Orono’s Will and Ben Francis join grandfather, Dan Smith, as OHS state basketball champions

Will and Ben won the 2023 title, 50 years after Dan’s team in 1973
Published: Mar. 10, 2023 at 10:50 PM EST
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ORONO, Maine (WABI) - Orono’s Class B State Boys Basketball Championship is adding to one Veazie family’s history.

Will and Ben won the 2023 title, 50 years after Dan’s team in 1973
Will and Ben won the 2023 title, 50 years after Dan’s team in 1973(WABI)

Dan Smith has watched his grandsons, Will and Ben Francis, grow up to win a state championship to match his 1973 title.

“They were constantly playing sports. If not basketball, it would be soccer or everything else to stay in exceptional strength,” said Smith.

“Knowing that he and my mom went to the same high school, me and my brother really had to live on that legacy,” said Will Francis, freshman.

Smith sees a lot of the same characteristics in Orono basketball 50 years later.

“We were a fast-paced team. We were far superior in height. We had Steve Gavett at 6′8″, Tom Philbrick at 6′6″, and the guards were like 6′2″. We were tall, but also extremely fast,” said Smith.

Ben said ‘Grampy’ has given valuable coaching tips over the years.

“His big thing is being humble and keeping your body right. As he’s gotten to be an old man, his body is starting to not work as well. That was due to him not doing what he should have. He’s always stressed that as well as ‘you like winning, so go out and do what you need to do to get the wins,’” said Ben Francis, junior.

There’s still time for this family to add to the Red Riots’ trophy case.

“It’s amazing. They far exceeded everybody’s expectations. There’s still a year and two years to go,” said Smith.

“We’re super confident that we can come out next year and do the same thing. But, we’ve still got to come back in the summer, offseason, and during the season. We’ve got to keep working hard, keep pushing, and I think we have a very, very good chance of being back at that game again,” said Will Francis.

Now, it’s time to celebrate a family accomplishment years in the making.

Orono defeated Oceanside, 61-58, to bring home the Gold Ball this season.

Smith’s 1973 team beat Camden-Rockport, 60-55.