Now that the turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and pies have been put away, preparations begin for the upcoming Christmas season. As we make our lists and check them twice our thoughts turn to another seasonal rite of passage: high school basketball in Maine.
True basketball junkies had their appetites whetted over the past weekend with numerous preseason events throughout the state. Fans will have the opportunity to witness more hardwood action this week with the return of the Smokey Lawrence Memorial Tournament in Brewer.
Frederick “Smokey” Lawrence was a fixture in Bangor area sports communities for many decades. In his younger years he officiated many sports such as football, basketball, and softball. Later on he served several area schools by working the score clock at virtually any and all events, most notably at Brewer and John Bapst high schools. He also organized officials for youth and middle level sports in the area.
Smokey passed away in September 2012 at the age of 72. I had the pleasure of working alongside him for many years either in the football press box or at the scorer’s table for basketball. He clearly exhibited a love of sports but more importantly a love for people. He was always there with a kind word and was genuinely easy to talk to.
To honor Smokey, officials at John Bapst, Brewer, and Orono high schools organized a tournament in his memory. The inaugural Smokey Lawrence Memorial Tournament took place in 2013. Those initial contests also happened to be the first high school basketball games to be played in the new Cross Insurance Center. The tournament was held at the Cross Center for the first two seasons with six games being held in a round robin format featuring the girls and boys squads from Brewer, John Bapst, and Orono.
Last year the tournament was held at Brewer High School the day before Thanksgiving. Eight games were played as George Stevens Academy of Blue Hill joined the tournament field. This year’s event will be a two day affair, held on Tuesday, November 29th and Wednesday, November 30th, also at Brewer High School. The girls take the floor on Tuesday with the following schedule:
3:30 Brewer vs. John Bapst
4:45 John Bapst vs. George Stevens
6:00 George Stevens vs. Orono
7:15 Brewer vs. Orono
On Wednesday the boys will take the floor with the same schedule.
If you need a little hoops fix before the calendar hits December, head over to Brewer High School on Tuesday and Wednesday. Get a preview of some local teams while at the same time honor the memory of a man who did so much for athletics in our region.