The Bangor Auditorium, home to numerous regional basketball tournaments since 1956, closed the book on a storied chapter of high school hoops in the Pine Tree State March 2 with Penquis of Milo besting Boothbay 61-54 in the Class C boys championship game — the final game to be played in the building.

Fifty-eight years of exciting contests, buzzer beaters, nail-biting finishes and state championships have taken place in the historic building, which is scheduled to be torn down this spring and turned into a parking lot for the new Cross Insurance Center, currently being built between "The Mecca" and the iconic Paul Bunyan statue.

Courier Publications Associate Sports Director Mark Haskell recently asked a few local coaches, colleagues and media members about their favorite memories — as a fan, player, coach or otherwise — of the storied building that has seen so much high school hardwood history.

Medomak Valley boys coach Nick DePatsy — No one will be surprised that DePatsy's favorite moment came just over a week ago when the Panthers won the Eastern Class B boys basketball championship — the final one to be presented in that building.

"It was an exciting tournament," said DePatsy. "Every game we had different kids step up and they're pretty determined for young kids. They got after it and they did some good things out there. I couldn't be more proud of them and how they handled themselves. There's a lot of history there and they haven't had a lot of success there. I mean we've won some games there, but it being our sixth year [in Eastern Class B] competing there and getting up there and winning it in the last year, I think it's something they'll always remember."

Medomak Valley girls coach Randy Hooper — "Fond memories for me on three fronts, first listening to my father tell me stories of when he played there for Rockland the first year they held the tournament there, second actually playing there for Rockland in the 1980 Eastern Maine Class A quarterfinals and semifinals, and third, coaching the MVHS girls to an Eastern Maine Class B runner up [finish] in 2011. Many special memories for me as a player and a coach, going to miss "The Mecca", looking forward to making new memories in the Cross Center."

Oceanside boys coach Matt Breen — "There was the game where [then Rockland coach Chris] Elkington and [then John Bapst coach Bob Cimbollek] Cim went head-to-head on with their same style of basketball [in the '93 regional finals]," he said. "That was pretty cool. Those two teams played a similar style and Bapst was the higher seed I think. So for [Rockland] to be in one-possession game at the end was a pretty good moment. That's probably the best game I remember."

Breen recalled being in eighth grade that year.

"Back then the Auditorium was packed all the way to the rafters every game," he said. "You're sitting up in the rafters with your buddies saying 'Man I can't wait until we get a shot at this.'"

Oceanside girls coach Teel Foster — "I was a freshman and we were shooting foul shots in a Christmas tournament and all my shots [in practice] were going long on the back of the rim," said Foster, who was known as Teel Anderson back in her playing days with the Rockland Tigers. "So I went to my coach and said 'Something's off.' He thought I was crazy, but they measured the basket and it's supposed to be 15 feet from the foul line and it was only 14. I told him I was off. I just had such confidence in my foul shots I could shoot them with my eyes closed and I did that a lot, so I just knew something was wrong. And they fixed it and after that, everything was a swish."

Don Shields, Frank 105.5 FM sports director — "The one game I will always remember if you say what is the No. 1 game it was the Eastern Maine [Class B] final [in 1992], the year Rockland won the state championship. They're playing John Bapst and they're down 13 and they went on a 26-0 run. It was, to me, a great run because [then John Bapst boys coach] Bob Cimbollek took a lot of credit for being [then Rockland coach] Chris Elkington's mentor, so it was like watching the student school the professor.

"They ran a play to end the third quarter," said Shields. "Rockland had the ball out of bounds and the play was for Erik Carlson I believe to take a three-pointer at the foul line extended and somehow Shane LeBlanc took the three and he hit it off glass. And Chris told me he said to them in the huddle 'Good play, good play, wrong play. It was for Erik. So we're going to come out and run that same play again but we're going to run it for Erik, and he's going to hit the three.' And Carlson did hit the three. And that took it from down eight to down two in literally, 18 seconds of playing time. And that was the punch in the gut for Bapst. By the time that run was over, Rockland was up by 13."

