S-sportsrecap-013009 Winter regular season dwindling Postseason draws near in several sports
By Michael Hoffer
Winter sports began its frenzied postseason last weekend with the cheerleading regionals. It continues this weekend when area wrestlers compete in the Western A regional meet at Noble High School. The swim and track postseasons begin the following weekend with southwesterns.
Basketball and hockey teams still have some work to do as their regular seasons near a close. Skiing is gearing up for February as well.
Here's a look at the week that was and what's to come.
The news continues to be largely encouraging across the board.
SUBHEAD-Boys' basketball: Capers closing strong
While South Portland was doing battle with Portland in its latest Western Class A showdown Tuesday (please see accompanying story, page ?), Cape Elizabeth continues to roll in Western B.
The Capers won 59-42 at Traip Friday, downed visiting Wells 74-41 Saturday and improved to 13-2 Tuesday with their 10th straight victory, 65-39 at Freeport.
Against the Rangers, senior Alex Bowe had 17 points. In the win over the Warriors, junior Conor Moloney led the way with 11. Against the Falcons, Moloney and classmate Andrew Dickey had 10 points each.
Cape Elizabeth is third behind Falmouth and Greely in the latest Western B Heal Points standings, but has a chance to move up. The Capers can avenge one of their losses Friday when they go to Falmouth. Tuesday, they host Yarmouth. Cape Elizabeth then wraps up the regular season Feb. 6 with a huge home showdown against Greely.
Scarborough continues to hang tough, but is finding wins hard to come by. The Red Storm did triumph 65-51 at Massabesic Friday behind 17 points from junior Conor Sullivan, then endured consecutive tough losses.
Saturday, hosting perennial power Portland, Scarborough hung tough throughout and trailed by just two points with 3:27 to play, but the Bulldogs (thanks to 23 points and some clutch shooting from junior Koang Thok) closed the contest on a 12-4 run to win 63-53. Senior Garrett Alofs led the Red Storm with 15 points.
"My kids showed a lot of character," said Scarborough first-year coach Joe Johnson. "We're as athletic and dangerous as anyone in the league. We can knock it in on any night and we can defend. The kids came through and played well.
"Our offensive touches down the stretch didn't allow us to score. We had a tough time getting to the rim. We cut it to two, but Thok made a deep 3. That was a shot we wanted them to take, but it went in."
Tuesday, the Red Storm hosted Biddeford, hoping to avenge a loss in last year's playoffs. Again, Scarborough had a great chance to emerge victorious, but wound up falling 52-46 despite 13 points from sophomore Zach Bean.
The Red Storm are now 7-8 and ninth in the Western A Heals. They go to Kennebunk Friday, visit Biddeford Wednesday and close the year at home with Thornton Academy Feb. 6.
"We're right there, where we want to be," Johnson said. "If we win the games we should, we'll be there and anything can happen in the playoffs."
SUBHEAD-Girls' basketball: Big win for Red Riots
On the girls' side, South Portland went to Portland Monday night needing a win in its quest to host a home preliminary round playoff game. The Red Riots were coming off a 51-45 home loss to McAuley Friday (junior Danielle McCusker had 16 points) and were able to extend their win streak against the Bulldogs to eight (dating to Feb. 19, 2004).
Portland led 12-11 after one quarter, but South Portland's inside strength took over from there. While McCusker (16 points) and junior Esther Palmieri (eight points) were getting it done from the outside, senior Brianna Hawkins (14 points), sophomore Abby Hasson (11) and senior Kelsi Conley (8)took over in the paint. The Red Riots outscored the Bulldogs 34-13 in the middle periods and went on to a 58-47 victory.
"We really got it inside and that's our strength," said South Portland coach Mike Giordano. "The kids finished tonight. We made it hard for them to pick one kid and try and take her away. I thought Kelsi gave us some great minutes off the bench. It might have been Abby's best game. Bri did what we expect from our senior captain. How much has Danielle opened up our game? She keeps people honest and gets shots for Esther Palmieri, who can knock them down as well."
"I think we picked it up big time and played like a team," added Hawkins. "We were selfless and did a great job overall. It was important that we didn't have to have one person to go to. We were all scoring. It's a good win for us after the McAuley loss. It helps our confidence. We're showing good progress."
The Red Riots improved to 8-6. They are eighth in the latest Western A Heals (and will host a prelim if they wind up sixth, seventh or eighth). South Portland was supposed to play at Kennebunk Wednesday, but that game was postponed to a yet-to-be-determined date, due to snow. The Red Riots have a rematch at McAuley Friday, visit Deering Tuesday and close the regular season at home against Gorham Feb. 6.
"I feel like we have a great chance if we keep playing our best," Hawkins said. "It's good to go in under the radar sometimes. We haven't been that successful the past few years as a favorite. Anything can happen."
"We're still a work in progress," Giordano added. "I'd like to see us become a little more consistent. We have as good a chance as anybody to get to the Expo and hopefully the Civic Center."
Scarborough doesn't need to worry about the preliminary round. The Red Storm appear to be a lock for the No. 2 seed in Western A.
