Farewell to a triumph-filled 2017-Southern edition

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South Portland’s Juliana Selser was a record-setting champion on the track last winter.

Cape Elizabeth’s boys’ lacrosse juggernaut found itself back atop the Class B world in June.

Scarborough’s football team celebrated its first-ever Class A state title in November.

Local high school sports athletes set a high standard again in 2017.

Whether the season was winter, spring or fall, triumph was the theme and there were countless memorable moments.

With another winter season underway and a new year upon us, here’s one final look back at the thrills that made up the year just past.

January

When 2016 gave way to 2017, South Portland’s boys’ basketball team was defending a regional title, Cape Elizabeth was its usual competitive self and despite a slow start, Scarborough was about to put it together. 

On the girls’ side, South Portland was once again the biggest threat to defending champion Gorham, but Scarborough wasn’t far behind. 

On the ice, Cape Elizabeth, Scarborough and South Portland’s boys’ teams all fielded competitive programs.

On the girls’ side, Scarborough was once again a title contender, while the Cape Elizabeth/South Portland/Waynflete co-op team was also chasing a playoff spot.

Skiing, swimming, track and wrestling teams and individuals geared up for the postseason.

February

After Scarborough’s Jeremy Sendrowski was runner-up at 145-pounds at the Class A state wrestling meet, February vacation week brought the first hardware of the new year.

Scarborough’s boys’ indoor track team won its sixth Class A championship in seven seasons, as Sam Rusak set a new state record in winning the pole vault and also won the high jump and the 200. Other Red Storm event winners included Jarrett Flaker in the 55, Ben Batoosingh in the 400 and their 4×200 and 4×800 relay teams. 

Scarborough’s girls also won the Class A title, thanks to first-place finishes from Emily Labbe in the 55, Bethany Sholl in the two-mile and the Red Storm’s 4×200 relay team.

South Portland’s Juliana Selser set a new state record in winning the Class A 800. Cape Elizabeth’s Darcy Cochran won the Class B 55 hurdles. 

In the pool, Cape Elizabeth’s girls’ team won Class B, as Emily Ecker set a new record in winning the 500 freestyle and she also won the 200 freestyle,  while Olivia Tighe was first in the 100 butterfly and the 100 free. The Capers also set new records in winning the 200 medley and 400 freestyle relays. 

On the slopes, Cape Elizabeth’s Devon Lathrop won the Class B boys’ giant slalom yet again.

On the ice, the Cape Elizabeth/South Portland/Waynflete girls’ co-op team beat Gorham in the South Region quarterfinals, but lost to Scarborough in the semifinals. The Red Storm then were defeated by Falmouth in the regional final.

On the boys’ side, Cape Elizabeth was upset by Yarmouth in the Class B South quarterfinals. In Class A South, Scarborough advanced with a quarterfinal round win over Biddeford.

Attention then turned to the basketball championships.

Scarborough’s girls beat Thornton Academy in the Class AA South quarterfinals, but the Red Storm were ousted by South Portland in the semifinals. The Red Riots then took Gorham to the wire in the AA South Final, but the Rams survived by two points and went on to repeat as state champions. 

On the boys’ side, Cape Elizabeth started with a thrilling overtime win over Brunswick in the Class A South quarterfinals, but the Capers were eliminated by Falmouth in the semifinal round. In Class AA South, Scarborough beat Bonny Eagle in the quarterfinals, but was ousted by South Portland in the semis. The Red Riots then outlasted Thornton Academy in overtime in a regional final thriller.

March

March saw South Portland’s boys’ hockey team lose to Cheverus in the Class A South quarterfinals and the Stags follow that up by beating Scarborough in overtime in the semifinals.

South Portland’s boys’ basketball team met Portland for the second year in a row in the state final and this time it wasn’t close, as the Red Riots didn’t shoot well, dug an early hole and lost, 60-38. 

April and May

The short spring regular season featured much excitement and triumph.

