Deering Rams Winter Sports Preview

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BOYS’ BASKETBALL

COACH: Todd Wing (second year)

2013-14 record: 13-7 (Lost, 64-49, to eventual state champion Portland in Western A semifinals)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Jacob Coon (Senior), Stephen Ochan (Senior), Jason Thach (Senior), Ben Williams (Junior)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 5 BONNY EAGLE, Dec. 19 CHEVERUS, Dec. 27 @ Gorham, Dec. 30 SOUTH PORTLAND, Jan. 2 MARSHWOOD, Jan. 13 GORHAM, Jan. 15 @ Portland, Jan. 23 SCARBOROUGH, Jan. 30 @ South Portland, Feb. 3 @ Cheverus, Feb. 5 PORTLAND

COACH’S COMMENT: “I’m happy thus far. We’re making strides every day. We’re replacing five starters. We’re the only team in the league to have to do that. It’s daunting, but the guys are getting there. We have a lot of new faces. We have the athleticism to play with anyone. We’ll try to generate points on the defensive end. It’s an even league this year. No cupcakes or front-runners. We want to improve each week. If we do, we’ll be a difficult team to face at the end.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: This Deering edition has quite an upside, something the rest of the region could learn the hard way in the weeks to come. The Rams have a lot to learn and some players will take awhile to hit their stride, but there’s no denying the potential. After an emotional and transitional season in 2013-14, this squad is starting from a good place, even though there are a lot of holes to fill. There’s a lot of excitement to see what Williams can do over a full season. He was a revelation in the postseason. He’s a force to contend with down low and figures to score a lot of points. Ochan won’t score as much, but he’ll rebound and play lockdown defense. Coon is another returner in the frontcourt. Thach is now in his third varsity season and will run the point. There are several additions to the squad who will help the cause. Senior Garang Majok has speed and the ability to finish from his guard position. Look for him to play a much bigger role this winter. Junior guard Malik White, from New Jersey, is another promising addition. Sophomores Manny Chikuta and Moses Oreste also figure into the backcourt mix. Deering isn’t on the short list of favorites and that’s fine with the Rams. They know that there will be some obstacles over the next two months, but the pieces are in place for this squad to show tremendous improvement and be a real factor come February.

GIRLS’ BASKETBALL

COACH: Mike Murphy (seventh year, 99-24 overall record, one state championship)

2013-14 record: 9-11 (Lost, 52-30, to eventual state champion McAuley in Western A quarterfinals)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Courtney Brett (Senior), Mary Tadsse (Senior), Amanda Brett (Sophomore), Tasia Titherington (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 9 THORNTON ACADEMY, Dec.16 MCAULEY, Dec. 19 @ Cheverus, Dec. 23 WESTBROOK. Dec. 30 SOUTH PORTLAND, Jan. 6 WINDHAM, Jan. 13 @ Gorham, Jan. 16 PORTLAND, Jan. 23 @ Scarborough, Jan. 30 CHEVERUS, Feb. 3 @ McAuley, Feb. 5 @ Portland

COACH’S COMMENT: “Our three additions are very good players, but we’re so new to each other. The more we play, the better we’ll get. We’ve shown moments of brilliance and moments of discombobulation. We hope for balanced scoring. We hope to get transition baskets. We don’t have a lot of size. Last season everyone thought we’d be down, but we got better and surprised a lot of people. This year, we’re not sneaking up on anyone. We have to do it on the floor. There’s a plethora of good teams. We have to play with reckless abandon and also show patience. That’s a hard combination.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: After overachieving in 2013-14, Deering suddenly finds itself in a favorite’s role this winter. That’s because the Rams return some key players who received trial by fire last winter and have the benefit of three talented additions. Amanda Brett made the SMAA All-Rookie team after placing eighth in foul shot percentage (70.4) and ninth in rebounds per game (7.8)  in 2013-14. She’ll be a post presence. Titherington shot the lights out at times as a freshman (finishing 12th in the SMAA with a 12.1 points per game average, hitting 1.4 3-pointers per contest) and could only get better as a sophomore. She’ll also occasionally run the offense as the point guard. Courtney Brett and Tadsse are other guards to watch. Three newcomers, one from Cheverus and two from Portland, give this team a dramatically different look. Junior Lodia Ismail knocked down some big shots for the Stags last winter and could be one of the Rams’ top scorers in the weeks to come. She also plays the point. Junior Cierra Burnham comes over from Portland bringing toughness and a scoring touch from the wing. Sophomore Abi Ramirez, another erstwhile Bulldog, has great energy, is a tenacious defender and will also see time at point guard. Junior Delaney Donovan saw limited varsity time last winter, but will play a bigger role in the frontcourt this season. This group will be a work in progress, but what a final production it could be. Murphy always gets the most out of what he has to work with and after making so much out of last year’s inexperienced group, he and his staff could have a championship mix.

