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Postseason upon us, fun about to begin

Sports

Postseason upon us, fun about to begin

(Ed. Note: For the complete Falmouth-Yarmouth boys' hockey game story, with additional photos, please visit theforecaster.net)

With the calendar reading February, that means it's time for local athletes and teams to be at their best as they chase their version of sports immortality.

The girls' hockey playoffs are underway. The postseason is about to begin in swimming, skiing and track and of course, the always popular basketball tournament will tip off in mere days.

Here's a glimpse at what's occurred and what's on the docket:

Boys' basketball

As we enter the final week of the basketball regular season, the title hopes of the Falmouth and Greely boys remain extremely realistic.

The defending Class B state champion Yachtsmen, who will take part in the Class A tournament this winter due to increased enrollment numbers, took a 15-1 record and the No. 2 spot in the Western A Heals behind Portland into Tuesday's game at Cape Elizabeth. Last week, Falmouth downed host Gray-New Gloucester, 81-49 (behind 20 points from Nick Burton, 18 from Thomas Coyne and 14 from Jack Simonds), and visiting Freeport, 67-34 (Simonds had 20 and Burton 13). The Yachtsmen close at home Thursday versus Kennebunk.

The Rangers began the week first in Western B at 15-1 after downing host Fryeburg (45-32) and visiting York (56-41). Michael McDevitt had 22 points and Connor Hanley added a dozen versus the Raiders. In the win over the Wildcats, Hanley had 15 points and Train 12. Greely was at Wells Tuesday and closes at home versus Cape Elizabeth Friday. The Rangers will likely be the top seed for the tournament for the first time in three years.

Yarmouth appears destined for the No. 4 spot in Western B. Last week, the Clippers improved to 12-4 with narrow wins at home over York (59-49, in overtime) and at Lake Region (55-53). David Murphy had 17 points and Adam LaBrie 16 in the OT victory. Against the Lakers, Murphy had 17 points and LaBrie added 13. Yarmouth was home versus Gray-New Gloucester Tuesday and closes at home against Freeport Friday.

Speaking of the Falcons, they'll fall short of the postseason for the sixth year in a row. Last week, Freeport lost, 87-54, at Lake Region and 67-34 at Falmouth to fall to 1-15 and 15th in Western B. Against the Lakers, Jack Davenport led the way with 15 points. Matt Schultheis had a team-high six in the loss to the Yachtsmen. The Falcons hosted Kennebunk Tuesday and closes at Yarmouth Friday.

In Western D, North Yarmouth Academy is 11-4 and fifth in the standings after a 63-47 loss at Hyde and a 63-54 home victory over Traip. Chase Gendron had 21 points and El Tayeb Dahia added 16 in the win. The Panthers hosted Richmond Tuesday, welcome Old Orchard Beach Thursday and close at home Friday versus Seacoast Christian.

The preliminary round of the tournament will be held Wednesday. Western A quarterfinals will be held Friday and Saturday of next week at the Portland Exposition Building. The Western B quarterfinals (Expo) and D quarterfinals (Augusta Civic Center) are Saturday, Feb. 15.

Girls' basketball

On the girls' side, Greely began the week sixth in the Western Class B Heals at 13-3, but had a chance to move up prior to the start of the tournament. Last week, the Rangers made it nine wins in 10 games by downing visiting Fryeburg (48-39) and host York (48-36). Blais Tardif had 14 points and Ashley Storey added 12 against the Raiders. In the win over the Wildcats, Greely's first in York since Dec. 14, 2006, Storey had 15 points and Tardif finished with a dozen. The Rangers hosted third-ranked Wells Tuesday and close at Cape Elizabeth Friday.

Freeport and Yarmouth will fall short of the playoffs.

The Falcons lost at home to defending regional champion Lake Region, 54-38, and beat visiting Falmouth, 37-22, last week. In the loss, standout Nina Davenport had 21 points. Davenport had 17 points in the victory. Freeport (6-10 and 12th in Western B where only 10 teams qualify for the playoffs) was at Kennebunk Tuesday and closes Friday at home against Yarmouth.

