Yarmouth Clippers Winter Athletes of the Year

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ALEK MEDENICA, Senior-Basketball

Medenica was a unique force for the Clippers, a dynamic scorer and leader who played well beyond his years.

Medenica took an unconventional road to Maine basketball stardom. For starters, he was born in Serbia, but spent ample time in the Pine Tree state growing up.

“My parents were both captains at the University of Maine-Machias,” Medenica said. “My Dad then played pro ball in Serbia.”

Growing up, Medenica didn’t focus on basketball, but instead on water polo. It was just a matter of time, however, until hoops became a passion.

“I first picked up a basketball when I was 10,” said Medenica, who now stands 6-foot-7 and is equally dominant inside and out. “It took awhile to learn how to run because I was used to water. My Dad never forced (basketball) on me, but I love the pace and the mental aspect of the game. A lot of thought goes into it.”

Medenica came to Yarmouth High as a junior and made a quick impact, earning first-team all-star mention after finishing 14th in the Western Maine Conference in scoring (14.8 points per game) and seventh in steals (2.5). The Clippers got to the regional final before losing to Lake Region.

This winter, Yarmouth was expected to make a deep tournament run and the Clippers didn’t disappoint, as Medenica was a star, finishing 11th in scoring (15.0), tying teammate Nolan Hagerty for eighth in rebounding (8.0) and placing 13th in assists (3.0).

Highlights included 18 points in a win at Lake Region in a regional final rematch, 17 in a victory over defending Class C South champion Waynflete, 26 points, including game-tying 3-pointers at the end of regulation and the second overtime in a triple-OT epic loss to eventual Class A champion Greely, 19 points in a decisive win at Wells, 20 in a victory over Cape Elizabeth, 18 in a win over defending Class A champion Falmouth and 36 in a regular season-ending victory over Wells.

Medenica came up big in the postseason too, scoring 22 points, grabbing 10 rebounds, dishing out four assists and blocking three shots in a quarterfinal round win over Gray-New Gloucester, scoring 23 points in a semifinal round victory over Oak Hill, then bowing out with 14 points, nine boards and two blocks in a crushing regional final upset loss to Wells.

“This was the most talented Yarmouth team ever,” Medenica said. “We were a family. We looked out for each other.”

Medenica was named to the All-Conference team and played in the Maine McDonald’s Senior All-Star Game. He also plays with the Next Level Athletics AAU team, but is much more than just an athlete. He also designs logos and flyers for business cards and is starting a clothing company. He wants to play basketball in college and is weighing his options.

Wherever he goes, he’s bound to be a success and will make a difference. Alek Medenica, Yarmouth’s Winter Male Athlete of the Year, made the most of his time with the Clippers and became one of the state’s finest players.

Coach Adam Smith’s comment: “Alek would shine in any program. He was a big part of our success this year. He made the players around him better. He set the standard all year. He was a great contributor, with his playing ability, his demeanor. The guys really liked him. He was great around school too. We were lucky to have him.”

Previous winners:

2015-16 Walter Conrad (hockey)

2014-15 John Lane (Nordic skiing)

2013-14 David Murphy (basketball)

2012-13 Braden Becker (skiing)

2011-12 Josh Britten (basketball)

2010-11 Luke Pierce (basketball)

2009-10 Ethan Gray (hockey)

2008-09 Cam Woodworth (skiing)

2007-08 Jack Gross (skiing)

2006-07 Lucas Denning (basketball)

2005-06 Jack Gross (skiing)

2004-05 Pat Delaney (hockey)

2003-04 Ben Swardlick (skiing)

2002-03 Gunnar Hagstrom (basketball)

2001-02 Jay Fletcher (hockey)


GRACE COWLES, Senior-Nordic skiing

Cowles achieved her goal of becoming a state champion and along the way, etched her name as one of the special talents to come through one of the state’s elite programs.

Cowles grew up in Yarmouth and started skiing in middle school.

“I wasn’t very good in sixth grade, but I improved by seventh grade,” Cowles said. “My technique improved a lot. I really like going fast down hills and the feeling of accomplishment at the end of the race. I’m very competitive.”

As a sophomore, Cowles led the Clippers to their seventh straight state title by coming in fourth in the classic and fifth in the freestyle. As a junior, Cowles helped Yarmouth win another crown by placing fifth in both disciplines.

This winter, Yarmouth fell short of the title, but Cowles ascended to the top spot as an individual. After a strong regular season, Cowles won the classic in 17 minutes, 8.5 seconds and took the freestyle in 15:51.9. At the Class B state meet, the Clippers came in second as a team, but Cowles had no peer in the freestyle (17:11.3). She also placed second in the classic (19:59.7).

“I really wanted to win a state title and I achieved that goal,” said Cowles, a captain, who qualified for the All-Conference and All-Academic teams and took part in the Eastern high school championships following the season. “I just wanted to have fun. It was a great season.”

Cowles also runs cross country in the fall and competes in the 800 and mile in outdoor track. She plays the bassoon in the school band and the Portland Youth Wind Ensemble and also plays the piano. She plans to attend Wellesley College in Massachusetts next year where she will run cross country and compete in track.

Big things remain down the road for Grace Cowles, Yarmouth’s Winter Female Athlete of the Year, whose senior season can be defined simply as “Mission Accomplished.”

Coach Bob Morse’s comment: “Reflecting back over the past four years, I remember many positive moments in which Grace has proven to be a truly dedicated, motivated and caring leader.. I, and every member of her team, have tremendous respect for Grace, as she leads with selfless pride.”

Previous winners:

2015-16 Emma Egan (track)

2014-15 Emma Egan (track)

2013-14 Chapin Dorsett (skiing)

2012-13 Abby Belisle-Haley (swimming)

2011-12 Morgan Cahill (basketball)

2010-11 Becca Bell (skiing)

2009-10 Becca Bell (skiing)

2008-09 Lauren Stackhouse (skiing)

2007-08 Julianna Lord (skiing)

2006-07 Molly Hallweaver (skiing)

2005-06 Meredith Shaw (basketball)

2004-05 Aylie Baker (basketball)

2003-04 Kalie Dunn (skiing)

2002-03 Emily Poole (skiing)

2001-02 Emily Erickson (basketball)

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

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