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Yarmouth Clippers Winter Sports Preview

Sports

Yarmouth Clippers Winter Sports Preview

Fans of Yarmouth winter sports have a lot to look forward to in the weeks to come. Boys' basketball will be in contention for a Class B title. The girls' program has a new coach and there's a lot of optimism about the direction it's heading. Boys' hockey should be in the mix for a top finish. The girls' squad could be a darkhorse. Both track teams will feature talented athletes. Swimming has a new coach and top contenders. Skiing is always championship-worthy. The Alpine program has a new coach and the Nordic program remains under the able guidance of Bob Morse. Both teams will make runs at hardware.

BOYS' BASKETBALL

COACH: Adam Smith (10th year, 104-72 overall record, one state championship)

2012-13 record: 10-9 (Lost, 72-65, to Maranacook in Western B preliminary round)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Jackson Bartlett (Senior), Ethan Gage (Senior), Wyatt Jackson (Senior), David Murphy (Senior), Nathaniel Shields-Auble (Senior), Jordan Brown (Junior), Adam LaBrie (Junior)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 10 @ Falmouth, Dec. 13 @ Poland, Dec. 17 @ Greely, Dec. 21 CAPE ELIZABETH, Jan. 7 WAYNFLETE, Jan. 11 @ Cape Elizabeth, Jan. 14 FALMOUTH, Jan. 17 GREELY, Jan. 28 YORK

COACH’S COMMENT: “I'm really pleased with how many good players we have. We have three starters back. We've had competitive practices. That will make us better. David and Adam will be our cornerstones, but other guys can score. We'll have some high scoring games. Our ability to score has improved. Our defense needs some work. We have more inside options than we've had in the past. The league is better. It's more competitive up and down. We'll have some tough games before Christmas. We expect to have a better season. We could be in the top four.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Yarmouth wasn't able to build on its first state championship in 44 years, as it fell in the preliminary round last winter, but it did give Smith his 100th victory with the program, something that probably seemed unthinkable when he went 1-17 his second year. This season, the Clippers have the potential to go much deeper into the tournament. Coming off a terrific soccer season, LaBrie (who averaged 3.5 steals last year, which tied him for second in the Western Maine Conference) and Murphy (a second-team all-star last year after averaging 14.8 points, 3.5 steals and 3.5 assists per game) will pace this group with their athleticism and scoring ability from the guard position. Brown is another potential scorer at guard, while the offense will be run by sophomore Musseit M'Bareck. Sophomore Cody Cook is another potential scorer to watch. The frontcourt is where there's real reason for optimism. For years, Yarmouth looked enviously at the size schools like Falmouth and Greely possessed, but this year, the Clippers won't get pushed around down low. For starters, Shields-Auble is back. He brings a football mentality to the hardwood. He was fifth last year in rebounds (7.9 per game). Gage also has size, while Jackson backs down from no one. Bartlett will also be in that mix. With Falmouth moving up to Class A for the playoffs, the Western B title is up for grabs. Greely might be the favorite heading into the season, but if Yarmouth stays healthy and develops as hoped, it will be there at the end. The Clippers will be entertaining to watch and will give their all every time they take the floor. Smith will whip this team into shape defensively. By February, Yarmouth will be dangerous. A trip to the Civic Center is a distinct possibility.

GIRLS' BASKETBALL

COACH: Chris Strong (first year)

2012-13 record: 1-17 (No postseason)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Monica Austin (Senior), Sean Cahill (Senior), Grace O'Donnell (Senior), Shannon Fallon (Junior) Lane Simsarian (Junior)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 10 FALMOUTH, Dec. 17 @ Greely, Dec. 21 @ Cape Elizabeth, Jan. 3 @ Gray-NG, Jan. 7 @ Waynflete, Jan. 11 CAPE ELIZABETH, Jan. 14 @ Falmouth, Jan. 17 GREELY, Jan. 24 FREEPORT, Jan. 25 @ Wells, Jan. 28 @ York, Jan. 31 LAKE REGION, Feb. 4 GRAY-NG, Feb. 7 @ Freeport

