Freeport Falcons Winter Sports Preview

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Lily Horne returns to the Freeport girls’ Nordic ski team after a strong sophomore campaign. The Falcons hope to be one of the best squads in the state this winter.

File photos.

More photos below.

BOYS’ BASKETBALL

Coach: Bill Ridge (third year, 8-28 overall record)

2016-17 record: 5-13 (no postseason)

Top returning players: Ethan Sclar (Senior), Nate Thomas (Senior), Toby Holt (Junior), Eriksen Shea (Junior)

Pivotal games: Dec. 12 YARMOUTH, Dec. 15 @ Gray-NG, Dec. 30 @ OOB, Jan. 11 GREELY, Jan. 19 @ Yarmouth, Jan. 23 WAYNFLETE, Jan. 27 @ Cape Elizabeth, Feb. 8 GRAY-NG

Coach’s comment: “This year’s team has played together quite a bit growing up, but it’s the first time we’ll have this mix of players together at the varsity level. We carry 12 players and on any given night, expect contributions from each one of them. We’ll try to use our depth to play a fast tempo. Our schedule is difficult, to say the least, playing a mix of contenders from Class A, B and C. We expect to have strong leadership from our seniors and captains, Ethan and Nate. Their leadership, combined with the explosive play of our underclassmen, will create the tempo and pace we want. Overall, this group is extremely coachable, determined and supportive. The goal is to continue trending upwards and give ourselves a chance to make the tournament come February.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Freeport is coming off its best season in nearly a decade and the program’s climb back to serious contention is almost complete. This year’s squad could be the one to put the Falcons back in the postseason, but a tough schedule won’t make it easy.

Holt is the top returning scorer. He averaged 10.1 points (and 6.1 rebounds) a year ago. He’ll pose a tough matchup from his forward position. Sclar, Freeport’s Fall Male Athlete of the Year after his golf heroics, returns as a point guard and captain. Sclar can score (8 points per game), distribute the ball (3 assists per contest) and play defense (1 steal per game). Shea joins Sclar in the backcourt, while Thomas provides frontcourt depth. Newcomers of note include junior forward Kaleb Barrett and sophomore guard/forward Gabe Wagner. The Falcons will run and gun and hope to wear down the opposition.

Learning how to win will be this squad’s biggest challenge, as it won’t be happy just to compete. Freeport has a lot of good teams standing in its way, but if it continues its steady climb up the standings, a first winning season and playoff berth since 2008 could be the end result.

GIRLS’ BASKETBALL

Coach: Mike Hart (fourth year, 23-34 overall record)

2016-17 record: 12-8 (Lost, 57-24, to eventual state champion Gray-New Gloucester in Class B South quarterfinal)

Top returning players: Johanna Bogue Marlowe (Senior), Megan Cormier (Senior), Taylor Dostie (Senior), Jessie Driscoll (Senior), Taylor Rinaldi (Senior), Caroline Smith (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: Dec. 12 YARMOUTH, Dec. 15 GRAY-NG, Jan. 11 @ Greely, Jan. 19 @ Yarmouth, Jan. 30 @ York, Feb. 2 @ Lake Region, Feb. 5 WELLS, Feb. 8 @ Gray-NG

Coach’s comment: “With 11 players back from last season and the addition of Allie Goodman (from Pine Tree Academy), we’re looking to compete every night against the league’s best teams. Our goal is to get better every day and prepare for a playoff run.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Freeport has made the playoffs two years running, but hasn’t been able to solve Gray-New Gloucester. This winter, the Falcons are experienced, have a huge addition to their roster and are hungry to make a deep postseason surge.

Rinaldi averaged 11.7 points per game in 2016-17 and she’ll be a top scorer. She’ll be complemented by senior Allie Goodman, who was a scoring machine in her time at Pine Tree Academy. Smith will run the offense as the point guard. Bogue-Marlowe will play a key role in the backcourt. Driscoll (8.8 points per game last season) is joined in the front court by Cormier and Dostie. Freeport has the ability to do a little of everything and to be effective at both ends of the floor.

The Falcons will need to be solid throughout as they play in a very challenging region and won’t have many breathers. The program does have reason for optimism, however, and the wins are sure to come. After being happy to get to the Expo the past two years, this year’s squad won’t be content unless it locks up a higher seed and makes a serious run at a regional crown.

