North Yarmouth Academy Winter Sports Preview

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Maggie Larson and the rest of the North Yarmouth Academy girls’ basketball team will be getting plenty of attention in the weeks to come. After a strong season a year ago and the infusion of some top players from Maine Girls’ Academy, the Panthers expect to be among the best teams in Class C.

File photos.

More photos below.

BOYS’ BASKETBALL

Coach: Jason Knight (seventh year, 51-62 overall record)

2017-18 record: 5-13 (no postseason)

Top returning players: Miles Chapman (Senior), Te’Andre King (Junior), Chris Hamblett (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: Dec. 7 @ OOB, Jan. 5 @ Waynflete, Jan. 25 OOB, Feb. 7 WAYNFLETE

Coach’s comment: “We’re building. We only had nine kids last year, but we have a complete roster this time. The boys are adapting to the varsity pace of play. It’s a coachable group. We’ll center around Te’Andre. We want to create balance. We were disappointed to miss the playoffs last year. The returning guys are using that as motivation and we have several soccer players on the team coming off a state title. I’m very optimistic.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: NYA wasn’t able to get back to the tournament last year, but that was an aberration. This year’s squad is primed to be very tough during the regular season and could be in line for a playoff run.

The Panthers will be anchored by the dominant King, a first-team all-star a year ago. King, who averaged 23 points and 13 rebounds last season, will have his way with opponents inside and outside, on offense and on defense. He’ll eclipse the 1,000-career point plateau this winter and will give the opposition nightmares. Hamblett returns to play point guard. He’s also a top defender. Chapman, who stands 6-foot-4-inches, will be a top frontcourt presence, along with senior Cooper Hogan and 6-4 freshman Bryce Poulin. Sophomore Sam Sinabaldi will provide depth at the guard position. Freshman Elliot Oney will back up Hamblett at point guard.

NYA is poised to bounce right back into contention. King will put up big numbers and if other players can consistently step up, a winning record and trip to Augusta will be the end result.

GIRLS’ BASKETBALL

Coach: Tom Robinson (first year)

2017-18 record: 10-9 (Lost, 49-34, to Traip Academy in Class C South preliminary round)

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

Pivotal games: Dec. 10 LAKE REGION, Dec. 13 @ Yarmouth, Dec. 18 GRAY-NG, Jan. 18 GREELY, Jan. 23 CAPE ELIZABETH, Jan. 29 @ Greely

Coach’s comment: “I’m really happy with how the girls are coming together. The girls playing together during soccer helped a lot. We have size and shooters. We needed a point guard and got one in Serena Mower and Catherine Reid can shoot it too, so it’s a good, core group. I don’t know how we’ll fall because I’m not familiar with the Class C teams. We play the toughest C schedule in the state. If we can get to to the tournament, we’ll be well-tested.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: For a program not accustomed to getting a lot of attention, there’s no shortage of buzz around the Panthers this winter. NYA would have garnered its share of attention just because of last year’s success, but when the squad was bolstered by the arrival of several members of the erstwhile Maine Girls’ Academy program, it suddenly stole headlines. In addition to the new team members, the Panthers also have a new coach this winter in Robinson, who is no stranger to the school, serving as the boys’ coach for several years earlier this century. Robinson, who was an assistant with the Cape Elizabeth girls’ program for eight years, takes over a team facing plenty of expectations and one that has the pieces in place to succeed.

Maggie Larson was a first-team all-star last winter and will be a top scorer again. Hamblett and Plummer will make their presence felt down low. Katie Larson can do a little of everything. The MGA contingent features senior Catherine Reid, a sharpshooting guard, junior Serena Mower, a steady point guard, and junior Carly Downey, who will play in the post. All three girls helped the girls’ soccer team to a Class D state title last month.

NYA will be tested in the weeks to come, as the schedule is littered with Class A and Class B foes. The Panthers last made it to Augusta for the quarterfinals in 2004. It would come as a shock if this group doesn’t get there. In fact, it’s quite likely NYA could reach the regional final for the first time since 1999 or even the state final for the first time since 1982. This squad has that much potential. Seeing the Panthers chase history will be one of the most compelling stories of the winter season.

