Action heats up as winter season hits midway point-Northern edition

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As we near the midway point of the winter sports season, local athletes in all sports continue to impress. Here’s a look at where things stand.

Boys’ basketball

The Western Class B boys’ basketball story has been exciting and unpredictable to date. Just when one team appears to have an edge, it stumbles.

Exhibit A is Yarmouth, which held off visiting Falmouth last Tuesday, 50-33, for its fourth win in a row, then lost at York Friday, 51-41.

Against the Yachtsmen, the Clippers scored the game’s first 14 points and pulled away late behind 17 points from junior Josh Britten. Junior Chris Knaub added 10 points, senior Matt Murphy had nine (along with 11 rebounds, a block and four steals) and senior Luke Pierce seven (to go with a game-altering block, six rebounds and a half dozen steals).

“It’s always fun to beat Falmouth,” Britten said. “It’s always a good game. We’ve always been a first half team. We kept it going. We got out, pressed, got some steals, went ahead by a lot and never looked back. We pulled it together in the fourth quarter. We always close out games well. We’re coming together as a team. We were all over the place at the start of the season. Now, we’re a tight-knit family.”

“We’ve really concentrated on coming out of the locker room and immediately having an impact on the game with our energy, our effort and our defense, and the guys really stepped up and collectively showed leadership,” said Clippers coach Adam Smith. “It set the tone for us. I was pleased, but not surprised with our start.”

Pierce had 16 points in the loss.

Yarmouth (5-2 and fifth in the latest Western Class B Heal Points standings) hosted Gray-New Gloucester Tuesday, goes to Lake Region Thursday and welcomes North Yarmouth Academy Saturday.

Defending Class B champion Falmouth began 2011 with successive losses. Junior Jack Cooleen had 14 points in the loss to Yarmouth, in which the Yachtsmen could never draw closer than seven points after digging an early 14-0 hole.

“(Yarmouth’s) a good, strong team,” Falmouth coach Dave Halligan said. “Our kids came out a little scared and a little tentative and made too many mistakes. They had that spurt and had that lead the rest of the way.”

Friday night, the Yachtsmen let a late lead slip away and were stunned by visiting Poland, 51-50. Junior Matt Packard had 20 points in defeat.

Falmouth took a 4-3 mark and the No. 8 ranking into Tuesday’s home showdown against Cape Elizabeth. The Yachtsmen visit Fryeburg Saturday and go to Wells Monday.

Greely was perfect going into last Tuesday’s home game versus Cape Elizabeth, but left the game stinging after a 55-41 setback. The loss was the Rangers’ fifth in a row to the Capers. They turned the ball over 24 times, were whistled for 24 fouls and surrendered 34 points to Cape Elizabeth senior Theo Bowe. Greely got 12 points from senior Sam Johnston.

“It’s January and we have to learn,” lamented longtime Rangers coach Ken Marks. “We have some kids who never played games like this. Against Cape. Against quickness. It’s a rival. The freshmen didn’t understand. We have to start taking care of the basketball. When we got the ball inside, we couldn’t score. We couldn’t score from the outside. Offensively, we weren’t the aggressor, that’s why the fouls were so lopsided.”

Friday, Greely improved to 7-1 with a 54-34 home victory over Fryeburg. Johnston had 13 points and senior Jake Levite added 11. The Rangers (second to Leavitt in the latest Heals) hosted Wells Tuesday, go to York Thursday and visit Gray-New Gloucester Saturday.

Freeport fell to 0-7 last week with losses to host Wells (67-61) and host Lake Region (72-46). Junior Josh Weirich had a team-high 17 points against the Warriors. Freshman Chandler Birmingham led the Falcons with 15 versus the Lakers. Freeport (16th in Western B) hosted Old Orchard Beach Tuesday, visits Cape Elizabeth Thursday and plays host to Poland Saturday.

In Western C, NYA improved to 3-4 Monday after downing visiting Gould Academy, 31-29 (senior Matt Kibler led the team with 10 points). The Panthers split two games last week, winning, 39-30, at Sacopee (senior Andrew Esancy had 13 points and senior Eli Leavitt added 11) and falling, 43-30, to visiting Old Orchard Beach (despite nine points from Leavitt). NYA hosts Gray-New Gloucester Thursday and goes to Yarmouth Saturday.

Girls’ basketball

On the girls’ side, Greely is now 7-1 and fourth in Western B after wins last over visiting Cape Elizabeth (50-27) and host Fryeburg (42-22). Seniors Megan Coale and Sara Warnock had 11 points apiece and junior Caroline Hamilton added 10 against the Capers. Hamilton scored 11 versus the Raiders. The Rangers went to Wells Tuesday, host nemesis York Thursday and welcome Gray-New Gloucester Saturday.

Falmouth improved to 5-2 and eighth in the region after wins last week over host Yarmouth (56-30) and Poland (54-22). Senior Jess DiPhillippo and juniors Jackie Doyle and Jenna Serunian all had 10 points against the Clippers. In the win over the Knights, sophomore Anna Hickey led the way with 14 points. DiPhillippo added 13. The Yachtsmen hosted surprising Cape Elizabeth Tuesday and welcome Fryeburg Thursday.

Yarmouth lost to Falmouth (56-30) and York (70-20) last week to fall to 1-6 (16th in the region). Against the Yachtsmen, freshman Olivia Smith had nine points, junior Maddy Wood added eight and senior Olivia Harrison added seven. In the loss to the defending champs, Smith had nine points. Yarmouth was at Gray-New Gloucester Tuesday, hosts Lake Region Thursday and plays at NYA Saturday.

