Let the postseason fun begin

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(Ed. Note: For the complete Greely-Yarmouth boys’ and Greely-Yarmouth and Greely-Lake Region girls’ basketball game stories, please visit theforecaster.net)

The postseason excitement is underway in Forecaster Country and beyond.

Swimming got a jump last week with Southwesterns. Girls’ hockey’s playoffs commenced Wednesday, indoor track’s conference championships are Friday, skiing states aren’t far behind and of course, basketball’s tournament is only a week away. Even boys’ hockey is hitting the home stretch.

Here’s a glimpse:

Swimming

In the pool, Falmouth and Greely took part in the north division Southwesterns Friday and Saturday in Westbrook.

The Rangers boys came in first for the second year in a row, as their 291 points were seven better than Cheverus. The Yachtsmen (140) were a solid fourth.

Greely’s Evan Campbell, Griffin Fluet, Jonathan Dunnett and Dan Spencer took the 200 medley relay (1 minute, 44.11 seconds). Dunnett was runner-up in the 100 breaststroke (1:05.67) and the 200 individual medley (2:05.69). Campbell came in second in the 100 backstroke (57.37 seconds). Spencer finished second in the 50 free (22.60) and the 100 butterfly (56.37). Connor Russell, Nathan Madeira, Jack Benoit and Ryan Plante produced a second-place 400 freestyle relay (3:31.57).

“On paper the meet was tied, so we knew what we were getting into, no coasting this year,” said longtime Greely coach Rob Hale. “I told the guys the meet was going to be decided by the ‘B’ relays and the third tier swimmers and that is exactly how it played out. On this particular day, our depth swam just a little bit better than (Cheverus’) depth. Jack Benoit and Griffin Fluet were our sparkplugs.”

Falmouth’s Ryan Conley won the diving competition with a score of 353.00. Jake Perron was second in both the 200 free (1:52.55) and the 500 free (4:53.02). Shaun Lamoureux was runner-up in the 100 free (51.27).

Greely’s girls’ 334 points left them seven points behind Cape Elizabeth as their two-year run came to an end. Falmouth (171) was third.

The Rangers got a pair of wins from Sarah Easterling, who took the 100 free (53.59) and the 200 IM (2:08.45), and was named performer of the meet after setting school records in both events. Sara Schad won the 50 free (24.64) and was runner-up in the 100 butterfly (59.42), setting school records in both. Emily Domingo took the 500 free (5:35.43) and was runner-up in the 200 IM (2:24.19). Katie Dransfield, Sarah Lawless, Meagan Curran and Schad combined to win the 200 free relay (1:46.72). Currie, Katie Whittum, Domingo and Easterling won the 400 free relay (3:48.86).

“The girls turned in a performance of a lifetime,” Hale said.” The best in my 23 years in having a team at Southwesterns. We set four school records, had the swimmer of the meet, won five events with 99 percent personal bests and we still lost. That tells you how good a team Cape has if we do all that and still end up second. While Sara and Sarah didn’t disappoint, four school records between them, I need to give Maggie Norton and Emily Domingo a shout out.”

Falmouth’s Nicola Mancini was the diving champion with a score of 371.30.

In regular season action, Yarmouth’s boys beat both Portland (67-32) and Waynflete (46-36), while the girls’ team downed the Bulldogs (53-51), but lost to the Flyers (63-40). Yarmouth (63-40).

Yarmouth will compete in the south division Southwesterns this weekend in Cape Elizabeth. Falmouth joins Scarborough at Cape Elizabeth Thursday.

Swimming’s state championships are Feb. 20 and 21. Class A competes in Orono. Class B in Brunswick.

Girls’ hockey

Falmouth and Greely’s girls’ hockey teams have been playoff-caliber all winter, but they were joined in the postseason by the surprising Yarmouth Clippers, who won three of their final four games to sneak into the fifth and final spot in the East Region.

Yarmouth appeared doomed after a tough 2-1 loss at Lewiston last Wednesday (Emily Johnson had the goal), but in the regular season finale Saturday, the Clippers blanked host Cheverus, 3-0 (behind two goals from Ariel Potter), to finish 7-11, leapfrog Winslow and qualify for the postseason for the first time.

