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Waynflete Flyers Winter Sports Preview

Winter Sports Previews

Waynflete Flyers Winter Sports Preview

All four Waynflete winter sports teams have legitimate chances to do something special. Boys' basketball turned heads in Augusta last year and will compete in Western C. The girls' team has been knocking on the door for several seasons and this could be the year the Flyers kick it down behind one of the state's premier players. Swimming made its mark as a first-year program in 2010-11 and now has its eye on a championship. Nordic skiing is always competitive and this winter should be no exception. There are also five girls playing hockey with the Cape Elizabeth team. That group includes seniors Roz Gray-Bauer and Lucy Crane, junior Phoebe Suva, sophomore Gretchen Stevens and freshman Allie Mills. The Cape Elizabeth/Waynflete team is off to a 2-2 start.

BOYS' BASKETBALL

COACH: Rich Henry (eighth year, 67-65)

2010-11 Record: 12-6 (Lost, 55-37, to Dirigo in Western Class C semifinals)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Chris Burke (Senior), Abshir Horor (Senior), Mitch Newlin (Senior), Abdul Yousaf (Senior), Max Belleau (Junior), Jack Cutler (Junior), Paul Runyambo (Junior), Mohammed Suja (Junior),

PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 13 (H) TRAIP, Dec. 21 (H) NYA, Jan. 4 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, Jan. 10 @ OOB, Jan. 18 (H) YARMOUTH, Jan. 20 @ Traip, Jan. 27 @ Wells, Feb. 3 @ NYA

COACH’S COMMENT: “We have a nice mix of players who played significant roles last year and some JV players who have developed in the offseason. A key to the season will be how the players respond to their new roles. We have a challenging schedule against some perennially strong teams, so we’ll be tested often. Last year’s team really prided itself on defense and the degree to which those attributes carry over to this team will have a huge bearing on how successful we are. I would say that we’re making good progress in terms of learning or refreshing the players regarding the style and way that we want to play and I think this team has the potential to be capable offensively. We’ve got a strong senior and junior class, along with some skilled sophomores and a high potential freshman.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Waynflete is coming off its best Class C season to date and its first trip to the semifinals in a decade. This year's squad hopes to build on last year's momentum and a glimpse at this roster reveals plenty of potential. While the Flyers don't have a lot of size, there's a lot of athleticism. Attempting to replace 2010-11 Winter Male Athlete of the Year Joe Veroneau up front will be Burke and Runyambo, along with sophomore Serge Nyirikamba and sophomore Henry Cleaves, who figures to be a force under the basket. The Flyers are in good shape at the guard position, led by Belleau, Cutler, Horor, Suja and Yousaf. Belleau, Cutler and Horor all figure to see time at the point. Freshman Harry Baker-Connick will see some time with the varsity team as well. Newlin can play guard or forward and sophomore Joey Schnier (a JV player last winter) and senior Ray Bliss (also from the JV) will be in supporting roles. The Flyers opened with a 53-35 home win over Old Orchard Beach, as Newlin led the way with 12 points. Burke and Runyambo both had nine, while Belleau and Suja each added seven. Balanced scoring will be this team's hallmark. Waynflete faces a challenging slate, which features some top Class B competition, as well as traditional Class C rivals, but this group is battle tested, both in basketball and other sports (most notably in soccer, where several basketball players helped the Flyers take the Gold Ball last month). Waynflete should be effective on the defensive end. If the Flyers can rebound and find a way to score consistently, they'll compete with every team they face. Look for this squad to keep getting better and more confident and by February, be a team that no one wants to run into with the season on the line.

GIRLS' BASKETBALL

COACH: Brandon Salway (fifth year, 65-16)

2010-11 Record: 16-4 (Lost, 31-27, to Livermore Falls in Western C semifinals)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Suzy Moore (Senior), Rhiannan Jackson (Junior), Catherine Veroneau (Junior), Martha Veroneau (Junior), Leigh Fernandez (Sophomore), Ella Millard (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 13 @ Traip, Dec. 15 (H) LAKE REGION, Dec. 21 @ NYA, Jan. 10 (H) OOB, Jan. 20 (H) TRAIP, Feb. 3 (H) NYA