Freeport fell to 0-7 after recent home losses to Wells (51-37) and Lake Region (42-22). Sophomore Leigh Wyman had 13 points against the Warriors. The Falcons (17th in Western B) went to Old Orchard Beach Tuesday, host Cape Elizabeth Thursday and play at Poland Saturday.

In Western C, NYA takes a 3-4 mark (and the No. 15 spot in the Heals) into Thursday’s game at Gray-New Gloucester. The Panthers split last week, edging host Sacopee, 43-37 (Seniors Eliza Gendron and Blair Haggett both had 11 points and freshman Charlotte Esancy had four clutch points late), then losing, 45-38, at Old Orchard Beach (despite 14 points from Haggett). NYA is home with Yarmouth Saturday.

Boys’ hockey

Greely’s boys’ hockey team continues to set the pace in Western B. The Rangers were a 4-1 winner at Gardiner (freshman Ted Hart scored twice and senior Devyn Rogers and junior Griffen Demick had a goal apiece) then played visiting Western A contender South Portland to a scoreless tie (senior goalie Matt Labbe made 22 saves) last week. Greely (6-0-1 and first in the Western B Heals) plays host to Houlton Friday and Presque Isle Saturday.

The Rangers also had two players named as Western Class B Players of the Month for December. Sophomore Erik Rost was honored at defenseman after scoring three times and adding five assists. Senior Matt Labbe was named top goalie after producing a 5-0 record with a 1.60 goals-against-average and a .922 save percentage.

Yarmouth is 4-3 and fourth in Western B after a 5-2 home win over Massabesic and a 5-1 home loss to York in recent days. After nearly two scoreless periods against the Mustangs, goals from Marshell Brunelle and Davis Brown made it 2-0. Eamon Costello scored twice in the third period and the Clippers fought off a late Massabesic rally to win, 5-2.

“We’re getting wins,” said Yarmouth coach Marc Halsted. “When we don’t play great and still score more goals than the other team, it’s a victory. We had to grind it out. We have to be good systems-wise and play well in the defensive zone. Both goalies have stepped up.”

Brown had the lone goal in the loss for the Clippers, who visit Portland Thursday, host Lake Region Saturday and Gardiner Monday.

In Western A, Falmouth fell to 1-2-2 Monday after a 1-0 loss at Kennebunk. The Yachtsmen were coming off a hard-fought 3-2 home loss to Eastern A power St. Dom’s. Falmouth (sixth in the Heals) welcomes Biddeford in a pivotal showdown Thursday, hosts Scarborough Saturday and South Portland Monday.

Girls’ hockey

On the girls’ side, Yarmouth lost its first seven games, but earned a huge dose of confidence Friday with a 3-2 home victory over defending state champion Cheverus, the Clippers’ second win in succession. Ariel Potter scored twice. Yarmouth (sixth in the East Region Heals) goes to Falmouth Thursday, hosts Brunswick Saturday and Gorham Monday.

Greely remains in the thick of the title hunt. The Rangers beat visiting Lewiston (3-0) and host York (2-1) last week to improve to 7-2 (good for third in the East). Against the Blue Devils, seniors Casey Benner and Michaela Finnegan and sophomore Meg Finlay all scored. Junior CeCi Hodgkins and sophomore Etta Copenhagen had the goals versus the Wildcats. Greely hosted Cheverus Wednesday, welcomes Winslow Saturday and plays at Falmouth Monday.

Speaking of the Yachtsmen, they’re 4-6 with three successive wins after downing host Portland, 3-1, Saturday. Sophomores Abby Payson and Gabby St. Angelo and freshman Lucy Meyer had the goals. Falmouth (fifth in the West) hosts Yarmouth Thursday, goes to Cape Elizabeth Saturday and welcomes Greely Monday.

Swimming

The defending Class B state champion Greely boys’ swim team remained undefeated last week with wins over Windham (92-78), Falmouth (126-88) and Hyde (126-72). The Rangers’ girls downed the Eagles (118-51), the Yachtsmen (138-128) and the Phoenix (138-14). Greely was at Scarborough Tuesday.

Falmouth’s boys downed Hyde, 88-72. The girls were victorious, 128-14. The Yachtsmen go to South Portland Friday.

Yarmouth split a meet at Portland Friday. The girls eked out an 81-80 decision, but the boys fell, 109-55. The Clippers go to Massabesic Friday.

NYA returns to action Saturday at Biddeford.

Skiing

Locals returned to the slopes Monday when Freeport hosted Cape Elizabeth, Greely and Yarmouth in a giant slalom meet at Shawnee Peak.

In the boys’ competition, the Clippers were first with 20 points, Rangers second with 38 and Falcons third with 42. Freeport’s Ryan Collet was first with a two-run combined time of 1 minute, 11.25 seconds. Yarmouth was led by runner-up Ben Woodbury (1:13.33). Greely’s top finisher was Shane DelBianco (sixth, 1:16.35).

In the girls’ meet, the Rangers won with 20 points, the Clippers (32) were runner-up and the Falcons (34) placed third. The individual winner was Freeport’s Elly Bengtsson (1:11.47). The Rangers were led by third-place finisher Madeleine Whittier (1:14.31). The Clippers’ top finisher was Claudia Lockwood (sixth, 1:15.52).

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net

Sidebar Elements


On a frustrating evening for goal scorers, Greely freshman Ted Hart attempts to score against South Portland Saturday. The Rangers and Red Riots wound up playing to a 0-0 tie.

Greely senior Devyn Rogers looks to poke the puck away from South Portland senior D.J. Conley. The tie was the Rangers’ first blemish of the season.

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Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001.
Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net.
I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.