Northern winter sports teams hit home stretch
It's hard to believe, but the 2009-10 winter sports regular season is winding down.
With only a handful of weeks remaining, here's a glimpse at where the locals stand.
The Falmouth boys' basketball team is still the team to beat in Western B, thanks in large part to some pinch-hitting from assistant coach Jamie Hilton.
Hilton, who coached the Yachtsmen to their huge 62-55 triumph at Cape Elizabeth Jan. 5, filled in twice more last week for Dave Halligan, who was away at the national soccer convention, and led his team to two wins.
After Falmouth rolled to a 77-37 home triumph over Wells last Tuesday (with Halligan still in the coach's seat), the Yachtsmen handled visiting York, 79-43, and host Fryeburg, 70-36, under Hilton to improve to 12-0.
In the win over the Warriors, senior Ryan Rogers scored 23 points and classmate Stefano Mancini added 18, including the 1,000th of his storied career. Against the Wildcats, Mancini led the way with 26. At Fryeburg, senior John Roberts had a team-high 18.
Falmouth (second to Mountain Valley in the latest Western Class B Heal Points standings) was at Yarmouth Wednesday and has a home showdown versus Greely Saturday.
The Rangers enjoyed wins over Gray-New Gloucester (53-37, behind 14 points from senior Sam Thompson) and, 69-53, at Lake Region (junior Sam Johnston had 20 points and senior Trevor Tierney added 18), before being shocked, 51-50, at York Saturday (Thompson had 17 in defeat) to drop to 9-3.
Greely (fourth in Western B) has a daunting weekend coming up. The Rangers host two-time defending regional champion Cape Elizabeth Friday and go to Falmouth Saturday. Tuesday, they play at Fryeburg.
Yarmouth has snuck up to fifth in the Heals, thanks to a six-game winning streak. Last week, the Clippers rolled, 64-38, at NYA; 75-25, over visiting Freeport; and, 59-40, at Poland.
Against the Panthers, senior Evan Henry had a team-high 16 points. Versus the Falcons, Yarmouth shot to a 13-0 lead, was up 22-2 after one period and 39-5 at halftime. Junior Matt Murphy led the way with 17 points. At the Knights, Henry had 19 points, senior sparkplug Jeff Kuklewicz added 14 and junior Mike McCormack finished with 13.
The Clippers (9-3) hosted Falmouth in a big test Wednesday, visit York Saturday and go to Freeport Tuesday.
The Falcons are now 2-10 (and 16th in the standings) after losing, 72-49, at Poland, at Yarmouth and at home to Gray-New Gloucester, 60-47.
Seniors Jackson Dodge and Tom Dorsey both had 14 points against the Knights. In the loss at the Clippers, the Falcons didn't register double-digits until early in the fourth period, but played hard throughout and finished strong. Dodge and sophomore Josh Weirich both had eight points. Against the Patriots, Dorsey led the way with 16.
Freeport is idle until Friday when it hosts North Yarmouth Academy. Saturday, the Falcons visit Lake Region.
The Panthers are now 15th in Western C with a 3-7 mark after a 64-38 home loss to Yarmouth and a 69-34 victory over Gould last week. Senior Andrew Esancy led NYA in the loss to the Clippers with 11 points. Against Gould, Esancy, senior Toey LeBlanc and junior Michael Ianno all had 17.
NYA is back in action this weekend, playing at Freeport Friday and Waynflete Saturday. Tuesday, the Panthers play host to Old Orchard Beach.
On the girls' side, Greely fell short at home against rival York (please see story), but Freeport enjoyed a big win last week at Yarmouth, a team the Falcons hadn't defeated this century.
Freeport was coming off a 50-34 home win over Poland behind 13 points each from senior Lucy Whitacre and freshman Aubrey Pennell. Against the Clippers, the Falcons got 14 points, including the winning basket, from senior Rachel Foster.
"A lot of things went right, even though a lot of things went wrong at the end," said Freeport coach Jay Harper. "The last couple years we felt like we were as good as Yarmouth and that we could beat this team, but we didn't. We finally did tonight. It's very sweet. It feels like we're turning the corner. That feels very good. I like what we're doing and I hope we can keep it going."
Freeport fell to 3-9 (and 15th in the Western B Heals) after losing, 52-34, at Gray-New Gloucester Saturday. Whitacre led the way with 12 points. The Falcons go to NYA Friday and host Lake Region Saturday. Tuesday, the Falcons are home with Yarmouth.
The Clippers have won two of three, with the lone loss coming to Freeport. Yarmouth was a 47-30 home winner over NYA last Tuesday and triumphed, 42-17, over visiting Poland Saturday. Against the Panthers, junior Devin Simsarian finished with 12 points. Sophomore Morgan Cahill had 30 in the loss, then tallied 22 in the win over the Knights.
The Clippers (4-8 and 16th in Western B) hosted Falmouth Wednesday, welcomes York Saturday and goes to Freeport Tuesday.
Falmouth is smack dab in the playoff hunt after a 2-1 week. The Yachtsmen rallied for a 50-45 triumph at Wells last Tuesday (junior Jess DiPhillippo scored 15 points and senior Annalise Keeler added 14). It fell, 55-30, at York Thursday, then rallied again to down visiting Fryeburg, 51-40, Saturday (sophomore Laney Evers had 13 points).
Falmouth (7-5 and eighth in Western B) was at Yarmouth Wednesday and hosts Greely Saturday.
