Farewell to 2013, a year of triumph and thrills
Every year we rave about the drama produced by local high school sports athletes, then the calendar flips and they go out and raise the bar another notch.
That was certainly the case in 2013.
From start to finish.
With another winter season underway and the calendar now reading 2014, here's one final look back at the thrills that made up 2013.
When 2012 gave way to 2013, Deering's boys' basketball team was defending a Class A state championship and once again had a very strong squad. Portland was clearly a championship contender, while Waynflete was quietly putting together a special season. Only perennial power Cheverus was struggling.
On the girls' side, it was once again McAuley and everyone else, as the Lions rarely had to break a sweat. Cheverus and Deering were top contenders, while Waynflete was turning heads in Western C.
On the ice, the Cheverus and Portland boys were playoff bound, while the Cheverus girls were also in the mix.
Skiing, swimming, track and wrestling teams and individuals made a mark as they geared up for the postseason.
February vacation week brought the first hardware of the new year.
Cheverus' Iain Whitis won another Class A wrestling state title, this time at 126 pounds, while Portland's Kidayer Aljubyly was the 106 pound champion.
In track, Cheverus' Kiera Murray was the Class A girls' two-mile champion. Deering had three event winners: Jared Bell (boys' shot put), Alexis Elowitch (girls' shot put) and Edie Pallozzi (girls' 800).
In the pool, there were no shortage of standout performances, led by Cheverus' boys winning their first Class A championship behind the excellence of Trebor Lawton, who won both the 100 backstroke and the 100 butterfly. Other champions included Cheverus' Sarah Nablo (Class A girls; 100 backstroke), Deering's Genevieve Worthley (Class A girls' 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke) and Waynflete's Colby Harvey (Class B girls' 100 butterfly and 200 freestyle).
Portland's girls' Nordic ski team was runner-up in Class A. Waynflete doesn't have an Alpine team, but Louis Frumer still managed to win the Class C boys' slalom championship.
Attention then turned to the basketball championships.
On the boys' side, in Western C, Waynflete reached the regional final for the first time in over three decades before finally meeting its match in Boothbay. In Western A, Deering was upset by Thornton Academy in the quarterfinals. Portland got to the semifinals before dropping a tough decision to eventual regional champion South Portland. Cheverus fell short of qualifying for the first time since 1999-2000.
On the girls' side, Waynflete, after years of close calls, went on a regional run behind dynamic senior Martha Veroneau and secured a trip to the Class C state final for the first time. In Western A, Cheverus won a quarterfinal game for the first time in program history, then ousted Deering in a down-to-the-wire semifinal. Awaiting the Stags in the regional final was two-time defending champion McAuley and the Lions held off a late Stags' surge to punch its state game ticket.
Hockey saw the Cheverus girls reach the West Region semifinals before losing to Scarborough. On the boys' side, Portland was ousted by Gorham in the quarterfinals, but Cheverus downed Thornton Academy to advance to the semifinals in Lewiston for the first time in seven seasons.
The first Saturday of March saw a pair of coronations. First, McAuley bounced back from the unaccustomed phenomenon of trailing in a tournament game to handle Bangor, 60-45, thanks to 20 points from junior Olivia Smith, who saved her best game of the season for the biggest stage. Hours later, Waynflete rallied from a double digit deficit to defeat Calais in a thriller, 59-55, as Veroneau had 34 points, 13 rebounds and nine steals.
Six days later, Veroneau was named Miss Maine Basketball.
Cheverus' boys' hockey team was ultimately ousted by Scarborough in the semifinals.
April and May
The short spring regular season featured much excitement and triumph.
Cheverus and Portland's baseball teams were on their way to playoff berths in Western A, while Waynflete was once again competitive in Western C.
Boys' lacrosse featured strong play from Cheverus and Deering, as Portland and Waynflete looked to make playoff runs.
On the girls' side, defending Class B champion Waynflete had no peer, while Cheverus and Portland were also in the postseason hunt.
Area track stars geared up for the postseason.
The tennis story featured excellence from several city teams.
Spring championship season began with Deering's Bell capping his high school career with Class A outdoor track titles in the discus and shot put.
