February push begins for Northern teams
The frenetic and fun month of February is upon us and all winter sports are about to take centerstage. Swimming has already begun its postseason, while track, skiing and wrestling start this week. The basketball tournament begins a week from Friday.
Here's where local teams stand as the calendar turns:
The Greely boys' basketball team earned a pivotal victory Friday night and dealt a blow to Yarmouth's playoff hopes in the process.
The Rangers, who snapped a three-game skid with a 57-47 home win over Fryeburg three days prior (senior Trevor Tierney had 12 points), fell behind 5-0 at the Clippers, then went on a 10-0 run behind senior Sam Thompson and junior Sam Johnston to take the lead for good. Greely stretched its advantage to 24-13 midway through the second and after a 7-0 Yarmouth run, got a runner from Johnston (14 points) and a layup from junior Tanner Storey to lead 28-20 at the break. In the second half, the Rangers gradually pulled away to lead 41-26 after three and were never tested in the fourth en route to a 54-38 triumph, which left them 11-5 on the year.
"I never know what to expect," said Greely coach Ken Marks. "Our zone was better. We played better. I was pleased."
The Rangers (fifth in the latest Western B Heal Points standings) are still looking to move up before the season ends. Greely was at Gray-New Gloucester Tuesday, then closes the regular year Thursday night at home versus Lake Region. That game is Senior Night and the Rangers will honor longtime manager Joshua King.
The loss was the third in four games for the Clippers, who did win, 74-34, at Freeport last Tuesday (behind senior Evan Henry's 20 points). Yarmouth (which got a dozen from junior Mike McCormack versus Greely) took a 10-6 mark (and the No. 8 ranking in the region) into a huge showdown at two-time defending regional champ Cape Elizabeth Tuesday.
The Clippers close at home versus Gray-New Gloucester Friday. Unless they were able to knock off the Capers, there's a good chance the Cllippers will have to play in a preliminary round contest next week.
Falmouth has no concerns about a prelim. The Yachtsmen remained undefeated last week and improved to 16-0 after a 79-40 home romp over Poland and a 61-48 triumph at Lake Region. Against the Knights, senior standout Stefano Mancini had 26 points and senior Ryan Rogers added 15. In the win over the Lakers, Rogers erupted for 27 as Falmouth pulled away in the second half. The Yachtsmen (first in Western B and seeking their first unbeaten regular season) were at York Tuesday and close at home versus Cape Elizabeth Friday.
Freeport and North Yarmouth Academy are playing out the string.
The Falcons fell to 3-13 (and 17th in Western B) last week after losses to Yarmouth (74-34) and Traip (87-63). Senior Tom Dorsey had 13 points versus the Clippers and 17 against the Rangers. Sophomore Josh Weirich had 20 and junior Kyle Strozewski added 19 in the Traip game. Freeport hosted Poland in its home finale Tuesday and closes at Wells Thursday.
NYA fell, 61-45, to Old Orchard Beach last Tuesday (despite 15 points from junior Mohamed Dahia) then improved to 4-10 Friday after a 70-33 win at Sacopee. Sophomore Asad Dahia had 17 in that one. The Panthers (15th in the Western C Heals) hosted Traip Tuesday and close at home versus Poland Friday.
On the girls' side, Greely is playoff-bound while Falmouth still has some work to do.
The Rangers improved to 14-2 last week after rolling at Fryeburg (69-29) and Yarmouth (59-27). Sophomore Caroline Hamilton erupted for 17 points versus the Raiders. Senior Abby Young scored 23 against the Clippers. Greely (third behind York and Leavitt in the Western B Heals) hosted Gray-New Gloucester on its Senior Night Tuesday and ends the regular season at Lake Region Friday.
The Yachtsmen saw the Lakers last Friday night at home. Falmouth (which had won, 50-29, at Poland two days prior) led 11-7 early in the second quarter, but the visitors closed the first half on a 12-4 run.
Lake Region went up 11 early in the third period, but the Yachtsmen fought back to within 34-30 on freshman Kylie Libby's layup with 6:29 to go. Falmouth wouldn't score again, however, and the Lakers got the game's final eight points to win 42-34 and drop the Yachtsmen to 9-7 on the year. Libby finished with 14 points. Falmouth (ninth in the Heals, the top nine teams qualify) really needs a win or two to guarantee a 10th straight playoff berth. After hosting defending regional champion York Tuesday, the Yachtsmen close at home versus Cape Elizabeth Friday in a contest that will be rife with Heal Points implications.
Freeport, NYA and Yarmouth are finishing up their seasons.
The Falcons are 4-12 and 15th in the standings after home losses to Yarmouth (57-36) and Traip (62-45) last week. Senior Whitney Bibeau had 12 points against the Clippers. Senior Rachel Foster finished with 17 against the Rangers. Freeport was at Poland Tuesday and closes at Wells Thursday.
The Clippers got 20 points from sophomore Morgan Cahill in their 57-36 home win over Freeport, then fell to 5-11 (16th in the Heals) Friday after a 59-27 home loss to Greely. Cahill had 13 and junior Devin Simsarian added 10 in that one. Yarmouth was at Cape Elizabeth Tuesday and closes at Gray-New Gloucester Friday.
The Panthers entered the week 5-10 and 10th in Western C, but only the top nine qualify and it didn't appear NYA had enough potential points to earn this week. The Panthers lost 40-33 at home to Old Orchard Beach, 43-26 at Sacopee, then won, 48-43, at home over Hebron. Junior Blair Haggett had 17 points in the loss to the Seagulls, 15 against the Hawks and erupted for 25 in the victory. NYA was at Traip Tuesday and closes at Poland Thursday.
