Cape Elizabeth Capers Winter Athletes of the Year

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ETHAN MURPHY, Senior-Basketball

* Pierre Harnois Award winner

* WMC All-Conference, second-team

* WMC Senior All-Star

* Captain

While his state championship game-winning shot will live forever in program and Maine basketball lore, Murphy was much more than just a hero on the biggest stage. He was the consummate teammate who was always at his best whether the setting was practice or when the lights were brightest.

Murphy, like so many boys growing up in Cape Elizabeth, came to basketball early and fell in love with the sport. He made the varsity as a freshman and became a starter as a sophomore. After a steady junior year in which the Capers had little experience, but still managed to make the playoffs, Murphy and his teammates set out to accomplish something special this winter and they managed to do so in improbable fashion.

While his stats weren’t overwhelming (8.9 points per game, 4.4 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.8 steals), Murphy did a little of everything from setting up his teammates, playing great defense and hitting clutch shots (he made 39 percent of his 3-pointers).

Highlights included a dozen points in a season-opening win over Wells, 11 apiece in victories over Gray-New Gloucester and Freeport, 16 in a second win over Gray-New Gloucester, 10 in a victory over Traip, 17 in a win at York and 12 in a victory at reigning Western B champion Poland.

Murphy turned it up a notch for the playoffs. He had eight points and five assists in a quarterfinal round win over Greely, nine points, three rebounds and three steals in a semifinal round triumph over Lincoln Academy and 20 points (including five straight that turned a fourth quarter deficit into the lead), five rebounds and two steals in a narrow win over Lake Region in the regional final, a performance that helped him earn the Pierre Harnois Award as the regional tournament’s outstanding player-sportsman.

And then came the state final.

There, Cape Elizabeth got off to a fast start against Medomak Valley, then went cold for most of the first half. The Capers trailed at the break, 17-15, but a strong third period produced a 34-29 advantage. Again, Cape Elizabeth struggled on offense and the Panthers went up, 41-35, with 1:37 remaining. The Capers were on the ropes, but Murphy helped spark a rally with a difficult angle bank shot. Cape Elizabeth would draw up even, 42-42, and with time winding down, Murphy found himself in perfect position to take a pass from teammate Eddie Galvin. As time expired, Murphy made a layup and just like that, the Capers, in Hollywood fashion, were champions for the first time since 1988.

“Our transition game was our strength all year,” Murphy said. “I knew we’d come and play our best ball in the tournament. I don’t like losing, in an individual matchup or as a team. This program means a lot to me.”

Murphy, who has also played football and tennis in high school, belongs to the Ted-X Club at Cape Elizabeth and enjoys collecting sneakers. He’s looking at either attending a big school or playing basketball at Colby College.

Hopefully we haven’t heard the last of him on the hardwood, but if his final moment was a state championship-winning layup, what better way for Ethan Murphy, Cape Elizabeth’s Winter Male Athlete of the Year, to depart.

Coach Jim Ray’s comment: “Ethan’s leadership, unselfishness and ability to rise to the challenge of the regular season, as well as the state tournament, was amazing. He demonstrated a unique sense for imposing his will to help lead this year’s team to a championship. Along with Eddie Galvin, Ethan was the heart and soul of this year’s very balanced team.”

Previous winners:

2013-14: Eddie Galvin (basketball)

2012-13: Evan Long (swimming)

2011-12: Nick Breed (hockey)

2010-11: Theo Bowe (basketball)

2009-10: Conor Maloney (basketball)

2008-09: Alex Bowe (basketball)

2007-08: Tommy Ray (basketball)

2006-07: Graham Egan (Nordic skiing)

2005-06: Kevin Harrison (track)

2004-05: Dan Rautenberg (hockey)

2003-04: Ben Weimont (track)

2002-03: Luke Holden (hockey)

2001-02: Tom Alberi (swimming)


HANNAH SAWYER, Senior-Basketball

* WMC All-Conference, third-team

* WMC Senior All-Star

Sawyer helped lead the Capers through a challenging season, then directed them to their finest tournament performance in nearly two decades, stealing the show with her sizzling shooting on the biggest stage.

Sawyer started playing basketball in the fifth grade. As a freshman, she played on the Capers junior varsity team and she swung up to varsity as a sophomore. As a junior, Sawyer began to show her shooting acumen and became a key contributor.

This year, she and her teammates made history. Sawyer’s highlights included a 13-point performance (including the game’s first six) at Freeport, 17 points in a  win at Yarmouth, 15 in a victory over Kennebunk, 13 in a loss at Falmouth, 20 in a victory over Wells, 13 in a loss to York and 14 in a loss to Greely.

Cape Elizabeth lost its last four regular season games and had absolutely no expectations heading into the playoffs. the Capers then shocked the world, downing Fryeburg Academy in the preliminary round (Sawyer had six points), upsetting top-ranked, undefeated Spruce Mountain in the quarterfinals (Sawyer had seven points, including a late 3 to put her team ahead to stay, and blocked two shots with the game on the line), then dominated Lincoln Academy in the semifinals, as Sawyer had the game of her life, tallying 28 points, highlighted by seven 3-pointers, a new regional tournament record.

“I just pictured I was back in Cape at our gym,” Sawyer said.

Midnight finally struck with a loss to eventual state champion Greely in the regional final, but Cape Elizabeth’s run won’t soon be forgotten.

“We took it one game and one team at a time,” Sawyer said. “Coach (Chris Casterella) just told us we could be good if we put the work in. We had the potential. We all played together and we jelled.”

Sawyer averaged 10 points per game, made 35 3-pointers at a 33 percent clip, averaged 5.4 rebounds per contest, had 27 blocks, 20 steals and 17 assists, made 74 percent of her foul shots and only committed 26 turnovers, barely more than one per game.

Sawyer also played for the state champion volleyball team and will play doubles in tennis this spring. She plans to attend Connecticut College where she’ll play club sports.

What a fabulous way to end a career. Hannah Sawyer, Cape Elizabeth’s Winter Female Athlete of the Year, etched her name in legend and was along for a ride that will never be forgotten.

Coach Chris Casterella’s comment: “Hannah was the player that everyone rallied around. Not only was she the leader of our team, but she was a very effective leader. She was never concerned about her own stats and always placed the health of the team and the success of the team before individual goals. She’s one of the most positive players I’ve ever coached. She always had encouraging words to pick up a frustrated teammate or redirect a frustrated team. She’s what you look for in a captain and not surprisingly, she’s an exceptional young lady as well. To see her play so exceptionally well in the tournament was icing on the cake to her great career and a fitting ending for such a special player and person. Her performance against Lincoln Academy is the best offensive performance I’ve seen in my eight years of coaching and it’s something I’ll remember forever. She’s been a mainstay the past four years. She’s one of the most committed players I’ve ever coached and I’m very sad to see her go.”

Previous winners:

2013-14: Sydney Wight (swimming)

2012-13: Marlo Dell’Aquila (basketball)

2011-12: Hannah Homans (swimming)

2010-11: Emily Donovan (basketball)

2009-10: Emily Attwood (Nordic skiing)

2008-09: Marita Stressenger (track)

2007-08: Nora Daly (swimming)

2006-07: Nora Daly (swimming)

2005-06: Kinsey Tarbell (swimming)

2004-05: Kate Barton (Nordic skiing)

2003-04: Taylor McFarlane (swimming)

2002-03: Taylor McFarlane (swimming)

2001-02: Whitney Rockwell (swimming)

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at Follow him on Twitter:@foresports.

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