The Clippers fell to 4-12 and 15th after losing last week at York (50-30) and at home to Lake Region (47-29). Shannon Fallon had a dozen points against the Wildcats and led with 10 versus the Lakers. Yarmouth was home against Gray-New Gloucester Tuesday and finishes at Freeport Friday.

In Western A, Falmouth got a big home win over Gray-New Gloucester last Tuesday, 39-30, then fell Friday at Freeport, 37-22. In the win, Ally Hickey had 12 points and Liina Paavonpera added 10. Hickey and Julia Brogan both had six points against the Falcons. The Yachtsmen (5-11 and 10th in the region, where 12 teams make the playoff cut) hosted Cape Elizabeth Tuesday and finish Thursday at Kennebunk.

In Western D, NYA was 6-9 and ninth (10 teams make the playoffs) at press time after beating visiting Hyde (45-42) and losing at Kents Hills (44-22) and Traip (63-23) last week. In the win, Charlotte Esancy had 19 points and Chloe Leishman added 16. Esancy had a team-high seven points against Traip. The Panthers were home against Kents Hill Tuesday, play at Old Orchard Beach Thursday, then close at home versus Seacoast Christian Friday.

The preliminary round will be held Tuesday. Western A quarterfinals will be held Monday, Feb. 17 at the Portland Exposition Building. The Western D quarterfinals are the same day in Augusta. The Western B quarterfinals are Tuesday, Feb. 18 at the Expo.

Girls' hockey

On the ice, all three local girls' hockey teams are playoff-bound.

In the East Region, the two-time defending state champion Greely Rangers will be the 3 seed behind Leavitt/Edward Little and Lewiston following a 12-6 regular season. The Rangers closed by sandwiching home losses to Scarborough (8-0) and Lewiston (2-1) around a 6-2 victory at Winslow. Maura Verrill had a hat trick in the victory and Danita Storey scored against the Blue Devils. Greely goes to No. 2 Lewiston (13-4-1) for the semifinals Friday.

Yarmouth/Freeport capped its feel-good season at 13-4-1 after a 2-0 home loss to Leavitt/Edward Little and a 3-0 home victory over Cheverus (Emily Johnson, Meredith McLoon and Ariel Potter all scored). Yarmouth/Freeport wound up fourth in the East and was scheduled to host No. 5 Mt. Ararat (5-12-1) in the quarterfinals Wednesday (bad weather may have moved that game to Thursday). Yarmouth/Freeport beat the Eagles twice this year: 7-1 at home and 2-1 on the road. If victorious, Yarmouth/Freeport would play at top-ranked Leavitt/EL (15-3) Saturday in the semifinals.

In the West, Falmouth finished second at 13-5 after closing with eight wins in nine games, including a 7-0 home blanking of York and a 4-1 victory at Biddeford. Camden Carrier had a hat trick against the Wildcats, while Martina St. Angelo had three goals versus the Tigers. The Yachtsmen will host either No. 3 Biddeford (12-6) or No. 6 Gorham/Bonny Eagle (7-11) in the semifinals Friday at 6 p.m. at Family Ice Center. Falmouth beat both prospective foes twice this winter.

The regional finals are Wednesday at the Portland Ice Arena. The state final is Saturday, Feb. 15, at the Colisee in Lewiston.

Boys' hockey

Boys' hockey is the lone sport that still has ample time remaining in the regular season and don't look now, but the two-time defending Class B champion Greely Rangers are hitting their stride.

Last Wednesday, Greely rolled a top-ranked Camden Hills, 7-2, to balance its record at 5-5-3. Brian Storey had a hat trick. The Rangers host Kennebunk Thursday, welcome York Saturday and have a key home game versus rival Yarmouth Thursday of next week.