COACH’S COMMENT: “It's been a fun preseason. We've been working on fundamentals. We have balance in terms of post play and experienced guards. Speed's a strength. We'll push when we can. Defense will be a key to our offense. We're trying to instill offensive confidence. We need to create opportunities. All the guards are capable shooters. It's a strong conference. We can't take anyone lightly. I think we'll play teams hard and give them a challenge.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: A new era begins this winter in Yarmouth and there's a buzz around the program as Strong, a one-time star player at Georges Valley and the University of Maine, takes over. She's joined by assistant Ashley Marble, one of the more accomplished girls' basketball players of recent vintage. While the Clippers struggled on the floor last year, there are some terrific athletes on the roster who have excelled in other sports and even enjoyed a strong hoops season two years ago, so there's reason for hope. This team could quickly make an impact and should be in the mix for a playoff spot. Down low, Cahill is set to have a strong season. She's joined by senior Abby Nielsen, who transferred from Greely. Nielsen was part of a semifinalist a year ago and will make an immediate impact. Fallon will run the offense at point guard. She'll look to distribute the ball to the likes of Austin, O'Donnell and Simsarian. Don't be surprised if freshman Cory Langenbach plays a major role as well at point guard. If Yarmouth gains some early confidence, look out, it could be very dangerous as the season progresses. The Clippers will surprise teams with their tenacity and athleticism. This program is on its way back and a playoff berth isn't out of the question.

BOYS' HOCKEY

COACH: Dave St. Pierre (third year, 18-18-3 overall record)

2012-13 record: 6-11-2 (Lost, 4-3, to Cape Elizabeth in Western B quarterfinals)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: David Clemmer (Senior), Isaak Dearden (Senior), Max Watson (Senior), Walter Conrad (Sophomore), Patrick Grant (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Jan. 4 @ York, Jan. 11 GREELY, Jan. 16 @ Cheverus, Feb. 1 FALMOUTH, Feb. 8 @ Cape Elizabeth, Feb. 13 @ Greely, Feb. 19 YORK

COACH’S COMMENT: “I think there will be a lot of parity in the league. It should be a fun season with competitive games every night. I feel like we'll compete well. We'll have more depth than we've had in past seasons with the addition of a large freshman class and the development of some of our upperclassmen. I expect us to be a bit inexperienced to start the season, but hopefully we'll build and develop into a regional contender come playoff time.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Yarmouth has been in the playoffs four years running and this year, the Clippers hope to make a serious run at the top spot. The offense features many players who will difficult to contain. Dearden is the top returning scorer. He had 10 goals and four assists in 2012-13. Watson, a second-team all-star last winter, had six goals and eight assists from his defenseman position last season and will be a matchup nightmare. Clemmer (three goals) is healthy and will be dangerous. Conrad (three goals, five assists) and Grant (four goals, six assists) were All-Rookie team selections as freshmen and hope to play even bigger roles this winter. Freshmen forwards Bill Jacobs and Bobby Murray will also be heard from. Conrad and Watson anchor the defense as two new goalies, junior Nick Allen and sophomore Victor Wakelin, look to replace graduated first-team all-star Red DeSmith. Yarmouth has several tough tests on its schedule, but it has the firepower to contend. With Greely looking a little more mortal this winter, Western B appears more wide open than it's been. If the Clippers can stay healthy and get the production they expect, they might just make it to Lewiston when March rolls around and at that point, anything can happen.

GIRLS' ICE HOCKEY

COACH: Jeff Haley (second year, 6-11-1 overall record)

2012-13 record: 6-11-1 (No postseason)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Meredith McLoon (Senior), Ariel Potter (Senior), Katie Brown (Junior), Emily Johnson (Junior), Michelle Robichaud (Junior), Hannah Williams (Junior)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 11 @ Greely, Dec. 28 @ Leavitt/EL, Jan. 6 @ Lewiston, Jan. 11 LEWISTON, Jan. 18 GREELY

COACH'S COMMENT: “We have a good group of freshmen who will be called upon to play active roles during this long season. Our upperclassmen have shown in the past that they have the maturity and leadership skills to keep our team balanced and competitive and help us make a run at the playoffs.”

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: After making the playoffs in 2011-12 and winning a game, the Yarmouth/Freeport co-op team fell just short last season, but that was likely an aberration. Based on this team's start, the next couple months could be full of excitement and triumph. The Clippers began the year by handling Brunswick (7-2), Mt. Ararat (7-1) and Cape Elizabeth (5-1). As expected, the goals are coming fast and furious courtesy Brown (an honorable mention all-star last winter), Johnson (a second-team all-star in 2012-13), Potter (a first-team all-star last year) and Robichaud (honorable mention). A couple freshmen, soccer standout Katie Clemmer and Kelsey Meyer, make the offense that much more prolific. The defense is anchored by McLoon. Williams returns in goal. The meat of Yarmouth's schedule still awaits, but the Clippers have reason for optimism. They're already halfway to last year's win total and show no signs of slowing down. Ultimately, they'll need to find a way to compete with and beat the upper echelon programs, like Greely and Lewiston, which both loom twice in the weeks to come, but it will be difficult to slow this talented squad. Yarmouth will be a fun team to follow as the season progresses and it should be a force into February, when it shows once and for all that it's a legitimate contender.

