I have always been a huge fan of the hoopla that goes with the announcing of the starting lineups at high school varsity basketball games.

For many, including myself, the infatuation with the practice of announcing to the fans, through a microphone, the starters before games started at the peewee and middle school levels, as all teams are typically introduced in league championship contests. Though I did not usually have a lot to do with our team getting there, I always seemed to be in the mix as one of the non-starters that also were announced prior to the starting lineups.

Maybe I liked it when people cheered for me. Maybe I liked hearing my name over the loud speakers. Maybe I just wanted to show the world the complex handshake that my teammates and I had worked out before the game. It was probably all three.

As I got older and realized I would not be starting for the varsity team any time soon, I still wanted to be involved. So both myself and classmate Allen Jervey, were the voices behind the starting lineups for Rockland District High School basketball and football games and had a wonderful time filling that role, playing off the crowd and making it a fun environment for all involved.

That being said, with the high school basketball regular season nearly over and the postseason on the horizon, I’ve decided to have a little fun in this week’s column and rank the top pregame starting lineup announcement experiences among the Midcoast mainland high schools in VillageSoup’s coverage area.

The participating schools in this ranking are, in alphabetical order, Belfast Area High School, Camden Hills Regional High School, Medomak Valley High School, Mount View High School, Oceanside High School and Searsport District High School.

North Haven Community School, Islesboro Central School and Vinalhaven Schools were omitted from the rankings based merely on the fact that traveling to the islands to cover a game can sometimes be difficult, and I could not include a school who’s starting lineups I have not physically seen or heard.

This is the point in the column where I remind everyone, this is merely for fun. And this list which I took hours — maybe minutes — to whittle down is based on a small sample size as I can only go to so many gymnasiums and see so many games in a season. If I missed the game where your team had the flying trapeze, the Cirque du Soleil or trucked in the Boston Celtics’ jumbotron to help spice up the experience, I apologize. Perhaps your school will earn a higher ranking next year.

Here are my rankings, listed in descending order to whom I deem the best:

Belfast — It has been a tough season for both the Lion boys and girls hoop teams and this probably won’t help matters, coming in at number six. Belfast’s starting lineups are straightforward, which usually are announced by athletic director Mark Babin or assistant principal Terry Kenniston. No music accompaniment, merely a meet-and-greet and then game on. Sorry Belfast, time to step your game up and spice up the proceedings.

Mount View — The Mustangs’ starting lineups are done by Chuck Hadyniak and, despite the lack of enthusiasm from the Mount View faithful in the games we have seen, did a good job trying to enrich the experience for both the athletes and those taking in the game, earning the Mustangs the No. 5 spot in the rankings. Hadyniak also announces all made baskets during the game, a feat that can be difficult while also juggling other in-game assignments he may be undertaking. Well done, Chuck!

Camden Hills — Sorry Windjammer fans. Apparently you will have to look to your multiple, multiple state Class B championships for comfort, which I’m sure will help absorb your tears for having come in at number four. Camden Hills golf coach Mark Wallace handles the announcing for the Windjammers, who also have the accompaniment of the school band for some home games. Wallace has a professional demeanor on the microphone and does a terrific job, but the experience does lack any of the over-the-top bravado of our top three picks. And I do love my bravado.

Oceanside — As an RDHS graduate I can tell you that not only did I used to announce the starting lineups myself, but the inclusion of the school band, coupled with the raucous student section, made the entire experience that much more exciting for everyone in the gym.

However, these days, while the band is no more, the lineups are done well by senior Nate Boggs, who does a wonderful job of getting the attention of both the student body and the fans. Not only that, but at a recent game against Nokomis of Newport, the student section could be found reading newspapers during the Warriors’ introductions only to throw them sky high and begin to cheer jubilantly for the Mariners’ introductions. Crowd interaction is worth big points, helping the Mariners earn the No. 3 spot in my rankings.

Searsport — I admittedly had a difficult time with these final two picks. In fact, attending the Searsport basketball games against Acadia Christian a few weeks back actually inspired this column. The starting lineup duties for the Vikings are split by Robertson brothers R.J. and Ryan, the former of whom is the boys assistant varsity coach and has a mass communication degree from the New England School of Communications.

While R.J. certainly has the appropriate credentials, it was Ryan who caught my eye — or rather my ear — as he introduced the visiting Seahawks and host Vikings in the boys contest. After introducing Acadia Christian, the song “300 Violin Orchestra” fades in as Ryan’s booming voice began to bellow out the starting lineups, such as Searsport starting center “Milton Jo-Jo-Jo-Joooones!” The small gymnasium and the reactions from the crowd added to the electric atmosphere and made the experience that much more enjoyable. And they usually play plenty of old-fashioned, get-the-crowd-rockin’ music during breaks.

Medomak Valley — While Searsport’s starting lineups are indeed terrific, Medomak Valley’s are in a class of its own. The lineups are done well by track coach Jake Newcomb, beginning with the visiting team. Then the starting lineup music for the NBA’s Chicago Bulls fades in, which also is known as “Sirius” by the Alan Parson’s Project. I’m not going to pretend I didn’t have to look that up, but hey, that’s what the song is called.

Anyone who grew up as a fan of the Bulls in the early 1990s likely gets chills down their spine when they hear that music, and yours truly is no different. Athletic director Matt Lash does a wonderful job at creating an environment in the gymnasium that is fun, professional and nostalgic. The involvement of the crowd, both parents and students, along with the topnotch cheering squad, puts the Panthers over the top as the area’s number one starting lineup experience.

That’s the list, and it’s merely my opinion. But a reminder to all the teams on this list, this is about style, not substance. This is about flair, not talent. Once you step onto the court to compete, it’s a completely different ballgame.

Village NetMedia Associate Sports Director Mark Haskell can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by email at mhaskell@villagesoup.com.