Cape Elizabeth, Scarborough and South Portland’s baseball teams all produced winning records.

Scarborough’s softball team again had no peer, extending their regular season win streak to an amazing 73, while Cape Elizabeth and South Portland ultimately earned playoff berths. 

Cape Elizabeth’s boys’ lacrosse team looked to regain the Class B state title it lost to Falmouth the year before, while Scarborough was defending a Class A crown and South Portland was once again very much in the mix, opening the season with a thrilling overtime victory over the Red Storm.

On the girls’ side, Cape Elizabeth was resurgent, while Scarborough and South Portland were in contention as well.

Area track stars geared up for the state meet.

The tennis story featured five of six local squads earning a playoff trip.

June

The spring championship season began with Scarborough’s boys’ track team repeating as Class A champions. The Red Storm were again led by Rusak, who tied a state record in winning the pole vault. Other first-place finishers included Batoosingh in the 400 and all three relay teams. Cape Elizabeth’s Cochran (Class B girls’ 100 hurdles) and South Portland’s Selser (Class A girls’ 800 and girls’ mile) and Steven Smith (Class A boys’ racewalk) also took home individual titles. 

There were no tennis championships in 2017, as the Cape Elizabeth boys were upset by Yarmouth in the regional final, the girls lost to eventual champion Greely in the semifinals, the Scarborough boys and girls were both ousted by Thornton Academy in the semifinals and the South Portland girls were eliminated by Deering in the preliminary round.

On the diamond, Scarborough’s baseball team lost to Falmouth in the Class A South quarterfinals, while South Portland was sent packing in the same round by Portland. Cape Elizabeth held off ancient rival Greely for a thrilling quarterfinal round win, but the Capers were upset by eventual champion Yarmouth in the semifinals.

Cape Elizabeth’s softball team lost to Leavitt in the Class B preliminary round, while South Portland upset Kennebunk in the preliminary round of the Class A South tournament before losing to Portland in the quarterfinals. That left Scarborough, which wouldn’t be denied, rolling past Gorham, Windham and Portland to return to the state final, where the Red Storm beat Skowhegan, 3-0, to win the championship. 

Scarborough’s girls’ lacrosse team lost to powerhouse Massabesic in the Class A South quarterfinals, while South Portland was ousted in the same round by Marshwood. In Class B South, Cape Elizabeth beat longtime nemesis Waynflete in the quarterfinals before losing to eventual champion Kennebunk in the semifinals.

Boys’ lacrosse produced one champion and almost another. After South Portland lost to Thornton Academy in the Class A South semifinals, Scarborough outscored Golden Trojans behind 10 goals from Marco Manfra in the regional final to meet up with Brunswick in the state final again. This time around, the Red Storm weren’t able to repeat, as they dropped Coach Joe Hezlep’s finale, 18-17, in an overtime epic. In Class B South, Cape Elizabeth and Falmouth, to no one’s surprise, met up in the regional final for the ninth straight season and this time, the Capers avenged their upset from the year before with a scintillating one-goal victory. Cape Elizabeth then handled Yarmouth, 16-7, to win the state title. 

July and August

High school action took a short break, while familiar names competed in road races and American Legion ball. By mid-August, fall practice was underway.

September

Autumn brought football, soccer, field hockey, cross country, golf and volleyball excitement.

On the gridiron, Scarborough, despite a stumble against Thornton Academy, soon proved that it had all the ingredients of a championship team. Cape Elizabeth hoped to win a title of its own, while South Portland was hanging tough. 

On the pitch, South Portland’s boys were en route to a best-ever regular season, while Cape Elizabeth, Greater Portland Christian School and Scarborough were all playoff-bound.

On the girls’ side, Scarborough again led the way, while Cape Elizabeth and South Portland were also very competitive.

Scarborough’s field hockey team was on the short list of title favorites. 