In Western C, NYA is now 4-6 and 13th in the Heals after falling, 47-30, to Yarmouth (junior Blair Haggett had 16 points in defeat) and beating host Hebron, 44-35, (behind 21 from Haggett) last week.
The Panthers host Freeport Friday, Waynflete Saturday and go to Old Orchard Beach Tuesday.
While Greely's defending Class B state champion boys' hockey team was battling Western A contender Scarborough to a tie Saturday night (please see story), Falmouth is moving up the charts.
Last week, the Yachtsmen dropped a hard-fought 3-1 decision at Biddeford, then bounced back with an impressive 6-2 home win over defending Class A champion Waterville.
Against the Tigers, Falmouth allowed just a power play goal late in the first period and failed to convert on a four-minute penalty in the second. After nearly tying the score on several occasions, the Yachtsmen fell behind 2-0 in the third, but rallied back to make a game of it on senior Gabe Hoffman-Johnson's rebound goal.
Biddeford finally put them away with a late empty netter.
"Sometimes when two good teams play, you can play really good hockey and still not win," said Yachtsmen coach Scott Rousseau. "Realistically, I think the four-minute power play was the key in the game. We made one mistake in the first period. In the second, they made a big mistake and we had plenty of chances, but we couldn't find the back of the net. That's hockey. Congratulations to Biddeford. We'll see them at least one more, maybe twice."
Saturday, the Yachtsmen raced to a 3-0 lead and held off the Purple Panthers behind six different goal scorers and 25 saves from junior goalie Jay Hurdman.
Falmouth (5-3-1 and third behind Biddeford and Thornton Academy in the Western A Heals) had Monday's game at St. Dom's postponed by snow. After going to Thornton Academy Wednesday, the Yachtsmen host Biddeford Saturday.
"It's all about building for the end," Rousseau said. "We're a team that got off to a slow start. We're playing really good hockey right now. I'm happy where we're at."
Yarmouth has come back to earth, dropping three straight after a 4-1 start. Saturday, the Clippers lost, 7-4, to visiting Kennebunk to drop to .500. Junior Joey King scored twice in defeat. Yarmouth (third in the Western B Heals) had Monday's trip to Noble postponed by snow. The Clippers hope to bounce back Saturday when they host Greely.
On the girls' side, Falmouth remains second in the West Region Heals with an 8-3-2 mark after splitting a pair last week. The Yachtsmen had no trouble with Yarmouth in a 7-0 victory, then dropped a tough 2-1 decision at defending state champion Lewiston. Freshman Gabby St. Angelo scored and junior Jen Greene stopped 23 shots.
"We're not a team that's built to go out there and put up a lot of goals, especially against the top teams," Falmouth coach Rob Carrier said. "We have to play a bit more defensively against top teams, and let's face it, this was the defending state champion out there, and we knew we'd have to play that way."
Falmouth was supposed to go to Winslow Monday, but that game was postponed. Thursday, the Yachtsmen host Lewiston. Saturday, they welcome Gorham.
Greely's been heating up. Last year's regional finalist enjoyed a 3-1 triumph at St. Dom's (behind goals from Kate Storey, Etta Copenhagen and Ceci Hodgkins), then won, 2-0, at Brunswick to improve to 5-7 (good for fifth in the East Region Heals). The Rangers were scheduled to host Biddeford Monday, but that game was postponed. Saturday, Greely is at Yarmouth. Monday, they host Lewiston.
The Clippers are 2-11 and seventh in the East after losing, 7-0, at Falmouth and, 8-0, at Leavitt. Yarmouth was at St. Dom's Wednesday and welcomes Greely Saturday.
NYA enjoyed a recent 3-1 win over Berwick Academy. Courtney Dumont, Kylie Dalbec and Katie Perry had the goals. Mariah Farrell made six saves for the Panthers.
Local indoor track teams competed at USM last weekend. The Yarmouth boys defeated Cape Elizabeth, Freeport, Gray-New Gloucester, Traip and Wells in its meet. The Falcons came in sixth. In the girls' meet, Freeport placed fifth and the Clippers were sixth.
Falmouth, Greely and NYA joined Fryeburg, Lake Region, Poland and York. In the boys' meet, the Yachtsmen held off the Wildcats for first place to remain undefeated on the season. The Rangers came in third, while the Panthers placed fifth. On the girls' side, Greely was first, Falmouth came in third and NYA finished sixth.
In the pool, Falmouth was swept by Deering over the weekend with the boys falling, 122-52, and the girls losing, 94-84. Greely enjoyed a pair of wins over Westbrook with the boys triumphing, 108-62, and girls rolling, 110-39. Yarmouth's boys lost, 109-19, to Thornton Academy. The girls beat McAuley, 36-18, and fell, 47-36, to TA.
Falmouth, Greely and Yarmouth's Alpine ski teams took part in a slalom meet which included Cape Elizabeth Thursday. The Clippers swept both genders. The Yachtsmen boys came in second and the girls were third. The Rangers placed third on the boys' side and second among the girls.
On the Nordic side, Freeport, NYA and Yarmouth took part in the Maranacook Wave race Saturday. The Clippers (led by third place individual finisher Tara Humprhies) won on the girls' side. The Falcons were 10th. In the boys' race, Freeport came in fourth, NYA was sixth and Yarmouth placed eighth. A classic meet scheduled for Monday was postponed due to the snowstorm.
Sun Journal staff writer Justin Pelletier contributed to this story.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com