Yarmouth Clippers Winter Sports Preview

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Senior Ashanti Haywood and his Yarmouth boys’ basketball teammates begin a new era this winter and are hopeful of making a run at a Class B state title.

File photos.

More photos below.

BOYS’ BASKETBALL

Coach: Jonas Allen (first year)

2017-18 record: 13-7 (Lost, 51-30, to Cape Elizabeth in Class B South semifinals)

Top returning players: Noah Eckersley-Ray (Senior), Ashanti Haywood (Senior), Jake Rogers (Senior), Jonny Torres (Senior), Aidan Hickey (Junior)

Pivotal games: Dec. 7 YORK, Dec. 11 FREEPORT, Dec. 22 WAYNFLETE, Dec. 28 @ Gray-New Gloucester, Jan. 3 @ Wells, Jan. 8 CAPE ELIZABETH, Jan. 10 GRAY-NG, Jan. 14 GREELY, Jan. 16 @ Waynflete, Jan. 18 @ Freeport, Jan. 21 @ Cape Elizabeth, Jan. 25 WELLS, Feb. 1 @ Greely

Coach’s comment: “We have seven seniors and four returning starters. I give the guys a lot of credit. We’re putting in a new system and we’re asking them to learn a new style and they’ve responded. I’m proud of their work ethic. I tell the kids they have to earn their court time on the defensive end. We have a competitive schedule. We know we have potential, but we have to earn it. If the guys continue to buy in, we could go a long way.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: After another deep playoff run, Yarmouth’s boys’ basketball enters a new era this winter. After a successful tenure as coach, Adam Smith stepped down and has been replaced by Allen, who coached at Bates College for six years and after stepping away from coaching, returned to the sidelines when his stepsons began playing. He takes over a team that is ready to take the next step.

Eckersley-Ray was a third-team league all-star last winter and will bring a football mentality to the hardcourt this season. Eckersley-Ray will play forward. He’s a tenacious defender and goes all out on the glass. Rogers is the Clippers’ lone true post player. He’ll be a force rebounding the ball and will score some easy baskets as well. Haywood, a guard/forward, could be in for a breakout campaign. He’ll score points and frustrate the opposition on the defensive end. Torres is hopeful of a big senior campaign. He’ll join Haywood in the backcourt and could be a top scorer. Hickey, a team leader, will be the point guard. He gives his all, regardless of the sport. Junior guard Jason Lainey is another player who can put the ball in the basket. Sophomore guard Will Cox is ready to step up and see big minutes.

Class B South appears wide open and Yarmouth will be right in the hunt. If the Clippers can embrace their new approach, they’ll be very difficult to stop. After a series of close calls, this could be the season the Clippers put it all together and wind up the last team standing.

GIRLS’ BASKETBALL

Coach: David Cousins (first year)

2017-18 record: 5-13 (no postseason)

Top returning players: Clementine Blaschke (Senior), Calin McGonagle (Sophomore), Margaret McNeil (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: Dec. 7 @ York, Dec. 11 FREEPORT, Dec. 13 NYA, Dec. 28 @ Gray-New Gloucester, Jan. 10 GRAY-NG, Jan. 12 LAKE REGION, Jan. 14 @ Greely, Jan. 18 @ Freeport, Feb. 7 @ Lake Region

Coach’s comment: “It’s been a good transition. So far, the girls have responded. It’s a different style, but they have caught on. We only have two seniors, so we’re young, but we have a lot of potential. It will be more of a marathon than a sprint this year. We’ll fine-tune our style and grow through the year. Making the tournament is the goal.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Yarmouth just missed a trip to the tournament a year ago and after Chris Strong stepped down as coach, the Clippers welcome Cousins this winter. Cousins spent six years as the junior varsity boys’ coach in South Portland and has also coached with the Firecrackers AAU program. He takes over a program ready to move up the standings.

Blaschke is back for her fourth varsity season and will make her presence felt in the post at both ends of the floor. McNeil, who had a promising freshman campaign, is another player who figures to get some easy hoops. Junior Hope Olson, a transfer from the erstwhile Maine Girls’ Academy, stands 6-feet and will be another matchup nightmare in the paint. Look for senior Ceanne Lyon and junior Avery May to also make their presence felt. In the backcourt, McGonagle returns and could be in for a big year. Junior Adriana Whitlock, sophomore Sam Miles and freshmen Katelyn D’Appolonia and Maya Panozzo will soon be household names. Sophomore Kathryn Keaney can play multiple positions.

Yarmouth will take some time transitioning to a new coach and a new system, but there’s enough talent on the roster to suggest that the Clippers won’t just improve on last year’s record, but possibly make a memorable postseason run.

