Another terrific sports year has come and gone
Another year of high school sports action is in the rearview mirror, but the memories will linger for a long time.
Local athletes turned heads last winter, dazzled in the spring and enthralled in the autumn.
With another winter season underway and the calendar now reading 2013, here's one final look back to the thrills that made up 2012.
When 2011 gave way to 2012, Falmouth's boys' basketball team was undefeated with Greely and Yarmouth staying hot on the Yachtsmen's heels.
On the girls' side, all five teams were in contention for a playoff spot.
On the ice, Greely's boys had a championship look, while Yarmouth and Falmouth were also turning heads. On the girls' side, Falmouth's Megan Fortier was skating circles around the opposition and the Yachtsmen were enjoying their best season to date. Greely was hanging tough and Yarmouth was closing in on a postseason trip.
Skiing, swimming and track teams and individuals made a mark as they geared up for the postseason.
February brought the first hardware of the new year when Greely shocked Falmouth in the girls' hockey state final, by the stunning score of 7-1. Yarmouth had reached the East Region semifinals before losing to Brunswick, which became a victim of the Rangers before they beat the Yachtsmen to win it all.
Indoor track saw four individuals win state championships: Falmouth's Reid Pryzant in the Class B boys' 55 hurdles and Greely's Catherine Fellows (Class B girls' shot put), Mike Leeman (Class B boys' long jump) and Nestor Taylor (Class B boys' 800).
In the pool, there were no shortage of stellar performances. Greely swept the Class B boys' and girls' team championships. Rangers standout Sarah Easterling was named Performer of the girls' Meet by setting new marks in winning the backstroke and individual medley. Teammate Sara Schad was first in the 50 and the 100 freestyle. Falmouth's Nicola Mancini was the top diver in Class B. In the boys' meet, wins from Dan Spencer in the 50 and 100 free helped Greely win the title, while Falmouth got wins from Ryan Conley in diving and Jake Perron in the 500 free.
Triumph was even greater on the slopes and trails. Every team except Greely won at least one championship. Falmouth's boys won the Class A Nordic and combined championships, Yarmouth was first in Nordic and combined on both the boys' and girls' sides in Class B, while in Class C, Freeport's girls won Alpine and combined, Merriconeag took the girls' Nordic crown and NYA's boys repeated as Nordic champs as well. If that wasn't enough, Falmouth's Leika Scott (Class A girls' Alpine slalom), Freeport's Elly Bengtsson (Class C girls' Alpine slalom and giant slalom), Greely's Elyse Dinan (Class A girls' skimeister), Merriconeag's Zoe Chace-Donahue (Class C girls' Nordic classic and skate), NYA's Ian Moore (Class C boys' Nordic classic) and Cam Regan (Class C boys' Nordic skate) and Yarmouth's Jack Elder (Class B boys' Nordic skate) all took home individual crowns.
Attention then turned to the basketball championships.
On the boys' side, in Western B, Greely was stunned by a buzzer beater in a preliminary round loss to Lincoln Academy, which also brought the curtain down on the long reign of coach Ken Marks. Top-ranked Falmouth managed to survive upset bids from Poland and York to reach the regional final. Awaiting the Yachtsmen was Yarmouth, which became a different, almost unstoppable team in the postseason, dominating Lincoln and Spruce Mountain in its first two tests. On the 25th, the Clippers continued their tournament trend of taking a quick lead, but Falmouth, following its script, rallied. The Yachtsmen had their chances down the stretch, but shot themselves in the foot and Yarmouth drained three late free throws to ice a 56-50 victory and a first trip to a state final in nearly four decades.
On the girls' side, Freeport and North Yarmouth Academy were ousted in the preliminary round, as was Falmouth, by Yarmouth, which made it to the quarterfinals for the first time in six seasons. The Clippers were ousted by eventual regional champion Lake Region in the quarterfinals. That left Greely, which got to the regional final, but had no answer for Lake Region.
Boys' hockey saw Falmouth, Greely and Yarmouth all reach the playoffs. The Clippers edged Camden Hills in a wild Western B quarterfinal to set up a showdown with the Rangers in the semifinals. In Western A, the Yachtsmen toyed with Kennebunk in the quarterfinals to stay alive heading into a new month.
The first Friday of March saw history made in Bangor as Yarmouth defeated Gardiner, 67-53, to win the Class B boys' basketball title, the school's first since 1968.
The following day on the ice, Falmouth beat Scarborough in a Western A semifinals, while Greely eliminated Yarmouth in a Western B semi.
On the 6th, Falmouth met defending champion Thornton Academy in the Western A Final and once again fell agonizingly shy of the brass ring with a 6-3 loss.
The next night, Greely punched its ticket to the Class B state final with a 5-1 win over York.
The Rangers then won their second championship on the 10th, downing Messalonskee, 6-2.
April and May
The short spring regular season featured much excitement and triumph.
On the diamond, Falmouth, Freeport, Greely and Yarmouth were all turning heads with solid pitching and timely hitting.
Softball saw one-time standout player Sarah Bennis return to Greely as coach and led the Rangers to a solid season.
Boys' lacrosse featured strong play from defending Class B champion Falmouth, while NYA and Yarmouth were also in the mix.
On the girls' side, Falmouth was enjoying a terrific year, one highlighted by a first-ever win over perennial powerhouse Waynflete. Freeport was quietly positioning itself to do great things.
