Another terrific sports year has come and gone
Another year of high school sports action is in the rearview mirror, but the memories will linger for a long time.
Local athletes turned heads last winter, dazzled in the spring and enthralled in the autumn.
With another winter season underway and the calendar now reading 2013, here's one final look back to the thrills that made up 2012.
When 2011 gave way to 2012, Cape Elizabeth, Scarborough and South Portland's boys' basketball teams were all closing in on playoff spots.
On the girls' side, Scarborough, under new coach Tom Maines, was shocking the establishment, not losing a game until it ran into defending champion McAuley on the 20th.
On the ice, Cape Elizabeth and Scarborough's boys were on track for the postseason, while the Scarborough girls were also impressing.
Skiing, swimming, track and wrestling teams and individuals made a mark as they geared up for the postseason.
February brought the first hardware of the new year when both Scarborough indoor track teams (the boys by a single point and the girls for the eighth year in a row) won Class A state championships on the 20th. Alec James helped the Red Storm to the title by winning the pole vault.
In the pool, Cape Elizabeth's Evan Long won the boys' Class A 50 freestyle title and both Capers teams were third.
Skiing saw Cape Elizabeth's Sam Barber win the Class B boys' giant slalom.
Attention then turned to the basketball championships.
On the boys' side, in Western B, Cape Elizabeth lost to Wells in the preliminary round. Scarborough also fell in a prelim, to Biddeford, in Class A. South Portland made it to the Expo and pulled off a stunning quarterfinal round upset over highly touted Portland before finally being eliminated in the semis by Bonny Eagle.
On the girls' side, South Portland lost to Thornton Academy in the Western A preliminary round. Scarborough was the No. 2 seed and twice appeared finished, but the Red Storm rallied to stun Cheverus in the quarterfinals, then did the same to Marshwood in the semis. The fun finally ended with a loss to eventual champion McAuley in the regional final Feb. 25.
On the ice, Scarborough's hopes for a girls' state title were dashed by York in the semifinals. The Red Storm boys were a little more fortunate, getting past Biddeford in the Western A quarterfinals.
The first Saturday of March saw Scarborough's boys' hockey team lose to Falmouth in the Western A semifinals, 5-3.
April and May
The short spring regular season featured much excitement and triumph.
On the diamond, Cape Elizabeth, Scarborough and South Portland were all turning heads with solid pitching and timely hitting.
Softball saw all three local teams impress.
Boys' lacrosse featured strong play from defending Class A champion Scarborough and perennial power Cape Elizabeth in Class B.
On the girls' side, Cape Elizabeth passed every regular season test, handing two-time defending Class A champion Scarborough its lone loss in the process.
Area track stars geared up for the postseason.
The tennis story featured excellence as well.
Scarborough's track excellence continued in the spring, but not without some drama. The Class A meet was suspended with the pole vault remaining and the Red Storm girls trailing Edward Little, but Scarborough (which previously got victories in the 100 and 200 from standout Nicole Kirk) managed to save its best for last and win a championship. Scarborough's boys got a pole vault win from Kevin Manning.
On the diamond, both Cape Elizabeth and Scarborough stole headlines. The Capers barely made it into the field, but as the No. 9 seed in Western B, eliminated Freeport in the preliminary round, upset top-ranked Greely in the quarterfinals, then outlasted Yarmouth in extra innings in the semifinals. In the regional final, Cape Elizabeth got a no-hit effort from pitcher Sam Kozlowsky, but a passed ball in extra innings allowed eventual champion Falmouth to prevail. The Red Storm earned one of the most dramatic regional final victories in state history when Joe Cronin's home run ended Cheverus' repeat bid, but Scarborough's hopes for a first ever Class A title were dashed by poor fielding in a loss to Messalonskee.
Scarborough's softball team thought it was en route to another Class A title, but South Portland upset the Red Storm in the regional final. Unlike 2010, the Red Riots weren't able to parlay that win into a state title as they were frustrated by Cony in the state game.
