Waynflete Flyers Winter Sports Preview

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After a solid freshman season, Askar Houssein will play a big role on a Waynflete boys’ basketball team that is eyeing another deep playoff run.

File photos.

More photos below.

BOYS’ BASKETBALL

Coach: Rich Henry (14th year, 165-84 overall record)

2016-17 record: 15-6 (Lost, 52-47, to Madison in Class C South semifinals)

Top returning players: Ilyas Abdi (Senior), Christian Brooks (Senior), Abdi Mohamed (Senior), John Veroneau (Senior), Musaid Mohammed (Junior), Burr Rhoads (Junior), Alex Saade (Junior), Oliver Burdick (Sophomore), Diraige Dahia (Sophomore), Askar Houssein (Sophomore), Solomon Levy (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: Dec. 8 @ Wells, Dec. 11 @ NYA, Dec. 20 CAPE ELIZABETH, Dec. 22 YARMOUTH, Jan. 11 @ OOB, Feb. 2 OOB, Feb. 8 NYA

Coach’s comment: “I try to have the same expectations every year, compete, strive to play fundamentally sound basketball and peak at the right time. We have another challenging regular season schedule. I’m tempting fate, but this year’s team is among the deepest I’ve had in quite some time. I’ve been really impressed with the level of intensity and focus in practice so far and we have a number of players back playing at a higher level than last year. We’ll see what we’re made of pretty early. This is a fun group to work with.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Waynflete has been a model of consistency in recent years and while the Flyers fell short of the state game a year ago, they posted another solid record and set the stage for what could be a memorable season this winter. While Yai Deng and Jack Meahl’s graduation will be felt, other players are ready to either see more minutes or step on to the varsity team.

Houssein, a guard, was a conference all-star as a freshman (averaging 3.6 assists and 2.5 steals per contest) and projects to be a top scorer this season. Brooks, a forward, and Dahia, a guard, are also capable of going off on a given night. Abdi (a guard), Mohamed (a guard) and Veroneau (a forward) join Brooks (who grabbed 8.1 rebounds per contest last winter) as the senior leaders. All are capable of doing multiple things on the floor. Mohammed (forward), Rhoads (forward) and Saade (guard) will look to play bigger roles this winter, while Burdick (a guard) and Levy (a forward) round out a solid veteran core. Freshmen center Dominick Campbell and forwards Jared Johnson and Chris Saade provide depth.

Waynflete has the daunting task of playing three straight road games to start the season (beginning with a trip to reigning Class B South champion Wells), then comes home to meet this year’s Class B South co-favorites Cape Elizabeth and Yarmouth. Even if the Flyers stumble a few times early, they’ll only get better and figure to be clicking on all cylinders when February rolls around. Waynflete has shown it can handle the best that the Mountain Valley Conference has to offer when the action moves to Augusta. This Flyers edition is poised to once again do big things.

GIRLS’ BASKETBALL

Coach: Mike Jefferds (third year, 18-21 overall record)

2016-17 record: 11-9 (Lost, 45-40, to Monmouth in Class C South quarterfinals)

Top returning players: Izzy Burdick (Senior), Lydia Giguere (Senior), LZ Olney (Senior), Emi Boedeker (Junior)

Pivotal games: Dec. 11 @ NYA, Dec. 15 TRAIP, Jan. 11 @ OOB, Jan. 17 ST. DOM’S, Jan. 19 @ Traip, Feb. 2 H OOB, Feb. 6 @ St. Dom’s, Feb. 8 NYA

Coach’s comment: “It’s a good group of girls. We’ll have a balanced attack and we’lll need to fill different roles. We have a difficult schedule playing Class A and B teams, as well as teams in our class. Every team will present a new challenge. If we make adjustments and deal with adversity, it’s realistic for us to make the postseason again. We’d love to make it back to Augusta.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Waynflete enjoyed a solid season a year ago and gave Monmouth a mighty scare at the Augusta Civic Center before falling in the quarterfinals. This time around, the Flyers have some holes to fill and some questions to answer, but there’s a nice mix of returning talent and promising youth which suggests Waynflete will find a way to enjoy another strong campaign.