INDOOR TRACK

BOYS’ COACH: Gerry Myatt (third year)

GIRLS’ COACH: Kevin Campbell (13th year)

2013-14 results:

(BOYS) Tie-8th @ Class A state meet

(GIRLS) 10th @ Class A state meet

TOP RETURNERS:

(BOYS) David Doehring (Senior), Yahya Hussein (Senior), Hany Ramadan (Senior), Iid Sheikh-Yusef (Senior), Paulo DeMarco (Junior), Hisham Ramadan (Sophomore)

(GIRLS) Katie Farrell (Senior), Lizzy Fowler (Senior), Lili Kien (Junior), Caitlin Lally (Sophomore)

TOP FOES: Cheverus, Scarborough, South Portland, Thornton Academy

COACH MYATT’S COMMENT: “Our numbers are decent. We’ll cover the events. We’re young with a good junior division. We’ll be in the hunt in the league. We hope to have kids in the running to do well at states.”

COACH CAMPBELL’S COMMENT: “I think the new athletes we have will complement our veterans to make for a successful squad. We have some nice freshmen along with some transplants from other sports. I’m excited to see how the newcomers adapt and flourish in our competitive league.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Both Deering track teams have the necessary ingredients for success this winter.

The boys are loaded in the distance department, behind Hussein and Sheikh-Yusef (the regional cross country champion). Hussein was fourth in the two-mile last winter and figures to move up. Sheikh-Yusef will likely improve from his fifth-place two-mile finish a year ago. Doehring will also be heard from. Hisham Ramadan (who was part of a scoring 3,200 relay squad last year) is a top middle-distance threat. Hany Ramadan will be among the elite sprinters in the league and could see some time in middle distance races too. DeMarco is coming off a season which saw him place sixth in the 55 hurdles. Don’t be surprised if he makes a run at the top spot this time around, while also scoring points in the sprints. Some new athletes bring depth and could make an immediate impact. Seniors Dan Kimball and David Mathew will both sprint (Mathew will jump as well). Sophomores Roman Anderson and Ezra Chapbola are jumpers to watch (Anderson will also sprint). Freshman Daniel Hemminger is part of the sprinting contingent and classmate Kabala Muka could be the team’s top thrower, looking to score in the shot put. The Rams aren’t on the short list of favorites, but they should have another very competitive season and will produce some memorable results at the big meets.

On the girls’ side, graduation claimed standouts Edie Pallozzi, Alexis Elowitch and Rashad Zagon, but Farrell was sixth in the 400 last year and Kien placed sixth in the high jump. This winter, look for both girls to move up. Fowler is a top distance threat, while Lally competes in the hurdles and middle distance. This team also welcomes some promising additions. Junior Neilab Habibzai will throw the shot put, sophomore Sophie Silva will sprint and four freshmen: Julia Lancia (distance), Manna Puk (sprints and jumps), Annah Rossvall (hurdles and jumps) and Virginia Tiah (sprints), add depth. Look for steady improvement from this group and some solid performances come February.

SWIMMING

COACH: Sarah Rubin (second year)

2013-14 results:

(BOYS) 7th @ Class A state meet

(GIRLS) 4th @ Class A state meet

TOP RETURNERS:

(BOYS) Adam Roland (Junior)

(GIRLS) Mary Cala (Senior), Sofie deOlivieria (Junior), Kate Pontius (Junior), Wyeth Spike (Sophomore)

TOP FOES: Cheverus, Greely

COACH’S COMMENT: “I have good kids and we have great team spirit. We lost a lot of boys, but we hope to qualify some who didn’t qualify last year. I hope for a good season for Adam. He’s a great captain. We have the most diverse boys’ team in the state. Several kids who have never been in the pool before, but they’re learning the strokes. Our girls have a strong group of freshmen and sophomores who are great additions and offer a lot of depth. I hope we’ll do well against the bigger teams. We hope for a good showing at Southwesterns.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Deering is in for an enjoyable season.

