Senior Maddie Hasson is one of the state’s elite players and hopes to lead South Portland’s girls’ basketball team to a championship this winter.
More photos below.
COACH: Kevin Millington (first year)
2014-15 record: 16-4 (Lost, 67-57, to Falmouth in Western A semifinals)
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Sam DePaolo (Senior), Jack Fiorini (Senior), Jordin Jackson (Senior), Matt Pelletier (Senior), Ruay Bol (Junior)
PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 11 @ Gorham, Jan. 5 @ Cheverus, Jan. 8 DEERING, Jan. 18 @ Falmouth, Jan. 26 @ Windham, Jan. 29 CHEVERUS, Feb. 2 PORTLAND, Feb. 4 @ Deering
COACH’S COMMENT: “It’s nice to be home. The kids have been great. We have great size and athleticism, but we need to shoot better. It’ll be a process. It’s a completely new system for these guys. We have to learn each other and that will take time. I think we’re as talented as teams like Portland and Deering, but with a new coach, you have to put us behind them. We’re not near our potential now, but I think we’ll be a very strong team in January.”
THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: South Portland had a terrific season a year ago, winning 16 times, but had no answer for Jack Simonds in a disappointing tournament loss to Falmouth. Then, despite being named SMAA Co-Coach of the Year, Phil Conley wasn’t brought back and has been replaced by Millington, South Portland Class of 1991, who spent the last 18 years coaching the Windham boys. Millington is happy to be home and he inherits a team that is considered by many the favorite in the newfangled Class AA South.
For starters, the Red Riots have a front line that will be almost impossible to match. Fiorini, a second-team SMAA all-star in 2014-15, who recently committed to play lacrosse at powerhouse Syracuse, has a 6-foot-6-inch frame and will score and rebound at will (he averaged 13.2 points and 6.5 boards a year ago). He’s joined by Jackson (7.4 ppg, 6.7 rpg) at 6-foot-5 and Bol (7.3 ppg, 4.9 rpg) at 6-foot-4. Bol made the SMAA All-Rookie team and was an honorable mention all-star last winter. Pelletier is a shooting guard who stands 6-4. He averaged 8.3 points and 3.1 rebounds in 2014-15 and could be a top scorer, along with DePaolo, who can also knock down shots from the outside. Senior guard Mike Kilmartin and juniors Moses Oreste (a transfer from Deering), Ansel Stilley and Deandre White are newcomers to watch. While shooting will come and go, South Portland’s ability to get putback points and control the glass will allow it to compete even on off nights.
The Red Riots will be tested often, starting with the opener at two-time defending regional champion Portland, and will likely stumble a few times against a challenging slate, but this group will only get stronger and more confident once it jells and gets used to the new coach. After the disappointment of a year ago, South Portland is ready to take the next step, get to states and win a first championship since the storied 1992 squad, which beat Bangor in an unforgettable five overtimes. If this group stays healthy and hungry, a happy ending could be in store.
COACH: Lynne Hasson (third year, 30-10 overall record)
2014-15 record: 15-6 (Lost, 39-34, to McAuley in Western A semifinals)
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Maddie Hasson (Senior), Lydia Henderson (Junior), Megan Graff (Sophomore)
PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 8 DEERING, Dec. 11 GORHAM, Dec. 15 @ Cheverus, Jan. 5 CHEVERUS, Jan. 12 MCAULEY, Jan. 14 @ Portland, Jan. 16 @ TA, Jan. 18 FALMOUTH, Jan. 26 WINDHAM, Jan. 29 @ Deering
COACH’S COMMENT: “It’s a learning curve, but it’s going well so far. We have some new kids and we’re figuring it out. It’s a different look this year. We don’t have a lot of size, but we’re very athletic. We’ll hope for balanced scoring, but it all starts with Maddie. We have the pieces. If our freshmen play like I think they can, we can get to the championship game. We’re in the mix with the top teams.”
THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Like the boys, the South Portland girls are viewed as one of the favorites in the new Class AA South. The Red Riots got to the semifinals a year ago and gave McAuley a scare and despite some departures, have the pieces in place for a memorable season.
