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Deering Rams Winter Sports Preview

Sports

Deering Rams Winter Sports Preview

Deering had a triumphant winter in 2011-12 and is ready to steal more headlines. Boys' basketball enjoyed a stirring run to a second ever state championship a year ago and returns enough talent to suggest the Rams will be in the mix for another title. The girls' squad will once again be very strong as well. The boys' indoor track team fell agonizingly shy of a championship a year ago and welcomes a new coach this winter. The girls' squad has an abundance of solid athletes as well. Both swim teams have top-notch talent. Nordic skiing has a small representation, but there are some individuals who will turn heads. Deering wrestlers, as always, will be heard from as well.

BOYS' BASKETBALL

COACH: Dan LeGage (11th year, 128-71, two state championships)

2011-12 Record: 19-3 (Beat Hampden Academy, 59-50, to win Class A state championship)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Labson Abwoch (Senior), Dominic Lauture (Senior), Kevin Masse (Senior), Thiwat Thiwat (Senior), Kyle Richards (Junior)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 7 (H) THORNTON ACADEMY, Dec. 11 @ Marshwood, Dec. 20 @ Sanford, Dec. 29 (H) BONNY EAGLE, Jan. 4 @ South Portland, Jan. 11 (H) CHEVERUS, Jan.15 (H) SCARBOROUGH, Jan. 24 @ Portland, Jan. 29 (H) SOUTH PORTLAND, Feb. 5 @ Cheverus, Feb. 8 (H) PORTLAND

COACH’S COMMENT: “We're figuring out our roles. It's an adjustment, but the kids are working hard. We'll show up every night and play hard. We have some size. It's no secret we'll try to utilize that. It's an interesting league. Portland is far and away the best team on paper. Our goal is always to compete for a championship.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: After five seasons of playoff frustrations, Deering penned a magical run to a championship, just the program's second, last winter. The Rams came to life in the second half to avoid Biddeford's upset bid in the quarterfinals, rode a quick start to a statement-making win over two-time defending regional champion Cheverus in the semis, then edged Bonny Eagle on Patrick Green's epic buzzer-beating 3 in the regional final, likely the greatest shot in program history. The state game was almost anticlimactic by comparison, but Deering made sure it had a happy ending with a win over Hampden Academy. Like most championship teams, the Rams were hit by graduation as two-time Winter Male Athlete of the Year and league all-star Jon Amabile, Green and key contributor Cal London all departed. Deering was further hindered prior to the season when junior guard Chhorda Chhorn was lost to a knee injury suffered during football. Don't weep for the Rams, however, they still have enviable talent. No team has a big man tandem like Deering does in the 6-foot-6 Abwoch (a second-team league all-star last year who was 11th in the conference in scoring, 13.3 points per game, and third in rebounds, 9) and the 6-4 Thiwat (an honorable mention last winter, 7.2 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 1.5 steals per game), who are a year older, bigger and stronger, all of which should petrify the opposition. Richards, a 6-foot-6 forward, will play a larger role this winter. While the Rams should dominate down low, the backcourt play is a question mark at press time. Masse will step into the point guard role. Lauture will look to replace some of Amabile's production as a perimeter shooter and sophomore Liam Densmore could be a budding star, one who will likely see time at the point as well. Keep an eye also on junior Ahmed Ismail Ahmed, another guard who will be in the mix. Deering has some tough tests before the new year and may stumble at times as LeGage (our Coach of the Year last winter) and his staff find the best combinations, but by the end of the season, the Rams could once again be a team to beat. This team is equipped for another long playoff run.

GIRLS' BASKETBALL

COACH: Mike Murphy (fifth year, 73-10 one state championship)

2011-12 Record:14-5 (Lost, 45-33, to Windham in Western A quarterfinals)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Keneisha DiRamio (Senior), Marissa MacMillan (Senior), Chelsea Saucier (Senior), Alexis Stephenson (Senior), Lee Ann Downs (Junior)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 7 @ Thornton Academy, Dec. 20 (H) SANFORD, Jan. 4 @ McAuley, Jan. 11 @ Cheverus, Jan. 15 @ Scarborough, Feb. 1 @ Gorham, Feb. 6 (H) CHEVERUS

