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Waynflete Flyers Winter Sports Preview

Sports

Waynflete Flyers Winter Sports Preview

The Waynflete winter athletic teams have enjoyed their share of drama and triumph in recent years and this season should continue the trend. The boys' basketball team enjoyed a surprising trip to Augusta a year ago. This time around, the Flyers could be one of the best in the region. The girls fell two points short of a first-ever Class C Final in 2008-09. While they have a new look this winter, anyone writing them off will be surprised. Nordic skiing is always a force and both teams will be competitive this year.

BOYS' BASKETBALL

COACH: Rich Henry (sixth year)

2008-09 Record: 7-13 (Lost 65-38 to Dirigo in Western Class C quarterfinals)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Josiah Baker-Connick (Senior), Sam Fillinger (Senior), Cecil Gardner (Senior), John Malia (Senior), Bill Ngoal (Senior), Alex Hadiaris (Junior), Sam Murphy (Junior), Joe Veroneau (Junior), Abshir Horor (Sophomore), Mitch Newlin (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 11 (H) FALMOUTH, Dec. 15 @ OOB, Jan. 5 @ Traip, Jan. 8 (H) OOB, Jan. 14 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, Jan. 16 (H) TRAIP, Jan. 22 @ Hyde, Jan. 23 (H) NYA, Jan. 29 (H) HYDE

COACH'S COMMENT: "We're returning four players who started at the end of last year and will be looking to find the right players to round out the rotation. We've got some depth at a few positions, but will be challenged to replace Hassan's leadership. The depth should raise the level of play overall. If we're able to find the right balance and play consistently, we should be okay. I'm very pleased with the freshman that are new to the program. I'm also very pleased that Sam Cleaves, who has been a standout on the varsity soccer team, decided to play varsity basketball for his senior year. Sort of funny how things work, we went from a fairly young team last year to a supposedly 'experienced' team this year, and our success will be dictated by that experience translating into consistent play."

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: No one expected anything from Waynflete a year ago, but the Flyers sprung a huge preliminary round upset at Boothbay and made a thoroughly surprising trip to Augusta. This year, however, Waynflete will sneak up on no one. The Flyers are well-equipped to counter the best their opponents can dish out as they lost just one player to graduation (it was a big loss, however, last Winter's Male Athlete of the Year, Hassan Jeylani). Waynflete boasts an offensive attack led by Malia (who had 13 points in a season-opening 39-22 win at NYA Friday night), a first-team league all-star, who was third in the Western Maine Conference in scoring a year ago with a 17.7 points per game average. The seniors, Baker-Connick, Fillinger, Gardner and Ngoal, (14 points versus NYA) are all seasoned and will be bolstered by the addition of the athletic Cleaves. Hadiaris, Murphy and Veroneau will look to continue their growth, as will Horor and Newlin, who saw time as freshmen. Speaking of freshmen, Abukar Adan, Max Belleau, Jack Cutler and Paul Runyambo will do their best to pitch in. Waynflete again faces a tough schedule, which includes some top Western B contenders, but this time around, the Flyers are better equipped to meet any challenge. Look for this to be a very good team by season's end. A return trip to Augusta is likelihood. If the younger players come of age and the team stays healthy, it's possible that the Mountain Valley Conference schools won't look forward to a possible February matchup with Waynflete.

FUN FACT: The Flyers are riding a program-best streak of five straight postseason appearances.

GIRLS' BASKETBALL

COACH: Brandon Salway (third year)

2008-09 Record: 17-4 (Lost 40-38 to Jay in Western C Final)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Morgan Woodhouse (Senior), Liz Lewis (Junior), Sam Oakland (Junior), Lydia Stegemann (Junior), Suzy Moore (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 11 @ Falmouth, Jan. 5 @ Traip, Jan. 14 @ Cape Elizabeth, Jan. 16 (H) TRAIP, Jan. 22 @ Hyde, Jan. 23 @ NYA, Feb. 2 (H) WELLS

COACH'S COMMENT: "We've been pretty competitive against quality preseason opponents. We've come a long way in two weeks. I'm encouraged. If we continue to develop and improve as quickly as we have, I think we can make a run at Augusta. If we get there, anything can happen. We're not very deep, but we might surprise."

