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, South Portland's boys' basketball team was emerging as a top contender in Western A, while Scarborough was shooting its way into the mix. Cape Elizabeth was once again in the Western B hunt.
On the girls' side, Scarborough was enjoying another strong campaign. South Portland was riding high until senior standout Danica Gleason suffered a season-ending injury. Cape Elizabeth overcame a slow start to roar into contention in Western B.
On the ice, Scarborough's boys looked like the team to beat in Western A, while Cape Elizabeth was in contention in Western B. The Scarborough girls were excelling as well as they prepared for a title run.
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.
In track, where Scarborough's boys' team won the Class A title, Red Storm pole vaulter Greg Viola won an individual crown.
In the pool, there were no shortage of stellar performances. Cape Elizabeth's girls won the state title for the 16th time in program history. The Capers boys produced individual champion Evan Long, who won the Class A 50 freestyle. Scarborough's Jerry Gravel won a pair of Class A boys' titles, in the 100 breaststroke and the 200 individual medley.
Attention then turned to the basketball championships.
On the boys' side, in Western A, Scarborough beat Gorham in the preliminary round for its first playoff win in any class in 27 seasons. The Red Storm then lost to Bonny Eagle in the quarterfinals. South Portland wouldn't be denied, beating Sanford in the quarterfinals, downing Portland in a thrilling semifinal, then rallying from a halftime deficit to oust Bonny Eagle to win its first regional crown in 20 seasons. In Western B, Cape Elizabeth was eliminated by York in the semifinals.
On the girls' side, in Western B, Cape Elizabeth won a postseason game for the first time this century, over Oak Hill in the preliminary round, then gave York a scare before losing a quarterfinal. In Western A, Scarborough beat South Portland in the quarterfinals, but had no answer for eventual champion McAuley in the semis.
Hockey saw the Scarborough girls get to the state game, but the Red Storm dropped an overtime heartbreaker to repeat champion Greely.
On the boys' side, Scarborough rolled past Noble in the Western A quarterfinals, while Cape Elizabeth edged Yarmouth in the Western B quarterfinals to also punch its ticket to Lewiston.
The first Saturday of March saw South Portland's title dreams dashed by Hampden Academy in the Class A boys' basketball state game.
That same day, Cape Elizabeth's boys' hockey team was eliminated by eventual champion Greely in the Western B semifinals, while Scarborough downed Cheverus to reach the regional final. There, the Red Storm couldn't hold a late lead and dropped a gutwrencher to eventual champion Falmouth.
April and May
The short spring regular season featured much excitement and triumph.
Scarborough's baseball team, behind ace Ben Greenberg, ran roughshod over Western Class A. South Portland made a push for the playoffs, as did Cape Elizabeth in Western B.
All three softball teams were veritable powerhouses.
Boys' lacrosse featured strong play from defending champion Scarborough, championship hopeful Cape Elizabeth and very competitive South Portland.
On the girls' side, Scarborough was seeking another crown, while Cape Elizabeth was hoping to finally get over the hump. South Portland was playoff-bound as well.
Area track stars geared up for the postseason.
The tennis story featured excellence from several local teams.
On the first Saturday of the month, Scarborough's boys' team won the Class A outdoor track title and Robert Hall (mile), Ryan Jamison (100 and 200) and Kevin Manning (pole vault) all won individual outdoor track championships.
A week later, Cape Elizabeth's boys' tennis team added another trophy to its collection.
On the diamond, South Portland lost in the preliminary round to Portland and Cape Elizabeth was ousted in that round by Oak Hill. Scarborough's title dreams were then dashed by Portland in the quarterfinal round.
Scarborough was able to go all the way in softball. South Portland hoped to knock off the Red Storm, but was upset by Sanford in the semifinals. Cape Elizabeth made it to the Western B semifinals before losing by a run to Gray-New Gloucester.
Two boys' lacrosse teams garnered hardware, Scarborough for the fourth year in a row in Class A and Cape Elizabeth for the first time in three seasons in Class B.
On the girls' side, Scarborough's bid for a fourth straight crown was denied by Kennebunk in the semifinals. Cape Elizabeth was once again left frustrated by nemesis Waynflete in the regional final.
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, all three local teams showed positive glimpses.
On the pitch, defending Class A champion Scarborough shook off an early loss, but soon hit its stride. Cape Elizabeth and South Portland were also competitive.
On the girls' side, Cape Elizabeth showed why it was a Class B favorite, while defending Class A champion Scarborough remained a power.
Scarborough's field hockey team once again led the way, with Cape Elizabeth also making a playoff push.
Scarborough's volleyball team had no peer in the regular season, while Cape Elizabeth became the feel-good story of the season with its strong play. South Portland introduced a varsity team.
Cross country and golf teams hinted at success to come.
Golf was the first sport to hold its championships. Cape Elizabeth was runner-up in Class B.
Cape Elizabeth and Scarborough's boys' cross country teams won regional titles.
Cape Elizabeth's field hockey team got to the semifinals for the first time since 2000 and lost to Spruce Mountain. Scarborough did even better, returning to the state final to meet Skowhegan once more.
On the volleyball court, Scarborough continued its perfect season by downing Greely in an epic state semifinal to advance to the final match. Cape Elizabeth almost joined the Red Storm, but dropped a five-set heartbreaker to Falmouth.
The soccer playoffs began with the Cape Elizabeth boys beating Lincoln Academy in a quarterfinal and Scarborough advancing with a close win over South Portland, which beat Kennebunk in penalty kicks in the preliminary round.
On the girls' side, Cape Elizabeth and Scarborough both passed their initial tests.
Cape Elizabeth, Scarborough and South Portland all clinched playoff berths. The Red Storm beat the Red Riots in the "Game of the Year," 58-57, in double overtime.
On the second of the month, Scarborough dropped a pair of state games, losing to Falmouth in volleyball and to Skowhegan in field hockey.
Cape Elizabeth's boys' cross country team managed to repeat as Class B state champion.
South Portland's football team was upset by Sanford in the quarterfinals. Scarborough passed its quarterfinal round test, then lost at eventual champion Bonny Eagle in the semifinals. Cape Elizabeth won its first Western C playoff game, at Yarmouth, then was eliminated at Leavitt.
On the pitch, Cape Elizabeth's boys' team was no match for powerhouse Yarmouth in the semifinals. That left Scarborough, which edged Gorham in the semifinals, then avenged its lone loss with a decisive win over Portland in the regional final. The Red Storm then had to scratch and claw to beat Hampden Academy, 2-1, in overtime, to repeat as Class A champion.
On the girls' side, Scarborough's reign ended with a loss to eventual champion Windham in the semifinals. Cape Elizabeth handled Freeport in the semifinals, then beat rival Greely in the regional final to advance to states for the first time in 14 years. There, the Capers had to go to PKs before edging Waterville to party like it was 1999.
Winter has returned and the fun begins again.
In boys' basketball, Cape Elizabeth is off to a strong start. Scarborough and South Portland hope to make a playoff push as well.
On the girls' side, all three teams have what it takes to make the playoffs.
On the ice, Scarborough's girls appear to have what it takes to take that final step this winter. The Cape Elizabeth/Waynflete co-op team is off to a strong start and appears playoff-bound.
On the boys' side, Scarborough could be the best team in Class A. Cape Elizabeth and South Portland are thinking playoffs also.
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!