By Michael Hoffer
With the arrival of a new month, local athletes and their fans can start dreaming of championships.
The frenzied month of February will feature countless highlights. The postseason is already underway as a pair of local swim teams competed in the south division Southwesterns last weekend (please see story, page 13) and the Western Maine Conference held its Alpine championships Monday.
Track gets its turn Saturday with the Western Maine Conference championship meet.
Basketball is just days from the conclusion of its regular season and every local squad has a great shot at qualifying for the playoffs.
Girls’ hockey is ready to drop the puck on its first Maine Principals’ Association-sanctioned postseason. The boys’ regular season is nearing its conclusion as well.
Here’s a snapshot:
SUBHEAD-Boys’ basketball: Greely eyeing top spot
Greely’s impressive victory at Falmouth last Tuesday propelled the Rangers into the top spot in the Western Class B Heal Points standings. Friday, Greely improved to 14-2 with a 62-34 win at Fryeburg behind 14 points from junior Trevor Tierney and 12 from junior Matt Dunn.
The Rangers hosted Gray-New Gloucester in their home finale Tuesday night (too late for this edition). Coach Ken Marks (who was also seeking his 300th win as the Greely head man) planned to start senior manager Patrick Thibodeau, who has Down Syndrome. Thibodeau has been a longtime fixture on the Greely bench and is beloved by players and fans for the positive energy he brings to the team.
Greely goes to defending regional champion Cape Elizabeth Friday for its finale. The winner there will likely finish first in the Heals. On Jan. 12, the Capers came to Cumberland and beat the Rangers 72-64.
Falmouth is still in the running for potential top seeds as well, even after the Yachtsmen dropped their second straight Friday night, 73-70, to visiting Cape Elizabeth. Falmouth rallied from a big early deficit, but couldn’t pull it out in the end despite 27 points from junior Ryan Rogers and 21 from junior Stefano Mancini.
The Yachtsmen, 13-3 and currently second in the Heals, went to York Tuesday (too late for this edition) and close the regular season at home versus Lake Region Friday.
Yarmouth took a four-game win streak to Cape Elizabeth Tuesday (too late for this edition). The Clippers rolled 84-59 at York last Tuesday behind 16 points from senior Johnny Murphy, 13 from sophomore Mike McCormack and 12 apiece from seniors Rob Highland and Andrew Totta.
Friday, Yarmouth downed visiting crosstown rival NYA, 59-29, as Murphy went off for 23.
The Clippers, who have quietly put together another stellar season, were 12-4 and fifth in the Western B Heals entering their game at the Capers. Yarmouth closes its regular season at home Thursday against Freeport.
The Falcons appear as if they’ll fall short of the playoffs this year. Losses last week to Cape Elizabeth (65-39) and Gray-New Gloucester (43-38) left Freeport 3-13 this season. Against the Capers, senior Cody Bartlett had eight points. The Falcons led 32-20 entering the fourth period against the Patriots, but couldn’t hold on. Senior Jon Klages had 14 points, while Bartlett finished with 13.
Freeport was 11th in the latest Heals, but only the top 10 teams qualify for the playoffs. After hosting Poland Tuesday (too late for this edition), the Falcons finish at Yarmouth Thursday in what will likely be Craig Sickels’ final game as coach.
In Western C, NYA beat visiting Gould 45-35 last Thursday behind 15 points from senior Andrew Gendron. Friday. The Panthers then fell to 7-9 with a 59-29 loss at Yarmouth. Gendron had eight points in defeat.
NYA, 12th in the latest Heals, was home against Traip Tuesday (too late for this edition) and hosts Gray-New Gloucester in its regular season finale Friday.
SUBHEAD-Girls’ basketball: Falmouth sizzling
On the girls’ side, it took longer than expected, but the Falmouth Yachtsmen have soared up the standings to reach the short list of title hopefuls.
Falmouth, building on the momentum of its huge win over Greely, downed host Cape Elizabeth 51-44 Friday night for its fifth win in a row. Senior Haley Jordan and sophomore Jess DiPhilippo both had a dozen points in the victory, which left the Yachtsmen 10-6 this season.
