Winter season off to strong start

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The new winter sports season has already produced plenty of triumph and excitement for local teams. Here’s a glimpse at what’s happened in the early going:

Boys’ basketball

While the highly touted Cheverus and Portland boys’ basketball teams did battle last weekend (please see story), Deering has certainly turned heads. The Rams rolled at Thornton Academy in the opener, 62-41, held off visiting Marshwood in a thriller last Tuesday, 67-64, then dominated visiting Massabesic, 82-31, Friday to get off to a 3-0 start.

Against the Hawks, senior Jon Amabile had 20 points, classmate Patrick Green 15 and junior Labson Abwoch 14. Amabile scored 26 points and Abwoch 18 (including the first six of the game) against the Mustangs.

Deering was at Noble Tuesday and hosts Sanford Thursday to wrap up the 2011 portion of the schedule.

In Western C, Waynflete has gotten off to an impressive 4-0 start, defeating visiting Old Orchard Beach (53-35) and Traip Academy (77-45), host Lake Region (41-40) and visiting Sacopee Valley (86-41).

Against the Raiders, five different players scored in double figures, led by junior Jack Cutler’s 15 points. Junior Max Belleau had 18 points and senior Chris Burke scored the game winner at the Lakers. Saturday, the Flyers scored 32 points in the first quarter and had four players in double figures, led by 14 from sophomore Serge Nyirikamba.

Waynflete hosts North Yarmouth Academy Wednesday.

Girls’ basketball

On the girls’ side, Waynflete has had plenty of excitement in the early going. After rolling in the opener at Old Orchard Beach, 39-26, the Flyers fell at Traip, 45-30 and at home to Lake Region (45-36) before bouncing back Saturday with a 56-28 home win over Sacopee. Junior standout Martha Veroneau had 20 points at the Raiders. At home against the highly touted Lakers, the Western B favorites in the minds of many, Waynflete hung tough throughout and was paced by Veroneau, who finished with 25 points.

“I feel like we found ourselves against Lake Region and found we have to work harder,” said Waynflete coach Brandon Salway. “I feel like when we went to Traip we didn’t play very smart defensively. Against Lake Region, we gave ourselves a chance. I thought we were competitive. We work every day on shooting. I think that will come. We’ll win our share of games.”

Against the Hawks, Veroneau hit a 3 to start the scoring and give the Flyers the lead for good. She scored 18 of her team’s first 20 points and wound up with 28, to go with 11 rebounds, three steals and three assists.

“I’ve worked a lot this summer and keep improving,” said Veroneau. “We look good. We’re young, but we have a lot of people who can contribute. Injuries have been a problem, but we get better each game. After the Lake Region game, (Coach) said that we found ourselves. We played hard and stuck with them. That boosted our confidence and showed us that we’re capable. I think we can be there by the end of the season.”

“Martha was really special against Lake Region,” Salway said. “We wouldn’t have hung around unless she played like she did. She’s having a great start and gets better every game.”

Veroneau had help from her (barely) older twin sister Catherine (15 points, seven rebounds), who continues to get stronger as she rebounds from last winter’s knee injury.

“I feel a lot better,” Catherine Veroneau said. “I’m happy to be back. I’m starting to learn the post. I love it. The team’s great. Just being a part of it is so much fun. So much better than sitting. Those games toughened us up. We saw we could hold our own. We’re really quick and smart. I think we know the game. Our height is a little bit of an issue, but we’ve overcome that. It should be a good year.”

“Having (Catherine) back is huge,” said Martha Veroneau. “She’s such a threat on defense, offense, she can play anywhere on the court. It’s really big to have her back.”

“Catherine needs to get more confident,” Salway said. “She’s played great, defensively especially. We need her to chip in offensively. She’s shooting better and moving more confidently. She’s playing big minutes, which I wasn’t sure she’d be able to do.”

Waynflete finished the 2011 portion of its schedule Wednesday at North Yarmouth Academy.

In Western A, defending state champion and preseason favorite McAuley has been exceptional in the early going. After opening with a 62-31 win at Noble, the Lions opened a 39-4 halftime lead at Kennebunk last Tuesday en route to a 61-18 triumph over the Rams behind 17 points from senior Alexa Coulombe and 14 from sophomore Allie Clement. Friday, in its home opener, McAuley rolled over Portland, 60-19, as sophomore Olivia Smith had 19 points and Coulombe 17.

The Lions had a test at Marshwood Tuesday then host Bonny Eagle Friday when they’ll raise their 2010-11 Class A state championship banner.