“The last couple of weeks have been great,” said Yarmouth coach David Neujahr. “We’ve been learning our systems since the second week of practice and over the last couple of weeks the girls are really starting to execute them. Our freshmen are starting to get the confidence they need. Our freshman goalie, Hanna Williams, has been outstanding. Our defense is playing at a new level and we have been starting our all-freshman line of Emily Johnson, Michelle Robichaud and Katie Brown. Also, Ariel Potter is back to last year’s form and getting us some much needed scoring.”

Yarmouth went to No. 4 Lewiston (10-7-1) for a quarterfinal round game Wednesday night (see theforecaster.net for game story). In addition to last week’s loss, the Clippers dropped a 6-2 home decision to Blue Devils back on Dec. 30.

“I feel good about our first playoff game,” Neujahr said. “Lewiston has a good team with lots of talent. We just need to be patient and play our game. We gave them all they can handle. If we show up and play our game, I like our chances.”

A Yarmuth win would send the Clippers to this weekend’s semifinals at top-ranked Brunswick (14-3-1). Yarmouth lost twice to the Dragons this year, 3-0 at home and 5-2 away.

Greely finished second in the East with a 13-5 mark. The Rangers lost 3-0 to visiting York last Wednesday, then snapped a three-game skid Saturday with a dramatic 5-4 overtime win at Portland, rallying from three goals down. Sarah Kurland had the winning goal in OT. Greely will host No. 3 Leavitt (11-6-1) in the semifinals this weekend. The Rangers lost twice to the Hornets this year, 3-2 in overtime away and 4-3 at home.

Falmouth has the top seed in the West with a 17-1 record. The Yachstmen will host either No. 4 Portland (9-9) or No. 5 Cheverus (7-11) in the semifinals this weekend. Falmouth swept the Bulldogs, 8-4 away and 9-1 at home, and captured the only meeting with the Stags, 6-1 in Falmouth.

The regional finals are Wednesday, Feb. 15, at Portland Ice Arena. The state final is Saturday, Feb. 18, at the Colisee in Lewiston.

Boys’ hockey

On the boys’ side, Greely is atop the Western B Heals with a 9-3-1 mark after recent victories over visiting York (3-2) and Gardiner (6-2). Mitchel Donovan scored twice, including the winner, versus the Wildcats. In the win over the Tigers, Ben Hackett had a hat trick. The Rangers were at Camden Hills Wednesday and play host to Leavitt Saturday.

Yarmouth is up to fifth in Western B with an 8-3-1 record and its win streak is at five games after home wins over South Portland (4-1) and Maranacook (7-1). Senior Alex Kurtz had two goals against the Red Riots and a hat trick against Maranacook.

“An ugly win’s a win, right?” said Yarmouth coach Dave St. Pierre after beating South Portland. “We’re getting there. When we do what we’re supposed to do, we win games. We’re getting there. The guys are playing harder.”

The Clippers hosted Kennebunk in a makeup game Tuesday and have a big home test versus second-ranked Cape Elizabeth Saturday night.

“We have a tough stretch coming up,” St. Pierre. “We’ll see if we’re really there yet or not. We have games coming up worth a lot of points. Our destiny’s in our hands.”

In Western A, Falmouth remains second behind defending state champion Thornton Academy in the Heals after home wins last week over St. Dom’s (3-2, in overtime) and Biddeford (6-1). Cam Bell tied it and Ben Freeman won it against the Saints. Bell and Brandon Tuttle both scored twice versus the Tigers. The Yachtsmen (8-3-1) host Portland Thursday and Lewiston Saturday, then go to Biddeford Wednesday of next week.

Boys’ basketball

The only thing for certain about the boys’ basketball landscape entering the final week of the regular season is that very little’s for certain.

The surest best is the Falmouth boys who appear destined for the top spot in the Western B Heals. The Yachtsmen improved to 16-0 last week with wins over visiting Lake Region (84-31) and at Wells (58-47). Senior Matt Packard had 17 points and classmate Matt Kingry added 16 in the win over the Lakers. Against the Warriors, Packard had 17 points and senior Jack Cooleen 16. Falmouth’s quest to finish unbeaten for the first time won’t come easily. After hosting preseason favorite York Tuesday, the Yachtsmen are at rival Yarmouth for a regular season-ending showdown Friday night (see theforecaster.net for game story).