Falmouth, now fifth in the Western B Heals, had an opportunity to move even higher when it hosted top-ranked and undefeated York Tuesday (too late for this edition). The Yachtsmen wrap up the regular season at nemesis Lake Region Thursday.
Greely bounced back from its loss at Falmouth with a 55-36 home win over Fryeburg Friday night. Junior Abby Young led the way with 10 points.
The Rangers, second to York in the Heals, were at Gray-New Gloucester Tuesday (too late for this edition) and host Cape Elizabeth in the regular season finale Friday.
Yarmouth was still clinging to playoff hopes at press time. The Clippers lost 47-30 to visiting York last Tuesday despite freshman Morgan Cahill’s seven points. Saturday, Yarmouth erupted for a 30-3 run to turn around its fortunes at NYA en route to a 56-43 victory. Senior Michelle Moylan led the way with 16 points. Classmate Haley Knaub added 10 as the Clippers snapped a four-game skid and improved to 6-10.
Yarmouth is currently 12th in the Heals and only the top 10 teams qualify. The Clippers needed a win over visiting Cape Elizabeth Wednesday (too late for this edition) and a victory at Freeport Friday and a few other breaks to qualify.
Speaking of the Falcons, while they’re going to fall short of the postseason this winter, they made a huge statement Friday with a 45-39 home upset victory over playoff-bound Gray-New Gloucester. Freeport improved to 3-13 behind 13 points from junior Rachel Foster.
The Falcons, 14th in Western B, were at Poland Wednesday (too late for this edition), then host Yarmouth in the finale Friday.
In Western C, NYA holds the 15th and final playoff spot. The Panthers beat host Gould 50-37 last Thursday behind 18 points from senior Hillary Keach, then lost at home to Yarmouth Saturday despite 20 points from sophomore Blair Haggett.
NYA (6-10) was home against Traip Tuesday (too late for this edition) and plays at Gray-New Gloucester Friday in the regular season finale.
SUBHEAD-Hockey: Greely girls ready for playoff push
On the ice, the playoffs are here for local girls’ teams.
Greely is leading the charge. The Rangers finished the regular year with a 12-4-2 mark after recent wins over Winslow (3-2), York (5-0) and Falmouth (2-0). Against the Yachtsmen, Brittany Ames and Michaela Finnegan broke a scoreless tie with third-period tallies.
“We’re coming off a 2-16 season, so it’s been a little bit different,” said Greely coach Heather Geoghan. “We came out with a lot of positive energy this year. We didn’t lose too many players and we added some nice freshmen, so we have a nice core. So far, so good.”
Greely earned the No. 2 seed in the East Region and will host either No. 3 St. Dom’s (10-7-1) or No. 6 Yarmouth (6-11-1) in the semifinals Saturday at 5 p.m. at Family Ice Center in Falmouth. The Rangers beat the Saints 5-3 and 5-1 this year. They tied (1-1) and beat (2-0) the Clippers in earlier action.
In the West Region, Falmouth wound up 9-6-3 and earned the No. 5 seed. The Yachtsmen played at No. 4 York (11-6-1) in the quarterfinal round Wednesday (too late for this edition). The teams tied 3-3 in York Jan. 10. If victorious, Falmouth will advance to meet No. 1 Biddeford (15-2-1) in the semifinals this weekend. Back on Dec. 2, the Yachtsmen lost 6-2 in Biddeford.
On the boys’ side, Greely dropped the Fix Cup Final to Cape Elizabeth Monday night (please see story, page 13). In league play, however, the Rangers have no peer. Last Thursday, Greely pummeled visiting Leavitt 9-0 as freshman sensation Brian Hart scored three times. Saturday, the Rangers improved to 13-1 with a 12-1 romp over visiting Camden as senior Kevin Hart had a hat trick.
Greely is first in the Western B Heals. The Rangers return to league action Saturday night with a home showdown against Cape Elizabeth.
Yarmouth is 3-8-2 and sixth in Western B after losing 6-2 at Noble last Thursday and 5-0 at Cape Elizabeth Saturday.