Area track stars geared up for the postseason.
The tennis story featured excellence from several teams, most notably the Falmouth juggernaut.
On the 2nd, Falmouth tied York for the Class B title in boys' outdoor track. The Yachtsmen got individual titles from Jacob Buhelt, Falmouth in the 200. Greely's Nestor Taylor won the 800, while in Class C, Cam Rayder, was tops in the shot put. On the girls' side, Falmouth's Jenna Serunian bowed out with Class B titles in the discus and shot put, while Greely's Abby Bonnevie was tops in the pole vault.
A week later, both Falmouth tennis teams won more hardware.
On the diamond, Greely was stunned in the quarterfinals by Cape Elizabeth, which went on to outlast Yarmouth in extra innings of the semifinals. Freeport's best season in almost a decade was also denied by the Capers, in the preliminary round. That left Falmouth, which wasn't bested by Cape Elizabeth or anyone else. The Yachtsmen were no-hit by the Capers in the regional final, but scored the winning run on a passed ball, then won their first ever Class B title.
Greely's softball team got to the regional final, but had no answer for Fryeburg.
The top local boys' lacrosse story was Falmouth, which managed to repeat as Class B champion. NYA didn't make it easy on the Yachtsmen, however. After beating rival Yarmouth in the regional final, the Panthers hung tough most of the way in the state game, before Falmouth finally pulled away to prevail.
On the girls' side, Greely lost in the semifinals to Cape Elizabeth. Falmouth's title dreams were dashed by a Waynflete comeback in the semis. Yarmouth and Freeport reached the Eastern B Final, which the Falcons won in overtime, earning a first ever trip to the state final in the MPA-sanctioned era. While Freeport lost to Waynflete, it was a memorable run indeed.
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.
Autumn brought football, soccer, field hockey, cross country, golf and volleyball excitement.
On the gridiron, two-time defending Class C champion Yarmouth saw its two-year, 24-game win streak snapped in the opener. Freeport started fast, as did Greely, which quickly emerged as a team to beat in Western B.
On the pitch, defending Class B boys' champion Falmouth produced its share of drama, but was not alone in Forecaster Country, as Freeport, Greely, NYA and Yarmouth were all competitive.
On the girls' side, two-time defending Class B champion Falmouth led the way, while Freeport, Greely and Yarmouth were jockeying for playoff spots.
NYA's field hockey team once again led the way, with Falmouth also turning heads. Freeport and Yarmouth were also in position to make the playoffs.
Greely's volleyball team dropped a couple early matches to Biddeford, but handled everyone else, while Falmouth and Yarmouth were among the best teams in the state.
Cross country and golf teams hinted at success to come.
Golf held its state championship on Oct. 6. Falmouth wasn't able to win a third straight title, but was fourth in Class A. Greely came in second. Freeport came from nowhere to qualify for the first time this century. NYA, after not fielding a varsity program in 2011, re-emerged as a Class C power. Yarmouth was as good as anyone in the regular season and after winding up third at states, saw standouts Red DeSmith (Class B) and Monica Austin (girls) both place runner-up at the individual state match.
In cross country, Falmouth's girls' were regional champions before coming in fifth at states. The Yachtsmen boys were runners-up. Merriconeag's Jack Pierce was the boys' individual Class C champion.
NYA's two-year run as Class C field hockey champion ended with a loss to Lisbon in the regional final. Falmouth, Freeport and Yarmouth also made the playoffs.
Greely's volleyball team embarked on another stirring title run, holding off Falmouth in a close quarterfinal, outlasting Scarborough in a five-set semifinal, then avenging its lone regular season setbacks with a win over Biddeford in the state match.
The soccer playoffs began with NYA losing to rival Waynflete in the Western C quarterfinals. In Western A, Greely's late season surge finally ended with a difficult loss to eventual champion Scarborough in the semifinals. In Western B, Freeport was ousted in the quarterfinals by Maranacook. Falmouth and Yarmouth advanced to the regional final, but there, it was all Yachtsmen, who scored a pair of early goals to advance to the state final.
On the girls' side, Freeport lost to Morse in the quarterfinals. Greely lost in its quarterfinal, to Cape Elizabeth. In Western B, Falmouth downed Yarmouth in the quarterfinals, then won twice more to reach the state game once again.
On the gridiron, Yarmouth's two-year championship reign ended with a loss to Winslow in the Western C quarterfinals. Greely enjoyed its best regular season to date, but fell, 9-7, to Wells on an improbable late field goal in the quarterfinals.
On the 3rd, both Falmouth soccer teams won Class B titles again, the girls' team's third in a row and the boys' squad's second.
Winter has returned and the fun begins again.
In boys' basketball, Falmouth is off to another sizzling start, while Freeport, Greely, NYA and Yarmouth are hitting their stride.
On the girls' side, Greely looks very good, Freeport is on the verge of becoming a top power, Falmouth is much improved and NYA and Yarmouth hope to be playoff teams by February.
On the ice, Greely's boys' hockey team is poised for another title run. Yarmouth hopes to be in the mix as well. In Western A, this could be the season that Falmouth finally takes the next step.
Greely's girls have the pieces in place to repeat. Falmouth and Yarmouth will be in contention for the playoffs.
Swimming has provided positive glimpses and skiing and track are about to get underway.
Say goodbye to the wonderful year that was. We welcome 2013 and look forward to a new batch of highlights.
Happy New Year everyone!