Those Clippers are in the hunt for a high seed as well. Yarmouth is 13-3 and third behind Falmouth and Spruce Mountain in the Heals after two grueling and emotional contests last week.

Last Tuesday, Yarmouth went to Greely and the rivals produced a 32-minute epic that saw the teams tied after one period, Greely leading by one at halftime and by two entering the final stanza. There, the Rangers pushed their advantage to six before Yarmouth rallied to twice take short-lived leads, the last, 55-54, on a layup from senior Sam Torres with 2:16 to play.

Then, the biggest player on the floor had the biggest impact on the night as Greely’s 6-foot-7-inch sophomore Michael McDevitt put the Rangers up for good on a putback with 1:59 remaining. McDevitt’s layup with 1:15 to play gave Greely slight breathing room, but the Clippers cut the deficit to one and had one final chance. Yarmouth couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity and the Rangers couldn’t have been more horrified when Clippers senior standout Josh Britten (who had a game-high 25 points) had an open look as time wound down, but Britten’s shot was off the mark and Greely held on for the palpitating 58-57 win.

“We got a great look with Josh,” said Yarmouth coach Adam Smith. “He inbounded it to (senior) Chris (Knaub, who had 12 points in the game) and got it back. I thought it might be a little short and it did hit front rim.”

The Rangers snapped a three-game losing streak to the Clippers behind 24 points from McDevitt and 15 from senior Nick Clark.

“I just turned around and hoped (the last shot) didn’t go in,” McDevitt said. “I didn’t want to watch it. He’s made tougher shots this game so I’m shocked it didn’t go in. I think it really proves we can compete with the best.”

“We struggled against Yarmouth last time,” Clark said. “It was another close game, but we pulled it out. We knew we had to play hard with our two senior captains (Liam Maker and Brad McKenney) out. We wanted to win it for them. We all knew we had this potential. We’re realizing what we can do.”

“My heart was in my throat,” added longtime Rangers coach Ken Marks. “My blood pressure’s up to here. I thought that the guys really stepped up to the challenge tonight. I’m very proud of them. That’s the best we’ve played. We survived.”

Greely kept the good times rolling Saturday and improved to 11-5 (sixth in the Heals) with a 59-42 win at Lake Region. McDevitt had 18 points, Clark 13, senior Cooper Allen 12 and sophomore Bailey Train 10. The Rangers were home with Gray-New Gloucester Tuesday and finish the regular season Friday at Cape Elizabeth.

“I don’t think we can go any higher than 5 or 6,” Marks said. “I just want a home prelim. I think we’ll be OK. I just want to be healthy at tournament time.”

Yarmouth got back in the win column Friday, but it certainly wasn’t easy. Several times, the Clippers had opportunities to close out host Poland, but the Knights rallied to force overtime, a second OT, a third and finally a fourth before Yarmouth pulled away for a 92-78 victory behind 52 points from Britten. Knaub had 16 points and sophomore David Murphy 14. The Clippers were home with Cape Elizabeth Tuesday and finish at home with Falmouth Friday.

“Hopefully, we’ll weather the storm and have good focus and chemistry going into the playoffs,” Smith said. “Our contests are close. It’s good for us. We’ll be tournament tested. When we get there, it won’t get easier. We’ll play with a lot of heart, effort and energy. Hopefully that will carry us a long way. You have to hope your kids collectively as a team play well. That’s all we can do.”

There is a decent chance that Greely and Yarmouth could square off in the Western B quarterfinals a week from Saturday.

Freeport, which has made nice strides this winter, will fall short of the playoffs. The Falcons began the week 3-13 and 15th in the Heals (only 12 teams qualify). Freeport lost to visiting Fryeburg last Tuesday, 62-49, then bounced back to knock off visiting Traip, 71-46, Friday. Senior Josh Weirich had 14 points, sophomore Chandler Birmingham 13 in the loss. Birmingham scored 20 in the victory. The Falcons were at Poland Tuesday and close Friday at Old Orchard Beach.

In Western C, North Yarmouth Academy began the week 3-12 and 12th in the standings (the top 11 qualify for the playoffs). The Panthers dropped a tough 51-48 decision at Buckfield last Tuesday and fell at home to Waynflete Friday, 63-35. Senior Asad Dahia scored 29 points against the Bucks and 17 versus the Flyers. NYA goes to Old Orchard Beach Tuesday and finishes at Traip Friday.

