Deering Rams Winter Athletes of the Year

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2010-11 Winter Male Athlete of the Year:

JON AMABILE, Junior-Basketball

* SMAA all-star, first team

The Deering boys’ basketball team proved to be one of the best in Western Class A this winter, reaching the semifinals for the first time in five seasons.

Night in, night out, the Rams got their opponents’ best game and the other team always made a point of trying to slow junior guard Jon Amabile.

Instead, Amabile rose to the occasion, hitting clutch hoops and leading the team in scoring. By season’s end, he was recognized as one of the finest players in arguably the best league in the state and those traits convinced The Forecaster to name Jon Amabile Deering’s 2010-11 Winter Male Athlete of the Year.

Amabile grew up in Portland and has been devoted to basketball for years. It’s all he’s played in high school. He emerged as a threat as a sophomore and had many highlights this season.

Amabile had 27 points, including the go-ahead free throws, in a early win at Sanford, scored 16 against Gorham, 17 versus Biddeford, 22 in an inspirational upset win over Thornton Academy, 20 against Massabesic, 27 versus Noble, 22 against Westbrook, 20 in a win over Portland, had a season-high 35 in an overtime loss at Windham and 25 in a win over Marshwood.

For the year, Amabile averaged 16.9 points per game, fourth-best in the SMAA. He was tops in steals (3.2) and in the top 20 in assists, made 3-pointers and free throw shooting percentage.

In Deering’s quarterfinal round victory over Thornton Academy, Amabile had a game-high 20 points as the Rams won their first postseason game since capturing the 2006 Class A title. Deering’s run ended with a semifinal round loss to Bonny Eagle.

Amabile, who plays for the AAU MBNation team, attributes his success to hard work. He’s looking forward to a strong senior season and would love to play in college.

That’s a distinct possibility. As one of the premier scorers around, Jon Amabile, Deering’s 2010-11 Winter Male Athlete of the Year, has a very bright future.

Coach Dan LeGage’s comment: “Jon has been an integral part our our success over the last two seasons. What he can do on the floor opens things up for other guys who play with him. He is extremely competitive and has a knack for scoring. For a player his size to produce the numbers that he has, while facing the other teams’ best defenders, is impressive. Jon always wants the ball when the game is on the line and has proven that he can hit the big shot. As a coaching staff, we feel very fortunate to coach a player of his caliber. We are confident Jon will continue to work hard to improve during this offseason and are excited to watch him play next season.”

2009-10 winner: Eddie Tirabassi (Basketball)

2008-09 winner: E.J. Googins (Swimming)

2007-08 winner: Chris Smith (Wrestling)

2006-07 winner: Brandon Carbone (Basketball)

2005-06 winner: Allen Stein (Wrestling)

2004-05 winner: Kyle Johnson (Swimming)

2003-04 winner: Brian Vail (Indoor track)

2010-11 Winter Female Athlete of the Year:

KAYLA BURCHILL, Senior-Basketball

* Miss Maine Basketball

* Lisa Blais Manning SMAA Player of the Year

* SMAA All-Conference, first team

* SMAA Senior All-Star

* Maine McDonald’s Senior All-Star

For four seasons, Kayla Burchill has been a champion.

While her Rams “only” managed to win Class A titles in her freshman and sophomore seasons, Burchill left little doubt that she was one of the special girls’ players in recent history with her ability to dominate a game in myriad ways.

While her prolific scoring ability rightly got much of the attention from hoops fans, Burchill was also a premier rebounder, defender and never hesitated to set up her teammates for easy hoops. Soft-spoken off the floor, Burchill led her team to great heights, winning a stunning 79 times in her high school career.

In light of that dominance, Kayla Burchill was an easy choice for Deering’s 2010-11 Winter Female Athlete of the Year.

Burchill grew up in Portland and soon made a name for herself on the hardwood. As a freshman, she played a pivotal supporting role on Deering’s championship team. She and the Rams did it again as a sophomore and Burchill became recognized as one of the top players around, regardless of class.

She dominated again as a junior, but her season ended in agony as she fouled out in the late stages of a regional final loss to Scarborough.

This season, Burchill capped her high school career with a run of dazzling performances.

She set the stage in the opener with 30 points versus Bonny Eagle. Burchill had 24 points and 16 rebounds in a win over Sanford, 25 points (including five 3-pointers) versus Scarborough, 21 against Gorham and 32 in a close win over South Portland and that was all before Christmas.

The 2011 portion of the schedule featured more prolific scoring. Burchill had 30 points versus Thornton Academy, 27 in a win over Massabesic (which pushed her over the 1,000-point mark for her career), 29 against Noble, 24 versus Cheverus, 25 against Portland, 22 in an overtime loss to McAuley, and 20 points each against Marshwood and Portland.

In the tournament, Burchill had 16 points to help the top-ranked Rams rally past Bonny Eagle in the quarterfinals and 21 points in a narrow semifinal round win over Sanford. In the regional final, which proved to be an epic, Burchill had 20 points, but the game ended in agony with an OT loss to McAuley. In that one, Burchill forced overtime with a free throw late in regulation.

Burchill wound up the SMAA’s leading scorer (22.6 points per game), was second in rebounds (9.4) and 3-pointers made and tops in field goal and free throw percentage. Burchill cleaned up in postseason awards and became the first Deering player to receive the prestigious Miss Maine Basketball designation.

Burchill, who played four years with the New England Crusaders AAU team, will take her act to Burlington, Vt., and play basketball at the University of Vermont next year.

She figures to continue to dazzle at the next level. Kayla Burchill, Deering’s 2010-11 Winter Female Athlete of the Year, did it all for four years and closed her career as a player who will long be remembered.

Coach Mike Murphy’s Comment: “I’ll harp forever on what Kayla meant to us. She meant the world. She grew up so much this year. She’s just a quality person. She always, always performed. I think she has the game to play at the next level without changing much, playing out on the wing. She can get stronger and quicker. Kayla’s a great kid. I’m happy for her. She’s very coachable. Humble.”

2009-10 winner: Claire Ramonas (Basketball)

2008-09 winner: Diana Manduca (Basketball)

2007-08 winner: Diana Manduca (Basketball)

2006-07 winner: Nicole Garland (Basketball)

2005-06 winner: Emily Sweatt (Swimming)

2004-05 winner: Rebecca Schack (Indoor Track)

2003-04 winner: Megan Urban (Basketball)

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