Cooper Flagg of Newport, Maine, is seen at the training camp for the U17 World Cup national basketball team. Credit: Courtesy of USA Basketball

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A recent story is positive, inspiring and immensely compelling. It’s a sports story and yet so much more. In the summer across the country there are AAU high school basketball teams that compete at a very high level. The best of those teams compete in a league called the Elite Youth Basketball League — over 75 percent of today’s NBA players played in this league.

Recently the best 24 teams in the country met in North Augusta, South Carolina, for the annual Peach Jam Tournament. Maine was one of those teams.

Maine’s AAU team is named Maine United and they truly are united and a team. I’ve played and followed basketball all my life (80 years) and I can truly say I’ve never seen a team with so much spirit, hustle and skill as this high school team. They bullet dive for loose balls, they trap opponents ceaselessly, they follow their shots, break presses with ease, hustle to the extreme – in short they play as a team — always looking out for each other. But maybe more important than their high level of competitiveness is their sportsmanship on and off the court. They are gentlemen and wonderful representatives for Maine.

And as to how they did recently in the tournament playing against the best talent in the country — they were undefeated in five games during the week and made it to the final championship game which they lost, but it really didn’t matter after the week they had. In my opinion even the greatest University of Maine teams would have to hold second place to this Maine United team. Why is that? Because all these players are not only talented, they’re all from Maine!

Peter Reilly