North Yarmouth Academy Panthers Winter Sports Preview

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BOYS’ BASKETBALL

COACH: Jason Knight (third year, 20-17 overall record)

2013-14 record: 13-6 (Lost, 70-47, to Valley in Western D quarterfinals)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Eoin Anderson (Senior), Chase Gendron (Senior), DJ Nicholas (Senior), Haven Cutko (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 12 @ Waynflete, Dec. 15 @ OOB, Jan. 3 SACOPEE, Jan. 6 RICHMOND, Jan. 10 WAYNFLETE, Jan. 13 @ Hyde, Jan. 15 @ Sacopee, Jan. 23 OOB, Jan. 27 HYDE, Feb. 3 @ Richmond

COACH’S COMMENT: “I’m optimistic. It’s been a good couple weeks. We have good chemistry. It will come down to how disruptive we can be on defense and how we take care of the ball. We’re coming off a strong season, which should set a good foundation. The guys got a taste of Augusta last year. They want to get back there and exceed what we did.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: NYA returned to prominence last winter, reaching Augusta after several years away. This winter, the Panthers hope to build on that experience, then make an even deeper run. That’s not farfetched. Gendron, a 6-foot-4 guard/forward, is the top returner. He was third in the league in scoring a year ago, averaging 18.8 points. He was also seventh in rebounds (7.9). Gendron, a first-team all-star as well, will pace the offense. Nicholas (seventh in steals, 3.0, in his first basketball season a year ago) and Cutko both saw a lot of playing time at guard a year ago. Anderson, who missed much of last season with injury, is back and brings some size to the guard position. Sophomore Jacob Sturgess will be the point guard. Sophomore Jake Malcom stands 6-4 and will be a force down low, as should junior Sean McMullan. NYA got a taste of success last year. It’s ready to get back to Augusta and earn a victory on that storied floor for the first time since 2006. This could be a team that is turning heads deep into February.

GIRLS’ BASKETBALL

COACH: Liz Smith (sixth year, 35-56 overall record)

2013-14 record: 6-13 (Lost, 51-47, to Vinalhaven in Western D preliminary round)

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Nina Babbitt (Senior), Hannah Carr (Senior), Sara Thompson (Senior), Suzanna Butterfield (Sophomore), Lindsay Tufts (Sophomore)

PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 9 @ Traip, Dec. 12 WAYNFLETE, Dec. 15 OOB, Dec. 23 PINE TREE, Jan. 10 @ Waynflete, Jan. 21 @ Pine Tree, Jan. 23 @ OOB, Jan. 30 TRAIP

COACH’S COMMENT: “We definitely have some things to work on. I have seven new players, but most haven’t played basketball. I do have more girls than ever before and I have some athletes. Hopefully they’ll adjust quickly to basketball. We want to show improvement throughout the season. I’d like to make the playoffs. It depends on how the newcomers adapt and if the returners can stay healthy.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: NYA fell just four points shy of Augusta a season ago, but lost standout all-star Charlotte Esancy and three other seniors to graduation. This group has talent, the problem is it’s either injured or lacking in basketball experience. The top returner is Carr, who can score, but she has yet to play a full season due to injury and illness. She is a post presence, but might need to handle the ball early in the season. Butterfield and Thompson (who is battling a shoulder injury) will be heard from inside. Babbitt can play guard or forward. Tufts will likely be the point guard, but she was battling a concussion at press time. The cavalry comes in the form of a pair of standout athletes. Senior Elizabeth Coughlin, NYA’s stellar field hockey goalie, who used to play ice hockey, is out for basketball for the first time. She’ll be a force down low and once she learns the game, could make a name for herself. Junior Emily Baker, the soccer standout, will play guard and could handle the ball some. The Panthers will have their hands full with the conference powers, but should contend with just about everyone else. If the squad gets and stays healthy, by the end of the year this could be a darkhorse, one that’s capable of getting to Augusta and turning heads.

BOYS’ HOCKEY

COACH: Eric Graham (third year)

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Griffin Cady (Senior), Brad Potter (Senior), Johnny Busolin (Junior), Josh Chapman (Junior), Nick Demers (Junior), Tristan Plummer (Junior), Bobby Murray (Sophomore), Jeremy Thelven (Sophomore), Mike Pitts (Freshman)

COACH’S COMMENT: “We have a lot of familiar faces on our roster and we’re looking to use our experience to find success in the Division I New England Prep League. We should have plenty of scoring options. Our defense and goalkeeping give us a chance to win every night. If we can draw upon our experience to receive secondary scoring, we’ll be competitive against the top Prep programs.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: NYA might have its most competitive team since moving up to the Prep level. This year’s team can light the lamp behind Chapman (17 goals, 25 assists in 2013-14) and Potter (18 goals, 23 assists last winter). Murray (the former Yarmouth High star) and Pitts are other scorers to watch. On defense, Busolin, Demers and Plummer will protect goalie Cady and Thelven (who hails from Sweden). NYA will have its hands full from the likes of Brooks School, Groton School and Proctor Academy, but this is a squad that will rack up some wins. Look for a productive season throughout from this group.