Scarborough’s powerhouse volleyball team dropped its opener to Deering, then returned to form as a Class A favorite. South Portland emerged as a contender, while in Class B, Cape Elizabeth didn’t lose to anyone.

Cross country and golf teams hinted at success to come.

October

At the golf state match, Forecaster Country stole the show. Scarborough won the Class A team title, while Cape Elizabeth took home the Class B crown. That was just the beginning.

The next week, Scarborough’s Anthony Burnham tied for the Class A boys’ individual title, while teammate Elizabeth Lacognata won the girls’ championship. Cape Elizabeth’s Austin Legge won the Class B boys’ crown.

Scarborough’s boys’ cross country team was second in Class A and qualified for New Englands.

No one played volleyball as well as local teams and they produced three state finalists when all was said and done. Cape Elizabeth, the top seed in Class B, capped its undefeated run by blanking Falmouth in the state match. In Class A, Scarborough, to no one’ surprise, got to the final where its foe, South Portland, was unexpected. The Red Riots had upset top-ranked Deering in the semifinals, but in the state final, the Red Storm took care of business in four sets for their second championship in three seasons. 

The field hockey playoffs saw Scarborough open with a taut win over Falmouth, but the Red Storm were then upset by Biddeford in the semifinals. 

In the soccer tournament, South Portland’s boys’ team, which had earlier given Coach Bryan Hoy his 100th career win, earned the top seed for the first time in nearly 30 years, but the Red Riots wouldn’t have a happy ending, being upset by Thornton Academy in penalty kicks in the quarterfinals. Scarborough also fell in that round, against Portland. In Class B South, Cape Elizabeth avenged its loss from the year before by beating Greely in the quarterfinals, but the Capers lost on PKs at York in the semifinals. In Class D South, GPCS was ousted by Rangeley in the preliminary round. 

On the girls’ side, Cape Elizabeth, despite being ranked seventh in Class B South, got to the regional final behind wins over Gray-New Gloucester, Oak Hill and Greely. South Portland, coming off its best season in over a decade, beat Noble in the Class A preliminary round, then was eliminated by Kennebunk in the quarterfinals. Top-ranked Scarborough advanced to the regional final by downing Windham and Cheverus. 

Football’s playoffs began with South Portland losing to Sanford in the Class A South quarterfinals, while Cape Elizabeth handled Lake Region to advance to the Class C South semifinals. 

November

The soccer drama continued into November, where Cape Elizabeth’s girls finally met their match in Yarmouth in the Class B South Final, while Scarborough’s girls defeated Kennebunk in the regional final to make it to the Class A state game, where despite a valiant rally, the Red Storm lost to Camden Hills, 3-2.

Cape Elizabeth and Scarborough’s football teams would both reach the state final.

The Capers beat Fryeburg Academy in the Class C South semifinals, giving Coach Aaron Filieo his 100th victory with the program, then got past Gardiner in the regional final. Cape Elizabeth’s dream of a first state title would be dashed, however, by Maine Central Institute, 30-13.

The Red Storm, meanwhile, earned a bye into the semifinals, where they handled Sanford. Scarborough then avenged its regular season setback with a surprisingly easy win over Thornton Academy in the regional final. The Class A state game was never competitive, as the Red Storm dominated Windham from start to finish, 57-0, to capture their first Gold Ball in that class.

December

Winter has returned and the fun begins again.

In boys’ basketball, South Portland is hoping the third time’s a charm, while Cape Elizabeth and Scarborough also figure to be in the hunt.

On the girls’ side, South Portland is the favorite in Class AA South. Scarborough is again on the Red Riots’ heels. Cape Elizabeth is looking for a bounce-back season in Class B South. 

On the ice, playoffs are a realistic goal for every local team.

Swimming, track and wrestling have provided their share of promising moments and skiing is about to get underway.

Say goodbye to the wonderful year that was. We welcome 2018 and look forward to a new batch of highlights.

Happy New Year everyone!

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

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