BOYS’ HOCKEY

Coach: Mike Warde (first year)

Players to watch: Ryan Baker (Senior), Nick Hemenway (Senior), Xander Kostelnik (Senior), Finn Murray (Senior), Josh Soucy (Senior), Alasdair Swett (Senior), Jared Buckner (Junior), Reese Farrell (Junior), Jasper Sanders (Junior)

Coach’s comment: “Our early season focus has been on becoming a team through trusting and committing to one another. Once this is established, the scoreboard will take care of itself. We are very fortunate to have a dynamic and experienced coaching staff as Terry Meagher, the former Bowdoin coach, Bruce Myers, an NYA Hall of Fame coach, and Rob Couturier, the top goalie coach in the state, work with our young men every day. We believe our strength coach Shelby Turcotte enables our program to perform at the highest NEPSAC (Prep) level.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: NYA is looking forward to a strong season as a solid veteran corps is bolstered by the arrival of some promising newcomers.

Kostelnik, NYA’s Fall Male Athlete of the Year after helping the Panthers to the boys’ soccer state title, will be in goal. Junior Stefan Kulhanek, who hails from Wien, Austria, will also see time. Baker, Murray and Swett, soccer players as well, are proven commodities on offense. They’re joined by juniors Clement Deslile-Blais and Damon Dulac, natives of Quebec, to make up a dynamic unit. Defensively, Hemenway and Soucy have experience. Junior Julian Etauri, another Quebec native, will be a force on that side of the ice as well.

This group will only get stronger in the weeks to come as it learns to play together. The wins will come and the Panthers figure to be one of the better squads in the Prep league.

GIRLS’ HOCKEY

Coach: Pavel Navrat (second year)

Players to watch: Kylie Rogers (Senior), Caroline Gepfert (Junior), Natalie Farrell (Sophomore), Elizabeth Goodrich (Sophomore), Rylie McIntyre (Freshman)

Coach’s comment: “We have a young and exciting team with a 10-player freshman class. We only have one senior, but the defense will be anchored by three juniors. We have high expectations for our sophomore forwards and we’re solid in net. We’ll keep building into a strong program.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: NYA opened with a 2-2 tie at Phillips Exeter and a 3-2 loss at Governor’s Academy, but this team, which features much larger numbers this winter than a year ago, is on its way to big things. With some athletes who were part of a girls’ soccer state title, the Panthers expect to win.

Farrell, Goodrich, McIntyre will spark the offense, with help from Rogers, the team’s lone senior, and freshmen Samantha Babbitt and Jasmine Huntsman. On defense, Gepfert, along with juniors Maya Davis and Nichole Pappas and freshman Maggie Holt and Courtney Swenson, make for a promising unit. Laini Frager will be a two-way threat. Freshmen Lauren Powers and Hanna Wentworth will see time in goal.

Look for NYA to show steady improvement in the weeks to come and hold its own against some of the finest teams in New England.

INDOOR TRACK

Coach: Chris Mazzurco (22nd year)

2017-18 results:

(Boys) no score @ Class B state meet

(Girls) no score @ Class B state meet

Top returners:

(Boys) Abram Buehner (Senior), Jack Lent (Senior), Jack Bontatibus (Junior), Wylie Jacobs (Sophomore)

(Girls) Eleanor Commons (Sophomore), Lexi Haderich (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment: “The majority of our team is underclassmen, so we have the opportunity to continue to build on the strong base we formed last year. The athletes returning have put in a considerable amount of time in the summer and during preseason to improve in the technical aspects of their events. We’re still in the stages of finding the proper events for each athlete to have the most success as individuals and for the team.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: NYA has several athletes who hope to make a name for themselves this winter. Perhaps a few who could score at the state meet.

The boys have veterans Buehner (distance and jumps) and Lent (sprints, hurdles, distance) leading the way. Bontatibus (throws) and Jacobs (sprints) also return. Junior Spencer Barton (jumps) is new to the team and hopes to make an impact.

On the girls’ side, Commons (jumps and sprints) and Haedrich (jumps) are top returners. Senior Ellie Griswold joins the team and will throw.

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

Junior Te’Andre King will make life miserable for the opposition this season as he hopes to lead NYA’s boys’ basketball team to the playoffs.

Senior Catherine Reid is a top addition to this year’s girls’ basketball team. Reid has been a key contributor at Maine Girls’ Academy.

Junior Serena Mower will hit some big shots for the Panthers as well this season.

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