North Yarmouth Academy Panthers Winter Sports Preview

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Maggie Larson had a breakout all-star season as a freshman. As a sophomore, she hopes to lead NYA’s girls’ basketball team on a run to the playoffs.

File photos.

More photos below.

BOYS’ BASKETBALL

Coach: Jason Knight (fifth year, 32-43 overall record)

2015-16 record: 4-14 (No postseason)

Top returning players: Haven Cutko (Senior), Joey Hogan (Senior), Jake Malcom (Senior), Davis Newell (Senior), Nathaniel Sinibaldi (Senior), Chandler Waldron (Senior)

Pivotal games: Dec. 9 OOB, Dec. 15 TRAIP, Dec. 20 WAYNFLETE, Dec. 22 @ Richmond, Jan. 17 @ Waynflete, Jan. 21 @ Traip, Jan. 25 RICHMOND, Jan. 27 @ OOB

Coach’s comment: “We’ve had a good preseason. It’s a more experienced group this year, which helps. We return 10 players, including seven seniors, and all five starters. That bodes well. We have a nice mix of experience and depth. Similar to our 2013-14 team. The tournament is the goal every year. This year, the boys are hungry to get to  Augusta.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: North Yarmouth Academy fell short of Augusta last winter, but this group has what it takes to have a strong season and punch its ticket to the tournament.

Cutko is coming off a stellar all-star season, which saw him place fifth in the Western Maine Conference in points per game (18.1), first in steals (3.2) and sixth in assists (3.9). He’ll lead the squad from his point guard position. Malcom was a second-team all-star in 2015-16 after finishing 11th in the conference in scoring (13.8 ppg) and sixth in rebounds (8.7). Malcom stands 6-foot-5 and can get the job done inside and out. Hogan, Newell, Sinibaldi and Waldron are shooting guards who will make the Panthers very tough to defend. New junior Connor Dillon and freshman Te’Andre King both stand 6-3 and play forward.

NYA has experience and the desire to get better. The Panthers have a tough conference schedule, but they will be able to compete with everyone. Look for NYA to improve on last year’s win total to the point where it won’t just make the tournament, but could have a high seed. The Panthers may be one of the teams to beat by the time they make it to Augusta.

GIRLS’ BASKETBALL

Coach: Seth Farrington (second year)

2015-16 record: 2-16 (No postseason)

Top returning players: Zelda Clegg (Senior), Lindsay Tufts (Senior), Rachel Bolling (Junior), Maggie Larson (Sophomore), Sydney Plummer (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: Dec. 9 OOB, Dec. 20 WAYNFLETE, Jan. 4 ST. DOM’S, Jan. 17 @ Waynflete, Jan. 27 @ OOB, Feb. 9 @ St. Dom’s

Coach’s comment: “Our numbers are a little better this year. We’ve been competitive in the preseason. We’re starting four underclassmen. We’ll pick up our offensive pace and advance the ball to get scoring opportunities. We need to play well in the post and play good defense and rebound. We’re hoping to make a playoff push.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: North Yarmouth Academy took its lumps a year ago, but should be more competitive this season as it hopes to make the playoffs for the first time since 2013-14.

Farrington now has a season under his belt and has been able to put his thumbprint on the program. He will look to Larson (last year’s leading scorer, who was fifth in the conference with a 13.9 average en route to a second-team all-star selection) and Plummer to lead the way offensively. Larson is joined in the backcourt by Bolling and the point guard, Tufts. Plummer is joined in the frontcourt by Clegg, who is coming off a terrific volleyball campaign. Sophomore forward Helen Hamblett and freshman guard Katie Larson look to step right in and make an immediate impact.

This isn’t a big team, but the Panthers will be scrappy. If they can gain some early confidence, they could find themselves in the playoff mix. Look for a much improved season which will set the stage for even bigger things down the road.

BOYS’ HOCKEY

Coach: Tyler Walsh (first year)

Players to watch: Sam Johnson (Senior), Andrew Keith (Senior), Andrew Ray (Senior), Jeremy Thelven (Senior), Brent Rickett (Junior), Finn Murray (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment: “I expect we’ll compete with every team we play. After a game, I want the opposition to say, ‘NYA is a tough team to play against,’ regardless of the score. That’s one of the best compliments a team can have. We have high goals. We want to win the Holt Conference and make it to the (New England Prep School Athletic Conference) small school tournament. Above all else, our goals are to get better and develop each and every day. On and off the ice.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: North Yarmouth Academy is excited about its prospects on the ice this winter. The program has a new coach this season in Walsh, who was the assistant coach for the USA Hockey National Team Development Program and previously Director of Hockey Operations at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York. He also once served as undergraduate assistant coach for men’s hockey at the University of Maine. He inherits a squad with a lot of firepower.