INDOOR TRACK

COACH: Mike Griffin (first year)

2012-13 results:

(BOYS) 10th @ Class B state meet

(GIRLS) tie-22nd @ Class B state meet

TOP RETURNERS:

(BOYS) Wes Crawford (Senior), Ben Decker (Senior), Travis Hamre (Senior), Darren Shi (Junior)

(GIRLS) Mary Coyne (Junior), Simone Laverdiere (Junior), Maddie Mitchell (Junior), Emma Egan (Sophomore), Annabelle Elvidge (Sophomore)

TOP FOES: Falmouth, Greely, York

COACH'S COMMENT: “I'm happy with the number of newcomers to the team. It's an athletic, positive group. I'm looking forward to seeing our talent come to the surface. I'm optimistic that the team will show improvement as we gain experience.”

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: Yarmouth features some talented athletes this winter as Griffin takes over the program. Griffin, the former athletic director at Greely, served as Hank Richards' assistant the past couple seasons and is now the head man.

The boys return four stellar athletes who scored at last year's state meet. Decker, Yarmouth's Spring Male Athlete of the Year for his outdoor track excellence, was runner-up in Class B in the two-mile last winter and is seeking the top spot this time around, while also being a factor in the mile. Crawford came in third in the 800 last season. He'll run middle and longer distance races. Hamre is the lead sprinter. He came in sixth in the 200 last year. On the field side, Shi returns as a top thrower. He came in fifth in last year's shot put and hopes for an even higher finish this season. While there are bigger and deeper teams in the conference, the Clippers' top end talent will be as good as anyone's and this team will post some stellar results in the weeks to come.

On the girls' side, Egan is the lone returning scorer after placing fifth in the high jump. She also long jumps and sprints. Coyne, Elvidge and Mitchell are other sprinters to watch. Laverdiere will lead the distance contingent. Yarmouth will steadily improve and should be in line for a higher finish at the Western Maine Conference and state meets.

SWIMMING

COACH: Lenora Felker (first year)

2012-13 results:

(BOYS) 4th @ Class B state meet

(GIRLS) 7th @ Class B state meet

TOP RETURNING SWIMMERS:

(BOYS) Ethan Nightengale (Senior), Dale Klingensmith (Senior)

(GIRLS) Abby Belisle-Haley (Senior), Teagan Snyder (Senior), Brianna Jelly Webber (Senior)

COACH’S COMMENT: “My expectations are for the team to put its best foot forward and to do the best they can at every meet. There's a mixture of experience and a great attitude. I feel this team can do whatever they set their minds to.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Yarmouth welcomes a new coach this winter in Felker, a one-time Clipper, who is a certified U.S. Swim coach and a certified USCF cycling coach. She inherits a squad that can make some noise this winter.

The boys' team is coming off its best state performance ever, but lost some talent to graduation. This year, the squad is led by returners Nightengale (who swims all strokes) and Klingensmith (all-around). Freshmen Camden Baxter, Braelen Creswell, Matt Goodwin, Max Hathcoch and Andrei Lougoutsou help provide depth. This team will be very competitive during the regular season and should be in the mix for a strong finish at the Southwesterns and state meets.

On the girls' side, reigning Winter Female Athlete of the Year, Belisle-Haley, is the top returner. She placed fourth in the butterfly and fifth in the individual medley at last year's state meet and can succeed at anything she attempts in the pool. She'll aim for a top podium finish this time around. Snyder and Webber have experience. Freshmen Eliza Lunt and Amanda Murray are new to the team and hope to make an immediate impact. The Clippers have finished in the top 10 at states nine years running and behind Belisle-Haley, should be able to make it 10.

SKIING

2012-13 results:

(BOYS) Class B combined state champions

(GIRLS) Class B combined state champions

ALPINE

COACH: Sam Eddy (first year)

2012-13 results:

(BOYS) Class B state champions

(GIRLS) Class B state co-champions

TOP RETURNING SKIERS:

(BOYS) Rhys Eddy (Senior), Matt Woodbury (Senior), Tucker Grout (Sophomore)

(GIRLS) Chapin Dorsett (Senior), Julia Primeau (Senior)

TOP FOES: Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth, Greely

COACH'S COMMENT: “The prospects for the future of the Alpine program look very good. Our expectations are very positive. We should consistently place racers in strong scoring positions.”

THE FORECASTER'S FORECAST: Yarmouth's Alpine program is always a powerhouse and this year welcomes new coach Eddy, who previously coached the Yarmouth Middle School Alpine team for nine years. He inherits a very talented squad.