Girls’ basketball

On the girls’ side, Greely is peaking, thanks in large part to junior Jackie Storey and her very impressive freshman sister, Ashley. Last week, the Rangers improved to 13-3 and fourth in a tightly clustered Western Class B after home wins over Yarmouth (56-43) and Lake Region (39-37). Against the Clippers, Ashley Storey had 19 points and six steals and Jackie Storey finished with 13 points and six rebounds.

“I was just getting rebounds and open looks,” said Ashley Storey.

“I knew (Ashley would) be a big help,” Jackie Storey said. “I love playing with my little sister.”

“We did a good job,” added Greely’s first-year coach Kim Hilbrich. “We’re starting to pull everything together and look for each other.”

The win over the Lakers came down to the waning seconds. Greely led virtually the whole way, but the tenacious Lakers never quit and forged a 35-35 tie with just under two minutes to play. With 1:06 remaining, Rangers senior Haylee Munson took a pass from Jackie Storey and hit a clutch jumper.

“The ball ended up in my hands,” Munson said. “I’ve been working on that shot in practice. Getting it more consistent.”

The lead only lasted 35 seconds, however, as the Lakers tied the score. Undaunted, Greely came down and this time Munson set up Jackie Storey, who calmly buried a jumper in the lane with 7.8 seconds remaining to win it, 39-37.

“It was pretty exciting,” said Storey, who had 13 points. “We knew they were one of the best teams in the league. We knew we had to come out and play our hardest, play together and hopefully it would work for us and it did.”

“We worked our offense and got the looks and the rebounds,” said Ashley Storey, who finished with 19 points and 10 boards. “Our defense was great.”

“I just told them to keep playing the tenacious defense I knew they could play and it was theirs for the taking,” Hilbrich added. “We took care of the basketball and played defense. It was all about defense. One thing I love about this team is that they don’t quit. They know what they can do and they go out and perform. That’s a lot of fun for me.”

Greely was at Gray-New Gloucester Tuesday and finishes the regular season at home Friday versus Cape Elizabeth.

“People will pay attention to us now,” Munson said. “We have a target on our backs.”

Falmouth, Freeport and Yarmouth all appear playoff-bound as well.

The Clippers, who won only one game last season, entered the week ninth in Western B with a 7-9 mark after following up a 56-43 loss at Greely with a 49-34 home win over Poland. Senior Morgan Cahill had 14 points against the Rangers, but Yarmouth was doomed by 32 turnovers.

“Greely’s defense is good,” said Clippers first-year coach Jay Lowery. “We fell further behind than we expected. We’re a young team. We didn’t take care of the ball.”

Cahill stole the show against the Knights with 25 points and 15 rebounds, highlighted by reaching and surpassing the 1,000 career point threshold.

“It was really exciting to be here with the other two seniors (Jeanna Lowery and Maddy Wood),” Cahill said. “We all did it together. That’s what was most important to me, my teammates helping me get it. It’s a good thing to accomplish, but I’m more happy with the win.”

“Morgan’s an impressive kid,” said coach Lowery. “She’s a premier player. Fabulous. One of the top centers in the state. She’s a super kid.”

Jeanna Lowery added 11 points as the Clippers only gave the ball away 18 times.

Yarmouth, which last made the postseason in 2007-08, was at Cape Elizabeth Tuesday and ends the regular season at Falmouth Friday. If Yarmouth wins out, it could conceivably host a preliminary round playoff game next week.

“We’re on our way to having our best record in years,” Cahill said. “It’s fun. It’s really exciting for us. We’re looking for the No. 8 spot.”

Falmouth started the week 8-8 and in the No. 10 position after losses at Lake Region (56-34) and at home to Wells (39-38) last week. Junior Anna Hickey had 16 points versus the Lakers. Senior Laney Evers finished with 16 in the loss to the Warriors. The Yachtsmen went to top-ranked York Tuesday and close at home in that pivotal matchup with Yarmouth Friday.