Those Clippers have been up-and-down and were fourth at 7-4-1 at press time after handling visiting Maranacook/Winthrop (8-1) and losing at home to Falmouth (6-2) last week. In the win, Will Jacobs, Bobby Murray and Dylan Tureff all lit the lamp twice. Against the Yachtsmen, the first meeting between the one-time fierce rivals in seven years, Yarmouth hung tough and got goals from Noah Grondin and Isaak Dearden, but it wasn't enough to beat the defending Class A state champions.

"I was pleased with how we played," said Clippers coach David St. Pierre. "We rebounded from a poor first period. We have to learn how to compete in the first 15 minutes. It's been a struggling point all year. I thought we'd figured it out, but tonight was an example where we did that. Once we figured it out, we went to work. I was happy to see we didn't quit. We showed we can skate with teams like that. We're a young team and we're learning as we go. This was a learning opportunity for us. Guys are showing some strength and figuring things out."

Yarmouth hosted Gorham Wednesday, goes to Westbrook Thursday, plays at Cape Elizabeth Saturday and visits Greely Thursday of next week.

"I think we're in a  good place," said St. Pierre. "I don't think we're ready yet to make a run, but we have a little time left to work on things. There's no question it's a wide open conference. Any of four or five teams could come out on top. Greely's probably playing the best right now, but we play them again. There's a fair amount left to be sorted out and that's what we have to build upon."

Falmouth was second to Scarborough in the Western A Heals at press time at 9-5 after winning at St. Dom's (5-4), at home over Bangor (3-1) and at Yarmouth (6-2) before having its four-game win streak snapped Monday at Bangor (6-3). In the win over the Rams, Reece Armitage, Andre Clement and Isaac Nordstrom scored. Against the Clippers, Falmouth got goals from four different players, including two apiece from Tyler Jordan and Brandon Peters, while goalie Dane Pauls made 24 saves.

"We focus on getting three solid lines," Jordan said. "Everyone has their roles. As long as we play our roles, everything clicks. It's the work ethic that pays off."

"You have to play three periods of hockey, especially against a team that doesn't quit," added Yachtsmen coach Deron Barton. "Yarmouth's young, they play hard, they're well coached and they didn't quit. They pushed us and made us work for pucks. I give them a lot of credit. We had to relay on everybody. Not just Dane, but we got big goals when we needed them."

Falmouth was at Biddeford Wednesday and goes to Thornton Academy Saturday.

"I don't want to jinx anything, but I feel like as a team we're starting to get there," Pauls said. "We always have to stay disciplined and we have to work hard. We won't take anyone likely. From here on out, we have tough games. We want this type of schedule because it gets us prepared for playoffs. These are fun games."

Indoor track

The regular season has come to a close for local indoor track teams.

Last weekend at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham, the NYA girls won a Western Maine Conference meet for the first time in program history, downing fourth-place Yarmouth and seven other schools. Panthers event winners included Alex Wahlstrom in the junior 200 (29.17 seconds) and the junior 400 (1 minute, 6.88 seconds), Mackenzie Sangster in the junior 55 hurdles (10.58), Jillian Bjorn-Caron in the senior 55 hurdles (10.4), Adela McVicar in the senior high jump (4 feet, 10 inches), Hannah Austin in the mile (5:42.06) and two-mile (13:03.27), Linnea Hull in the pole vault (7-6) and their junior relay team (1:59.79).

The Clippers were led by standout Emma Egan, who won the junior 55 (7.75 seconds), junior high jump (5-0) and open long jump (15-2.75).

Yarmouth's boys were second to Poland, while NYA came in sixth.

The Clippers got wins from Topher Pidden in the junior 400 (57.41), Darren Shi in the senior shot put (45-6), Sam Gerken in the 800 (2:08.28) and their 3,200 relay (10:28.0).

The Panthers got first-place showings from Michael McIntosh in the senior 200 (23.47), John LeBlanc in the mile (5:16.09) and Matt Malcom in the two-mile (10:07.42).

