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Waynflete Flyers Winter Athletes of the Year

Sports

Waynflete Flyers Winter Athletes of the Year

2012-13 Winter Male Athlete of the Year:

SERGE NYIRIKAMBA, Junior-Basketball

ACCOMPLISHMENTS AND CITATIONS

· WMC all-star, Class C first-team

Nyirikamba was the most consistent offensive force on arguably the finest team in program history and came up big time and again as the Flyers made a run to a first-ever Western Class C Final.

Nyirikamba was born in Rwanda and came to Portland in the third grade. He didn't even take up basketball seriously until middle school at Waynflete, but he quickly became a star, due to his physical skills and commitment for getting better. Nyirikamba started playing with the Waynflete varsity as a freshman and was a first-team league all-star by his sophomore season.

This winter, as the Flyers won every game but one during the regular season, Nyirikamba was transcendent and had many memorable contributions.

Nyirikamba had 20 points, four rebounds, four steals and a blocked shot versus Sacopee, 18 points in Waynflete's lone loss, at Cape Elizabeth, 19 in a win over Fryeburg, 25 points and 15 boards versus Old Orchard Beach, 27 points in a win over A.R. Gould, 19 against defending Class B state champion Yarmouth, 18 versus Traip, 17 against Hyde and 21 versus Wells.

For the regular season, Nyirikamba averaged 17.6 points per game (third in the league), 7 rebounds per contest and shot 57 percent from the floor.

In a quarterfinal round playoff win over Monmouth, Nyirikamba had 18 points. Waynflete then won a Western C semi for the first time, rallying past defending state champion Dirigo, as Nyirikamba had a team-high 17 points. He closed his season with 13 points in a regional final loss to Boothbay.

“It was a great group of guys this season,” said Nyirikamba. “Everyone knew their role. We had great chemistry. We got better every day.”

Nyirikamba was once again honored at the conference level. He's now playing for the “Hoops Squad” AAU team. Nyirikamba volunteers with younger players and hopes to have a big senior season. He's undecided on playing in college.

He figures to put on quite a shot next year. Catch his act while you can. Serge Nyirikamba is one player who just keeps getting better and better.

Coach Rich Henry's comment: “Serge is the type of player that coaches absolutely love to work with. He's always putting forth maximum effort individually, he helps younger players and he's been one of the most 'no nonsense' players I've ever been around. Coaching is much more enjoyable when the most talented players are also the hardest working and Serge certainly fits that description. He's a great example to his teammates.”

2011-12 winner: Luke Jeton (Swimming)

2010-11 winner: Joe Veroneau (Basketball)

2009-10 winner; Nate Niles (Nordic skiing)

2008-09 winner: Hassan Jeylani (Basketball)

2007-08 winner: Tom Reagan (Nordic skiing)

2006-07 winner: Lucas Milliken (Nordic skiing)

2005-06 winner: Lucas Milliken (Nordic skiing)

2004-05 winner: David Wells (Swimming)

2003-04 winner: Jeff Bates (Nordic skiing)

2012-13 Winter Female Athlete of the Year:

MARTHA VERONEAU, Senior-Basketball

ACCOMPLISHMENTS AND CITATIONS

· Miss Maine Basketball

· Robin Colcord Award winner (MVP of Western C tournament)

· Bob Butler Award winner

· WMC All-Star, Class C first-team

· WMC All-Academic team

· WMC Senior All-Star

· Maine McDonald's Senior All-Star

· WMC leading scorer

· Team captain

There are a lot of star players in our midst, but only the select few become legendary and did Martha Veroneau ever become legendary over the course of a magical season that had a fairy tale ending.

Veroneau entered the 2012-13 campaign boasting a pair of Western C tournament records (made 3-pointers in one game and total points in one game), several all-conference mentions and a state title in lacrosse, but even this extremely driven standout might have had a hard time envisioning just how special her senior year would be.

It began in the second game, when Veroneau eclipsed the 1,000 career point plateau.

She was just getting warmed up.

Veroneau would lead Waynflete to 15 wins (against just three losses), leading the conference in scoring (19.8 points per game) and made 3-pointers per game (3.8), placing third in the league in steals with (4.8) and seventh in assists (3.2). She also passed older sister Margaret as the program's all-time leading scorer and does so again as a four-time Athlete of the Year selection.

Highlights included 35 points in a close loss to eventual Western B champion Lake Region, 30 versus Fryeburg, 28 (along with 10 rebounds and seven steals) in a win over Kents Hill, 26 against Wells, 21 against Hebron, 29 in a second game with Kents Hill and 24 versus Sacopee.

Still, she was still just heating up.

After several close calls, the Flyers had their sights set on winning a first ever Class C state title this winter and Veroneau made sure she and her teammates, her senior classmates especially, would experience reaching the pinnacle.

Veroneau, who played an integral role in Waynflete's girls' lacrosse state title last June, repeated as the Robin Colcord Award winner as the Western C tournament's top player-sportsperson. She had 22 points, nine boards, 10 steals, six assists and a blocked shot against Carrabec, 24 points versus Dirigo, 31 points, nine rebounds, three steals against Boothbay and 26 points, six boards and five steals against Madison as the Flyers ran roughshod over the regional field.

Stop me if you've heard it before, but Veroneau was still warming up, preparing for her date with destiny.

In the Class C Final, Veroneau did not shoot well early, got in foul trouble and Waynflete faced a steep deficit at halftime.

No problem.

As true legends tend to do, Veroneau led Waynflete back, putting her team ahead with a clutch fourth quarter 3-pointer before icing the long-desired victory at the foul line. She finished with 34 points, 13 rebounds, nine steals and a pair of assists.

Mission accomplished.

Even then she wasn't done.

Six days after clutching the Gold Ball, Veroneau received the highest honor a high school player can receive when she came from nowhere to be named Miss Maine Basketball.

Veroneau, who has volunteered at Reiche School, with younger players and at Maine Medical Center, hopes to win one final championship this spring in lacrosse (and who in their right mind who bet against her?). She finished her basketball career with 1,465 points.

Veroneau's competitive basketball career appears to be over as she will follow in her parents' and siblings' footsteps and attend Boston College (where she'll study nursing).

This is one young lady destined for greatness regardless of where she ends up, but she'll live in on legend at Waynflete. Martha Veroneau had a senior season for the ages and earned every ounce of praise sent her way.

Coach Brandon Salway's comment: “There will never be another Martha. She was a once-in-a-lifetime player. She shined the brightest with the money on the table. That's a testament to her work ethic. Her skill and offensive prowess were unmatched, but her heart put her over the top. Winning games is more important to her than scoring points. It shows for everyone who watches her. I'm so proud of her. She had a great legacy in my mind before the state game, but to finish her career with such a clutch performance in the Bangor Auditorium against an unbeaten team when we were down, it was not surprising. As those of us who know her well say that it was classic Martha. I know as long as I am coaching, there will never be another No. 12. When you combine athleticism, character and performance, I believe she is the single greatest player ever at our school. Any sport, any gender. I miss coaching her already."

2011-12 winner: Martha Veroneau (Basketball)

2010-11 winner: Martha Veroneau (Basketball)

2009-10 winner: Morgan Woodhouse (Basketball)

2008-09 winner: Annie Cutler (Basketball)

2007-08 winner: Margaret Veroneau (Basketball)

2006-07 winner: Margaret Veroneau (Basketball)

2005-06 winner: Margaret Veroneau (Basketball)

2004-05 winner: Holly Whitney (Nordic skiing)

2003-04 winner: Betsy Critchfield (Nordic skiing)

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