The offense will be paced by Keith, who lit the lamp 27 times and added 18 assists a season ago. Also doing damage will be Rickett (8 goals, 4 assists), Murray (6 and 13), Ray (4 and 10), Hunter Mahoney (2 and 16) and freshman Reese Farrell, who had 35 points for St. Dom’s last season. Johnson anchors the defense and is aided by junior Evan Larson, who transferred to NYA from Charleston, South Carolina. Thelven, NYA’s Fall Male Athlete of the Year, returns in goal. He had a .914 save percentage last season. Sophomore Xander Kostelnik will be a factor between the pipes as well. He made 32 saves in a win over Moses Brown (a game which also saw Ray scored twice). There’s a lot of talent here and even more in reserve.

The Panthers will be tested by a lot of strong teams from throughout New England, but this group, especially the seniors, is primed to do big things. Look for NYA to feature a strong offense and to frustrate the opposition at the other end. This group should be able to meet its goals if it stays healthy and hungry.

GIRLS’ HOCKEY

Coach: Amy McNally (second year)

Players to watch: Gabby Linscott (Senior), Savannah Shaw (Senior), Jordan Ackerman (Junior), Emily Demers (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment: “We once again have a small, but committed and passionate roster. We have strengthened our defensive core tremendously and remain strong with Savannah in net. We have enormous potential to surprise a lot of teams this year with our commitment to improving each day.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: North Yarmouth Academy features some solid athletes who have enjoyed success not only on the ice, but in other varsity sports as well. The Panthers began the season with a 2-1 loss to Vermont Academy, a 5-1 setback to Governor’s and a 1-2 mark at the Pingree Invitational. This group will only get better.

Shaw is the anchor in goal. NYA’s Fall Female Athlete of the Year is a seasoned veteran who is accustomed to making key saves. She’s aided by the presence of Linscott and freshmen Caroline Gepfert and Hannah Twombly on defense. Ackerman and Demers are the proven commodities on offense. They’re joined by eighth grader Lainie Lemieux, who is already the Panthers’ top scorer.

NYA hopes to win its share of games as the season progresses. This group should steadily improve in the weeks to come and become a team that no one will want to face later in the year.

INDOOR TRACK

Coach: Chris Mazzurco (20th year)

2015-16 results:

(Boys) Tie-19th @ Class B state meet

(Girls) Tie-22nd @ Class B state meet

Top returners:

(Boys) Xander Bartone (Senior), Henry Quesada (Senior), Jack Sillin (Junior)

(Girls) Sarah Austin (Senior), Isabelle See (Senior), Megan Alberding (Junior)

Coach’s comment: “The boys’ team has grown in numbers and has a strong crop of young, talented athletes in the sprints and jumps. We’re looking forward to building on the foundation that was set last season. The girls’ team is comprised of a group who should cover a wide variety of events nicely over the course of the season. Both teams have a strong percentage of athletes who should be competitive in the postseason.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: North Yarmouth Academy has a small team, but feature some standout athletes.

Quesada is the defending Class B champion in the 800. He’ll look to repeat. Bartone finished third in the 55 and hopes to move up. Sillin (throws) is other top returner. Look for that triumvirate to keep this team competitive throughout the year.

On the girls ‘side, See is coming off a fourth-place showing in the high jump. She’ll look to move up. Alberding and Austin are returning distance runners to watch. NYA hopes to move up from last year’s finish and has the pieces in place to do so.

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

Senior Haven Cutko was one of the conference’s top players in 2015-16. He’ll look to lead NYA’s boys’ basketball team to a winning season.

Senior Jake Malcom is another returning all-star.

Senior Jeremy Thelven is working his way back from injury to return to the form which has made him a standout goalie for the talented NYA boys’ hockey team.

Senior Savannah Shaw is highly touted for her work between the pipes for the NYA girls’ hockey team.

Senior Xander Bartone will be a top sprinter for NYA’s boys’ indoor track team.

Senior Henry Quesada will be formidable in the middle distance races this winter.

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Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.