BOYS’ HOCKEY

Coach: Dave St. Pierre (eighth year, 75-56-8 overall record)

2017-18 record: 11-7-2 (Lost, 4-1, to Greely in Class B South semifinals)

Top returning players: Michael Guertler (Senior), Kurt Heywood (Senior), Sam Marjerison (Senior), Matt Sanborn (Senior), Will Giese (Junior), Spencer King (Junior)

Pivotal games: Dec. 15 @ York, Dec. 18 GREELY, Jan. 5 @ Falmouth, Jan. 9 CHEVERUS, Jan. 12 @ Scarborough, Jan. 19 GARDINER, Jan. 26 GORHAM, Jan. 30 ST. DOM’S, Feb. 2 @ Kennebunk, Feb. 7 @ Gardiner, Feb. 12 @ Greely, Feb. 18 CAPE ELIZABETH

Coach’s comment: “We lost some key players and scoring output and we’re a little thin on defense, but the opportunity is there for us. The younger kids have to step up. If that happens, we can make some noise. B South is always competitive top to bottom. No nights off. We’ll be in the mix fighting for a playoff spot.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Yarmouth is coming off another strong season, but has some holes to fill as a new season dawns, most notably in goal after all-star Dan Latham graduated and on offense, after all-star Cooper May graduated. The Clippers are hopeful their veterans will lead the way and that some newcomers can make a quick impact this winter.

King was a third-team all-star last season and will anchor the defense, along with freshmen Cam Miller and Matt Robichaud in front of new goalie, freshman Charles Henry Watson. On offense, Yarmouth will look to Giese, Guertler, Heywood and Majerison to get the job done. Sanborn will see time at forward and defense.

Yarmouth is in a very deep and balanced region which is devoid of a clear favorite. The Clippers will be tested night-in, night-out, but should show steady improvement. If Yarmouth can find a way to put all the pieces together, they’ll be as dangerous as anyone by February.

GIRLS’ HOCKEY

Coach: Megan Vaughan (fourth year, 18-36-2 overall record)

2017-18 record: 3-13-2 (no postseason)

Top returning players: Kyaira Grondin (Senior), Lydia Guay (Senior), Margaret Perrotta (Senior), Sophie Newberg (Junior), Lizzie Guertler (Sophomore), Emma Moll (Sophomore), Allie Perrotta (Sophomore), Hannah Swift (Sophomore), Lilly Weinrich (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: Dec. 13 GREELY/GRAY-NG, Dec. 29 @ Lewiston, Jan. 12 @ Scarborough, Jan. 21 ST. DOM’S, Jan. 23 @ Portland/Deering

Coach’s comment: “My expectations this year are to continue to grow and strengthen from last season with a core of seniors who will lead the team as captains, a talented group of young players and a skilled goaltender and to have competitive matchups in all of our games.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: The Yarmouth/Freeport co-op team started by losing, 6-0, to Leavitt/Edward Little and beating Biddeford/TA/Wells, 7-2. After missing the playoffs last winter, the squad is looking to make a run to the postseason this winter and has the pieces in place to do so.

Yarmouth/Freeport will be led on offense by Guay, last year’s leading scorer, Guertler, Moll, Newberg, Swift, Weinrich and promising freshman Olivia Bradford. Grondin will anchor the defense. Perrotta is back for a second season as the goalkeeper.

Some early wins would go a long way for this team’s confidence. Yarmouth/Freeport is in a very challenging region, but a playoff berth is realistic. This could be a very dangerous team by February.

INDOOR TRACK

Coach: Sarah Carrigan (first year)

2017-18 results:

(Boys) tie-12th @ Class B state meet

(Girls) 26th @ Class B state meet

Top returners:

(Boys) Wyatt Bates (Senior), Chris Koskinen (Junior), Michael McNeil (Junior), Odeh Rizkallah (Junior)

(Girls) Gabby Colby-George (Senior), Kim Fuller (Senior), Paige Reinfelder (Senior), Sophie Walsh (Senior)

Coach’s comment: “Our team is working especially hard on team-building and trying new events. With a new coaching staff and a team over double the size of last year, we’ve been focusing on creating new routines, making sure we do the little things to prevent injury and get stronger.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Yarmouth has a big roster this winter and welcomes a new coach in Carrigan, who ran at Colby College and serves as the Clippers cross country coach as well. She inherits a team that should make some noise and hopes to finish higher at the state meet.

The boys have to replace standout Luke Laverdiere, who is now running at Harvard. Bates, Koskinen, McNeil and Rizkallah are top returners. Evan Van Lonkhuyzen, Sean Whynot and Davis Young are newcomers to watch.

The girls’ team returns Reinfelder, who was fourth last year in the pole vault. Fuller, Colby-George and Walsh are other returners. Addison Hounchell, Ella Maxwell and Olivia May lead the newcomers list.

SWIMMING

Coach: Dave Cox (second year)

2017-18 results:

(Boys) 8th @ Class B state meet

(Girls) 6th @ Class B state meet

Top returners:

(Boys) Ben Cox-Faxon (Senior), William Lenardson (Senior), Zach Mogul-Campbell (Senior), Nate Henninger (Sophomore), Wes Pratt (Sophomore), Conor Wolff (Sophomore)

(Girls) Natalie Bourassa (Senior), Rachel Condon (Senior), Kara Murray (Senior), Tessa Piker (Junior), Izabel Cox-Faxon (Sophomore), Zoe Siegel (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment: “The girls had significant graduation losses replaced by several athletes joining the team in addition to an enthusiastic freshman class. We’ll rely on our seniors to improve on our finish from last year. The boys roll into the season with a group that was new to high school swimming last year and is fired up to improve on last year’s finish at states.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Yarmouth’s swim program appears healthy and ready to do big things as a new season dawns.