While Greely's boys' hockey team was enjoying another stirring overtime win over rival Cape Elizabeth (please see story), Falmouth and Yarmouth have gone in divergent directions in recent days.
The Yachtsmen moved into the second spot in Western A after a 4-0 win at Cheverus Saturday, but dropped back to third Monday after losing, 3-1, at St. Dom's. Falmouth (7-4-2) is home with Kennebunk Thursday and hosts St. Dom's Saturday.
The Clippers weren't able to build on their recent win over Greely and fell to 5-7 after recent home losses to Portland (4-1) and Camden (5-3) and a 5-1 setback at York. Sophomore Marshall Brunelle scored in the loss to the Bulldogs.
Classmate Alex Kurtz had a pair of goals against Camden, in a game that saw Yarmouth lead 3-0 at one juncture. The Clippers (holding steady to the fourth and final playoff seed in Western B) have a pivotal contest at Cape Elizabeth Thursday and go to Edward Little Saturday.
On the girls' side, the regular season has come to a close and two local teams are playoff-bound.
The Greely Rangers, regional finalists last winter, appeared out of luck after last Monday's home loss to Lewiston, but the Rangers tied Winslow, 1-1, Thursday (behind a goal from sophomore Ceci Hodgkins and 16 saves from sophomore goalie Emma Seymour), then earned their biggest win of the year at the most optimal time, a 3-1 home triumph over Falmouth Saturday (freshman Meg Finlay, junior Michaela Finnegan and senior Kate Storey scored and Seymour stopped 27 shots), which gave them an 8-9-1 mark and allowed them to leapfrog Winslow for the fourth and final East Region spot. Greely will go to top-ranked Lewiston, the defending state champ, either Friday or Saturday for a semifinal round game. The Rangers lost twice this year to the Blue Devils, 5-0, in Lewiston and, 5-2, at home.
Falmouth will also compete in the postseason. The Yachtsmen wound up 9-5-4 after a 1-1 tie with Leavitt and the loss to Greely (senior Rachel Mazerolle had her team's lone goal in that one). Falmouth wound up third in the West Region Heals and will play at No. 2 Scarborough (12-6) in a semifinal this weekend. Way back on Dec. 2, the Yachtsmen won 5-1 at the Red Storm.
Yarmouth finished 3-15 and out of the playoffs (sixth in the East). The Clippers lost, 5-2, at home to Leavitt last Tuesday, then snapped a nine-game skid Thursday with a come-from-behind 8-6 win at Portland (behind three goals from junior Courtney Barker and two each from senior Hannah Schuchert and sophomore Suzanne Driscoll). Saturday, Yarmouth fell 11-2 at home to Lewiston.
NYA continued its Prep season last week with a 7-2 victory at Proctor Academy behind two goals each from seniors Courtney Dumont and Ashley Salerno. Monday, the Panthers downed Hebron 4-2 behind a Dumont hat trick.
The regular season Western Maine Conference indoor track schedule came to a close last weekend at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham.
The Falmouth boys completed a perfect regular season by easily downing Wells, Lake Region, NYA, Freeport and Fryeburg. The Falmouth girls were also winners. Freeport came in fourth and NYA was fifth.
In the other meet, Greely was runner-up to York in both genders. The Yarmouth boys were fifth, while the Clippers girls' team came in seventh.
Saturday morning at USM, all local teams will take part in the WMC championship meet. The Class B state meet is Monday, Feb. 15, at Bates College in Lewiston.
While Falmouth and Greely's swim teams were turning heads at the north division Southwesterns meet last weekend (please see story), Yarmouth brought the curtain down on its regular season in a meet at Thornton Academy. The boys fell 114-35 and the girls lost 104-79.
This weekend, Yarmouth, along with NYA will compete in the south division Southwesterns. Falmouth goes to Scarborough and Greely is home with South Portland.
The Class B championships are in Orono this year. The boys' competition is Saturday, Feb. 13. The girls' meet is Monday, Feb. 15.
Local Nordic skiers convened at Black Mountain Saturday for the annual Sassi Memorial. The Yarmouth girls placed third behind Mt. Blue and Gould Academy. Falmouth was 11th, Greely placed 17th and Freeport was 19th. Falmouth's Sarah Abramson was runner-up individually with a time of 15 minutes, 29.7 seconds.
In the boys' race, Yarmouth came in sixth, Falmouth was seventh, Freeport eighth, Greely 11th and NYA 12th. Yarmouth's Cam Woodworth was the top individual (12:40.4).
On the Alpine side, the Western Maine Conference championship meet was held Monday. In the boys' giant slalom, Falmouth was first, Yarmouth second, Freeport fourth and Greely fifth. The Clippers Reed Wommack had the top local individual finish (his two-run combined time of 1 minute, 24.64 seconds gave him the third spot). In the slalom, Yarmouth took first, Falmouth was second, Freeport (led by individual champ Ryan Collet, 1:16.85) came in third and Greely was seventh. The Clippers took first overall, while the Yachtsmen were runners-up, the Falcons placed third and the Rangers were seventh.
In the girls' competition, Yarmouth (led by individual champ Natalie Aiken, 1:30.70) won the giant slalom, Greely was second, Falmouth third and Freeport sixth. In the slalom, Greely came in first, Falmouth was second, Yarmouth third and Freeport forth. Aiken was first in that race as well (1:32.31). The Clippers managed to win the team title by five points over the Rangers, while the Yachtsmen came in third and the Falcons placed fifth.
The WMC Nordic championships began Wednesday and conclude Saturday. The Class A, B and C state championships will be Feb. 16, 17 and 18.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com