Local high school sports athletes set a high standard again in 2016.
Whether the season was winter, spring or fall, triumph was the theme and there were countless memorable moments.
With another winter season underway and a new year upon us, here’s one final look back at the thrills that made up the year just past.
When 2015 gave way to 2016, Cape Elizabeth’s boys’ basketball team was defending a state title and was in contention again, while Scarborough and South Portland were inconsistent, but were also chasing playoff spots.
On the girls’ side, South Portland, behind standout senior Maddie Hasson, emerged as a title hopeful, while Cape Elizabeth, Greater Portland Christian School and Scarborough also turned heads.
On the ice, Scarborough’s defending Class A boys’ team once again led the way, while Cape Elizabeth and South Portland fielded competitive teams.
On the girls’ side, Scarborough had the look of a championship contender. The Cape Elizabeth/South Portland/Waynflete co-op team was also chasing a playoff spot.
Skiing, swimming, track and wrestling teams and individuals geared up for the postseason.
February vacation week brought the first hardware of the new year.
Scarborough’s boys’ indoor track team won its fifth Class A championship in six seasons, as Sam Rusak captured the high jump and pole vault, Griffin Madden was first in the 55 hurdles and Colin Tardiff won the mile. South Portland’s Juliana Selser was tops in the Class A girls’ 800.
In the pool, both Cape Elizabeth teams came in second in Class B, as Olivia Tighe won the Class B girls’ 200 freestyle.
On the slopes, Cape Elizabeth’s Devon Lathrop won the Class B boys’ giant slalom.
On the ice, the Cape Elizabeth/South Portland/Waynflete girls’ co-op team lost to York in the South Region quarterfinals. Scarborough would make a run to the state final, but the Red Storm lost to St. Dom’s one win shy of a championship.
On the boys’ side, Cape Elizabeth made the Class B South playoffs and after upsetting Brunswick in the quarterfinals, almost rallied before dropping a one-goal heartbreaker to Gardiner in the semifinals. South Portland was ousted by Falmouth in the A South quarterfinals, but Scarborough managed to down Massabesic in the quarterfinals and Cheverus in the semifinals.
Attention then turned to the basketball championships.
The GPCS girls lost to top-ranked Rangeley in the Class D South quarterfinals. Cape Elizabeth was ousted by Westbrook in the A South preliminary round. South Portland survived Scarborough in the AA South quarterfinals, then held off McAuley in an overtime thriller in the semifinals. That sent the Red Riots to the regional final to battle top-ranked Gorham. Hasson kept South Portland in it, but ultimately, the Rams proved to be too much and they ended the Red Riots’ season before going on to win the state title.
On the boys’ side, Cape Elizabeth wasn’t able to repeat, as the Capers lost to eventual champion Falmouth in the A South semifinals. Scarborough lost to Massabesic in the AA South quarterfinals. That left South Portland, which went .500 in the regular season. The Red Riots defeated Sanford in the quarterfinals, upset top-ranked Thornton Academy in the semifinals, then edged Massabesic in a regional final thriller. South Portland squared off with heavily favored Portland in the state final and nearly shocked the world (see below) before dropping a double-overtime epic for the ages.
March saw two more boys’ hockey games.
Scarborough held off Falmouth, 1-0, in the A South Final, then did battle with Lewiston in what proved to be a thrilling state game. The contest was tied, 1-1, in the final minute before the Blue Devils broke through, ending the Red Storm’s repeat title quest one goal shy.
April and May
The short spring regular season featured much excitement and triumph.
Scarborough’s baseball team, under the tutelage of Maine Hall of Fame coach Mike D’Andrea, stole headlines and was joined by powerhouse squads from Cape Elizabeth and South Portland near the top of the standings.
Scarborough’s softball team was up to its juggernaut ways, while Cape Elizabeth and South Portland were also in contention.
Boys’ lacrosse featured strong play as Cape Elizabeth appeared to have what it took to win a fourth successive Class B championship, South Portland was gearing up for what it hoped would be another regional crown and Scarborough was biding its time, primed to be the best of the bunch in Class A.
On the girls’ side, all three local squads chased a playoff berth.
Area track stars geared up for the state meet.
The tennis story featured excellence from several teams, most notably the three-time defending Class B champion Cape Elizabeth boys as well as the school’s girls’ team.
The spring championship season began with Scarborough’s boys’ track team capping a perfect school year, adding a state title outdoors to go with championships won in cross country and in indoor track. Sam Rusak’s excellence propelled the Red Storm to the top spot, as he won the 110 hurdles, the 200, pole vault and high jump. South Portland had a pair of individual champions (Ruay Bol in the triple jump and Daniel Guiliani in the shot put). In the girls’ Class A state meet, Scarborough’s Bethany Sholl took the two-mile and Juliana Selser won the 800.
A week later, Cape Elizabeth’s girls’ tennis team won its first championship in nine seasons. The Capers boys weren’t able to win it all, falling in the state match.
On the diamond, Scarborough’s softball team went undefeated and got to the regional final, but after Lilly Volk’s perfect game in a quarterfinal round victory over Portland and a win over Windham in the semifinals, the Red Storm couldn’t solve Biddeford in the Class A South Final and their season came to a disappointing end. South Portland had a sure win washed out in the preliminary round and in the rematch, the Red Riots lost to Windham. Cape Elizabeth lost in the Class B South quarterfinals.
