By Michael Hoffer
After a brief (and triumphant) break for holiday tournament action, local winter sports teams have returned to league play. With February (and the postseason) drawing closer, the news continues to be promising.
SUBHEAD-Boys’ basketball: South Portland keeps on trucking
So far this winter, only Mother Nature and a team from out of state have been able to derail the South Portland Express. The Red Riots won their first six league games before taking part in the Portland High Holiday Tournament at the Portland Expo. South Portland downed Mt. Ararat 76-49, edged Falmouth 53-52 on junior Matt Lee’s late 3-pointer, then lost 73-64 to Susan Wagner, of Staten Island, N.Y., in the semifinals.
The Red Riots returned to Western A play last Friday at Scarborough. Trailing 15-7 early in the second, South Portland came to life, scoring 20 of the next 30 points to take a 27-25 halftime advantage. The game would remain nip-and-tuck until the end. The Red Storm, who won their first three games this season before dropping three in a row, led 47-45 after junior Conor Sullivan hit a 3-point shot, but junior Keegan Hyland made two technical free throws, junior Connor Hasson scored on a rebound putback and after Scarborough pulled within 49-48 on a foul shot, junior Ryan Curit converted an old-fashioned three-point play to help the Red Riots hold on and win 54-50.
Hyland led all scorers with 19 points, Curit added 11 (nine which came in the second half).
“Scarborough’s a very good team,” said South Portland coach Phil Conley. “I’m happy to come out of here with a victory. I thought it was a gritty game by us. We didn’t start out well, but the kids never gave up and they battled. Defensively, we stepped up some pressure and I thought in the second half what really won it for us was our rebounding. We really rebounded the ball well.”
“It was awesome,” Curit added. “I realized we needed to pick up the intensity a little. I thought I could so I went and did it. It was great that we came together. It was a tough game. We work a lot on rebounding. We take a lot of pride in it. Definitely. It’s more position and attitude. How much you want to get it.”
South Portland (now 7-0 and second in the initial Western A Heal Points standings) was supposed to host Westbrook in a showdown Wednesday night, but bad weather postponed the contest 24 hours and pushed it past The Forecaster’s deadline. Friday, the Red Riots play at Windham. Tuesday, they go to powerhouse Thornton Academy.
Scarborough, which won a holiday tournament in New Hampshire prior to the South Portland loss, fell to 3-5 Tuesday with a 64-39 loss at Thornton Academy. The Red Storm, who got 10 points from sophomore Zach Bean, weren’t able to repeat their upset of a year ago.
“We’re right there,” said Scarborough’s first-year coach Joe Johnson. “We just need to turn the corner.”
The Red Storm (ninth in the Western A Heals) plays host to Noble Friday and visits Bonny Eagle Tuesday.
In Western B, defending regional champion Cape Elizabeth took a 4-2 mark (both losses came by two points) into the Portland High Holiday Tournament. There, the Capers defeated Gorham 63-32 and Deering 61-47 before running into eventual champion Cheverus in a 53-39 semifinal round loss.
Cape Elizabeth got back to league play last Saturday and held off host York 57-50. Tuesday, the Capers decimated visiting Waynflete 82-24 to improve to 6-2. Cape Elizabeth led 31-5 after one quarter and was never tested. Senior Alex Bowe almost matched the Flyers’ point total with his game-high 16 points. Sophomore Joe Doane finished with 12 off the bench and junior Conor Moloney added 11.
The Capers (fifth in the initial Western B Heals) have a huge stretch upcoming as they play at Yarmouth Saturday and Greely Monday. Tuesday brings a trip to Wells.
SUBHEAD-Girls’ basketball: Cape Elizabeth hits rough stretch
While Scarborough and South Portland’s girls’ teams were doing battle in Western A Tuesday (please see story, page ?), the Capers of Cape Elizabeth remain in the thick of the Western B playoff hunt.
The Capers won their final three games of 2008 (including a huge home upset of three-time defending regional champion Lake Region), then went 1-1 at the Cole Farms Holiday Classic in Gray (beating NYA 67-33 and losing 37-35 to Gardiner).
Saturday, Cape Elizabeth played host to undefeated York and hung tough most of the game before falling 41-27. Junior Morgan Pillsbury had nine points in defeat. Tuesday, the Capers fell to 3-5 with a 47-24 loss at Western C power Waynflete. Cape Elizabeth only trailed by a point early in the second quarter and had Flyers’ junior standout Morgan Woodhouse on the bench in foul trouble, but went over six minutes without a point and trailed 20-12 at the half. Waynflete then opened the second half on a 14-0 run to blow it open. Senior Colleen Martin led the Capers with nine points.