Giguere was a first-team Western Maine Conference all-star a year ago after finishing third in the league in scoring (12.9 points per game). She figures to be a top scorer for the Flyers this winter and will certainly be the focal point of opposing game plans. She can play guard or forward. Burdick will spark the offense from her point guard position. She averaged 2.9 assists per contest last season. Olney can do a little of everything and Boedeker, who played very well as a sophomore, will be a force in the post. Mix in sophomores Sophie Aronson (a post player) and Anna Wildes (who plays guard and forward) and freshman guard Kiley Sherry and the Waynflete coaching staff has some pieces to work with.

The Flyers won’t have many easy games and may struggle early as they figure out who is best utilized where. This group should show steady improvement, however, and by February, will be a team that no one wants to face.

SWIMMING

Coach: Steve Withers (fourth year)

2016-17 results:

(Boys) 12th @ Class B state meet

(Girls) 15th @ Class B state meet

Top returners:

(Boys) Colin LeBihan (Senior), Shuhao Liu (Senior), Blake Bondellio (Junior)

(Girls) Molly McNutt (Senior), Lily Fanburg (Junior)

Coach’s comment: “After losing a core group of seniors, we’re rebuilding across the board. We have solid roster additions throughout all classes and look to be competitive. Watch for our compete level to increase as the season progresses, as we build endurance and hone technique.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Waynflete should steadily improve this winter and has some athletes who could make some noise in February.

The boys’ team features veterans Bondellio (freestyle, butterfly), LeBihan (freestyle) and Liu (breaststroke), along with new sophomore David Ma (freestyle, breaststroke). The Flyers hope to be at their best in time for the big meets and could wind up in the top 10 if all goes well.

On the girls’ side, Fanburg (breaststroke) and McNutt (backstroke, freestyle) are top returners. Junior Emma Anghel (fly, individual medley) and freshman Zoe Ruff (freestyle, breaststroke) are new to the team and provide depth. Look for Waynflete to surprise some folks as the year progresses.

NORDIC SKIING

Coach: Wyatt Dumas (first year)

2016-17 results:

(BOYS) 5th @ Class C state meet

(GIRLS) 4th @ Class C state meet

Top returners:

(Boys) Nicholas Werner (Sophomore)

(Girls) Hannah Babcock (Junior), Clara Sandberg (Sophomore), Emily Wagg (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment: “It’s a very young team with no seniors and only two juniors, but our numbers are up, with six boys and five girls. We’ve got a lot of intensity and athleticism across the whole squad regardless of their youth. With many athletes that are new to the sport on the boys’ side but with great conditioning, their focus will be mostly on technique acquisition. On the girls’ side, we have more experience so strengthening and conditioning will be more of a priority.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Waynflete has a small roster, but there are some talented skiers ready to make their mark.

The boys’ team will miss reigning Class C champion Willson Moore, but Werner (17th in the classical and 18th in the freestyle a year ago) is ready to step in to the top spot, while newcomer Mykel Henry, a junior, is a key newcomer to watch. Look for the Flyers to show steady improvement all winter and set the stage for future success.

On the girls’ side, replacing Ellie Chidsey (fourth in the freestyle and sixth in the classical a year ago) will be difficult, but the experienced Babcock (25th in the classical and 38th in the freestyle a year ago), Sandberg (25th in the freestyle and 33rd in the classical last season) and Wagg are ready to show what they’re capable of. If all goes well, another top five state meet finish is the likely result.

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

Junior Burr Rhoads will see key minutes this winter for the Flyers.

Senior Lydia Giguere was an all-star and top scorer for Waynflete’s girls’ basketball team a year ago. This winter, she will likely be a standout again.

Senior Izzy Burdick is back at point guard for the Flyers.

Junior Emi Boedeker emerged as a top player a year ago and will be a key contributor for the Flyers this winter.

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