So, it’s tourney time, eh? A time for making memories (or scars?) that will last a life time….just ask me and my bro.
Let’s step into the time machine borrowed from Dr. Evil (Austin Powers reference) and set the year for 1978. The Orono Red Riots hoop squad was cruising through the season, the odds-on favorite to claim the Class B gold ball. The team, led by an experienced and demanding coach, John Giffin, was trouncing most teams, including Class A powerhouse Cheverus during a holiday tournament.
These hoopsters were replicating the success of the football team from earlier that year, who went undefeated while marching toward the state title. And before the class of ’78 would graduate, they would also slug their way to the state baseball title. The assumption held by rabid fans and casual observers was that basketball was actually the Red Riots strong suit; could the Riots actually pull-off a clean sweep of state titles in ’78? Nope.
Mind you, I was actually on the OHS track team and tooting my horn for the jazz band during games in 1978. But with my twin brother and a bunch of buddies on the team, I was a fully invested, die-hard fan. We had all played hoops together, waiting for our turn to play in the tourney like our b-ball heroes did before us. But then…
I thought I was over it. Forty years has passed since that fateful February evening. Time had indeed helped to heal an old festering wound. But then a Bangor Daily News headline smacked me in the face last week: “Bucksport’s Keith Ogden to be Inducted Into the Maine Sports Hall of Fame.” Noticing my flush, grimacing face twisted in pain, my observant wife asked “Is there something wrong, hon?” At that, I threw down the paper and pointed to the headline before heading to the bathroom to chug some Pepto-Bismol.
On a cold February night in 1978, Keith Ogden, the long stretch of water from Boogie-Bucksport shattered our dreams. He, along with his cronies in purple and gold, despite losing to the Riots twice during the regular season, out-played and out-hustled the Orono boys that night, ousting my brother and my pals from the old red barn. Ouch.
Has the memory of that crushing defeat stayed with us? Well, let’s just say every time my brother and I get our creaky fifty-something-year-old bodies to the driveway to shoot some hoops, we ALWAYS turn the clock back to the winter of ’78. It usually begins with “OK, there’s no time left on the clock! Bucksport is ahead by one, and Ogden just fouled you. You’ve got two foul shots to win the game!”
By the way, just to prove ’78 wasn’t a fluke, the Golden Bucks went on to win the state crown, and duplicated their success in ’79. Keith O. would go on to have a stellar career at Husson, and after playing against him a few times in some local rec leagues, I think the OHS squad of ’78 was fortunate to have ever beaten any team he played-on, regular season or not!
So for those of you heading to the tourney this week, best of luck to you! The week will provide both heart-warming and heart-crushing memories for decades to come. And be thankful that Keith Ogden isn’t on the opposing team. Wicked hard to box that guy out.