South Portland lost Holly Black and Paige Carter to graduation and Abby Cavallaro and Grace Soucy to Cheverus, but gets to enjoy the talents of Hasson, last year’s Winter Female Athlete of the Year and first-team league all-star, for one more season. She was fourth in the league in scoring (16.8 points per game), second in assists (3.8), ninth in steals (2.8) and ninth in rebounds (7.3) a year ago. She’ll be the focal point of every foe, but Hasson’s ability to play all five positions will make her a matchup nightmare. Henderson continues to emerge as a top player. She’ll be a shooting guard, who can drain 3s and also plays terrific defense (she was fourth in the league with 3.6 assists per game last winter). Graff, an All-Rookie team selection in 2014-15, will be the point guard and a top rebounder. She averaged 2.9 assists (tied for 11th in the league) and 2.5 steals (13th) a year ago. Other guards to watch are senior Casey Loring, the top-notch runner who is back on the hardwood this winter, freshman Bela Cloutier, a point guard, and freshman Katie Whitmore. South Portland may be thin in the frontcourt without senior Meghan Doyle, who suffered a knee injury during soccer season and probably won’t be back until the very end of January. Freshmen Jena Leckie and Grace Rende will see some time in the paint.
While Gorham is the favorite in Class AA South and defending regional champion Thornton Academy and perennial powerhouse McAuley also loom, the Red Riots believe they have a shot to be right there at the end. Hasson, Henderson and Graff will take this team a long way. If they get help from the new players, South Portland should steadily improve in the weeks to come and be in position to steal the show in February.
COACH: Joe Robinson (ninth year, 74-76-4 overall record)
2014-15 record: 10-9 (Lost, 6-3, to Noble/Wells in Western A quarterfinals)
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Tyler Goldberg (Senior), Joe Grant (Junior), Aidan Schifano (Sophomore), Max Winson (Sophomore)
PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 19 @ York, Jan. 9 @ Noble/Wells, Jan. 14 PORTLAND/DEERING, Jan. 16 NOBLE/WELLS, Feb. 13 @ Cheverus
COACH’S COMMENT: “We are a really young team. We have just two seniors and three juniors out of 28 players. We may struggle to score, but it’s possible that we may be able to spread it out pretty evenly among the three lines. Once again, we are hoping to just make the tournament and see where that takes us.”
THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: A year ago, South Portland posted its second straight winning record and made it to the Western A quarterfinals once again. While Travis Roy Award finalist and two-time Fall Male Athlete of the Year Andrew Whipple has graduated and the roster is rife with inexperience, don’t be surprised if the Red Riots find their way back to the postseason.
This year, South Portland, a co-op team which also includes players from Freeport and Waynflete, will turn to Schifano, Winson and freshmen Mitchell Adams and Owen Patrick to pace the offense. Goldberg, the captain, is the anchor on defense. He’ll be aided by freshman Atticus Patrick. Grant returns in goal and figures to see plenty of shots, but he’ll be up to the task.
Look for the Red Riots to be competitive against all but the league’s elite and win enough games to be in the playoff conversation. Robinson always gets the most out of his charges and this group has no shortage of pride. That should add up to another memorable campaign.
BOYS’ COACH: Dave Kahill (ninth year)
GIRLS’ COACH: Karen Reardon (fifth year)
(BOYS) 10th @ Class A state meet
(GIRLS) Tie-5th @ Class A state meet
(BOYS) Noah Blake (Senior), Danny Guiliani (Senior), Jake Maloney (Senior), Isaiah Anderson (Junior), Xander Keiter (Junior), Brad Mileson (Junior), Steven Smith (Junior)
(GIRLS) Miranda Gleason (Senior), Edita Isakovic (Senior), Meagan Johnson (Senior), Sophia Cummings (Junior), Toia Francis (Junior), Phoebe Letourneau (Junior), Serena McKenzie (Junior), Callie O’Brien (Junior), Lingdong Bol (Sophomore), Juliana Selser (Sophomore)
COACH KAHILL’S COMMENT: “We’re a very young, but talented team with only three seniors and over half the team members in their first year of indoor track. The distance runners have been improving rapidly and are the team’s most experienced group. We have good depth in the sprints and jumps. We could develop a very strong junior division. We’ll improve and be competitive throughout the season and we have the potential to be a top five team at the SMAA championship.”
