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Waynflete Flyers Winter Sports Preview

Sports

Waynflete Flyers Winter Sports Preview

Waynflete fans are in for an enjoyable winter. The boys' basketball team has been to the semifinals two years running and with plenty of firepower returning, has the pieces in place for another deep run. The girls' squad might be primed to go all the way. With one of the state's best players leading the way, the Flyers will be tough to stop. Girls' swimming will ride its superb junior core to a high state meet finish. The boys will be competitive as well. Nordic skiing welcomes a new coach and will be a force at the conference and state levels. Last, but not least, four girls, senior Marla Bikales, junior Gretchen Stevens and sophomores Gavi King and Ally Mills, are playing hockey with Cape Elizabeth, on the "Capeflete" squad. For more on that team, click here.

BOYS' BASKETBALL

COACH: Rich Henry (ninth year, 80-69)

2011-12 Record: 15-4 (Lost, 63-42, to Old Orchard Beach in Western Class C semifinals)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Max Belleau (Senior), Jack Cutler (Senior), Paul Runyambo (Senior), Mohammed Suja (Senior), Henry Cleaves (Junior), Serge Nyirikamba (Junior), Joe Schnier (Junior), Harry Baker-Connick (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 7 @ Old Orchard Beach, Dec. 11 @ Traip, Jan. 3 @ Cape Elizabeth, Jan. 8 (H) OOB, Jan. 15 @ Yarmouth, Jan. 18 (H) TRAIP, Jan. 26 (H) WELLS

COACHS COMMENT: "We're coming off a good year and are returning a number of experienced players, but we lost a deal of leadership and hustle in Mitch Newlin and Chris Burke, to name two of our five graduated seniors. We should present some matchup problems with the degree of length and athleticism we have, but our ability to extend the season will depend on our willingness to execute and play fundamental basketball, especially on defense. I'm pleased with the level of effort and the degree of team chemistry that exists and we've had some great challenges in our preseason scrimmage schedule. Harry has developed into a legitimate point guard in comparison to the 'point forwards' we've used previously and we have a great mix of returning veterans and new players acclimating themselves to the program.

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Waynflete has been to the semifinals two years running (something which hadn't happened since the mid-1980s) and Henry has another team capable of doing great things. While the loss of last year's seniors, Burke and Newlin most notably, will be felt, there is plenty of returning talent, as well as some exciting newcomers waiting in the wings. Nyirikamba, an all-conference first-teamer last winter, is the top returning scorer and could soon become one of the top players in the league. Suja and second-team all-stars Runyambo and Belleau will also look to produce points. Baker-Connick, who plays beyond his years, will run the offense at the point guard spot. He'll be spelled periodically by Belleau and freshman Abel Alemayo. Cleaves, Cutler (a second-team all-star in 2011-12 after finishing fourth in the league in assists, 3.5 per game) and Schnier also have experience and will be key contributors. The team also features new sophomore forward Pace Hutchinson and freshmen guards Milo Belleau, Willy Burdick and Will Nelligan. The Flyers feature athleticism, size and a scoring ability. While the opening phase of the schedule is challenging and there are some tough Class B foes on the slate, including reigning champion Yarmouth, Waynflete should be able to make a run at last year's win-loss mark. The Flyers are no longer happy just making it to Augusta. They'd like to go even further than the semifinals this time around. While there will be several tough teams standing in its way, Waynflete has the pieces in place to do special things. Good luck stopping the Flyers come February.

GIRLS' BASKETBALL

COACH: Brandon Salway (sixth year, 79-24)

2011-12 Record: 14-8 (Lost, 43-36, to Hall-Dale in Western C Final)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Rhiannan Jackson (Senior), Catherine Veroneau (Senior), Martha Veroneau (Senior), Leigh Fernandez (Junior), Helen Gray-Bauer (Sophomore), Julianna Harwood (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 7 (H) OLD ORCHARD BEACH, Dec. 11 (H) TRAIP, Dec. 13 @ Lake Region, Jan. 8 @ OOB, Jan. 18 @ Traip, Jan. 26 @ Wells

COACHS COMMENT: “The girls put in a lot of work this summer. We hope it pays off. I think we have great chemistry. The girls really like playing together. I think we'll have more depth this year. We have seven kids who could put up double figures. Last year's experience helped us. Our schedule is loaded. The seniors feel like this is their team. They're talking about getting over the hump. That's the goal. We'll enjoy every game, but we know the last time a Western Maine Conference team played in the Class C state championship game was 1979.”

