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- The Forecaster
COACH: Phil Conley (eighth year, 92-47 overall record)
2013-14 record: 6-12 (no postseason)
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Kam Harper (Senior), Jaren Muller (Senior), Jack Fiorini (Junior), Jordin Jackson (Junior)
PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 12 @ Westbrook, Dec. 18 @ Portland, Dec. 23 @ Bonny Eagle, Dec. 27 SCARBOROUGH, Dec. 30 @ Deering, Jan. 6 @ Scarborough, Jan. 16 CHEVERUS, Jan. 19 @ Marshwood, Jan. 27 @ Gorham, Jan. 30 DEERING, Feb. 3 PORTLAND, Feb. 5 @ Cheverus
COACH’S COMMENT: “We’re pretty big this season. I do like our size. We’ll pound it inside. We have to develop our guard play. The kids are working hard, which is always a good sign. My goal is the same it is every season, to get into the playoffs, then look to advance. After a tough season like last year, it’s important to get wins and confidence. I think we’ll get better as the season goes on. We have hungry kids who want to get back (to the tournament).”
THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: The Red Riots don’t miss the playoffs often and after falling just short last winter (one season after making it to the state final), this year’s group feels as though it has unfinished business. Last year, most of the roster received trial by fire. This season, South Portland is battle tested and ready to make a run to the Expo and beyond. Muller was the Red Riots’ focal point a season ago (averaging 13.2 points and 7.6 rebounds per contest even though he was surrounded at times). He hopes to bow out with an all-star-caliber year. He could be one of the state’s most formidable post presences. Fiorini (who grabbed 6 rebounds a game) made the SMAA All-Rookie team last winter and helped pace boys’ lacrosse to its first title. He’s another matchup nightmare down low. Jackson (6.7 boards per game in 2013-14) will play a bigger role this winter and is yet another big body to account for. Seniors Ismael Baez and Matt Beecher and sophomore Ruay Bol add depth. Harper (3 assists and 1.8 steals a game last season) returns at guard. He’s joined in the backcourt by junior point guard Sam DePaolo, seniors Jacob Brown (a top foul shooter) and Silas Zechman and junior Matt Pelletier, who will also see some time at forward. The Red Riots have a favorable early schedule. If they get some wins, they’ll be right back in the playoff mix. This is a group that should show steady improvement, win more than it loses and be a squad that no one wants to face on the big stage of the tournament.
COACH: Lynne Hasson (second year)
2013-14 record: 15-4 (Lost, 61-42, to Cheverus in Western A quarterfinal)
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Holly Black (Senior), Maddie Hasson (Junior), Lydia Henderson (Sophomore)
PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 16 @ Thornton Academy, Dec. 18 @ Portland, Dec. 30 @ Deering, Jan. 6 SCARBOROUGH, Jan. 9 MCAULEY, Jan. 16 CHEVERUS, Jan. 23 @ Windham, Jan. 27 GORHAM, Jan. 30 PORTLAND, Feb. 3 @ Cheverus, Feb. 5 @ Scarborough
COACH’S COMMENT: “It’s been a great group so far. We’ll shoot the ball well and play pressure defense. We have depth at guard and strong post play. We should be a great rebounding team. We had a great regular season last year, but the kids were disappointed with how it ended. They wanted to get to the Civic Center. The kids have been counting the days ever since. They’re incredibly hard working. They have a passion for basketball. They’re ready to do whatever it takes. I won’t have to motivate them. Their attitudes are great. We have all the pieces to compete for a championship.”
THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: South Portland was the feel-good story of the regular season a year ago, but those good feelings disappeared quickly at the Expo. The Red Riots will treat that playoff setback as a learning experience and this time around, they’re bound and determined to not only have another strong regular season, but to be one of the last teams standing in February. Hasson can do a little of everything at 5-feet-11. She was a second-team all-star last year after finishing seventh in the SMAA with 14.1 points per game. She’ll make this offense go with help from Black, who stands 6-feet. Black was 11th in rebounds last season (grabbing 7.7 per contest). Henderson made the SMAA All-Rookie team as a freshman and will pace the offense at point guard. She’s unflappable and will only get better. Freshmen Abby Cavallaro and Meghan Graff are other guards to watch. In the frontcourt, Black is joined by junior Meaghan Doyle, who missed the 2013-14 campaign with an ACL injury. This group has the potential to do special things. The Red Riots have shown they can play with anyone in the regular season and it’s likely they’ll boast another strong record by season’s end. This time around, however, South Portland needs to step up on the big stage and there’s no reason to think it won’t be able to meet the challenge. The Red Riots’ last trip to the semifinals came way back in 2008 and it’s been nine seasons since they’ve played in the regional final. Those droughts could soon become a thing of the past.
