South Portland Red Riots Winter Athletes of the Year

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2012-13 Winter Male Athlete of the Year:

TANNER HYLAND, Senior-Basketball


· SMAA All-Star, first-team

· SMAA Senior All-Star

· Maine McDonald’s Senior All-Star

Hyland had a sensational senior campaign, scoring clutch hoop after clutch hoop and making his teammates better in the process, helping the Red Riots to their first state final in two decades.

Hyland started playing basketball at a young age and joined the South Portland varsity as a freshman, when he was better known as the younger brother of standout Keegan Hyland’s (South Portland’s 2008-09 Winter Male Athlete of the Year).

Hyland became more and more of a force his sophomore and junior seasons, making the conference third-team as a sophomore and the second squad last year (after averaging 11.8 points per game).

This winter, Hyland was so good that only Bonny Eagle standout Dustin Cole could be considered in the same company.

Highlights were plentiful, beginning with a 21 points in the opener, a win over Windham. Hyland had 24 points versus Biddeford, 24 more against Westbrook, 16 in a narrow win over Thornton Academy, 19 versus Kennebunk and 15 (to go with five rebounds and three steals) against Massabesic and that was all before the calendar turned.

Hyland remained prolific in the new year, scoring 22 points at Scarborough and 24 at Gorham. He had an epic performance in a regular season-altering double-overtime win at Bonny Eagle Jan. 21, tying the game with a last-second bank shot 3, then leading the Red Riots to the triumph with 23 points (including six 3-pointers). Hyland and South Portland surged from there and finished with the best record in the conference. Hyland had 24 points in a surprisingly decisive win at defending champion Deering, a season-high 38 points (with 10 rebounds and eight assists) at Noble, 12 points and more importantly, 12 assists, in a home win over Portland and 21 points in the finale, a loss at Cheverus.

Hyland finished as the league’s third-leading scorer (19.7 points per game), was second in assists (5.8), 11th in steals (2.4), 22nd in rebounds (5.4) and was tops in made 3-pointers (56).

Hyland was superb in the playoffs as well.

In a quarterfinal round victory over Sanford, Hyland had a team-high 23 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, to go along with a steal and a blocked shot. Hyland then scored 17 points, including several clutch hoops in a semifinal round victory over Portland, adding a team-high seven boards. Hyland then went toe-to-toe with Cole again in the regional final and while Cole outscored him, 36-30, Hyland had seven assists and six rebounds and helped the Red Riots win their first regional title since 1993. In the close state game loss to Hampden Academy, Hyland had 17 points and a game-high 10 rebounds.

While he was overlooked in the Mr. Maine Basketball process, Hyland was a first-team league all-star and played in the Maine McDonald’s Senior All-Star Game.

Hyland also plays tennis at South Portland and is a member of Interact Club and Future Business Leaders of America. He expects to attend prep school (likely Bridgton Academy) next year and wants to play at the Division I or Division II collegiate level.

He certainly capped his South Portland career in epic style. Tanner Hyland rose to every challenge and came up big time and time again.

Coach Phil Conley’s comment: “Tanner’s a special player. He meant a great deal to us. He got us into our offense and got the ball inside. He was not only our top scorer, but he made his teammates better. He was the one guy everyone had to plan their defense around. He was tightly guarded, but he came up big in the biggest games. He always came through. He carried us in the tournament. He became a complete point guard this year.”

2011-12 winner: Chad MacWhinnie (Swimming)

2010-11 winner: Tommy Ellis (Hockey)

2009-10 winner: Zach Horton (Hockey)

2008-09 winner: Keegan Hyland (Basketball)

2007-08 winner: Nick Wright (Basketball)

2006-07 winner: Coleman Findlay (Basketball)

2005-2006 winner: Tim Clark (Hockey)

2004-2005 winner: Andrew Cousins (Basketball)

2003-2004 winner: Max Ludwig (Indoor track)

2002-2003 winner: Ethan Gato (Indoor track)

2001-2002 winner: Jesse Ludwig (Indoor track)

2012-13 Winter Female Athlete of the Year:

DANICA GLEASON, Senior-Basketball


· SMAA All-Star, first-team

· SMAA Senior All-Star

· Maine McDonald’s Senior All-Star

· Team captain

While Gleason’s season ended in late January with a knee injury, what she produced in 12-plus games was worthy of praise. She had a superb senior campaign and helped the Red Riots to a stronger than expected finish.

Gleason, who’s also quite the talent on the softball field, grew up in South Portland and started playing basketball in the fourth grade. She began playing AAU two years later and spent four years with the Red Riots varsity. After playing point guard for three seasons, Gleason moved to the wing this season to add to her scoring prowess and it paid off.

Gleason had 15 points in a season-opening win over Windham and wasn’t stopped until getting hurt six weeks later. Gleason scored 25 points against Biddeford, then went off for a season-high 32 versus Westbrook. She had 23 more against Thornton Academy, 18 versus Kennebunk and 15 against Massabesic, in a victory which gave coach Mike Giordano the 200th win of his career. The new year brought performances of 27 points in an overtime victory over Sanford, 15 (including the first seven of the final stanza as her team pulled away) in a win at Portland, 14 versus Marshwood and 16 against Gorham in what proved to be her final full game. The next time out, going for a loose ball against Bonny Eagle, Gleason dislocated her kneecap and just like that, her season was over.

The Red Riots went on to make the playoffs and got to the quarterfinals, but lost to Scarborough.

“It was frustrating,” said Gleason. “I feel like I could have made an impact, but we exceeded expectations this year. We turned a lot of heads.”

Gleason finished the season second to McAuley’s Allie Clement, Maine’s Gatorade Player of the Year, in scoring (16.6 points per game), was seventh in made 3-pointers (22) and tied for eighth in steals (3.2).

Gleason, who stresses that she hates losing and that she’s “the most competitive person I know,” will be able to return for softball season and play shortstop for the defending Western A champions. Gleason, who also dabbled in cross country, field hockey and volleyball while in high school, plans to attend Roger Williams (R.I.) University, where she plans to study secondary education and play basketball and softball.

A little knee malady won’t keep this standout down. Danica Gleason thrives on competition and provided an abundance of memories during her high school career.

Coach Mike Giordano’s comment: “Danica meant everything to us. She was the consummate captain and leader on and off the floor. This year, she truly was just as valuable off the floor. The other kids looked up to her. From the day she walked into South Portland High School, I saw the athleticism. I knew once she matured, the sky would be the limit. If she stayed healthy this year, I believe she would have been an all-state player. I’m excited to see if she can play two sports in college.”

2011-12 winner: Nyajock Pan (Track)

2010-11 winner: Abby Hasson (Basketball)

2009-10 winner: Danielle DiBiase (Basketball)

2008-09 winner: Brianna Hawkins (Basketball)

2007-08 winner: Curry Girr (Diving)

2006-07 winner: Kelsey Flaherty (Basketball)

2005-2006 winner: Christina Aceto (Basketball)

2004-2005 winner: Whitney Morrow (Basketball)

2003-2004 winner: Courtney Albin (Track)

2002-2003 winner: Abby Lesneski (Basketball)

2001-2002 winner: Abby Lesneski (Basketball)

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

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