Last Friday, Scarborough demolished visiting Cheverus 64-17 behind 23 points from junior standout Christy Manning. The Red Storm led 18-4 after one quarter and 37-9 at halftime. Monday, the Red Storm improved to 13-2 with a 46-25 win at Kennebunk. Manning led the way with 18 points.
Scarborough was scheduled to play at Portland Wednesday, but that game was postponed due to snow. The Red Storm are home with Thornton Academy Friday, visit Portland in a makeup Monday and close the regular year Thursday Feb. 5 against visiting Biddeford.
In Western B, Cape Elizabeth will likely fall short of the playoffs this winter, but it's hard to describe the Capers' season as anything short of an unmitigated success. After going eight seasons without more than three victories, Cape Elizabeth has won two of its last three to improve to 6-9.
Last Friday, the Capers held off visiting Traip 41-27 behind 10 points from junior Gabe Donahue. Cape Elizabeth fell 46-34 at Wells Saturday (despite a dozen points from sophomore Emily Donovan). Tuesday, the Capers beat visiting Freeport 47-28 as juniors Ruth Perkins and Morgan Pillsbury both had 12 points.
Cape Elizabeth is 13th in the latest Heals and only the top 10 teams qualify for the playoffs. The Capers host Falmouth Friday, visit Yarmouth Wednesday and close the year at Greely Feb. 6.
SUBHEAD-Hockey: Scarborough goes extra for 'W'
On the ice, while Cape Elizabeth was upsetting Falmouth to reach the "Fix Cup" championship game (please see story, page ?), Scarborough finally returned to the win column.
The Red Storm had dropped four in a row before hosting Thornton Academy Saturday. The skid was snapped in dramatic fashion when senior Jake Rutt scored in overtime for a 4-3 win. It was his second goal of the game. Scarborough (6-5) was supposed to host Falmouth Wednesday, but that contest was postponed to a yet-to-be-determined date due to snow. The Red Storm (fourth in the latest Western A Heals) are at Cheverus Saturday.
South Portland hadn't played since last Thursdays 2-2 home tie against Bonny Eagle. Sophomore Zach Horton's goal with 15 seconds to play forced the tie which left the Red Riots 8-2-1 (and eighth in the Heals). South Portland was at Marshwood Thursday (too late for this edition), goes to Fryeburg/Lake Region for a playoff rematch Saturday and visits Noble Wednesday.
In girls' action, Scarborough's 9-3 home loss to Gorham Saturday left it 9-5-2 and fourth in the West Region Heal Points. The Red Storm close the regular year with games at Deering Saturday and at Gorham Monday.
Cape Elizabeth won 4-2 at Maranacook Saturday and is 8-8-1, good for sixth in the Heals.
Turning to track, both Cape Elizabeth teams came in first at USM last weekend. The Capers boys and girls defeated Fryeburg, Gray-New Gloucester, Lake Region, Poland, Traip and Wells.
At the Expo, Scarborough continued its season of dominance as both the boys and girls' teams beat Noble and Portland. South Portland's boys were second to Bonny Eagle, but beat Gorham. The Red Riots girls' squad came in third.
The regular season comes to a close this weekend.
Friday, Cape Elizabeth, along with Fryeburg, Gray-New Gloucester, Greely, Lake Region, NYA and Poland, competes at 4:30 p.m.
Saturday, in girls' action, South Portland goes up against city rivals Cheverus, Deering, McAuley and Portland at 8:15 a.m. Scarborough meets Gorham, Westbrook and Windham at 9:55 a.m.
On the boys' side, South Portland meets Cheverus, Deering and Portland at 3:25 p.m. Scarborough does battle with Gorham, Westbrook and Windham at 5 p.m.
In the pool, Scarborough enjoyed a triumphant weekend. The boys downed South Portland 112-72 and Thornton Academy 126-57. The girls were 119-65 winners over the Red Riots and defeated the Golden Trojans 124-60. Cape Elizabeth's girls beat Cheverus (148-89 1/2) and McAuley (148-87 1/2) Tuesday. The Capers boys fell 160-117 to the Stags.
South Portland diving standout Curry Girr won the girls' 11-dive at Saturday's Falmouth Diving Invitational. Girr had a score of 310.00. Cape Elizabeth's Morgan Mancall came in sixth (233.35). South Portland's Travis Wibby was runner-up to Deering's Brian McRae in the boys' 11-dive. Cape Elizabeth's Kevin Flathers placed third.
With the Southwesterns awaiting next weekend, local schools wrap up the regular year this weekend. Scarborough is at Cheverus, while South Portland hosts Falmouth Friday.
Cape Elizabeth's Alpine ski team had meets Friday and Tuesday. The Capers skied against Falmouth, Gray-New Gloucester and Greely in the former meet and both the boys and girls came in third. Tuesday, against Falmouth, Fryeburg, Gray-New Gloucester and Telstar, the Capers were fifth in the boys' meet and fourth on the girls' side.
Scarborough's cheerleading team was third out of 12 teams at the Western A regional last weekend with a score of 141.4. Biddeford (1552) came in first. The top six teams (which includes the Red Storm) qualified for the state finals, Feb. 7 in Bangor.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com