The girls’ squad will be led by Siegel, who came in fourth in both the individual medley and butterfly a year ago. Bourassa (eighth in the breaststroke), a captain, hopes to move up. Murray, the other captain, swims the sprint freestyle and backstroke. Condon (sprint freestyle and backstroke), Cox-Faxon (distance freestyle, backstroke) and Piker (distance freestyle, breaststroke, individual medley) also have experience. Freshman Piper Priddy will try and make a mark in the freestyle and backstroke. The Clippers have the balance and volume necessary to be in the top 10 again.

On the boys’ side, Cox-Faxon, a captain, is a top returner. He was sixth in the breaststroke last season and looks to move up. Lenardson (sprint freestyle, backstroke) and Mogul-Campbell (sprint freestyle, breaststroke) are also returning captains. Henninger (IM, distance freestyle), Pratt (freestyle, fly) and Wolff (IM, fly) are the other veterans. Senior Michael St. Laurent returns from a shoulder injury and will add depth in the backstroke and freestyle. Yarmouth could make a run at a top five finish if all goes well.

ALPINE SKIING

Coach: Gavin Glider (third year)

2017-18 results:

(Boys) 2nd @ Class B state meet

(Girls) 2nd @ Class B state meet

Top returners:

(Boys) Alex Hall (Senior), Thomas Morris (Sophomore)

(Girls) Tasha Powers (Junior), Eleanor Donahue (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment: “The girls’ team graduated an incredible group, making this a building year. The boys had an incredible season and this year, a strong lineup is joined by some great newcomers. Last year, we were good, but I have high hopes for this particular group.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Yarmouth will be a Class B powerhouse again this winter.

The boys’ team has hopes of bringing home a championship this year and will be led by Morris (tied for third in the slalom and 12th in the giant slalom last season) and Hall (11th in the GS). Freshmen Reed Boutom and Asher Lockwood are key additions.

On the girls’ side, the Clippers have some holes to fill, but they’re hopeful of showing steady improvement. Donahue (10th in the slalom last season) and Powers (21st in the slalom) will spark the squad.

NORDIC SKIING

Coach: Jay Jones (first year)

2017-18 results:

(Boys) 6th @ Class B state meet

(Girls) Class B state champions

Top returners:

(Boys) Justin Pietropaoli (Senior), Grady Welsh (Senior), Kendrick Langenbach (Junior)

(Girls) Isabel Brennan (Senior), Abigail Thornton (Senior), Madeline Marston (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment: “Our motto is to have fun and ski fast. Each skier will improve upon their ski and racing techniques as well as their fitness. We’ll build on the legacy created by longtime coach Bob Morse by drawing upon his time-tested methods and adapting them to the challenges that will arise during the season.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Yarmouth starts a new era this winter after Morse retired following a triumphant 48-year run. Jones takes over the program. He skied for Yarmouth and at Williams College and coached the Yarmouth Middle School program for many years. He’s joined by Tracy Teare, Dylan Thombs and Connor Gray. They inherit a program rich in talent.

The girls’ team is defending a state title and while Sophia Laukli (the reigning state champion in both the classical and freestyle) has departed, the Clippers return Brennan (11th in the classical and 15th in the freestyle last season) and Marston (12th in both disciplines). Thornton is a senior veteran and juniors Ella Buchanon, Lexi Caterine, Sadie Cowles, Jane Fulton, Mandy Jenkins, Lindsey Smith and Sophia Solmos and sophomores Mary Psyhogeos, Natalie Teare and Anna Thornton also return to the team and will vie for spots. Yarmouth is hopeful of being triumphant throughout the season.

The boys return three state meet scorers, Pietropaoli (25th in the classical and 37th in the freestyle last season), Walsh (26th in the freestyle, 28th in the classical) and Langenbach (27th in the freestyle). Juniors Caleb Lambert and Dan LaMourie and sophomore Patrick Bergen also have experience. Don’t be surprised if the Clippers make a move up the standings this winter.

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

Senior Noah Eckersley-Ray brings a football player’s mentality to the hardwood and does whatever it takes to help make the Clippers succeed.

Senior Jonny Torres hopes to make the most of his final high school season.

Junior Aidan Hickey will be Yarmouth’s point guard and a team leader this winter.

Senior Clementine Blaschke is back for her fourth varsity season on a Yarmouth girls’ basketball team that has making the tournament as its goal.

Margaret McNeil is coming off a strong freshman campaign and will be a player to watch for the Clippers.

Senior Kurt Heywood projects to be a top scorer for Yarmouth’s always-competitive boys’ hockey team.

Michael McNeil will score some points in the throws for Yarmouth’s boys’ indoor track team.

Gabby Colby-George will be a top thrower for Yarmouth’s girls’ track team.

Paige Reinfelder will score points in the pole vault 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.