The boys will be a work in progress after graduating standout and last year’s Winter Male Athlete of the Year Eric Delmonte (the reigning Class A champion in the breaststroke and individual medley), who is now at Virginia Tech,. The top returner is Roland, who came in eighth in the backstroke last winter. He’ll swim a little of everything this season. This group will look to qualify as many swimmers as possible for the big meets and should be much stronger by the end of the season than at the beginning.

The girls’ squad appears to be in good shape even after graduating last year’s Winter Female Athlete of the Year, Emma Pontius. Wyeth is the top returner. She was third in the 500 freestyle and fifth in the backstroke last year and could move up. deOliveira finished fourth in the 100 free and seventh in the 200 free last winter. She’ll also swim the breaststroke this season. Kate Pontius is a top sprinter, coming in sixth in the 50 free and sixth in the 100 free in 2013-14. Cala also scored last year (seventh in the fly and seventh in the IM) and hopes to move up. There are several younger swimmers looking to make their mark and they will help provide depth. Look for Deering to be competitive throughout and place near the top of the heap at the big meets in February.

NORDIC SKIING

COACH: Aaron Duphily (fifth year)

2013-14 results:

(BOYS) No score @ Class A state meet

(GIRLS) 6th @ Class A state meet

TOP RETURNERS:

(GIRLS) Leinani Farnsworth (Sophomore), Ewka Varney (Sophomore)

COACH’S COMMENT: “The girls will be a team to watch this year. With a core of talented sophomores and some key additions, I think we’ll surprise some people and be very competitive in Class A.

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Deering should be a factor all season. The girls return a pair of state meet scorers, who could be even better this time around. Varney is coming off a freshman campaign which saw her place 13th in the freestyle and 30th in the classical. Farnsworth placed 14th in the classical and 33rd in the freestyle last winter. Freshman Morgan Aponte Clarke, a Casco Bay student skiing for Deering, could quickly make her presence felt. If those three get some help, the Rams could improve on last year’s showing. The boys don’t have big numbers, but freshman Peter Jordan is a skier to watch. Expect another fun and competitive season from this group.

WRESTLING

COACH: Al Kirk (38th year)

2013-14 results: No score @ Class A state meet (10th @ regionals)

TOP RETURNERS: Matt Krusiec (Senior), Jonah Rogers (Senior), Mike Darling (Junior)

COACH’S COMMENT: “We have some promising new kids. I just wish we had more small weight class kids. We have the same philosophy as always. We want to make good citizens, teach the kids the sport and how to work hard. We hope to get a few kids to states.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Deering didn’t score at states a year ago, but could contend this season behind three strong returners. Darling (heavyweight) and Rogers (220 pounds) are both coming off victories in the Fryeburg tournament to start the season. Krusiec will be heard from at 182 pounds. The Rams will struggle to fill all the classes, but they’ll be competitive. Don’t be surprised if one of the core three makes some noise in February.

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

Junior Ben Williams became a star during last year’s tournament and should lead the Deering boys’ basketball team back to the playoffs this winter.

Senior Stephen Ochan is best known for his excellence on the pitch, but he’s a force on the hardwood as well.

Senior Jacob Coon brings size to the Rams this winter.

Amanda Brett was a force as a freshman and should be a post force for the Rams in 2014-15.

Junior Lodia Ismail comes to the Rams from Cheverus, where she made a name for herself as a long-range bomber.

Cierra Burnham, a transfer from Portland, will play a key role for the Rams this season.

Sophomore Abi Ramirez comes over from Portland and brings her defensive intensity to help the Rams this winter.

Sidebar Elements


Tasia Titherington had a breakout season as a freshman. Now, she and her teammates could be among the best in Western Class A.

File photos.

More photos below.

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