Erskine Academy, 63-50.

In the championship game at Bangor Auditorium, George Stevens Academy hit some shots down the stretch and carried the Gold Ball home to Blue Hill, winning 79-71.

1980 – enter the year of the first tournament prelim games and the controversy of letting public/private schools compete in the public school tournament.

The Hyde Phoenix were seeded ninth and easily won their prelim game over eighth-seeded Richmond, 89-68. The win pitted them against – you guessed it – the top-seeded Seahawks. With a team of skilled players from other parts of the country, the Phoenix upset Boothbay big time, 85-53. Hyde went on to defeat Kents Hill, Jay and Washington Academy to win the Gold Ball. Some people in the state high school basketball circles thought Hyde could compete well against Class A teams that year.

The early and mid ’80s saw the Seahawks make the prelim round in ’81 (11th, lost to Hall-Dale), ’83 (fifth seed, lost to Winthrop in the quarterfinal, 67-63), ’84 (losing again to Winthrop in the quarterfinal, 76-58, as the sixth seed), and ’86 (third seed, defeating Mt. Abram, 88-65, and losing to an upstart 10th seeded Mexico team, 88-68 in the semifinal).

In 1987, BRHS (12th) lost its prelim to Old Orchard Beach. In 1988, the Seahawks (3rd) lost to Hall-Dale in the quarterfinals, 73-70. In 1989, the second-seeded Seahawks returned to the Western Maine final, defeating Winthrop and Dirigo, before losing to top-seeded Livermore Falls, 76-63. Livermore lost to John Bapst in the state final.

1990 saw the Seahawks drop to 10th place and lose their prelim game at Jay, 53-49. 1991 was Boothbay’s rival, Wiscasset’s year. WHS went on to win the state championship, 76-73, over Calais.

Boothbay’s next tournament action came in 1994, albeit a brief one, losing in the final seconds, 65-63, at home to Sacopee Valley (remember the name!) in the prelim. The Seahawks were 7th and Sacopee was 10th.

In 1995, Boothbay finished in seventh place again but won its prelim, 86-65, over Livermore Falls. Second-seeded Wiscasset easily handled Boothbay in the quarterfinal, 80-59. Wiscasset went on to the state final, only to lose to Hodgdon, 71-54.

The late 1990s saw the Falmouth Yachtsmen handling several schools in Class C (Many believed that Falmouth, with its enrollment numbers, should have competed in Class B). Boothbay (3rd) faced Falmouth (2nd) in the 1996 semifinal and lost 67-58. Falmouth then defeated Winthrop, 61-58, to play in the state championship and lost to Hodgdon, 77-71.

Sacopee (did you remember?), seeded eighth, shocked the top-seeded and undefeated Seahawks, 56-54, in the 1997 quarterfinals. People then canceled their hotel plans in Bangor.

Falmouth, still in Class C and seeded second in 1998, sent Boothbay home again with a 57-47 win. Falmouth won the state championship, 78-61, over Washington Academy.

Before the Yachtsmen moved on to a higher class, Boothbay would face them once again in the tournament, in 1999. This time, it was for the Western Maine Class C championship. Falmouth was the top seed and Boothbay was seeded third. Boothbay got past Mt. Abram and Winthrop to reach the regional final. Falmouth cruised past St. Dominic and Dirigo. Again, Boothbay put up a good fight but lost to the eventual state champions (second straight), 63-57. The Yachtsmen defeated Penquis, 58-36, for the Gold Ball.

In March, we will review the 2001 season, the march to Bangor to win the Gold Ball, and the end of “what if,” on the 20th anniversary of that special season.

The scores and results above were provided by Frank Spanky’s thorough website at

We can’t vouch that the scores are 100% accurate, but are sure the outcomes are.