Six boys stand on a snow-dotted waterfront, wearing what appears to be football attire. One of them holds a basketball. Another’s stockings are held up with garters.
None are smiling.
At the far left, a bespectacled coach strikes a confident pose, hands in his coat pockets, wearing a necktie, starched collar and black bowler hat.
The 115-year-old image, recorded on a glass plate negative, shows the 1908 Warren High School basketball team. It’s the oldest basketball related image in the Penobscot Marine Museum’s massive collection of historic Maine photographs. It proves Maine’s love affair with wintertime high school hoops is nothing new, it goes back more than a century.
Many of the basketball photos in the museum’s archive predate the state tournament.
South Portland beat Bangor by a score of 24-21 in Maine’s first boys basketball championship game in 1922. Bangor redeemed itself a year later, beating Portland in a best-of-three game series, 2-1.
One photo in the museum’s collection comes from the Machias Historical Society. It shows the town’s boys high school team posing for a formal portrait with their trophies and a banner proclaiming them the 1931 champions of Washington County.
A 1940s-era boys basketball photo shows a Waterville High School team draped artfully across two ladders, the backboard and one player even sits on the hoop.
Another picture, taken by prolific Maine photographer Everett L. “Red” Boutilier, records the action in a game between Greenville and Guilford’s respective high schools in 1966.
Girls didn’t get to play in statewide championship games until 1975.
Clockwise, from left: An unnamed young woman in basketball attire, holding a ball, reading “WSNS ’29,” appears in a photo from the Machias Historical Society collection at the Penobscot Marine Museum; The Searsport Buccaneers basketball team holds a ball inscribed with “Champions of Central Maine” in a vintage, undated photo in the Josh Curtis Collection at the Penobscot Marine Museum; The Vinalhaven girls basketball team poses for a 1962 yearbook photo now in the the Jake Gillison collection at the Penobscot Marine Museum. Standing (left to right) are Coach Davis, H. Conary, R. Hall, J. Carter, J. Poor, L. Webster, E. Osgood and B. Carleton. Kneeling (left to right) are G. Carleton, B. White, R. Calderwood, R. Bennett, M. Alley and L. Healey. Credit: Courtesy of the Penobscot Marine Museum
That year, Gardiner High School took the Class A crown, besting Morse High School by a score of 70-62. Also that year, Lake Region High School beat Van Buren High School for the Class B title, Hall-Dale High School overtook Katahdin High School in Class C and East Grand High School beat Richmond High School for Class D bragging rights.
But Maine girls were definitely playing basketball long before the state let them in on tournament action.
A museum photo shows the 1924-25 Machias High School girls basketball team posing with their coach for a formal portrait. The team wears canvas shoes and baggy, pantaloon-based uniforms.
Clockwise, from left to right: A Waterville basketball team poses in novel fashion for a circa 1943 picture by prolific Maine photographer Everett L. “Red” Boutilier; Maine photographer Everett L. “Red” Boutilier made this photo of a sheepish-looking Colby College basketball player and two admiring men sometime around 1944, according to the Penobscot Marine Museum’s archives; The 1931 Washington County basketball champions of Machias High School pose with their trophies in a photograph made from a glass plate negative. The image is part of the Machias Historical Society collection at the Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport. Credit: Courtesy of the Penobscot Marine Museum.
A photo taken 40 years later for the Vinalhaven High School yearbook shows the girls team in tall socks, low sneakers and shiny, satin uniforms.
The entire online photo collection at the Marine Museum can be searched by keyword, location — or even sport.
The 2023 Maine High School basketball championship games will be decided this weekend. Watch bangordailynews.com for full coverage.