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: Waynflete came within a whisker of a first-ever Class C Final a year ago and despite losing some key players to graduation (including Winter Female Athlete of the Year Annie Cutler), could still be very strong in 2009-10. Woodhouse emerged as one of the elite post players in the state as a junior and could absolutely dominate this time around (she had a triple-double, 20 points, 20 rebounds and 11 steals in an Opening Night 53-26 victory over NYA). Woodhouse (a WMC first-team all-star) was sixth in scoring and third in both rebounds and steals a year ago. She's gotten better each year and will create matchup nightmares this season. Lewis and Stegemann will also make a mark on the inside. Guard play could be what separates the Flyers from the pack. While Moore and Oakland bring stability and experience, a trio of newcomers will turn heads. Catherine and Martha Veroneau, the younger sisters of Margaret Veroneau, Class of 2008 and the program's latest 1,000-point scorer, will step right into the starting lineup. Martha Veroneau is a point guard and sharpshooter who doesn't even remotely look like a freshman (she lit up NYA for 23 points Friday night). Catherine Veroneau has a great upside as well. Rhiannan Jackson is another potential star of the future. Waynflete faces some tough tests on its schedule and will go through some growing pains, but stands to be formidable in February. The Flyers might not be on the list of state contenders, but if the newcomers produce as hoped and Woodhouse dominates as expected, Waynflete will spend some time in Augusta. Perhaps a lot of time. This will be one team that will be very fun to watch.

FUN FACT: Waynflete made five regional final appearances in Class D (including three in a row from 2002 through 2004). Last year marked the first time the Flyers advanced to that round in Class C.

NORDIC SKIING

COACH: Wyatt Dumas (first year)

2008-09 Results:

(BOYS) 7th @ Class C state meet
(GIRLS) 5th @ Class C state meet

TOP RETURNING SKIERS:

(BOYS) Nate Niles (Senior), Eli Sobel (Junior), Max Sobel (Junior), Myoung Kim (Sophomore)
(GIRLS) Emma Longcope (Junior), Chloe Rowse (Sophomore)

TOP FOES: Freeport, NYA

COACH'S COMMENT: "I'm excited to have a large number of new skiers. I expect us to perform very well at the state meet this year. I expect success because the kids interact very positively with each other in regards to training and motivation and they enjoy being together as a group. Many of the newcomers are strong athletes in their own right."

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: Waynflete has been one of the premier Nordic ski programs in the state this decade and should be in the hunt again this winter. The team welcomes a new coach in Dumas, who was with Cape Elizabeth for two seasons. He also coached at Bowdoin College and was a standout in his own right at Mt. Blue High School and at Bowdoin.
The boys' team returns Niles, a WMC all-star a year ago, who was runner-up in both the Class C classic and freestyle races last winter. Eli Sobel (53rd in the classic), Max Sobel (48th in the classic and 53rd in the freestyle) and Kim (65th in the freestyle) also scored last year. New junior Matt Butler, sophomore Dan Wiener and freshmen Josh Espy and Dylan Kingsbury provide depth and could be standouts down the road. This team could be very good by February and has a shot at a top five finish.
On the girls' side, Longcope is the top returner (17th in the classic and 21st in the freestyle). Rowse also scored last year. She was 20th in the freestyle and 23rd in the classic. Several newcomers also look to make a mark. That group includes sophomores Drew Boulos, Alida Farrell, Lyllie Harvey and Hillary Niles. If the Flyers can show steady growth, they'll be a force all season. By February, this team could be in its accustomed position of making a run for the top spot.

Photo:
Senior Cecil Gardner is one of several experienced players for the Waynflete boys' basketball team.

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Junior Joe Veroneau is another solid Flyer for the opposition to contend with.

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Senior Morgan Woodhouse rose above the competition as a junior and figures to be one of the elite players in the region this winter.

MORE PHOTOS BELOW

Photo:
Eli Sobel is one of Waynflete's top Nordic skiers this winter.