Deering Rams Winter Sports Preview

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Senior Ben Onek is one of the most dominating players in the state. He’ll look to lead Deering’s boys’ basketball team on a deep tournament run this season.

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More photos below.

BOYS’ BASKETBALL

Coach: Todd Wing (sixth year, 63-36 overall record)

2017-18 record: 7-12 (Lost, 57-52, to Oxford Hills in Class AA North quarterfinals)

Top returning player: Ben Onek (Senior), Loki Anda (Junior), Manny Biacho (Junior), Darryl Germain (Junior), Cole Martinson (Junior), Max Morrione (Junior), Mike Randall (Junior)

Pivotal games: Dec. 7 SOUTH PORTLAND, Dec. 27 @ Portland, Jan. 4 OXFORD HILLS, Jan. 8 @ Scarborough, Jan. 10 CHEVERUS, Jan. 12 @ Bangor, Jan. 15 @ Edward Little, Jan. 18 @ South Portland, Jan. 29 @ Thornton Academy, Feb. 5 @ Cheverus, Feb. 7 PORTLAND

Coach’s comment: “We can’t play the underdog role. We’re now a veteran team. We have more experience than last year. We’re still trying to figure out who we are. We lost six games by seven points or less last year. We talk about the little things that matter so we can win those games this year. We’re hoping to be in the mix at the end.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: After winning just seven times last winter, Deering is primed to return to its accustomed perch as one of the top contenders in the region.

The Rams feature Onek, who will be one of the top players in the region, if not the whole state. Onek can get it done inside and out, at both ends, and has a big physical advantage over most of his opponents. He’ll get plenty of attention from opposing teams, but Deering has plenty of other players who can do damage. Germain made the All-Rookie team as a sophomore and will lead Deering from the point guard position. Martinson and Morrione are other guards of note. Anda, at a lanky 6-foot-5-inches, and Randall, a gritty defender, are top defenders. Sophomore Mpore Semuhoza is a newcomer of note in the frontcourt.

With Portland not as clear a favorite as in recent seasons and defending champion Edward Little hit hard by graduation, Class AA North is open for the taking. If the Rams can get steady scoring production from players other than Onek, they will be capable of rising up the standings. If all the pieces fall into place, Deering could be in for a special campaign.

GIRLS’ BASKETBALL

Coach: Mike Murphy (11th year, 146-56 overall record, one state championship)

2017-18 record: 7-12 (Lost, 55-40, to Oxford Hills in Class AA North quarterfinals)

Top returning players: Victoria Garand (Senior), Delaney Haines (Senior), Mandy Mastropasqua (Senior), Ashleigh Mathisen (Senior), Isabelle Dawson (Junior), Elizabeth Drelich (Junior)

Pivotal games: Dec. 18 GORHAM, Dec. 27 @ Portland, Jan. 8 SCARBOROUGH, Jan. 10 CHEVERUS, Jan. 15 EDWARD LITTLE, Jan. 18 SOUTH PORTLAND, Jan. 23 @ South Portland, Feb. 5 @ Deering, Feb. 7 PORTLAND

Coach’s comment: “Basically everyone is back. Can we take advantage of that and develop a bench to help out? We’re a year older and I hope we can take the next step. I’ll need consistent offensive minutes from Vic, Mandy and Asheligh. The league top to bottom is very strong. It will come down to who is healthy and who steps up. It will be an interesting season. I like this squad.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: After getting to overtime of the regional final in 2016-17, Deering took a step back last winter, but the Rams expect to again be a top contender this season.

Haines was a first-team all-star a year ago and is the team’s top offensive threat this winter. Deering will need others to step up and Dawson, Mastropasqua and Mathisen could contribute from the guard position, while Garand is capable of being a factor down low. Drelich will be a top rebounder. Junior guards Madison Alves and Aviyonna Kim and junior forward Liv Serappa also look to contribute. Sophomore Gloria Muka will make an impact in the post. Junior forward Taja Wilkens is a transfer from the erstwhile Maine Girls’ Academy (former MGA coach Billy Goodman is assisting Murphy this winter).

The league is as balanced as ever and there will be few easy games for the Rams. Deering, as always, will be tough on both ends of the court and should be able to win its share of games in the weeks to come. If Haines gets some support on the score sheet, a successful campaign will result. Don’t be surprised if the Rams find themselves one of the last teams standing.

INDOOR TRACK

Boys’ coach: Gerry Myatt (seventh year)

Girls’ coach: Kevin Campbell (17th year)

2017-18 results:

(Boys) 2nd @ Class A state meet

(Girls) tie-15th @ Class A state meet

Top returners:

(Boys) Chris Kombo (Senior), Jerry Mixangelo (Senior), Josh Paisley (Senior), Samacha Sam (Senior), Alec Troxell (Senior), Abubaker Abu (Junior), Antonio Ciccomancini (Junior), Travis Soule (Junior), Andrew James (Sopohmore), Frances Matonga (Sophomore), Ben Vachon (Sophomore)

(Girls) Nicole Johnson (Senior), Angela Muka (Senior), Darcy Lally (Junior), Mimi Banksmith (Sophomore), Hadley Poirier (Sophomore)

Coach Myatt’s comment: “We’re not as deep as last year, but we hope to be in the hunt. We’re always blessed with good sprinters. We have young distance runners andd we hope they come along. We’re trying to cultivate some throwers.”

