By the Beacon Sports Staff
CMCC Lady Mustangs celebrate winning the YSCC on SMCC’s floor. Let’s hope it doesn’t happen this year!
After a two-year absence from the Hutchinson Union Building, the YSCC post-season basketball tournament is returning to SMCC. The tournament has been wonderful showcase for the athleticism and talent found on the courts of YSCC member schools. Last year, Central Maine Community College hosted the tournament. While CMCC seems to always have teams that are favored to win it all, it was the fifth-seated University of Maine–Machias Clippers who outlasted the Mustangs (75–70) to take top honors for the men.
On the women’s side of the court, the College of Saint Joseph’s of Vermont ended up winning the tournament for the second year in a row when they bested the Moose from University of Maine-Machias, 59–52. The Fighting Saints would go on to win their first USCAA championship in Uniontown, Pa.
In the eleven years that the tournament has been staged, tallies for past champions count an impressive four championships for the Lady Mustangs of CMCC and four championships for your SMCC Seawolves. Championships on the men’s side of the court find four schools holding the trophy twice (CMCC, NHTI, SMCC and Vermont Tech). St. Joe’s, UMaine-Augusta and UMaine-Machias have gone on to Uniontown once.
Only three times has the same school won the women and men’s championships in the same year. The Seawolves were the first team to do this in 2008; CMCC was next in 2014, and St. Josephs followed in 2015. Only the Seawolves have had the honor of both teams winning the tournament on their home court. In 2014, both Mustang teams won on the Seawolves court.
The Beacon also sat down with Assistant Athletic Director Ethan Wells to learn about what SMCC and the athletic department is doing to get ready for and stage the Elite 8 tournament.
First off, the Beacon wants to acknowledge the great job you have done as assistant athletic director. You’ve brought a level of energy to the athletics department that hopefully will put the department and school on the map in a greater light. The online presence for the athletics depart has taken off. Things like getting the game results out in a timely manner, organizing the short post-game interviews with the athletes, and building a wider presence on social platforms have enhanced the department’s look.
With these thoughts in mind, how are the athletic department and SMCC promoting the tournament?
For those that cannot be in attendance, SMCC’s athletic department plans to live-stream all 14 games via SeaWolves LIVE TV. This service will be available on Facebook Live and on the YSCC website.
Jeff Mannix, host of The Big Jab sports radio station, will be calling every minute of the tournament. Our game management staff will be organizing pre-game and post-game interviews with coaches and players involved in the game. SMCC is also teaming up with the Maine Sports Commission and other local businesses in the greater Portland area in promoting this tournament. We will also be offering a special concessions menu featuring lobster rolls.
Are there special events or promotions aimed at the SMCC student population to build attendance?
There are no special promotions that we have planned; however, both the men’s and women’s SMCC programs are poised for a run at the title. For this reason, we are hoping for participation from our student body. SMCC Athletics will be sure to advertise game times of all SMCC contests when the scheduled is released.
Speaking of promoting the tournament and building attendance, is there a plan to target the non-community college population?
The athletics department will be putting together a program that will be available at the gate, detailing all 16 teams of the tournament. By offering the live stream to various media outlets, the idea is to target friends, family, and other supporters to tune in.
Can you give us your thoughts on what a successful tournament would look like?
From a game-operations perspective, a successful tournament means games tip off as scheduled, avoiding unforeseeable delays. I also define success in the setting of the tournament, meaning we are looking for big turnouts by our fans and other supporters of nearby programs. Competitive competition and a high-energy environment is why we love sports. Every three years SMCC gets the chance to host the conference tournament, and we prepared to make it the best it can be.
And of course, we have to ask this: Do you have any favorites?
You have to believe our men and women are the favorites in the tournament. Combined, our basketball programs are 21–3 at the Hutchinson Athletic Building (HUB) this season. For opponents, the HUB can be a challenging place to play when the SMCC student-section gets involved. Southern Maine vs. Central Maine finals in both the men’s and women’s brackets are very probable scenarios — the best basketball rivalry in Maine. SMCC Athletics looks forward to all of your support February 16–19!
Regardless that the YSCC Elite 8 tournament isn’t the “big dance” that the NCAA stages across the country in March, the tournament has proven to be a winner for the YSCC, its member schools, and New England.
Hotels and businesses in the Portland area could see a spike in their income as many of the 16 teams will stay in the area while the tournament unfolds. The Elite 8 banquet, which is scheduled to be held at the Double Tree the morning the tournament opens, will acknowledge student athletes who have won player of the week awards. The second and first all-conference teams will be named, players and coaches of the year will be announced, and the regular-season champions will be acknowledged.
If you are a fan of basketball, and enjoy YSCC basketball when the stakes are the highest, then you know where you should be: the Hutchinson Union Building on the 16th through the 19th. It will be the last time to root on your Seawolves at home this year.