THE FORECASTERS FORECAST: After falling in the regional final three of the past four seasons, this has the makings of the finest Waynflete team since the Flyers cut down the Class D nets in 2003. Waynflete has a trio of determined, accomplished seniors, led by one of the best players in the state regardless of class, and several other players who bring promise and depth to what should be one of more intriguing stories of the 2012-13 campaign. Any discussion of the Flyers has to begin with Martha Veroneau, a first-team all-star a year ago. Veroneau, Waynflete's Winter Female Athlete of the Year each of the past two seasons, led the Western Maine Conference in scoring last year with a 17.9 average. Not only can she bury shots from near and far, but she's unselfish (seventh in the league in assists, 2.9), has an unrivaled basketball IQ and is one of the best big-game performers around. If her senior year is like her first three, Veroneau should get consideration as a Miss Maine Basketball candidate. She enters the season 29 points shy of 1,000. Her twin sister, Catherine Veroneau, is hoping to play a full season after suffering knee injuries each of the past two years. Catherine was a second-team all-star a year ago and is a gritty and tenacious player who can score when needed. What can be better than two Veroneaus? How about a third? Freshman Anne Veroneau joins her sisters this winter. The guard is another scoring option. Jackson hasn't gotten the praise she deserves. She was a second-team all-star in 2011-12, was eighth in the league in steals (3.3), can bury big shots and plays shutdown defense. She's another player who is at her best on the big stage, helping the Waynflete girls' lacrosse and girls' soccer teams to state titles in recent months. Fernandez also played a clutch role during last year's success. She can bury shots. Gray-Bauer (equally adept with a viola or a basketball) and Harwood (last seen leading girls' soccer to a title behind sensational saves in goal) were key contributors as freshmen and will look to play even bigger roles this season. Junior forward Louise Lyall and sophomore forward Dana Peirce were on varsity last winter and look to expand their playing time. Junior forward Emily Wasserman and freshman guard Arianna Giguere will also be heard from. The talent on this team is undeniable. The Flyers will be tested in the regular season, highlighted by a visit to reigning Western B champion Lake Region, but should be able to hold their own against anyone. Ultimately the most pressing question will be, can Waynflete stay healthy? If so, it has a great opportunity to knock down the door, make it to a first ever Class C Final and bring home a Gold Ball.

SWIMMING

COACH: Jim Harvey (third year)

2011-12 Results:

(BOYS) 13th @ Class B state meet

(GIRLS) 3rd @ Class B state meet

TOP RETURNERS:

(BOYS) Luke Jeton (Senior)

(GIRLS) Sofia Canning (Junior), Amelia Deady (Junior), Walker Foehl( Junior), Colby Harvey (Junior), Ellen Silk (Junior)

COACH'S COMMENT: “We return the best girls' junior class in the state. Both teams look to improve at the championship meets, as we didn't lose any swimmers to graduation.”

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: It should be another exciting year for the small, but powerhouse Waynflete swim program. Harvey is joined as co-coach this winter by John Stevens.

Harvey's comment on the strongest girls' junior class isn't hyperbole. For starters, Colby Harvey is the reigning Class B champion in the butterfly and breaststroke. Deady is also a two-event champion, taking the 200 and 500 free last year. Foehl is a special and accomplished athlete. She was runner-up in the 50 free and third in the backstroke in 2011-12. Silk placed third in the fly and fifth in the 200 free last season and looks to move up. Canning (ninth in the 500 free, 14th in the 200 free) is a top distance threat. The Flyers will once again be one of the best teams at Southwesterns and should have a top five finish at states.

On the boys' side, Jeton returns. He was a one-man standout last season, finishing runner-up in the 500 free and fourth in the 200 free. He'll get some help this winter from freshman Thomas Silk, who will contend in the backstroke and the freestyle. Look for the Flyers to make some noise with their small numbers and steal some headlines in February.

NORDIC SKIING

COACH: Ben Taska (first year)

2011-12 Results:

(BOYS) 6th @ Class C state meet

(GIRLS) 9th @ Class C state meet

TOP RETURNERS:

(BOYS) Dylan Kingsbury (Senior), Aidan Olney (Sophomore)

(GIRLS) Isabel Agnew (Senior)

COACHS COMMENT: “The team is composed of approximately two-third returnees and one-third rookies. I think this will be a good mix as far as improving upon experience as well as bringing in up-and-coming talent. This year, the main goals for the season are to improve on our team results at the conference and state meets.”

THE FORECASTERS FORECAST: The always-competitive Waynflete program welcomes a new coach this winter in Taska, who competed at Bates College as a runner.

The Flyers boys have to replace standout Josh Espy, who was runner-up in the classic and third in the freestyle last season. Kingsbury and Olney will look to fill the void and pace this year's group. Waynflete will be competitive in the league and should make a run at another impressive state finish.

On the girls' side, Agnew, who's on a personal streak of two straight seasons (lacrosse and soccer) with state titles, is the top returner. Freshman Gail Johnson brings depth and promise. The Flyers hope to improve on last year's results and have the pieces in place to do so.