North Yarmouth Academy Panthers Winter Sports Preview

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Maggie Larson is one of the top scorers in the conference and hopes to lead North Yarmouth Academy’s girls’ basketball team back to the playoffs this winter.

File photos.

More photos below.

BOYS’ BASKETBALL

Coach: Jason Knight (sixth year, 46-49 overall record)

2016-17 record: 14-6 (Lost, 52-29, to Winthrop in Class C South semifinal)

Top returning players: Connor Dillon (Senior), Te’Andre King (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: Dec. 8 @ OOB, Dec. 11 WAYNFLETE, Jan. 19 OOB, Feb. 8 @ Waynflete

Coach’s comment: “We’re small in terms of numbers with only nine players. The good news is that six have played the last couple of years. We have three freshmen to integrate to our team. We’re looking to get healthy and to make progress. We’ve got size and guys who can play different roles. It’s a confident group. We have good chemistry starting to build. Playoffs are still a realistic goal. We’d love to get back to Augusta.”

THE Forecaster’s forecast: NYA is coming off its best season in over a decade, one which didn’t end until the Class C South semifinals and one which earned Knight our Coach of the Year nod. The Panthers were hard-hit by graduation, most notably losing Haven Cutko and Jake Malcom, and don’t have a very big roster, but there’s enough talent for this year’s team to once again turn heads.

King is the key returner. As a freshman, he finished 12th in the conference in scoring (13.9 points per game) and third in rebounds (9.1) and made the All-Conference second-team. He’s a matchup nightmare in the post, but he has the ability to play outside the paint as well. Look for another huge season from him. Dillon also returns. He plays guard and forward. Sophomore Eddie Newell will replace Cutko at point guard. Senior Connor Clock, junior Cooper Hogan and freshmen Chris Hamblett (who will play a major role right out of the gate), Sam Sinabaldi and Sam Soroff are other guards to watch. Junior Miles Chapman will play forward.

NYA has work to do to get back to last year’s level, but the Panthers consider themselves a program that can contend annually. Look for King to pace the offense while several other players to get up to speed and by the end of the season, NYA will be a difficult foe. Another trip to Augusta isn’t out of the question.

GIRLS’ BASKETBALL

Coach: Nick Stacey (first year)

2016-17 record: 7-12 (Lost, 59-21, to Old Orchard Beach in Class C South preliminary round)

Top returning players: Lincoln Hamblett (Senior), Ellie Griswold (Junior), Helen Hamblett (Junior), Maggie Larson (Junior), Sydney Plummer (Junior), Katie Larson (Sophomore)

Pivotal games:  Dec. 8 @ OOB, Dec. 11 WAYNFLETE, Dec. 22 @ Traip, Jan. 17 TRAIP, Jan. 19 OOB, Feb. 8 @ Waynflete

Coach’s comment: “We only have one senior, but it’s an experienced group. We’ll look to the Larson girls to create offense, as well as Sydney. I’ve heard good things about the girls and I’m optimistic based on what I’ve seen.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: NYA is coming off a playoff appearance in a year which saw it increase its win total by five from the season before. The Panthers hope to continue their upward climb under Stacey, who previously coached with the Gorham and Scarborough boys’ programs. He has some promising talent to work with.

Maggie Larson was second in the conference in scoring a year ago, averaging 14.4 points per game. She had no peer as a 3-point shooter, burying 39, and she was named a first-team conference all-star. Larson will pace the offense with help from Katie Larson (9.4 ppg in 2016-17). The frontcourt will pose matchup challenges, as Plummer can get points down low and both Helen Hamblett and Lincoln Hamblett will play strong defense and get rebounds. Griswold will see time in the paint as well.

NYA won’t be able to sneak up on anyone this season, but the Panthers have the ammunition to compete. Look for Maggie Larson to continue to score a lot of points and for NYA to battle just about everyone on the schedule. The Panthers last got to Augusta in 2004. That drought could come to an end this winter.