In Western A, Falmouth is atop the Heals with a 9-3 mark. The Yachtsmen blanked host Cheverus 7-0 Thursday and edged visiting St. Dom’s 4-3 Saturday. In the win over the Stags, senior Mike Chase became the program’s all-time leading scorer as he had a pair of goals and an assist. Against the Saints, Chase had two assists and four different players scored. Monday, in the non-countable consolation game of the Fix Cup, Falmouth lost 3-1 to Thornton Academy.
The Yachtsmen are back in action Thursday at home against Scarborough. They host Kennebunk Saturday and visit Scarborough Monday.
The regular season came to end for local track teams Friday at USM. Falmouth and Greely continued their dominance, while other locals also impressed.
The Falmouth boys had 214 points to beat York (137), Yarmouth (100), Wells (66), Traip (52) and Freeport (45). Falmouth freshman Jimmy Polewaczyk won the junior division MVP after capturing the 55 (7.34 seconds) Yarmouth junior Ebrahim Fazeli won senior division MVP honors after winning the 55 (6.80) and 200 (24.03).
Greely’s boys had 198 points and defeated Gray-New Gloucester (106), NYA (102), Poland (100), Cape Elizabeth (88) and Lake Region (38). NYA senior Sam Fear won senior division MVP honors after taking the high jump (6 feet) and shot put (47 feet, 3/4 inches).
In girls’ action, Falmouth’s 235.5 points were six better than York. Freeport (31 points) was fifth and Yarmouth (4) came in sixth. Falmouth senior Abby Smith won the junior division MVP after taking the pole vault (7-6).
Greely had 225 points to easily outdistance NYA (100) in its meet. Rangers senior Hillary Cederna won the senior 55 (7.65), the senior 200 (26.77) and the triple jump (32-10 1/2).
The Western Maine Conference meet will be held Saturday beginning at 10 a.m. at USM.
Shawnee Peak was the site of the Western Maine Conference Alpine ski championships Monday.
Perhaps offering a preview of the state championship, Yarmouth was dominant, winning the slalom, giant slalom and overall titles in both the boys’ and girls’ meets.
The Clippers boys were paced by junior Reed Wommack, who placed third in the slalom and fourth in the GS. Falmouth came in second in both races and was second overall. The Yachtsmen were led as usual by senior Chris Moody, who was first in the slalom. Greely (sixth in the slalom, third in the GS and fourth overall) was paced by junior Luke Booth, who won the GS. Freeport was fourth in the slalom, sixth in the GS and sixth overall. Sophomore Ryan Collett was runner-up in the slalom and came in third in the GS.
On the girls’ side, the Clippers got a victory from senior Lauren Stackhouse in the GS. Junior Natalie Aiken was third in the slalom and GS. Freeport placed fourth in the slalom, fifth in the GS and was third overall. Senior Monika Krahn was fifth in the GS and eighth in the slalom. Greely came in third in the slalom, fifth in the GS and fourth overall. Junior Kelsey Ouellette won the GS and was fourth in the slalom. Falmouth placed fifth in the slalom, third in the GS and fifth overall. Junior Casey Hilfrank had the sixth-best time in the slalom.
Local Nordic ski teams took part in the Sassi Memorial 5-kilometer classic race Saturday at Black Mountain. Yarmouth’s girls were runners-up to Mt. Blue. Freeport was sixth, Greely 13th and Falmouth 14th out of 19 teams.
Falcons’ senior Molly Susla was the fastest local individual, placing third in 17 minutes, 12.3 seconds. The Clippers were paced by Becca Bell (11th, 18:19.9). Allison Hall (13th, 18:22) led the Rangers. The Yachtsmen’s top finisher was Sarah Abramson (16th, 18:37.7).
In the boys’ race, Yarmouth was fourth, Falmouth ninth, Greely 10th, Freeport 17th and NYA 23rd out of 25 teams.
Individually, Sam Humphries of Greely was tops, placing 12th in 15:13.6. The Clippers were led by Cam Woodworth (14th, 15:21.1). Falmouth’s Eric D’Agostino came in 27th (16:02.6). Scott Ross (54th, 17:29.7) led the Falcons. Jake Susla (149th, 20:47.7) was the first finisher for the Panthers.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com