The top local boys' lacrosse story was Scarborough, again, which made it three straight Class A state championships with a 9-4 win over Cheverus. Cape Elizabeth fell just short in its bid in Class B, losing to eventual champion Falmouth in the Western B Final.
On the girls' side, Scarborough also three-peated, handling Brunswick in the state final. Cape Elizabeth's 13-game unbeaten streak ended in the Western B Final, an agonizing overtime loss to eventual champion Waynflete.
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, Scarborough got off to a hot start under dynamic senior quarterback Dillon Russo.
On the pitch, Cape Elizabeth, Scarborough and South Portland's boys were all in the mix.
On the girls' side, Cape Elizabeth shook off an opening day loss to Falmouth to dazzle. Scarborough was once again a top threat in the region.
Scarborough's field hockey team once again led the way as it didn't surrender a single goal. Cape Elizabeth was in contention for a playoff spot.
Scarborough's volleyball team was once again solid, while Cape Elizabeth was closing in on a first ever playoff berth.
Cross country and golf teams hinted at success to come.
Golf held its state team championships on Oct. 6. Cape Elizabeth was fifth in Class B, while Scarborough placed eighth in Class A. A week later, at the individual championships Capers sophomore Reese McFarlane won an individual title.
In cross country, Cape Elizabeth's boys capped a transcendent season with a Class B title.
Field hockey saw Scarborough run the table in the regular season and in the regional playoffs without surrendering a single goal, but in the state final versus Skowhegan, the Red Storm finally proved mortal, losing, 3-0.
In volleyball, Cape Elizabeth made the playoffs for the first time and beat Windham in a Class A preliminary round match before being eliminated by top-ranked Biddeford in the quarterfinals. Scarborough almost made it back to the state match, but was once again ousted by eventual champion Greely, this time in an epic semifinal.
The soccer playoffs began with South Portland's boys being upset by Noble in the Western A preliminary round. Cape Elizabeth survived its prelim, 2-1, over Marshwood, then was ousted by Gorham in the quarterfinals. Scarborough began its championship run with wins over resurgent Portland in the quarterfinals, Greely in the semis and Gorham in the regional final.
On the girls' side, South Portland gave Cape Elizabeth a scare in the Western A preliminary round before falling, 2-1. The Capers then handled rival Greely in the quarterfinals and upset No. 1 Windham in the semis. Scarborough, meanwhile, handled Sanford in the quarterfinals and avenged its lone regular season loss with a victory at Thornton Academy in the semifinals. That allowed the Red Storm to host the Capers in the regional final where senior Sarah Martens' late goal sent Scarborough to the state final.
On the gridiron, Cape Elizabeth lost in the Western B quarterfinals, 27-7, at Marshwood. Scarborough handled Sanford in the Western A quarterfinals, but was ousted by eventual champion Thornton Academy in the semis.
On the 3rd, both Scarborough soccer teams won Class A titles. The boys did it with relative ease, as senior Dan Ornstein scored three times in the first half and the Red Storm downed Mt. Ararat, 4-0. The girls didn't have it anywhere near as easy, falling behind, 1-0, early in the second half. Scarborough tied in on Jess Meader's goal, but the winner didn't come until double overtime when Martens, again, played the hero.
Winter has returned and the fun begins again.
In boys' basketball, South Portland survived the 2012 portion of its schedule unbeaten, while Scarborough has been very competitive. In Western B, Cape Elizabeth dropped its opener, but hasn't lost since.
On the girls' side, Scarborough is again off to a hot start, while South Portland, which gave longtime coach Mike Giordano his 200th victory, is hanging tough. Cape Elizabeth has also turned heads.
On the ice, Scarborough's boys' hockey team is poised for a title run. Cape Elizabeth hopes to be in the mix as well. The Red Storm girls are also title-worthy, while the Capers hope to make the playoffs this season.
Swimming has provided positive glimpses and skiing and track are about to get underway.
Say goodbye to the wonderful year that was. We welcome 2013 and look forward to a new batch of highlights.
Happy New Year everyone!