BOYS’ HOCKEY

Coach: Tyler Walsh (second year)

Players to watch: Brennan Flatt (Senior), Brent Rickett (Senior), Ryan Baker (Junior), Xander Kostelnik (Junior), Jared Buckner (Sophomore), Reese Farrell (Sophomore), Jasper Sanders (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment: “This year’s team brings in some new faces from the Atlantic coast and here in Maine. We’ll build off what the program started last year with the mindset of growing each day and reaching our goals. Offensively, we have some strong returners along with some big newcomers. Defensively, we bring back four starters and added two more. Goaltending will be our strength. Our conference is stronger this year and we hope to win our tournament.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: NYA boasts some excellent players this winter and should enjoy a lot of success in the weeks to come.

This year’s offense will be led by Rickett (18 points a season ago), Farrell (18 points), Flatt (15), Baker (four points in the early going this winter), Buckner and Sanders. Sanders and sophomore Mason Parks (a transfer from Scarborough) will anchor the defense. Kostelnik returns in goal. He’s joined by junior Max Cichanowicz and sophomore Dan Zajkowski. They’ll all see time between the pipes.

The Panthers won’t have many easy games, but they have the necessary firepower to compete and be one of the last teams standing in their league.

GIRLS’ HOCKEY

Coach: Pavel Navrat (first year)

Players to watch: Jordan Ackerman (Senior), Charlotte Collins (Senior), Kylie Rogers (Junior), Caroline Gepfert (Sophomore), Lainie Lemieux (Freshman), Abby Matusovich (Freshman)

Coach’s comment: “We’re a young and talented team with just two seniors and one junior. Our goalie is a freshman, but she’s as good as any goalie in Maine. Our forwards have tons of speed, playmaking skills and the ability to score goals. We have young talent on defense and, as a team, we keep getting better every single day. Off the ice, we started the process of aggressively building our program to compete with top prep teams in New England.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: NYA, which split its first four games this year, welcomed Navrat as coach this season. Navrat hails from Prague in the Czech Republic and played at Westminster School in Connecticut and at the University of Vermont, taking part in the 1996 Frozen Four. He inherits a team that boasts some talented players.

The offense will be paced by Collins, Gepfert and freshman Lainie Lemieux (who also played for the Panthers as an eighth grader), who each had scored three goals in the early part of the season. Ackerman (a forward) and Davis (a defender) also return. NYA boasts some top newcomers as well, as freshman Abby Matusovich shows great promise in goal, freshman Natalie Farrell will be a force on offense and junior Kylie Rogers will see time on offense and defense.

The Panthers expect to remain competitive for the duration of the season and the wins figure to keep coming.

INDOOR TRACK

Coach: Chris Mazzurco (21st year)

2016-17 results:

(Boys) 23rd @ Class B state meet

(Girls) Tie-20th @ Class B state meet

Top returners:

(Boys) Kieran Rowe (Senior), Jack Sillin (Senior), Jack Lent (Junior), Jack Bontatibus (Sophomore)

(Girls) Tessa Quattrucci (Senior)

Coach’s comment: “Both teams have a strong mix of veteran and younger athletes. We’ve been focusing well in workouts and in technique work so far and we expect that to pay dividends come championship time. Overall, there are a few returning individuals who should make an impact at the state level and several younger athletes who will see strong and steady improvement.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: NYA has several athletes who will make a name for themselves this winter.

The boys’ squad returns Lent and Rowe, who were part of a sixth-place 3,200 relay team last winter. Lent will compete in the sprints and hurdles, while Rowe is a top distance threat. Bontatibus and Sillin look to score in the throws. Junior Jackson Linscott is a nice addition. He’ll compete in the sprints as well as longer races. If all goes well, the Panthers could improve on last year’s state meet showing.

On the girls’ side, Quattrucci returns and will sprint. Others will look to make their mark and NYA should see some nice individual improvement by their athletes over the course of the season.

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

Te’Andre King had a stellar freshman season a year ago, helping NYA’s boys’ basketball team enjoy its best record in over a decade. King will be the Panthers’ focal point this winter as they hope to remain a top contender.

Senior Connor Dillon is another key returner for the Panthers.

Junior Sydney Plummer is another top returner for the NYA girls.

Jack Lent will compete in the sprints and hurdles for NYA’s boys’ indoor track team.

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