Cape Elizabeth (13th in the initial Western B Heals) is home with Yarmouth Friday, hosts Greely Monday and Wells Tuesday.
SUBHEAD-Boys’ hockey: Capers fall in overtime
On the ice, in a likely preview of the Western Class B final, Cape Elizabeth hosted Greely at the Cumberland County Civic Center Monday night. The teams put on quite a show, as expected. After trading first period goals, Greely led 2-1 and 3-2, but Cape Elizabeth answered both times. The Capers then took a late 4-3 lead, but senior Brian Allyn scored with 2:30 left in regulation to make it 4-4. Then, 2 minutes, 47 seconds into OT, Allyn struck again, beating Cape Elizabeth junior goalie Phil Jordan before sprawling into the boards to give the Rangers a stirring 5-4 win.
“I thought the game lived up to the hype,” Capers’ coach Jason Tremblay said. “Greely-Cape Elizabeth is always a good matchup. The kids get fired up. It was a great game. I thought we controlled play in the second and it was back-and-forth in the third.”
Senior Sean Eubanks had two goals for the Capers. Jordan made 32 saves, many point blank.
Cape Elizabeth (4-2 and first in the initial Western B Heals) hosts Houlton Friday, Winslow Saturday and goes to Camden Wednesday. The rematch with Greely comes Feb. 7 in Falmouth.
“I feel like we’re where we need to be,” Tremblay said. “We had a big win against Scarborough earlier in the season. The next two weeks, we have some decent opponents. That will be a test. Anyone can beat anybody. Everyone thinks Cape and Greely are the top and you saw why tonight. If we’re a step behind, it’s not that far of a step. We battled hard and had pride in what we do. I was happy.”
In Western A, South Portland finally plummeted from the unbeaten ranks Saturday with a 3-2 overtime loss at Gorham. Sophomore Josh Cobb and senior Brandon Martin scored in the defeat which left the Red Riots 6-1 on the year. South Portland (third in the initial Heals) had its game at Sanford Wednesday postponed due to bad weather. The Red Riots are now idle until Thursday when they play host to Yarmouth.
Scarborough improved to 5-1 Saturday with a 5-0 win at Leavitt. The Red Storm (ranked first in the Western A Heals and fourth in the latest Maine Hockey Coaches/Media Poll) were supposed to host Falmouth in a delicious showdown Wednesday, but bad weather forced that contest to be postponed (no makeup date had been announced at press time). After going to St. Dom’s Monday, Scarborough will host Greely Wednesday.
SUBHEAD-Girls’ hockey: Scarborough stumbles
On the girls’ side, defending state champion Scarborough has proved mortal in recent days. The Red Storm dropped a 2-1 home decision to Cheverus Saturday, then lost 5-3 to visiting Biddeford Tuesday to drop to 6-3-1 on the year. Junior Jordan Finley had a natural third period hat trick against the Tigers. Scarborough (third in the West Region Heals) visited Cape Elizabeth Thursday (too late for this edition), hosts Winthrop Saturday and gets another crack at Cheverus Wednesday on the road.
Speaking of the Capers, they evened their mark at 5-5-1 Saturday with a 4-3 win at Portland. Senior Sasha Timpson scored twice to lead the way. Cape Elizabeth (sixth in the West Region) hosted Scarborough Thursday, then goes to Gorham Saturday and visits Biddeford Wednesday.
In the pool, Cape Elizabeth swept visiting Kennebunk and Yarmouth in a recent meet as both teams stayed perfect on the year. The Capers boys beat the Rams 132-119 and downed the Clippers 132-56. The girls’ team enjoyed victories over the Rams (136-100) and the Clippers (136-79). Cape Elizabeth hosts Greely Friday.
South Portland’s boys defeated visiting Sanford 120-52 last Friday to improve to 3-2 on the year. The Red Riots girls’ team lost 114-64 to the Redskins and fell to 2-3. South Portland goes to Biddeford Friday.
Scarborough is at Massabesic Friday.
SUBHEAD-Nordic ski season begins
The Hornet Classic in Leavitt kicked off the Nordic ski season Saturday. Cape Elizabeth’s girls’ squad was fifth out of 17 schools. Junior Emily Attwood was the fastest individual, finishing the course in 14 minutes, 8.9 seconds. The Capers boys came in seventh of 20 teams. Junior Bobby Yokabaskas had the seventh-best individual time (12:51).
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org