COACH: Joe Robinson (eighth year, 64-67-4 overall record)
2013-14 record: 12-8 (Lost, 10-0, to eventual state champion Falmouth in Western A quarterfinals)
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Kyle Halvorsen (Senior), Will McMullin (Senior), Chris Mitchell (Senior), Shannon Tully (Senior), Andrew Whipple (Senior), Tyler Goldberg (Junior)
PIVOTAL GAMES: Dec. 11 @ Cheverus, Dec. 18 YORK, Jan. 10 WESTBROOK, Feb. 5 @ Portland/Deering, Feb. 7 @ Noble, Feb. 19 NOBLE
COACH’S COMMENT: “We have all three of our top scorers returning, as well as two young, but talented goaltenders coming in. We play a similar schedule to last year, so we’re hoping to make the playoffs again.”
THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: South Portland made the most of its minuscule roster in 2013-14, reaching the playoffs, winning a game there and earning Robinson Coach of the Year honors. This winter, the roster remains far from robust, but the Red Riots are primed to have another strong season nonetheless. Whipple is the school’s reigning Winter Male Athlete of the Year (making the Tier 2/3 all-star team after producing 52 points). He’ll pace the offense again, with help from Goldberg, Mitchell and all-star Halvorsen. McMullin is the top defender. He’ll be joined by freshman Will Armstrong in front of one of three potential goalies: Tully, sophomore Joe Grant or freshman Jason Halvorsen. South Portland has a favorable schedule which will allow it to accrue victories. There won’t be a lot of Heal Points, however, meaning if the Red Riots do get back to the playoffs, they’ll likely have to travel again. This program continues to admirably chug along. Another successful campaign should be its reward.
BOYS’ COACH: Dave Kahill (eighth year)
GIRLS’ COACH: Karen Reardon (fourth year)
(BOYS) Tie-2nd @ Class A state meet
(GIRLS) Tie-6th @ Class A state meet
(BOYS) Michael Cuesta (Senior), Henry Curran (Senior), Bryan Currie (Senior), Matthew Stearns (Senior), Noah Blake (Junior), Danny Guiliani (Junior), Jacob Maloney (Junior), Isaiah Anderson (Sophomore), Steven Smith (Sophomore)
(GIRLS) Janey Blackwell-Orr (Senior), Lauren Magnuson (Senior), Michelle Medici (Senior), Jamison Stanford-Cribby (Senior), Brittney Upton (Senior), Edita Isakovic (Junior), Meagan Johnson (Junior), Sophia Cummings (Sophomore), Toia Francis (Sophomore), Serena McKenzie (Sophomore), Callie O’Brien (Sophomore)
TOP FOES: Cheverus, Deering, Scarborough, Thornton Academy
COACH KAHILL’S COMMENT: “We have great energy and competitiveness. The veterans have already set a hardworking, positive and enthusiastic attitude. Our success this year will be determined by the continued improvement of the veterans, our overall depth and the development of the young athletes. We should be very competitive in the regular and postseasons. We have the potential to be a top five team in the conference. Michael and Danny have the potential to be elite performers.”
COACH REARDON’S COMMENT: “We’d like to move up the ladder even higher. We have a good turnout this year, 40 girls, so I expect we’ll do well in the regular season, as we should be able to cover a wide range of events at both the junior and senior divisions. It will be important to continue to develop throughout the season so we have more qualifiers for states and qualifiers with a chance to place in the top three or four. Expectations are there to perform well. Now we need to go about our business to make it happen. It’s a good group and the coaching staff is looking forward to seeing what they can do.”
THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: Big things could be in store for the South Portland indoor track program this winter.