COACH’S COMMENT: “We have a little bit of the injury bug which is affecting our depth, but we've competed in our scrimmages. We're not blessed with height. We need to drive and get to the line. I like my team, but we'll need to scrap for rebounds and loose balls. We could be very good, but we have to do more than shoot 3s. Martha's improved a lot. She'll take it to the hoop more. We have a tough early schedule.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Waynflete has quietly put together a very impressive four-year run which has seen it win over 80 percent of its games and get to the regional finals twice and the semifinals on two other occasions. This could be the team that finally gets all the way through to the Class C Final, but it won't come easily. Salway is fortunate to have one of the premier shooters and players in the entire state in Martha Veroneau, who cemented her legend with a record-setting 3-point shooting performance in the Flyers' quarterfinal round win over St. Dom's in last year's tournament. Waynflete's Winter Female Athlete of the Year was the Western Maine Conference's leading scorer in 2010-11 with 16.6 points per game and was tops in made 3-pointers with 44. She also averaged 4.3 steals and 3 assists per contest so if she's improved from that, good luck to the opposition. She'll run the offense from the point. Veroneau isn't the only Waynflete player who can go bombs away. Fernandez and Jackson have good range and should be more confident this season. Catherine Veroneau, who had her season cut short last winter by a knee injury, is back healthy and ready to make up for lost time. Moore brings poise and leadership and Millard could be due for a breakout season. Three freshmen, forwards Julianna Harwood and Dana Peirce and guard Helen Gray-Bauer, will factor in and see time. The Flyers broke away in the second half to win the opener at Old Orchard Beach, 39-26, behind 16 points from Martha Veroneau and 13 from Jackson. Catherine Veroneau added seven in her first game in nearly a year. The win gave Salway his 200th victory (which includes a previous stint with the girls and time spent coaching the boys as well). The Flyers will be tested with a tough early schedule and a league slate that includes Western C foes Old Orchard Beach and Traip and Western B opponents like Cape Elizabeth, Fryeburg, Wells and Yarmouth. Waynflete has enough talent to navigate the road ahead and if it can develop an inside game, it might be unstoppable. If the Flyers can stay healthy and Martha Veroneau is her usual unstoppable self, that road might not end in the regional tournament, but perhaps in a first ever trip to the Class C state game.

SWIMMING

COACH: Jim Harvey (second year)

2010-11 Results:

(BOYS) 19th @ Class B state meet

(GIRLS) 3rd @ Class B state meet

SWIMMERS TO WATCH:

(BOYS) Luke Jeton (Junior)

(GIRLS) Sofia Canning (Sophomore), Amelia Deady (Sophomore), Walker Foehl (Sophomore), Colby Harvey (Sophomore), Ellen Silk (Sophomore)

COACH'S COMMENT: “Last year was our first team in 60 years and we had 12 girls and just one boy. This year, we have 20 girls and seven boys. Several new freshmen will make an immediate impact on both teams. We hope to be top three for the girls at the state meet and finish in the top 10 for the boys.”

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: Waynflete certainly made a first-year splash and the encore could be even better.

Last winter, Jeton was the lone male swimmer. He was runner-up in the 500 freestyle and placed in the backstroke at the state meet. He'll lead the team again, but this time has some company. If some new kids can make a mark, the Flyers' top 10 goal is quite realistic.

On the girls' side, while the program is still young and the numbers remain modest, at least one longtime local coach feels Waynflete has what it takes to win a championship. Silk is the reigning state champion in the 500 free and came in fourth in the 200 free. Harvey won the state title in the butterfly and was runner-up in the 200 individual medley. Deady was second in both sprint events and Canning and Foehl also made it to the finals a year ago competing in the freestyle and backstroke. This group is loaded for bear and should only get better now that it's more established. Look for the Flyers to be a force all season and to turn heads once and for all in February.

NORDIC SKIING

COACH: Sean Lena (second year)

2010-11 Results:

(BOYS) 5th @ Class C state meet

(GIRLS) 3rd @ Class C state meet

TOP RETURNING SKIERS:

(BOYS) Colin Lawrence (Senior), Josh Espy (Junior), Dylan Kingsbury (Junior)

(GIRLS) Chloe Rowse (Senior), Isabel Agnew (Junior), Sadie Cole (Junior), Jo Moore (Junior)

COACH’S COMMENT: “We have a strong team returning this year despite the fact that many graduated last year. We're a young team, but I'm confident we'll surprise a lot of people. The returning skiers trained hard over the summer and fall and they're prepared to lead the less experienced team members. We're excited for the season and can't wait to get on snow.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: While snow might have to wait, the Flyers have reason for optimism in 2011-12.

The boys' team boast two returning scorers. Espy came in fifth in the classic and 11th in the freestyle a year ago. Kingsbury was ninth in the freestyle and 13th in the classic. Lawrence also competed a year ago and is primed to move up. The Flyers are used to contending in the powerful Western Maine Conference and at the state level and this winter figures to produce more of the same.

On the girls' side, Waynflete's lead returnees are Moore, who was sixth in the classic and 10th in the freestyle, and Rowse, who placed eighth in the freestyle and 11th in the classic. Agnew is also a returning scorer (40th in the classic). Cole, a soccer and lacrosse star, rounds out what could be a very formidable squad. The Flyers figure to make another run at one of the top spots at the state meet.

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter @foresports

Photo: File photo

Junior Jack Cutler is one of several top returners for a Waynflete boys' basketball team that reached the Western C semifinals a year ago.

Photo: File photo

Senior Mitch Newlin is hoping to add a Gold Ball to the soccer championship he was a part of this fall.

Photo: File photo

Junior Martha Veroneau is one of the state's premier girls' basketball players, regardless of class. Veroneau and her teammates have legitimate title hopes this winter.

Photo: File photo

Sophomore Leigh Fernandez has already earned a reputation for her hustle and talent.

Photo: File photo

Junior Rhiannan Jackson has emerged as one of the conference's top talents on both ends of the floor.

Photo: File photo

Sophomore Sophia Canning is another talented swimmer for the Flyers.

Photo: File photo

Sophomore Ellen Silk is the defending Class B state champion in the 500 freestyle.