GIRLS’ HOCKEY

COACH: Brooks Boucher (third year)

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Alexandra Barnes (Senior), Kristina Block (Senior), Mary Morrison (Senior), Jenna Block (Junior), Taylor Leech (Junior), Rachel Hooker (Freshman)

COACH’S COMMENT: “We’re young, so that’s been a big adjustment. We’re focusing on getting better every day. It’s not always about the record, but improving on a daily basis. I expect our record to be similar to last year (9-11). I want to move the seniors on to play in college and focus the younger kids on getting better for the future.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: NYA is coming off a competitive season and despite its youth, looks to be in the Prep mix again. The Panthers lost their opener to Governor’s Academy, 3-1, but have plenty of time to right the ship. This year, much of the onus will fall on Barnes in net, but she’s up for the challenge, having recently committed to play at the College of the Holy Cross. She’ll be aided by defenders Leech, Morrison and Jenna Block, who has joined the program from defending MPA champion Scarborough. While Leech and Morrison will do some scoring from their defensive position, the offense figures to largely come from Kristina Block, with help from Hooker. This group will be entertaining to watch and should win its share of games in the weeks to come.

INDOOR TRACK

COACH: Chris Mazzurco (18th year)

2013-14 results:

(BOYS) Tie-5th @ Class B state meet

(GIRLS) 18th @ Class B state meet

TOP RETURNERS:

(BOYS) John LeBlanc (Senior), Matt Malcom (Senior), Xander Bartone (Sophomore)

(GIRLS) Muriel Adams (Senior), Hannah Austin (Senior), Maddie Cutten (Senior), Shelby Peavey (Senior), Linnea Hull (Junior), Liz McIntosh (Junior), Mackenzie Sangster (Junior), Emily Taylor (Junior)

TOP FOES: Falmouth, Greely, York

COACH’S COMMENT: “We have a small boys’ team again this year, but we have exceptional talent in the individuals we have. The team will be able to have athletes in most events and will hold their own at regular season meets. Several individuals have a chance at a strong postseason showing. The girls’ team has many new members along with a strong core of returning athletes. Last year, we scored well at the majority of regular season meets and should do so once again. Individually, there are many returning athletes who have a shot at making an impact at the state level and beyond. As a team, we hope to be able to enter athletes in each division in all events, so we have the best chance of success in the regular season.”

THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: NYA’s indoor track program will once again be more about quality than quantity.

The boys had a strong state showing a year ago, but graduated standout Michael McIntosh, the reigning Class B state champion in the 55 and the 200. The Panthers do return a top sprinter in Bartone (third in the 55 last winter) and one of the league’s elite distance talents in Malcom (fifth in the two-mile in 2013-14). Bartone will also be a jumper of note. Look for LeBlanc to compete in the middle distance events. Sophomore Henry Quesada adds depth in the distance. Look for several of these boys to really be at their best in February and to combine to help the Panthers post another high finish at the big meets.

On the girls’ side, two scorers return. Austin was third in the two-mile last winter and will make a run at the top spot on the podium in the distance this season. Hull was seventh in the pole vault last year. She too looks to move up. Adams, Cutten, Sangster and Taylor are top sprinters. Sangster also hopes to score in the hurdles. Throwers of note include Adams and Peavey. McIntosh will be heard from in the jumps. Look for a strong regular season from this group and a higher finish at the state meet. Perhaps even a top 10 showing if all goes well.

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

Standout athlete DJ Nicholas is back for his second basketball season.

Sophomore Haven Cutko saw ample playing time as a freshman.

Sophomore Lindsay Tufts will be NYA’s point guard this winter.

Junior forward Josh Chapman will be a top scoring threat for the Panthers this winter.

Senior goalie Alexandra Barnes has been so impressive that she’s earned the opportunity to play at the College of the Holy Cross next year.

Senior Kristina Block will be a top scoring threat for the Panthers as the season goes along.

Xander Bartone will be a top sprinter for the Panthers this winter.

Matt Malcom is one of the state’s top distance runners.

Hannah Austin will make a run at a state title this winter.

Sidebar Elements


Senior Chase Gendron is the top returner for an NYA boys’ basketball team coming off a trip to Augusta. The 2014-15 Panthers hope to advance even farther.

File photos.

More photos below.

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