The boys are coming off their best state meet showing in a dozen years and also took home the Sportsmanship Award. While graduation took its toll, there is plenty of talent in reserve. Cuesta is the reigning Class A champion in the triple jump and also placed third in the long jump last winter. He also sprints and pole vaults. He might be one of the league’s most decorated athletes when all is said and done. Guiliani also scored last winter (seventh in the shot put) and was the outdoor state champion in the shot put. He could soar to the top spot indoors. Curran, South Portland’s Fall Male Athlete of the Year, will compete in the jumps and can also sprint and hurdle with the best of them (he was second in the 55 hurdles at Southwesterns last year). The onslaught continues with Currie (who runs middle-distance, hurdles, pole vaults and jumps), Stearns (who sprints, pole vaults and jumps), Blake (a sprinter, jumper and thrower), Maloney (a middle-distance runner), Anderson (sprints and jumps) and Smith (distance). Some newcomers help the cause as well. Seniors Darien McMahan (jumps, shot put) and Remi Sedjro (jumps), sophomore Xander Keiter (distance) and freshman Zach Dyer (middle distance, hurdles, jumps) bring depth and the prospect of additional points. This is a squad that does a lot of things and does a lot of things well. The Red Riots will be very tough in league meets and should be primed for another top five finish at the state meet in February.
On the girls’ side, reigning Winter Female Athlete of the Year Shannon Conley will be missed, but South Portland has several strong athletes who will score points. Magnuson (third in the 55 and fourth in the 200 a year ago) and O’Brien (third in the high jump as a freshman) are the top returners. Blackwell-Orr (middle distance), Medici (a top shot putter), Stanford-Cribby (shot put) and Upton (400) have experience. The junior class includes Isakovic (sprints, jumps) and Johnson (sprints and jumps). Cummings (jumps, hurdles), Francis (middle distance) and McKenzie (distance) saw valuable time as freshmen and look to play key roles this season. A huge addition this winter is Fall Female Athlete of the Year, junior Casey Loring, one of the state’s top distance runners. She’ll quickly make a name for herself indoors. Sophomores Phoebe Letourneau (sprints, jumps) and Thaovy Duong (middle distance) and freshmen Lingdong Bol (sprints, jumps), Jenny DiPhilippo (middle distance) and Juliana Selser (sprints, middle distance) are also new to the team. The Red Riots have the pieces in place to once again have a strong season from start to finish.
COACH: Ryan Green (second year)
(BOYS) 13th @ Class A state meet
(GIRLS) 18th @ Class A state meet
(BOYS) Nick Alvarez (Senior), Thomas Richards (Senior), Caleb Cram (Junior), JT Fix (Junior), Liam Hayes (Sophomore)
(GIRLS) Dima Karakitakova (Senior), Sarah Micucci (Senior), Emma Kane (Sophomore)
TOP FOES: Cheverus, Deering, Falmouth
COACH’S COMMENT: “In the last two years, the team has more than doubled in size. The large amount of newcomers have gained the experience to begin to increase the dual meet win total and move up the ladder at Southwesterns and states.”
THE FORECASTER’S FORECAST: South Portland’s swim program continues to improve and that trend should continue this winter.
The boys return Alvarez, who was seventh in the 200 free and seventh in the butterfly last year. Fix and Richards scored in the 400 free relay last year and could make a name for themselves individually. Cram (fly) and Hayes (fly and backstroke) will also be heard from. This is still a young group, but one on the rise. With a little luck, South Portland will make a run at a top 10 state meet finish.
On the girls’ side, the top returner is Karakitakova, who was eighth in diving last season. She’ll also swim the freestyle. Micucci will contend in the IM and freestyle. Kane is a breaststroker to watch. Newcomers Tory Brewster, Sophie Chase and Kristina McCarthy add depth for a group ready to contend. Like their male counterparts, the girls are primed to continue to swim their way up the ladder.
Senior Jacob Brown saw limited playing time in 2013-14, but should be a factor on this winter’s squad.
Junior Jack Fiorini is a top post threat for the Red Riots.
Senior Kam Harper will help run the South Portland offense in the weeks to come.
Jaren Muller returns for his senior season and will pose a matchup challenge for the opposition.
Senior Silas Zechman should play a bigger role for the Red Riots this season.
Junior Meaghan Doyle returns from injury to help the Red Riots’ cause.
Senior Holly Black will be one of the top post players in Western A.
Sophomore Lydia Henderson is coming off a strong rookie campaign and will pace the Red Riots’ offense.
Shannon Tully returns as a goalie for a South Portland hockey team which is seeking to return to the playoffs.
Michael Cuesta figures to be an elite jumper again this winter.
Danny Guiliani will be a top thrower in the weeks to come.
Lauren Magnuson is a veteran scorer for the Red Riots.
Callie O’Brien leaped her way into the league’s consciousness as a freshman and could be a premier jumper again this winter.
Junior Maddie Hasson and her teammates are going to be a force to be reckoned with this winter.
More photos below.