COACH REARDON’S COMMENT: “We hope to be a top team. We have some holes to fill, but we return a strong group. Our league is very competitive, so we’ll get plenty of opportunities to compete against some of the best week-in and week-out. From there, it will be a matter of seeing where our best chances lie and performing when it counts. We’ve gained a lot of experience the last couple of years, so it should be an exciting season for us.”
THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Both South Portland indoor track teams are excited about the season ahead.
The boys lost defending Class A long and triple jump champion Michael Cuesta, but return Iowa State-bound standout Guiliani, who holds the shot put state record outdoors and is hoping to add an indoor crown to his resume before he graduates. The jumps feature Anderson, Blake, sophomores Nathan Begonia, Max Holmes and Khem Johnston, new junior Finn Zechman and freshmen Ben Sivik and Dana Watts. Zechman could be a top sprinter, along with Anderson, Blake, Holmes, Johnston, Sivik, Watts and junior Sadiki Stewart, who returns to the team after not competing as a sophomore. In the hurdles, keep an eye on Mileson. Distance runners of note include Keiter, Maloney, Mileson and Smith. The Red Riots will contend with the best teams in the SMAA and should again finish in the top 10 at states.
On the girls’ side, South Portland should place in the top 10 for a fifth year in a row. This year’s team boasts Bol (fourth in the high jump last year), Isakovic and O’Brien (who tied for sixth in the high jump) and Fall Female Athlete of the Year McKenzie (seventh in the two-mile). Cummings (jumps, hurdles), Francis (400, 800), Gleason (jumps), Johnson (jumps, sprints, hurdles), Letourneau (jumps) and Selser (400, 800) are other veterans. Newcomers to watch include senior Jackie Tanguay (jumps, sprints), juniors Kaitlin Bouchard (shot put), Ella Jocher (distance) and Molly Skeffington (sprints), sophomores Rachel Haynes (sprints) and Skye McCann (jumps, sprints) and freshmen Itza Anzurez (sprints, shot put) and Julia Banks (hurdles, shot put). The Red Riots will consistently improve and will have several athletes capable of earning glory in February.
COACH: Ryan Green (third year)
(BOYS) 15th @ Class A state meet
(GIRLS) 10th @ Class A state meet
(BOYS) Caleb Cram (Senior), Chris Hau (Senior), Jackson Haynes (Senior), Liam Hayes (Junior)
(GIRLS) Tory Brewster (Senior), Ally Hobbs (Senior), Emma Kane (Junior)
TOP FOES: Cape Elizabeth, Cheverus, Greely
COACH’S COMMENT: “We’ll try to win dual meets with depth this year, filling every lane in every event. Competition in practices will help develop new state qualifiers by the time regional and state championships arrive.”
THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: South Portland looks to move up the ladder this winter.
The boys return Cram (freestyle, butterfly), Hau (distance freestyle), Hayes (freestyle, backstroke) and Haynes (sprint freestyle). Freshmen Mitchell Amadei (freestyle, fly, backstroke), Momchil Dagorov (breaststroke, individual medley, distance freestyle) and Sam Goodine-Doane (freestyle, backstroke) are newcomers to watch. The Red Riots could be one of the pleasant surprises in the weeks to come.
On the girls’ side, keep an eye on Brewster (distance freestyle), Hobbs (distance freestyle, backstroke) and Kane (breaststroke, IM). Juniors Stephanie Aceto (sprint freestyle), Grace Goodwin (sprint freestyle), Sydney Kane (fly, backstroke) and Sofia McNally (freestyle, IM), sophomore Sula Flock (freestyle, fly) and freshman Anya Steele (freestyle, IM) provide depth. South Portland is hoping for a second successive top 10 state finish. That goal is attainable.
Senior Jack Fiorini is going to Syracuse to play lacrosse, but he’s pretty good on the hardwood too and will look to lead South Portland deep into the playoffs again this winter.
Junior Ruay Bol has the ability to score inside or outside.
Senior Jordin Jackson is a matchup nightmare in the post.
Senior Matt Pelletier is a long-range scoring option for the Red Riots.
Sophomore Megan Graff is an up and coming star in the SMAA.
Junior Lydia Henderson has great range and skill.
Senior captain Tyler Goldberg is a key returner for a South Portland boys’ hockey team that is seeking another playoff trip.
Junior Joe Grant is back in goal for the Red Riots.