INDOOR TRACK

Coach: Brian Berkemeyer (10th year)

2016-17 results:

(Boys) 15th @ Class B state meet

(Girls) 17th @ Class B state meet

Top returners:

(Boys) Joe Ashby (Senior), Tom Doyle (Senior), Jacob Tomm (Senior), Nick Mitch (Junior), Will Winter (Sophomore)

(Girls) Maya Bradbury (Senior), Patricia Dupere (Senior), Katie Morrissey (Junior), Tara Migliaccio (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment: “We’re a young team, but I think we’ll have a few standouts. We hope to return several individuals to states and we should have a couple go to New Englands.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Freeport lost some key scorers to graduation, but both teams have enough athletes in place to be competitive again this fall.

The boys’ squad is led by Tomm, who was third in the pole vault a year ago. He’ll also run the 200 and throw the shot put. Doyle (seventh in the mile last season) and Ashby are top distance runners. Mitch and Winter join Tomm in the sprints. The Falcons hope to climb the ladder at the state meet.

On the girls’ side, Migliaccio is the only returning state meet scorer. She came in fourth in the 400. She’ll also run the 55 and 200. Dupere and Morrissey are other top sprinters. Bradbury will look to score in the 800 and the mile. Freeport should be able to stay in contention against some tough conference foes and score some points in February.

ALPINE SKIING

Coach: Jay Thomas (fifth year)

2016-17 results:

(Boys) 10th @ Class A state meet

(Girls) 11th @ Class A state meet

Top returners:

(Boys) Paul Biberstein (Junior), Liam Grogan (Junior) Aaron Rusiecki (Junior), Parker Landsbergen (Sophomore)

(Girls) Kaia Williams (Senior), Bella St. Cyr (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment: “We are now co-oping with Brunswick, so our team has grown. We’re hoping to move closer to podium finishes this year. Our boys will have competition within the team. Our junior and sophomore boys are ready to pick up where they left off last year and continue to grow as racers. Our girls are excited to have a scoring team for the first time in several years. The Western Maine Conference has scheduled more races this season, so we will get more race experience.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Freeport should be a strong contender in Class A yet again.

The boys return Rusiecki (34th in the slalom and 44th in the giant slalom a year ago), Landsbergen (40th in the slalom and 43rd in the GS), Biberstein (35th in the slalom and 51st in the GS) and Grogan (43rd in the slalom).

The girls’ team is led by St. Cyr, who was 29th in the slalom and 32nd in the GS last season. Williams (37th in the slalom and 48th in the GS) also has experience.

Look for both teams to post some solid results in the regular season and have strong showings at the state meet.

NORDIC SKIING

Coach: Joel Hinshaw (16th year)

2016-17 results:

(Boys) 2nd @ Class B state meet

(Girls) 3rd @ Class B state meet

Top returners:

(Boys) John Giddens (Junior), Finn Johnston (Junior)

(Girls) Chloe Davidson (Senior), Allison Greuel (Junior), Lily Horne (Junior)

Coach’s comment: “The boys lost five of their top six from last year, so it will be a building year. With the leadership from Finn and John, I think we will still be able to challenge the top teams this season. The girls are getting stronger and this year they want to prove they can be as strong as the boys have been the past few years. With the strength from our returners and some talented newcomers, it will be a fun season to watch the girls.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Freeport is once again one of the top programs around.

The girls could be in for a memorable campaign. The Falcons return Horne, Freeport’s reigning Winter Female Athlete of the Year, who was fifth in both the freestyle and classic a year ago, Greuel (ninth in both the classic and freestyle) and Davidson (15th in the classic and 20th in the freestyle). Junior Abbye Koenig and freshman Jane Dawson are new to the team and will make the Falcons even stronger. Don’t be surprised if Freeport makes a run at the top spot.

On the boys’ side, there are holes to fill, but Giddens (eighth in the classic and 10th in the freestyle last year) and Johnston will lead the way. Freshman Martin Horne could quickly become a household name. The Falcons might need some time to hit their stride, but they’ll again be in the mix at the end of the season

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

Senior Taylor Rinaldi is a key returner for Freeport’s girls’ basketball team, which could be one of the best in Class B South this winter.

Senior Megan Cormier is another top returner for the Falcons.

Tara Migliaccio is one of the top athletes on the Freeport girls’ indoor track team.

John Giddens is a top returner for Freeport’s boys’ Nordic team.

Allison Greuel is a top 10-caliber skier and will help Freeport’s quest for a championship this season.

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