ROCKPORT — The 2022-23 home-opening basketball games for Camden Hills Regional High School certainly will not be what athletic director Jeff Hart thought.

While the plan was for the Windjammer varsity boys to host Hampden Academy on Friday, Dec. 9 in Rockport, that home-opener has been moved a few miles south to Oceanside High School in Rockland due to delays installing the school’s new gymnasium floor.

That first game will tip off at 7:30 p.m.

Camden Hills Regional High School gymnasium. Photo courtesy of Jo Duke

“We’re really thankful for [Oceanside athletic director] Troy [Smith] stepping in and making that an option,” said Hart.

The initial plan was for the CHRHS floor to be completed before the home-opener with the Broncos, but circumstances involving the installation of the school’s new gymnasium floor prevented that from happening.

The issue began in early August, Hart said, when a fan in the building drying freshly-waxed floors “basically exploded and set off the sprinkler alarms.”

“They were going off for a long time before the fire department got there,” he said. “Even though they did a great job of getting there. But all that water pretty quickly got underneath the doors and into the gym. And by the time the fire department got there, from the cafeteria side it was water all the way past midcourt.”

The gymnasium floor warped significantly and it quickly was assessed it would need to be replaced.

And while opening night of the basketball season was the target date, “there were a lot of challenges” that, ultimately, put the project weeks behind schedule, Hart said.

“Once they got the floor removed, we had an issue with water damage with water still in the concrete,” Hart said. “So we had to do everything we could to get the water and humidity levels down in the concrete before they could start putting the floor down. That was the biggest hurdle we had to overcome that we didn’t anticipate being an issue.”

The other being the wheels on the bleachers, roughly 450 wheels in all, had to be replaced as “most of them were damaged from sitting in water for a long period of time” and would not rotate.

“If we hadn’t picked up on that we would have got the new floor down, got everything done, brought the bleachers out and would have completely dug up the brand new floor,” Hart said. “So we had to get all those wheels replaced. And that’s a completely different company than the floor company doing it.”

Coordinating the two companies to complete the work, in addition to having to shift the bleachers to midcourt to do the repairs, only extended the completion date.

“That was a big challenge also because you had to get them out with the new floor down so they had to lay plywood down everywhere to pull it out,” Hart said.

In addition, “There were lots of people inspecting the floors, deciding what’s going to happen, what they’ll pay for,” Hart said. “It was a lot of stuff I was glad I didn’t have to be involved in, but that slowed us up also. It was a nightmare for us.”

However, the Windjammers have weathered the storm as the new floor has been sanded, painted and the final coat of wax was put on Tuesday, Dec. 6.

“Now it’s a matter of waiting for it to dry enough that we can get on it,” he said. “We’re basically thinking two weeks.”

In addition to the venue change for the varsity boys game on Friday, school officials have turned varsity games against Mount Ararat of Topsham and Erskine Academy of South China into varsity doubleheader road games.

Also, the boys/girls doubleheader between Medomak Valley and Camden Hills originally scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 20 in Rockport will be in Waldoboro “and we’ll play them at home later in the year.”

At the end of the day, the Windjammer varsity teams will lose one home game for the 2022-23 campaign.

In the meantime, Windjammer hoop teams have practiced at other schools in the district as they wait for their chance to return to their refurbished home court.

“It’s been a challenge,” said Hart. “Our middle school has been great. We have teams practicing at the [Camden-Rockport] middle school, Lincolnville [Central School] and the [Camden-Rockport] elementary school. It’s been great they’ve been able to do that.”