Falmouth's girls won their meet, as Greely tied York for second place and Freeport came in sixth.

The Yachtsmen got wins from Emma England in the junior 55 (7.97) and junior 400 (1:03.52), Charlotte Cutshall in the senior 55 (7.72), senior 200 (27.77) and long jump (16-3.5), Lydia Farmer in the triple jump (31-11.5) and their junior relay (1:52.94).

The Rangers were paced by Kirstin Sandreuter, who won the mile (5:15.3) and two-mile (11:07.26), and Jocelyn Mitiguy, who took the junior 200 (28.16) and the junior 55 hurdles (9.59). Alyssa Casarez won the junior shot put (37-3).

The Falcons got wins from their senior 800 relay (1:53.26) and their 3,200 open relay (10:38.12).

On the boys' side, Falmouth was second to York, while Freeport came in fourth and Greely placed sixth.

Yachtsmen winners included Noah Martin in the junior 55 (7.13), Nigel Dunn in the junior 200 (24.62), Sean Soucy in the junior 400 (55.62), Tony St. Angelo in the junior high jump (5-10) and the long jump (20-4.5) and their junior relay (1:38.65).

Harrison Stivers won the senior 200 (24.11) and the senior 400 (53.15) and Chandler Vincent took the two-mile (10:13.96) for the Falcons. Freeport's senior relay was also first (1:38.11).

Ben Ray took the pole vault (11-3) for the Rangers.

The Western Maine Conference indoor track and field championships are Saturday in Gorham.

The Class B state meet is Monday, Feb. 17, at Bates College in Lewiston.

Swimming

The Yarmouth swim team continued its strong season last week. The undermanned Clippers girls improved to 6-2 with an 81-69 win at Massabesic. The squad only has eight members and all have qualified for states. Abby Belisle-Haley is currently ranked third in the state (Class B) in the individual medley and fourth in the butterfly, while Eliza Lunt is third in the breaststroke. The boys dropped a 94-70 decision to the Mustangs and are now 5-3. Ethan Nightingale is ranked in the top 10 in Class B in the 50 freestyle, 100 free, 200 free and backstroke.

Falmouth's boys lost to defending Class A champion Cheverus last week, 88-66. The Yachtsmen girls were defeated by the Stags, 103-67.

Greely's boys lost to Cape Elizabeth, 98-78, while the girls were defeated by the reigning Class A champions, 123-56.

The Southwestern championships will be held this weekend in Cape Elizabeth.

The Class A girls' state championships are Feb. 15 in Orono. The Class A Boys (Orono) and Class B girls (Bowdoin) will hold their state meets Feb. 17. The Class B boys' championships are Feb. 18 at Bowdoin.

Skiing

Local Alpine ski teams all had strong showings Monday at Shawnee Peak.

In a slalom race, the Yarmouth boys downed Lake Region, Cape Elizabeth and Fryeburg. Rhys Eddy was the top Clipper, placing second individually with a two-run combined time of 1 minute, 35.96 seconds. Matthew Woodbury came in third (1:39.92). The girls came in second to Cape Elizabeth and were paced by Chapin Dorsett (fourth, 1:45.62) and Julia Primeau (fifth, 1:46.23).

In a giant slalom race, the powerhouse Greely girls defeated runner-up Falmouth, third-place Freeport and Gray-New Gloucester. Rangers standout Elyse Dinan was first individually in 1:02.60. The Yachtsmen were paced by Alexandra Shapiro, who was second (1:02.65). Wynne Cushing (fifth, 1:06.59) was the fastest Falcon.

Falmouth's boys were first, with Greely second and Freeport third. Joe Lesniak led the way for the Yachtsmen, finishing first in 58.10 seconds. Sam Perlmutter of the Rangers was second (59.62). The Falcons were led by Blake Enrico (fifth, 1:01.14).

The Nordic skiing state championships are Feb. 19-21. The Alpine championships are Feb. 27-March 1.

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