Baseball provided tremendous excitement. In Class A South, Scarborough exceeded everyone’s expectations and got to the semifinals, but met its match against South Portland, which got to the regional final for the second year in a row before its run was ended by Falmouth. In Class B South, Cape Elizabeth got to the regional final for the second straight season and for the second year in a row, suffered a painful loss, this time to upstart Freeport.
Scarborough’s girls’ lacrosse team lost to defending state champion Massabesic in the quarterfinals, while South Portland won a quarterfinal for the first time before being eliminated by Marshwood in the semifinals.
Boys’ lacrosse did produce a champion. While Cape Elizabeth was upset by Falmouth in the Class B South Final and South Portland was eliminated by Scarborough in the Class A South semifinals, the Red Storm went on to win their first title in three seasons.
July and August
High school action took a short break, while familiar names competed in road races and American Legion ball. By mid-August, fall practice was underway.
Autumn brought football, soccer, field hockey, cross country, golf and volleyball excitement.
On the gridiron, Scarborough opened with a stunning win at Portland and soon emerged as a top contender to preseason favorite Bonny Eagle and two-time champion Thornton Academy. Cape Elizabeth crushed all comers and South Portland was in contention.
On the pitch, the Cape Elizabeth, Scarborough and South Portland boys, as well as the Cape Elizabeth, GPCS and Scarborough girls turned heads.
Scarborough’s field hockey team overcame an 0-2 start with a surge, while Cape Elizabeth and South Portland battled for a playoff berth.
Scarborough’s defending Class A state champion volleyball team dropped its opener to Greely, then hit its stride, while Cape Elizabeth and South Portland were also in the mix.
Cross country and golf teams hinted at success to come.
At the golf state match, Cape Elizabeth wasn’t able to repeat as Class B champion, as it settled for second. Scarborough placed fourth in Class A.
Several local cross country teams qualified for states.
South Portland’s volleyball team made the playoffs for the first time in program history, but lost to Biddeford in the preliminary round. Cape Elizabeth was also ousted in that round by Mt. Desert Island. That left Scarborough, which won its final 13 regular season matches. The Red Storm beat Marshwood, Bonny Eagle and Yarmouth to return to the Class A state final, but this time, they couldn’t solve Greely and lost in four sets.
The field hockey playoffs produced plenty of drama. Cape Elizabeth, one year after a winless campaign, qualified but lost to Freeport in the Class B South preliminary round. South Portland also lost in the preliminary round, in Class A South, to Cheverus. Scarborough, which won 12 straight games after its slow start, lost at Marshwood in the semifinals.
The soccer playoffs saw Scarborough’s girls advance to the regional final. Cape Elizabeth lost to eventual state champion Yarmouth in the Class B South semifinals. GPCS was ousted in the Class D South quarterfinals by Buckfield.
On the boys’ side, Scarborough beat South Portland in the Class A South quarterfinals, then lost to Gorham in the semifinals. Cape Elizabeth was upset by Greely in the Class B South quarterfinals.
Football’s playoffs began with South Portland losing to Scarborough in the A South quarterfinals, while Cape Elizabeth dominated Poland in the C South quarterfinals.
The soccer drama continued into November, where Scarborough’s girls gave Gorham a scare but ultimately lost in the Class A South Final.
Cross country’s state meet didn’t produce a champion, but five local squads took part.
While Cape Elizabeth’s football team had no trouble with Spruce Mountain in its semifinal, it was overshadowed by Scarborough, which went to Thornton Academy and shocked the defending champions with a late comeback. The Red Storm finally met their match in the Class A South Final, however, losing to eventual state champion Bonny Eagle to end their finest Class A season to date. The Capers’ title dreams were ended by eventual champion Wells in the Class C South Final.
And with that, the fall campaign was over.
Winter has returned and the fun begins again.
In boys’ basketball, South Portland has the pieces in place to enjoy another banner campaign, while Cape Elizabeth, GPCS and Scarborough all hope to contend.
On the girls’ side, South Portland could again be a powerhouse, while Scarborough will also be heard from.
On the ice, playoffs are a realistic goal for every local team.
Swimming, track and wrestling have provided their share of promising moments and skiing is about to get underway.
Say goodbye to the wonderful year that was. We welcome 2017 and look forward to a new batch of highlights.
Happy New Year everyone!
Portland 52 South Portland 50 Class AA boys’ basketball state final
A no brainer, as this was an epic, a game for the ages and a contest that was surprisingly close. The Bulldogs were heavy favorites entering the contest thanks to twice easily handling the Red Riots in the regular season, but South Portland gave Portland everything it could handle through 32 minutes, one four-minute overtime, then a second before Portland managed to eke out the thrilling victory. There were no losers in this one. Everyone on hand was the winner.
South Portland’s boys’ basketball team celebrated a surprising regional title last winter and came oh-so-close to capturing a Gold Ball.
Scarborough’s boys’ lacrosse team had no peer in Class A, winning a state title in June.
Mariah Deschino and the Cape Elizabeth girls’ soccer team enjoyed another strong campaign this past fall.