By Mike Zhe firstname.lastname@example.org Dec 26, 2019
Holiday boys basketball returned to Portsmouth on Thursday, as the three-day, eight-team Seacoast Winter Classic debuted. All proceeds from the event will benefit the family of Maine Police Detective Ben Campbell, who was killed in the line of duty in April.
PORTSMOUTH — Rich Buzzell, the athletic director at Marshwood High School, remembers how the region looked forward to holiday-week basketball tournaments hosted by Portsmouth High School in the 1980s.
Back when he was a player at Traip Academy, he recalled the events that would bring in several local teams, plus teams from farther away — like Portland and St. John’s Prep — to play, in essence, “King of the Neighborhood.”
He particularly recalls the 1986 version, when his Traip team upset Portsmouth and reached the championship game.
Holiday boys basketball returned to Portsmouth on Thursday, as the three-day, eight-team Seacoast Winter Classic debuted. Organized by administrators from Portsmouth and Marshwood high schools, and Tommy MacDonald of the Maine FBI, all proceeds from the event will benefit the family of Maine Police Detective Ben Campbell, who was killed in the line of duty in April.
“We were talking about it earlier today,” said York coach Paul Marquis, whose team beat Mascenic Thursday. “We feel fortunate to be a part of it as a way of maybe giving back to the community a little bit, especially the law enforcement community. They do so much, whether supporting these kids when they were youngsters or just helping the communities they serve.”
Fans came to watch basketball, where teams from South Portland, Kennebunk, York and Portsmouth advanced to Friday afternoon’s semifinals. But there was a much more.
All players were issued green, long-sleeved “Seacoast Winter Classic” shirts that they wore during warm-ups. Twenty-five referees donated their time to work the 10 total games, many of them having a connection to law enforcement.
“Beyond basketball, it’s just a great event,” said Marshwood coach Bobby Pratt, whose team lost to South Portland in the opening game. “We’re appreciative that we were included in this.”
The gym filled up more as the afternoon turned into evening, inflatable Santas and snowmen just off the four corners of the court reminding us what a festive week this should be.Marshwood, off to a 3-3 start in Class A, led South Portland by five in the second quarter. But the Red Riots, the top team in Class AA at 6-0 and regarded as one of the best in Maine, grabbed the lead with an 11-0 run before halftime and never trailed again.
The Hawks tried to put a dent in the margin behind sophomore Aidan Sullivan (17 points), who scored the last seven points of the third quarter to make it 44-37. But behind quick guard Pamba Pamba (24 points), South Portland bumped its lead back to double-figures after surrendering the first basket of the fourth and went on to win, 59-49.
“They’re so tough,” said Pratt. “They can score from every position. Their pressure gave us some trouble (in the second quarter). … We turned the ball over two or three times — boom, boom, boom, and they go on their run.
“It was a good experience. That’s one of the top teams, I think in the state of Maine. They’re athletic, they can shoot, they can defend. It was good for our kids to see what the top looks like and what we need to do to get better.”
South Portland will play Kennebunk in Friday’s first semifinal (1 p.m.). Marshwood will play Sanford in a consolation game (10 a.m.).
Unbeaten York, on the short list of contenders in Maine Class A, opened its game against Division III Mascenic with 6-foot-4 Brady Cummins throwing down an alley-oop pass from Teagan Hynes.
The game was close into the second quarter, but the Wildcats scored 50 points after halftime in their 86-38 win. Six-foot-4 Will MacDonald (15), JP Frazier (13), and Jonathan Donovan (10) and Tommy Coughlin (10) also hit double figures.
“I think we create some mismatch problems in terms of our speed and strength on the perimeter,” said Marquis, whose team will play Portsmouth in the semis.
“York is dynamite this year,” noted Portsmouth coach John Mulvey.
The final game of the night was preceded by a ceremony recognizing the service of former Greenland Police Chief Michael Maloney, who was killed in the line of duty in 2012. A similar ceremony for late Maine State Trooper Charles Black of South Berwick is planned for Saturday.
The Clippers won handily in the late game, 70-35 against Traip. Kevin Cummings and Coleman Brewster both scored 17 points, and Calvin Hewett added 13 points and a series of steals.