Fort Fairfield Basketball
In the early 1900’s there was not a lot of local interest in football but in 1907 there was a great amount of interest in basketball. Interest was so great in Fort Fairfield that that a committee consisting of Mr. Hutcheon, Mr. Fitzherbert and Mr. Perry were appointed to make the necessary arrangements. The school committee allowed them to use the lower portion of the Hacker School House and it was almost immediate renovated for a practice room. Class teams were organized and a series of games were played with the school championship eventually being one by the sophomores. Games were played in Memorial Hall which was fitted up by the Y.M.C.A.(Young Men’s Christian Assoc.)
In November of 1907 Principal Clement and Ernest Stevens went to Presque Isle to assist in forming a Basketball League along with other school officials from around the County. The members of this league were: Houlton Y.M.C.A., Ashland Y.M.C.A. , Island Falls, Washburn, Fort Fairfield. The object of the league was to promote an interest in the game of basketball, to afford an opportunity for the playing of the game upon a uniform basis, and to govern and control the game along clean-sport lines.
Later the league was split in two divisions: The Northern League comprised of Fort Fairfield High School, Washburn High School and Fort Fairfield Y.M.C.A. The Southern League was comprised of Ashland Y.M.C.A., Island Falls High School, Bridgewater Y.M.C.A. , Houlton Y.M.C.A. , and Houlton High School. Presque Isle did not have an organized team at the time the league was formed and Caribou and Ricker Classical Institute were barred from competing because many of the members on their teams more than four years before.
In 1911representatives from Bridgewater, Easton, Fort Fairfield, Mars Hill, Presque Isle and Washburn met and organized the Aroostook Central School Basketball League. Fort Fairfield did not do well that year compiling a 0-8 record. Their record improved to 3-9 in 1912. Fort Fairfield dropped out of the League in 1913.
In 1914 representatives from A.C.I, Caribou, Fort Fairfield and Presque Isle High Schools met November 22 in Presque Isle. As a result of that meeting the Northern Aroostook Interscholastic League was formed and existed for 12 years. In 1916 Fort Fairfield and Presque Isle tied for the league lead and played a home and home play-off; Fort Fairfield won at home by nine points and Presque Isle won at home by 17 points and was declared the champion. In 1924 Fort Fairfield produced its first Aroostook County Championship, they were undefeated in league and County player, they also played through the final round of the University of Maine Tournament. The finished with an 18-2 record, the two losses coming at the hands of Eastern Maine championship team of Northeast Harbor High School. Team members were Captain Charles Stone, Mandel Green, Hoyt Beckwith, Finnemore and Wallace Fisher, the team was coached by Louis Kriger. The fort Fairfield, Caribou and Presque Isle girls formed a girls basketball league in 1924. The Fort boys tied for first with Houlton in the N.A.I.L. This was the last year for the Northern Aroostook Interscholastic League.
1926: In the fall of 1925 the old league met its demise and a new league called the Aroostook League which was comprised of the four N.A.I.L. plus the Houlton and Washburn schools. This new league lasted until 1962. The Fort Tigers won the league championship in 1926, 1946, tied with Presque Isle in 1947, 1948, and tied with Caribou High School in 1949. The Fort Fairfield girls won the league title in 1931and 1932.
The 1946 title was Fort’s only clear cut championship in the boy’s division of the Aroostook League, they finished with a 7-1 league record. They played in the Eastern Maine tournament and were defeated by John Bapst 49-46. The starting five consisted of Herbert Nightengale, Dick Cormier, Paul Lynch, Ralph “Chub” Clark and Leonard Barnes. Larry Mahaney was the sixth man and the team was coached by Ken Clark.
Fort Fairfield tied with Presque Isle for the league title in 1947 with both having identical 7-1 records. Both Presque Isle and Fort Fairfield participated in the Eastern Maine tournament with Fort being eliminated by Bangor 60-37.
In 1948 the same two teams tied again for the Aroostook League title both teams again compiling 7-1 records. Both teams went to the Class “L” tournament and met in the first round with the “Tigers” coming away with 44-36 win. The “Tigers” were defeated by Bangor in the semi-finals 52-35. Roy Dean and Dick Cormier were named to the All-County first team with Eugene “Dint” Lovely selected as a substitute. Second team selections were Plummer and Beckwith. Their record for 1948 was 17-6, Roy Dean, Dick Cormier and Eugene Lovely were the leading scorers for the team.
For the third consecutive year (1949) Fort Fairfield tied for the Aroostook League Championsip this time with Caribou. Each team had a league record of 6-2 and both played in the Eastern Maine Tournament and both were eliminated in the quarter final round Fort Fairfield by Waterville 59-41 and Caribou by John Bapst 41-39. The “Tigers” overall record that year was 12-9. Roy Dean and Dick Cormier were again selected to the All County first team. Cormier and Dean were again the leading scorers for the team.
Thank you to the Fort Fairfield Public Library for information provided and the book Fifty One Years of Basketball Playing in Aroostook County by Nathan White.