COACH’S COMMENT: “We're trying to find our rhythm. Every year is different and we have to replace key players who graduated. It's a process. Chelsea, Keneisha and Marissa have to score for us to have a chance. We have to get better and beat the teams we're supposed to beat. I like the fact that we have experience.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: After a six-year run of making the semifinals or better, Deering was upset by Windham in last year's quarterfinals. That was likely an aberration. These Rams are primed to be one of the last teams standing in 2012-13. While the loss of first-team league all-star Ella Ramonas and sharpshooter Emily Cole (who led Western A in 3-pointers made last winter) to graduation will hurt, Deering will field a strong group. Saucier (third in the SMAA in assists last year with 3.7 per game) will run the offense from the point guard position and will also look to score some points. DiRamio, if she can avoid the injury bug which has limited her participation in recent seasons, is another guard who can fill it up. Inside, MacMillan, a 6-foot-4 honorable mention all-star last season (who averaged 11.6 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.2 blocked shots), continues to improve and will give the opposition fits. Downs and Stephenson also have experience on the front line. Three others add depth. Senior guard Sami Mack will help the backcourt. Junior Christina Viney will play forward and sophomore Courtney Brett has diversity as a guard and forward. Deering will be solid defensively (it was third in the league last season) and fundamentally. The question will be can the Rams score consistently enough to be able to defeat the many good teams in Western Class A? If so, Deering will enjoy another high playoff seed. If not, the Rams might have to play a preliminary round game simply to reach the Expo. Deering has been as strong as anyone over the past decade and while much preseason attention is being paid to city rivals Cheverus and two-time defending champion McAuley, there's a good chance the Rams will be able to match up with those teams, as well as other league foes as the season progresses. Don't write Deering off. By the end of the year, the Rams will be very dangerous.

INDOOR TRACK

BOYS' COACH: Gerry Myatt (first year)

GIRLS' COACH: Kevin Campbell (10th year)

2011-12 Results:

(BOYS) 2nd @ Class A state meet

(GIRLS) 7th @ Class A state meet

TOP RETURNERS:
(BOYS)
Jared Bell (Senior), Josh Carland (Senior), Billy Farrell (Senior), Alex Hebert (Senior), Ricardo Delgado (Junior)

(GIRLS) Whitney Adell (Senior), Alexis Elowitch (Junior), Casey Girsch (Junior), Amanda LeMoult (Junior), Edie Pallozzi (Junior), Rashad Zagon (Junior), Katie Farrell (Sophomore), Lizzy Fowler (Sophomore), Darius Zagon (Sophomore)

COACH MYATT'S COMMENT: “I feel good about our numbers. We hope to carry on the tradition of a good indoor team that Deering's always had. We hope to have fun this season.”

COACH CAMPBELLS COMMENT: “Although we graduated a lot of points from last year's team, we're hopeful that the returners and incoming new athletes will do their best to step into those roles. We have a great group of hardworking girls and we expect each of them will perform to the best of their abilities.

THE FORECASTERS FORECAST: Both Deering teams will be in hunt this season.

The boys came oh so close to winning a championship a year ago, losing out to Scarborough in the final relay. This winter, Gerry Myatt takes over as coach. He's been a longtime fixture with the Deering track program and will be assisted by his son, Frank. Several scorers from last year return. Leading the way is Bell, who won the shot put last winter and could repeat. Delgado (fifth in the high jump last winter) and Farrell (fifth in the triple jump) are other top returners. Both are standout athletes and will also compete in the hurdles. Carland is a top sprinter who will also jump. Sophomore Razel Gavin adds depth in the sprints. Hebert leads the distance contingent. While the Rams might not have the balance of last year's team, there's enough ammunition for Deering to be very strong in the league and to make a run at a third straight top 10 state meet finish.