Freeport has returned to form and has been energized by the addition of junior sparkplug Aubrey Pennell, who missed most of the season with injury. The Falcons snapped a six-game losing streak last Tuesday with a 59-48 triumph at Fryeburg. Freeport was paced by 18 points from sophomore Nina Davenport and 17 from junior Leigh Wyman. Friday, the Falcons edged host Traip, 62-58 behind 28 points from Wyman and 20 from Davenport. Freeport (7-9 and 11th in Western B, where 12 teams make the playoffs) was home with Poland Wednesday (see theforecaster.net for game story) and closes the regular year Friday against visiting Old Orchard Beach. The Falcons are chasing their first postseason berth since 2004-05.

In Western C, NYA was 9-7 and ninth in the Heals at the start of the week. Twelve teams qualify for the playoffs. The Panthers pushed their win streak to five games last Tuesday with a 48-24 win over visiting Buckfield. Sophomore Charlotte Esancy had 20 points and 16 rebounds and senior Morgan Scully added 19 points and 13 boards. The string came to an end Friday at Waynflete with a 69-43 loss. NYA fell behind early, 16-0, and never recovered. Scully did have 21 points and six rebounds. Esancy added 10 points and 11 boards. The Panthers were home with Old Orchard Beach Tuesday and finish the regular season Friday at home versus Traip.

Indoor track

Local indoor track teams wrapped up their regular season last weekend at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham.

Greely’s girls downed runner-up Falmouth and five other teams. Greely’s Kirstin Sandreuter won both the 800 (2 minutes, 23.23 seconds) and the two-mile (11:15.36). Falmouth’s Charlotte Cutshall took the junior 55 (7.82) and junior 200 (28.67).

In the boys’ competition, Falmouth was second to York. Greely placed third. Falmouth’s Jacob Buhelt won both the senior 55 (6.85 seconds) and the senior 200 (23.69).

Yarmouth’s boys beat seven other teams, including fourth-place Freeport and fifth-place NYA. The Clippers had seven individual winners and also captured two of the three relay races. The Falcons produced three event winners, the Panthers one.

NYA’s girls tied Lake Region for second place behind Gray-New Gloucester. Yarmouth was fourth. Freeport placed sixth. The Panthers had four individual event winners, The Clippers won two individual events and a relay. The Falcons had one first-place finisher.

The Western Maine Conference championship is Friday at 4:30 p.m., at USM.

The Class B state championships are Monday, Feb. 20, at Bates College in Lewiston.

Skiing

Local Nordic ski teams took part in a skate race at Starks Hill last Thursday.

Yarmouth was first among 13 teams in the boys’ competition, with NYA second, Merriconeag third, Falmouth fourth, Greely sixth and Freeport eighth. NYA’s Ian Moore was the fastest individual (12:02.8). 

The girls’ meet saw Yarmouth place first, Merriconeag second, Freeport fourth, Falmouth fifth and Greely 10th. Yarmouth’s Caitlin Crawford was the individual winner (14:57.6).

The Western Maine Conference Nordic skate championships were Wednesday. The conference classic race is Saturday.

In Alpine action Monday, Falmouth, Greely and Yarmouth joined Gray-New Gloucester and Lake Region for a slalom meet at Shawnee Peak.

The Yachtsmen took the boys’ race with the Clippers second and Rangers third. Yarmouth’s Drew Grout (a two-run combined time of 1 minute, 23.29 seconds) was first individually.

The Rangers girls were first with the Yachtsmen second and the Clippers third. Greely’s Teal Otley was first (1:31.15). 

Freeport battled Cape Elizabeth and Fryeburg. The girls tied Fryeburg for first and the boys were second to the Capers. Elly Bengtsson won the girls’ race (58.71). Blake Enrico was the boys’ runner-up (55.48 seconds).

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

   

Sidebar Elements


Greely freshman Ashley Storey drives past Yarmouth senior Morgan Cahill (24) and freshman Lane Simsarian to score two of her 19 points in the Rangers’ 56-43 home win over the Clippers last Tuesday. Storey then helped Greely edge Lake Region in a thriller two nights later.

Falmouth senior Cam Bell celebrates after scoring a goal during the Yachtsmen’s 6-1 home win over Biddeford Saturday.

Yarmouth’s Ethan Nightingale swims toward a second-place finish in the 100 butterfly at least weekend’s meet with Portland and Waynflete.

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