A week later, both Waynflete tennis teams won more hardware. It was the girls' squad's third Class C title in succession, while the boys made it a mind-boggling six in a row. Portland's girls got to the state match for just the second time and lost a 3-2 heartbreaker to repeat champion Brunswick.
On the diamond, Waynflete lost in the preliminary round and Cheverus fell in the quarterfinals, but Portland peaked at the right time and after beating South Portland in the preliminary round, upset Scarborough in the quarterfinals. The Bulldogs' spirited run finally ended with a narrow loss at Westbrook in the semifinals.
The top local lacrosse story was the Cheverus girls, who won a championship for the first time, squeaking past Massabesic, 8-7, in the final. Later that afternoon, Waynflete fended off a tough test from Yarmouth, 7-4, to repeat as the Class B champion.
On the boys' side, Cheverus returned to the Class A state game, but was no match for Scarborough.
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, Cheverus remained a top power, winning at Portland in the opener to emerge as the team to beat, but the Bulldogs weren't far behind.
On the pitch, Portland's boys turned heads with an upset win at defending Class A champion Scarborough, while Cheverus, Deering and Waynflete were very good as well.
On the girls' side, defending champion Waynflete remained competitive, while Cheverus, Deering, McAuley and Portland all pushed for playoff berths.
Cheverus' never-boring field hockey team once again led the way.
Cross country and golf teams hinted at success to come and volleyball saw Cheverus' second-year program hold its own.
The lone city team to make it to the golf state match, Deering, was a very pleasant surprise. The Rams tied for ninth at Natanis.
Several local runners and teams saved their best for the final Saturday of the month, when they qualified for the state meet. Waynflete's Sofia Canning, a soccer player, turned heads by winning the Western C regional meet.
Cheverus was the lone field hockey team to make the playoffs, but the Stags were quickly ousted by Marshwood in the Western A quarterfinals.
The soccer playoffs were once again dominated by the Waynflete girls, who were chasing a repeat crown. The Flyers beat Mt. Abram with ease in the preliminary round, then had to go to penalty kicks to survive Wiscasset in the quarterfinals. Cheverus and Portland both lost in the preliminary round, while Deering won a prelim, then lost at Thornton Academy in the quarterfinals.
On the boys' side, Waynflete won a Western C prelim, then dropped an overtime heartbreaker at rival North Yarmouth Academy in the quarterfinals. In Western A, while Cheverus was ousted by Noble in the quarterfinals and Deering lost to Gorham in the same round, Portland blanked powerhouse Falmouth in the quarterfinals, then avenged a loss from earlier in the season with a semifinal round win at Noble.
Cheverus football went undefeated for the fourth regular season in a row and earned the top seed for the Eastern A playoffs. One-loss Portland finished second. Deering, which endured a midseason coaching change, fell short.
The soccer players continued in November, as Portland's boys lost at Scarborough in the Western A Final, but Waynflete managed to down St. Dom's in the semifinals, Sacopee Valley in the regional final, then repeated as the Class C champion on Esme Benson's overtime goal against Orono in the state game.
Football then had center stage as both Cheverus and Portland easily won semifinal round games before squaring off in the Eastern A Final. There, the Bulldogs appeared in control at halftime, but the Stags rallied for a 22-19 victory.
On the 23rd, Cheverus looked for a third state title in four seasons, but couldn't hold a late lead and dropped a 31-28 heartstopper to Bonny Eagle.
Winter has returned and the fun begins again.
In boys' basketball, Portland is a top contender in Western A. Cheverus has returned to form and Deering is very strong as well. In Western C, Waynflete could be even better than last year.
On the girls' side, McAuley stretched its three-season win streak to 53 games (at press time) and is closing in on matching Westbrook and Lawrence as the only programs to ever win four championships in a row. The Bulldogs of Portland are resurgent, while Cheverus, Deering and Waynflete figure to heard from all season.
On the ice, Cheverus and Portland will be in the mix on the boys' side, while the Cheverus girls are in the hunt for a playoff spot.
Swimming, track and wrestling have provided positive glimpses and skiing is about to get underway.
Say goodbye to the wonderful year that was. We welcome 2014 and look forward to a new batch of highlights.
Happy New Year everyone!