Coach Campbell’s comment: “We have a young but dedicated group of girls. Our hope is to improve every day and gain experience that will assure success as the season progresses.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Keep an eye on both Deering indoor track teams this winter.

The boys were the second-best Class A team in the state a year ago and while several top athletes graduated, the Rams are poised to once again compete for top honors in the conference and the state. Troxell, Deering’s Fall Male Athlete of the Year, finished fourth in the mile and sixth in the two-mile last season and looks to move up. He’s joined in the longer races by Mixangelo and freshman Alexey Seredin. Abu is a top hurdler. Sprinters of note include Cicomancini, James, Kombo, Matonga, Sam, Soule and freshmen Grant Haron and Nathan Isajar. Paisley (fifth in the shot put last year) leads the field athletes. He’ll be a top thrower. Kombo and Vachon hope to score in the jumps. The Rams have a lot of points to replace, but they’ll likely still be in the running for a top five finish for the fifth consecutive season.

On the girls’ side, standout Annah Rossvall will be missed, but Lally returns. She was sixth in the pole vault last season. Lally will also sprint this winter. Banksmith and freshmen Emma Hallee and Kayla Jackson are other sprinters to watch. Poirier is a distance runner of note. Freshman Morgan Shibles will be a top hurdler. Muka looks to score in the jumps and Johnson will throw the shot put. Look for Deering to hold its own in the league and have a few athletes shine in February.

SWIMMING

Coaches: Sarah Rubin (sixth year) and Sarah Rasmussen (second year)

2017-18 results:

(Boys) tie-13th @ Class A state meet

(Girls) 13th @ Class A state meet

Top returners:

(Boys) Owen McLaughlin (Junior), Ben Archibald (Sophomore)

(Girls) Claire Christopher (Senior)

Coach Rasmussen’s comment: “We’re excited to welcome back a great group of seniors and an excellent looking group of freshmen. We’re hoping to build a strong team climate and have a competitive attitude and presence.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Deering has some swimmers who will make some noise in the weeks to come.

The boys’ team features McLaughlin, who was runner-up in the individual medley last season and also placed sixth in the 100 butterfly. The veteran might be in line for a title before the season is over. Archibald is a distance specialist. He hopes to put up some points this winter. The Rams will be paced by those two and hope some others can step up. If so, a move into the top 10 at states could be the end result.

On the girls’ side, Christopher is the seasoned veteran, having competed for four years. She’ll look to score in the backstroke, as well as the distance freestyle. Freshmen Althea Hoag and Hadley Hoag are newcomers to watch. They each swim sprint freestyle and the breaststroke. A consistent season and strong postseason are within this squad’s grasp.

WRESTLING

Coach: Ryan Hutchins (second year)

2017-18 results: 22nd @ Class A state meet

Top returners: Bailey Eide (Junior), Magnus Heisler (Sophomore), Mohammed Muhee (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment: “We’re growing our numbers as we’re up to 15 after only finishing with six just two years ago. Only one wrestler has more than one full year of experience, so we’re looking to build our knowledge of the sport and be more competitive on the mat. It will be exciting to watch the team develop throughout the season.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Deering’s program is increasing in size and the Rams could turn some heads in the weeks to come.

Heisler won 29 matches a year ago and was third in the region. He’ll compete at 126 or 132 pounds and will serve as a co-captain, along with Eide, who wrestles at either 195 or 220 pounds. He should be improved from a year ago, as will be the case with Muhee (138/145 pounds). Juniors Chauncey Alado (160/170) and Ben Brown (170/182) are newcomers of note. Sophomore Brooke Birkhan could make quite an impact in the initial girls’ state tournament. Freshman Lillith Young is another female wrestler to watch.

Deering won’t be able to cover all the weight classes, but the wrestlers who are committed to getting better should be in for a season of growth and triumph. Look for a few individuals to really impress.

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

Junior Darryl Germain will be the point guard for Deering’s promising boys’ basketball team.

Junior Manny Biacho is another key returner for the Rams.

Junior Loki Anda will be a tough matchup for opposing teams.

Junior Mike Randall will be a bruiser in the paint.

Senior Delaney Haines is back for one final season to lead Deering’s girls’ basketball team on a playoff run.

Senior Victoria Garand will be one of the conference’s top post players.

Liz Drelich will make life difficult for the opposition.

Mandy Mastropasqua is another veteran returning for the Rams.

Ashleigh Mathisen will also find herself in the middle of the action.

Owen McLaughlin is a top scorer and returner for Deering’s boys’ swim team.

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