Charlie Crockett, Maine TV-85 play-by-play announcer — "As a play-by-play broadcaster for both radio and TV for over 40 years, I find it hard to choose just one favorite moment at the Bangor Auditorium, so I will mention two. In 1973, Camden-Rockport and Orono had played each other for the state title, with Orono coming out on top. In 1974, everyone knew it would be a huge rematch, so the Auditorium was packed — a sea of red and white (colors for both teams), and just a constant roar of noise from the crowds. The 1974 win was the Windjammer's first gold ball, so the moment was extremely special, and the team was amazing to watch.

A second would be the 2002 state [Class B] championship game against Gorham. With perhaps 10 seconds to go, the game was tied and Peter Moro stole the ball, made a basket to tie the game, and sank the ensuing foul shot to give the Windjammers the win 63-60. With four seconds left, Gorham tried to score, but failed. In a matter of a few seconds, the Gorham side of the Auditorium went from a full-out celebration of an anticipated victory to stunned silence, trying to understand how the victory had been snatched away from them in mere seconds. The Windjammer side, of course, erupted in joy and celebration. The video clip [in the link above] shows these last few seconds of the game."

Mark Haskell, Courier Publications associate sports director — "I've been doing this job since 2007. The first game I covered at the Bangor Auditorium was No. 8 Rockland facing No. 1 Maranacook, with the Tigers giving the Black Bears what proved to be their toughest test of the tournament en route to the state crown. I mention this because the Tigers made it to the tournament on the strength of senior Anderson Murphy's buzzer-beating three-pointer over No. 9 Gardiner, which was hands down the most memorable high school sports moment I can recall. But of course, not at 'The Mecca.' My favorite Bangor Auditorium moment would have been two years ago, the last year Camden Hills won the state crown."

"The Windjammers were the top overall seed and they were facing No. 8 Caribou in the quarterfinals. The game was a blowout. Caribou was way overmatched and this was Tyler McFarland's Mr. Basketball year, so all the Camden Hills players were performing at such a high level. Anyway late in the game they were up 23 and Joel Gabriele made a steal at midcourt and was charging for an easy layup when he saw senior teammate Keegan Pieri as the only trailer on the play. Gabriele tossed if off glass and Pieri got above the rim for an alley-oop dunk. While the dunk was impressive, what was even more so was the reaction from the crowd. Both Camden Hills and Caribou fans all rose to their feet — Camden Hills fans to celebrate, and Caribou fans in complete astonishment and appreciation for what they had just seen. Almost immediately after the dunk, Jeff Hart called timeout to pull all his starters off the floor. The dunk, the reaction to the dunk and then the cheers from all over the auditorium as the starters were pulled resulted in a deafening roar and one I will always remember."

Ken Waltz, Courier Publications sports editor — "I have been lucky enough to cover dozens of 'big' games at the Bangor Auditorium in my 30 years in the media business, including being the writer/photographer for The Courier-Gazette for the epic five-overtime Eastern Class B championship game between Rockland and Dexter in 1986. However, the moment I remember most was, just that, a moment, that had nothing to do with the teams I was covering. Perhaps that is the reason it sticks out so much because my mind was not focused on the game, but my senses were open to the 'atmosphere.' I remember one year walking through the floor level doors to the gymnasium during the closing minutes of a girls regional championship game.

"I was arriving to cover the next game, the boys contest, but as I walked through those doors the electricity in the air hit me like a tsunami wave. It was palpable. As I walked into the Auditorium, I glanced up and saw a sea of color on one side and a sea of color on the other, all the way to the top of the old building. Those thousands of fans erupted each time something positive happened for their team. You could cut the tension — and excitement — with a knife. It was at that moment it hit me. This was what high school basketball in Maine was all about. That moment gave me goosebumps, and I don't even remember the teams playing or who won. Just that the Bangor Auditorium was the hallowed ground and those young student-athletes, and their fans, were having the time of their lives. That was one of so many special moments for me in that old building."

Courier Publications sports staff can be reached by phone at 207-594-4401 or by email at sports@courierpublicationsllc.com.