The boys return scorers Grout (second in the slalom at last year's state meet) and Woodbury (13th in the giant slalom and 17th in the slalom). Rhys Eddy also has big meet experience. Several newcomers, including senior Kyle Thomas, will look to fill holes and make their mark and the Clippers will likely find themselves right at the top of the heap again when February rolls around.

On the girls' side, Dorsett and Primeau both have impressive pedigrees. Dorsett placed third in the GS and fourth in the slalom last season, while Primeau tied for fourth in the GS and was sixth in the slalom. Sophomore Anna Bouton is coming off a stellar freshman year (eighth in the GS, ninth in the slalom) and could be even better this season This program is once again loaded. After sharing top honors last winter, Yarmouth won't settle for anything shy of sole possession of first place this time around.

NORDIC

COACH: Bob Morse (33rd year)

2012-13 results:

(BOYS) Class B state champions

(GIRLS) Class B state champions

TOP RETURNING SKIERS:

(BOYS) Sam Alexander (Senior), Braden Becker (Senior), Jasper Houston (Senior), Carter Hall (Junior)

(GIRLS) Madison Hynes (Senior), Katrine Laukli (Senior), Ihilia Lesnikova (Senior), Molly Maguire (Senior), Emma Peterson (Senior), Sarah Myers (Junior), Caitlin Teare (Junior), Ellie Teare (Junior), Emma Torres (Junior), Lucy Alexander (Sophomore), Meredith Hawkins (Sophomore), Lydia Sullivan (Sophomore)

TOP FOES: Falmouth, Freeport, Fryeburg

COACH'S COMMENT: “The boys will be contending this season as long as everyone works hard and stays healthy. They'll face strong challenges from several teams. The girls will work hard to defend their championship. They will focus on having a great showing at the Telstar Relays and Sassi Invitational before the championship races. Team spirit is high.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Yarmouth's Nordic ski program has been something special for decades, in large part due to Morse's enthusiasm, combined of course, with some very special athletes. Much to the chagrin of the rest of the state. The Clippers are loaded again this winter.

The boys welcome back Becker, who is the reigning classic and freestyle state champion. Also returning are Alexander (third in the skate, 11th in the classic last winter) and Houston (eighth in the classic, ninth in the skate). Carter Hall will also be among the top scorers. Henry Becker, Jake Griffin, Henry Jones, Tim Pietropoli and Jack Taylor also return, while skimeisters Tucker Grout and Joe Inger, as well as Ethan Humphries and John Lane are new to the program. Yarmouth will be pushed in the regular season, at the conference level and certainly at states, but once again, when you talk about the favorite to bring home the hardware, the discussion begins with the Clippers. More greatness awaits.

On the girls' side, Yarmouth is also poised to make a run to the top spot on the podium. Several top scorers return, including Caitlin Teare (third in the classic and ninth in the freestyle), Ellie Teare (sixth in the classic, 10th in the freestyle), Torres (sixth in the freestyle), Lesnikova (seventh in the classic) and Alexander (seventh in the freestyle). This program has an abundance of depth, as evidenced by Hawkins, Hynes, Laukli, Maguire, Myers, Peterson and Sullivan. Then, you have the incoming freshmen/stars of the future: Gretchen Barbera, Abby Condon (a skimeister), Olivia Conrad, Grace Cowles, Amelia Damboise, Tessa Houston, Lilly Khuin, Chloe Noack and Katie Vigue. Good luck to the rest of the state matching this type of talent. Yarmouth will be pushed by the likes of new-to-Class B Freeport and Caribou and Maranacook at the state level, but when all is said and done, look for the Clippers to have no peer. Once again.

 

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

Photo: Michael Strout

Junior Adam LaBrie is a top scoring threat for the Clippers.

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Senior Wyatt Jackson will be in the middle of the action for the Clippers.

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Senior Nate Shields-Auble will do a lot of the dirty work down low.

Photo: Michael Strout

Senior Grace O'Donnell is a captain and top returning player for the Clippers.

Photo: Michael Strout

Junior Lane Simsarian's speed and athleticism will pay dividends for the Clippers in the weeks to come.

Photo: Michael Strout

Junior Shannon Fallon goes from facing shots as the girls' soccer goalie to taking them this winter. She'll make a bunch.

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Senior Sean Cahill will be a matchup nightmare for the Clippers' opponents.

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Senior Isaak Dearden is a top returning scoring threat for the Clippers.

Photo: Michael Strout

Senior Max Watson could be an unstoppable force on the ice this season.

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Senior Ben Decker is one of the Western Maine Conference's best distance runners.

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Senior Wes Crawford is a top returning scoring threat for the Clippers this winter.