Cheverus has been very impressive in the early phase of the season with three straight wins. After rolling over visiting Biddeford, 68-28, the Stags held off host Gorham, 51-43, and rallied past visiting Portland, 56-40. At the Rams, sophomore Kylie Libby had 14 points, junior Brooke Flaherty 13 and senior Alexandra Palazzi-Leah 10. Flaherty led all scorers versus the Bulldogs with 17 points. Palazzi-Leah added 14.

Cheverus was at Westbrook Tuesday and plays host to Noble Friday.

Deering was stunned by visiting Thornton Academy (54-52, on a buzzer beater) and at Marshwood (70-60) before righting its ship with a  55-31 triumph at Massabesic. Senior Emily Cole had 21 points, junior Marissa MacMillan 16 and senior Ella Ramonas 13 in the loss to the Hawks. In the victory, Ramonas had 16 points, while junior Chelsea Saucier added 13.

The Rams were home with Noble Tuesday and go to Sanford Thursday.

Portland is still seeking its first victory. After a season-opening 55-27 home loss to Marshwood, the Bulldogs fell at Sanford (49-31), McAuley (60-19) and at home to Cheverus (56-40). Against the Redskins, senior Nyaliep Deng led the way with 12 points. Deng also had a team high eight points versus the Lions and 16 against the Stags, in a game which Portland led at the half, 23-22.

The Bulldogs were home against Bonny Eagle Tuesday and play at Scarborough Friday.

Boys’ hockey

Cheverus is 2-1 in early boys’ hockey action, sandwiching wins over visiting Massabesic (11-2) and host Bonny Eagle (5-0) around a 4-1 setback at powerhouse Biddeford. Against the Mustangs, Liam Fitzpatrick and Tom Sullivan both scored twice. In the win over the Scots, five different players scored. The Stags host Portland in the finale of the 2011 portion of the schedule Thursday.

Speaking of the Bulldogs, they’ve dropped home decisions to Kennebunk (4-2), Biddeford (7-0) and Gorham (5-1). After hosting South Portland Tuesday, Portland welcomes Cheverus Thursday.

Girls’ hockey

After nine days off, the Portland girls’ hockey team extended its win streak to three games and improved to 4-1 Saturday night with an 11-5 win over Gorham. Senior Kylie Dalbec had four goals, classmate Raechel Allen three (with five assists) and senior Lindsey Sneider a pair. The Bulldogs are at York Wednesday and host Cape Elizabeth Friday.

Cheverus dropped a 2-1 decision at Winslow Saturday to fall to 2-2. After playing at Gorham Monday, the Stags visit Falmouth Wednesday.

The Waynflete co-op team with Cape Elizabeth is 2-4 after recent 9-1 losses at Brunswick and Falmouth. The squad hosts Greely Wednesday visits Portland Friday.

Indoor track

Local indoor track teams have already had a pair of meets at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham, the first time in decades that the SMAA has competed somewhere other than the Portland Expo.

Cheverus’ boys were third the first time out and first in their second meet. The girls place sixth and third. Deering’s girls won their second meet after a fifth-place finish in the opener. The boys have been sixth and second. McAuley has placed fifth and fourth. Portland’s boys have gone sixth and fourth. The girls have finished sixth and fifth.

Competition resumes the first week of January.

Swimming

A new swimming and diving season is underway and the second-year Waynflete girls’ program is living up to preseason billing. The Flyers hosted Bonny Eagle and Hyde in their first meet and downed both squads, 135-87 over the Scots and 135-27 over the Phoenix. The Waynflete boys lost to Bonny Eagle (100-72) and Hyde (78-72).

Portland went to Windham where the boys fell, 111-55, and the girls lost, 94-75.

Cheverus played host to Messalonskee and McAuley in its first meet. The boys downed the Eagles, 121-43, while the girls downed the Lions, 42.5-31.5, but lost to Messalonskee, 96-42.5.

Deering opened at powerhouse Cape Elizabeth where the boys fell, 125-54, and the girls lost, 114-62.

McAuley lost at Cheverus and to Messalonskee (96-31.5) in early action.

Wrestling

Portland’s wrestling team dropped its first two matches, 51-22 at York and 78-3 at Massabesic.

Deering lost to Wells (42-39) and Sanford (51-27).

Deering is at Portland Wednesday.

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

Junior Catherine Veroneau has returned from a knee injury and has played a big role for the Waynflete girls’ basketball team in the early going.

Junior Martha Veroneau has been scoring plenty of points for Waynflete so far this winter.

Junior Rhiannan Jackson battles for possession during last week’s game against Lake Region.

Sidebar Elements


Waynflete’s promising freshman Julianna Harwood looks for an open teammate during the Flyers’ home loss to highly touted Lake Region last week.

Freshman Kathryn Clark skates for the Cape Elizabeth-Waynflete girls’ ice hockey team.

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