Allagash Girl’s Basketball
1976 & 1977
By Jim Carter
The Allagash “Lady Bobcats” girls basketball team put the town of Allagash on the “Basketball Map” in the State of Maine in 1976 and 1977. They were 1 and 15 in the 1975 season but that set the stage for future success for the “Bobcats.” That year the “Bobcats” were ranked no. 2 and played Greenville in the Eastern Maine Semi-finals at Husson College who they defeated 46-40 behind Barbara Kelly’s 22 points. The next day they played East Grand in the EM final a team they had lost to twice during the regular season. The Easter Maine final tilt was a hard fought battle with East Grand coming away with a 43-35 win.
The “Bobcats” games were really events for the entire town, everyone in the community was a part of it. The community’s population in 1976 was around 800 and the school population was 33. Every home game was sold out with the bleachers full and chairs set up around the gym. For games on the road practically the entire town emptied out to follow the team. The school would actually close when they traveled, 15 on the boys team and the same number on the girls team plus three managers equals the entire student body. Because of the low enrollment the school was allowed to use a MPA rule that allowed eighth graders to play on varsity teams.
Girls varsity basketball began in Allagash in 1973 under Clara McBreairty, a teacher at the school who had played ball at the old Fort Kent State Teachers’ College. At that time the girls did not know much about basketball and in-order to be successful had to work extremely hard. Leroy Marquis who was already coaching the boy’s team took over the reins of the girl’s team in 1975. Marquis was hard on them, but they referred to it as a “tough love” style that made them better players and that got them to multiple tournament games and the two gold balls.
It was difficult to obtain a local schedule so it was not unusual for the team to spend a great deal of time on the bus. There were many times where they would travel six hours to away games in all kinds of weather including snowstorms. They would also stay in homes of rival team members.
In 1976 Allagash finished the regular season with a 14-0 record and was ranked no. 1 in Eastern Maine Class D. Only four teams were allowed to participate in the tournament and Allagash played Hodgdon (at Husson College) in the semi-final round and came away with a 57-28 win. Darlene Kelley led the “Bobcats” in scoring with 25 points. They played East Grand in the Eastern Maine final. In that game Allagash scored 22 of the first 25 points than had to withstand a furious East Grand rally to come away with the Eastern Maine Class D Championship with a 46-41 win. Freshman Kadi O’Leary and Starr McBreairty scored the games first 10 points. O’Leary had 16 points, McBreairty added 12, B. Kelly 8, D. Kelly 7 and R. Gardner 3. Darlene Kelly was also brilliant in the ball handling department.
After six hours of riding, the “Bobcat” girls claimed the gold basketball by defeating Buckfield (who came into the game with just two losses) 57-43 at the Bangor Auditorium. The “Bobcats” scored 8 unanswered points to begin the fourth quarter to go from a one point deficit to a seven point lead in less than two minutes. Three Allagash girls hit for double figures; both Bonnie and Darlene Kelly had 18 points and Kadi O’Leary added 13.
In 1977 the Bobcats accumulated a record of 13-3 and were again ranked no. 1 in Eastern Maine Class D girls. During the season 5’10” center Kadi O’Leary averaged 19 points and 15 rebounds while Starr McBreairty and Darlene Kelly averaged 14ppg. The semi-final round was held at the Brewer Auditorium where the defending State Champions took on fourth ranked East Grand. The “Bobcats” took a 10 point lead at half time and led by eight at the end of the third quarter but had withstand a spectacular comeback by East Grand to come away with a 47-42 win and advance to the Eastern Maine Final. Starr McBreairty led Allagash with 15 points, Darlene Kelly 12, Kadi O’leary 10 and Lisa Kelly 10.
In the Eastern Maine Final the “Bobcats” faced Greenville at the Bangor Auditorium. During a six minute span in the first period Allagash outscored the Lakers 10-0 to take a 17 to 7 lead at the end of the first quarter a lead from which the Lakers could never recover from. Applying a press to begin the second-half the “Bobcats” ran off eight points and took a 33-19 lead just two minutes into the second half. Kadi O’Leary led the “Bobcats” with 18 points, teammates Darlene Kelly and Starr McBreairty chippen in with 16 and 13 respectively.
Allagash won their second consecutive State Championship by defeating Western Maine Champions Buckfield by a lopsided score of 71-39. 5’10” sophomore Kadi O’Leary led the “Bobcats” with 31 points and double digits in rebounds, Darlene Kelly also played a vital role pumping in 20 points, Starr McBreairty added nine. Allagash was 32 for 78 from the floor. Their final season record was 17-3. Selected to the first BDN Eastern Maine All – Tourney squad were Starr McBreairty, Kadi O’Leary and Darlene Kelly.
The two State Class D State Championships were the pinnacle in Allagash basketball. However the “Bobcats remained competitive, during the 1977-78 season they defeated East Grand in the semi-finals of the Eastern Maine Tournament 48-47, but then Greenville denied them three consecutive Eastern Maine Championships by defeating them in the EM final 63-50. The “Bobcats” qualified for the Eastern Maine tournament again in the 1978-79 season. In the 1979 tournament they defeated Jonesport-Beals in the semi-final 64-45 only to lose to East Grand 64-45 in the Championship game. Despite declining enrollment they reached the tournament again in the 1980 season losing their first round game to East Grand 55-43. In 1981 they entered the tournament again as a result of a win over Lubec in a preliminary game 55-42. In the semi-final round they were defeated by John Bapst 89-50.
1977: Class D All Tournament selections – Starr McBreairty, Kadi O’Leary, and Darlene Kelly
1978: Class D All Tournament selections – Starr McBreairty, and Kadi O’Leary
1979: Class D All Tournament selections - Starr McBreairty, and Kadi O’Leary
1980: Class D All Tournament selections – Ginger McBreairty
1981: Class D All Tournament selections – Windy Pelletier
1979: Bangor Daily News All-State selection: Kadi O’Leary Third Team.
“ It must have been a very special time in Allagash.”
Allagash eventually became part of MSAD 27 in Fort Kent. The last graduating class was 1995 and students now travel 30 miles to Fort Kent.
1976 Heal Points
1.Allagash 14-0 80.24
2.East Grand 11-5 70.93
3.Greenville 10-6 46.46
4.Hodgdon 12-6 44.13
5.Jonesport-Beals 8-6 42.61
6.Islesboro 2-10 14.35
7.Bangor Christian 3-13 13.02
8.Easton 0-13 0.00
9.Lubec 0-14 0.00
1977 Heal Points
1. Allagash 13-3 105.63
2. Jonesport-Beals 14-1 92.63
3. Greenville 14-2 88.50
4. East Grand 10-6 61.11
5. Bangor Christian 5-10 50.96
6. Lubec 2-12 6.96
7. Forest Hills 2-14 1.25
8. Easton 0-12 0.00
I would like to thank Elizabeth Stevens at the Bangor Public Library and Darlene Kelly Dumond for their assistance in writing this article.