On the girls' side, Campbell and his longtime assistant, Kevin Olson, have a lot to work with. Rashad Zagon finished runner-up in Class A in the high jump last year. Fowler (third in the league in the junior high jump last year), new senior Stephanie Sylvester and freshman Lili Kien are other jumpers to watch. Elowitch (Deering's Fall Female Athlete of the Year, who was fourth in the league in the senior shot put last season) is the top thrower. Deering is also loaded in running events. Pallozzi was second in the state in the 800 a year ago. LeMoult, junior Sophie Duarte and freshman Maddy Bennett will also be heard from in the distance events. In the sprints, keep an eye on Darius Zagon (fourth in the league in the 55 a year ago) and Adell. Farrell will be a force in the 400 and the hurdles (she was fifth in the league in the junior hurdles last winter). Girsch (seventh in the junior hurdles) is another top returner in that event. The Rams have the pieces in place to contend with even the best teams in the league and if all goes well, make a run at a first top five state finish in seven seasons.

SWIMMING

COACH: AngieMarcotte (fourth year w/girls' team, third year w/boys' team)

2011-12 Results:

(BOYS) 8th @ Class A state meet

(GIRLS) 4th @ Class A state meet

TOP RETURNERS:

(BOYS) Dylan Farber (Senior), Lucas Adair (Junior), Eric Delmonte (Junior), Alex Tucci (Junior)

(GIRLS) Jessica Blake (Senior), Genevieve Worthley (Senior), Emma Pontius (Junior)

COACH'S COMMENT: “Our outlook is good, filled with lots of hard work at the pool. We're optimistic to improve our overall score at Southwesterns and states for a higher finish. We're looking forward to setting some new school, pool and state records.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Both Deering swim teams are coming off strong seasons and both return top-notch talent.

Delmonte excelled for the boys last winter, winning the Class A breaststroke title and coming in third in the 200 individual medley. Farber placed third in diving, while Adair and Tucci scored in the medley relay. This season, Adair will look to score in the sprint freestyle and backstroke, while Tucci will contend in the butterfly and IM. Freshman Adam Roland (distance freestyle) adds depth. Look for this group to remain competitive in the regular season and to be heard from in February.

On the girls' side, all eyes will once again be on Worthley, who named the Outstanding Performer of last year's Class A state meet after winning the IM and the breaststroke. Worthley was also chosen as Deering's Winter Female Athlete of the Year. It will be fun to see what she does for an encore. Pontius was runner-up in the fly last year and fifth in the backstroke and hopes to move up this winter. Blake was a key relay contributor last season. She'll swim the fly and 200 free this year. Freshmen Sophie DeOliveira (fly, breaststroke) and Kate Pontius (sprint freestyle) make the team that much stronger. Deering enjoyed its best state finish in eight seasons last year. The Rams could be even stronger this time around. Look for Worthley to lead this squad to great things.

NORDIC SKIING

COACH: Aaron Duphily (third year)

2011-12 Results:

(BOYS) 9th @ Class A state meet

(GIRLS) No score @ Class A state meet

TOP RETURNER:

(BOYS) Kuba Chandler (Senior)

THE FORECASTERS FORECAST: Deering has a small representation on this cooperative team, which also features skiers from Casco Bay, Cheverus, McAuley, Portland, Thornton Academy and Windham. Chandler will be one of the best individuals around. He was sixth in Class A in the freestyle and seventh in the classic a year ago. He's hoping to move up even higher this year. A few other Rams will seek to make a name for themselves as the winter progresses.

WRESTLING

COACH:Al Kirk (35th year)

2011-12 Results: 17th @ Class Astate meet (8th @ regionals)

TOP RETURNERS: John DeLoach (Senior), Hank Richards (Senior)

COACHS COMMENT: “Our strength will center around six seniors. Strong support will be provided by a number of juniors and sophomores. Five freshmen and a transfer will capably fill in the gaps.

THE FORECASTERS FORECAST: Deering should be in for an interesting season and can't be overlooked. DeLoach finished fourth in the heavyweight division at last year's regional meet. He's joined by five other seniors, Richards, Nick Darling, Cody Dow, Sam Ezzy and A.J. Wiley, who bring experience to the squad. Jesse DiBiase, Matt Krubiec, Duncan Lowell and Matthew Newman-Paris, along with transfer Cody Meehan and several freshmen also hope to make a mark. The Rams are joined this winter by wrestlers from Cheverus, most notably 120-pound Class A state champion Iain Whitis, and three others, as that program attempts to re-establish itself. Deering should hold its own in the regular season and has the potential to improve on last year's results at regionals and states.