Yarmouth Clippers Winter Sports Preview

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Yarmouth’s boys’ hockey team celebrated its first regional championship in 14 seasons a year ago, but ultimately fell a goal short of a state title. This winter, the Clippers hope to finish the job.

File photos.

More photos below.

BOYS’ BASKETBALL

Coach: Adam Smith (13th year, 150-87 overall record, one state championship)

2015-16 record: 15-6 (Lost, 53-43, to eventual state champion Lake Region in Class B Final)

Top returning players: Gibson Harnett (Senior), Alec Medenica (Senior), Nolan Hagerty (Junior)

Pivotal games: Dec. 13 @ Lake Region, Dec. 15 WAYNFLETE, Dec. 17 @ Greely, Dec. 20 MARANACOOK, Jan. 6 @ Lincoln, Jan. 10 GREELY, Jan. 17 @ Wells, Jan. 27 @ Cape Elizabeth, Feb. 3 FALMOUTH, Feb. 7 LAKE REGION, Feb. 9 WELLS

Coach’s comment: “We have a lot to improve. The guys have great attitude and so far, good health, which is so important. We lost a good senior class, but we’re returning good players and young guys who have an opportunity to play a lot. I’m impressed with the seniors’ desire to do what the team needs. They’re showing great leadership. We expect to play well and make a good push in the playoffs.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Yarmouth came very close to an opportunity to play for a state title a year ago, but the Clippers’ hopes were dashed late amid a flurry of fouls in a loss to eventual champion Lake Region. Yarmouth then bid adieu to eight seniors, but is still in a solid position as a new season dawns and is viewed by many as the team to beat in Class B South, but for the Clippers to reach a state final for the first time in five years, there’s work to do.

Yarmouth will be led this winter by the unique twin towers tandem of Hagerty and Medenica, who both possess an abundance of size, but prefer to ply their trade on the perimeter. Medenica was 14th in the conference in scoring a year ago (14.8 points per game) and also placed seventh in steals (2.5) as he earned first-team all-star mention. Hagerty, a second-team all-star, has a nice outside touch, averaged 9.1 points last year and led the team in rebounds (134 in 18 regular season games) and blocked shots (52). Those two will make the team go, but they’ll get plenty of help from players looking to step into bigger roles this season. Harnett will play shooting guard. Sophomore Jonny Torres, who saw limited minutes last season, is the point guard, along with new senior Igor Nikolic, who comes to Yarmouth from Serbia. Sophomore Noah Eckersley-Ray, a top athlete, will play more of a traditional big man post role. Junior Jack True, who stands 6-foot-5, brings great energy and will also be a force in the post.

The Clippers play tough foes from three different classes during the regular season and will be battle tested by February. Yarmouth won’t shrink in the face of any opponent, however, and has what it takes to prevail. If the unproven talent can develop as hoped, the Clippers could be the best team in Class B South. Perhaps in all of Class B. This could be a fun and banner season by the time all is said and done.

GIRLS’ BASKETBALL

Coach: Christina Strong (fourth year, 20-35 overall record)

2015-16 record: 9-10 (Lost, 32-31, to Lake Region in Class B South quarterfinals)

Top returning players: Isabel Bates (Senior), Alison Clark (Senior), Johanna Hattan (Senior), Cory Langenbach (Senior)

Pivotal games: Dec. 9 GRAY-NG, Dec. 13 @ Lake Region, Dec. 17 @ Greely, Jan. 6 LINCOLN, Jan. 10 GREELY, Jan. 31 @ Gray-NG, Feb. 3 @ Falmouth, Feb. 7 LAKE REGION

Coach’s comment: “I think this is the most experienced team I’ve had. We have our best balance yet between guards and post play. It’s a great group of girls. They work hard. You can see the trust building. I’m excited about our transition play. Last year was a good learning experience for us. This team is hungrier as a result. It’s a confident group. I think we’ll be very competitive this year.”

The Forecastrer’s forecast: Yarmouth made great strides a year ago, but the season ended in heartbreak and controversy when an error with the possession arrow led to a last-second loss to Lake Region in the quarterfinals. While the Clippers did lose some key players, they return a special core of seniors who started with Strong, our Coach of the Year last winter, and that group will be bolstered by the return of a standout player.

Bates, Clark, Hattan and Langenbach have been the Clippers’ heart and soul over the past four seasons. Bates and Clark (who is coming off a terrific volleyball campaign) will make life difficult for the opposition down low. Clark (10.9 points and 7.6 rebounds per game in 2015-16) was a first-team league all-star a year ago. Hattan and Langenbach (Yarmouth’s Fall Female Athlete of the Year and a second-team all-star last winter) can knock down shots and use their athleticism to give the opposition fits. Junior Sara D’Appolonia, Strong’s daughter, is back this season after taking her sophomore year off. She’ll be the point guard, who can get to the basket and finish, but more often than not, will dish off to her talented teammates. Sophomores Ceanne Lyon and Clementine Blaschke will play bigger roles this season and will score and rebound in the post. Yarmouth will look to run and gun, but can also execute in the halfcourt set.

The Clippers have gotten steadily better each of Strong’s seasons. This winter, however, they won’t be able to sneak up on anyone. Yarmouth will face a series of difficult tests, starting with the defending regional champions from Gray-New Gloucester in Friday’s opener, but this group won’t back down against anyone. The Clippers have something to prove and won’t be content just getting to the tournament. This time around, the arrow is pointing in their direction as a team that can post a winning record and perhaps reach the semifinals for the first time since playing for a state title 11 years ago.

BOYS’ HOCKEY

Coach: Dave St. Pierre (sixth year, 56-38-5 overall record)

2015-16 record: 16-5 (Lost, 3-2, in double overtime, to Waterville in Class B state final)

Top returning players: Bill Jacobs (Senior), Owen Ramsay (Senior), Chris Romano (Senior), Tyler Veilleux (Senior), Dan Latham (Junior), Cooper May (Junior), Joe Truesdale (Junior)

Pivotal games: Dec. 17 @ Waterville, Dec. 20 FALMOUTH, Jan. 2 GARDINER, Jan. 14 GORHAM, Jan. 19 @ Portland, Jan. 21 @ Greely, Jan. 24 CHEVERUS, Feb. 2 @ Cape Elizabeth, Feb. 4 @ Gardiner, Feb. 7 ST. DOM’S, Feb. 11 @ York, Feb. 18 GREELY, Feb. 21 CAPE ELIZABETH

Coach’s comment: “For the past few seasons we’ve set some high expectations and this year is no different. We return a solid core, quality goaltending and a group of seniors that have led this program to a championship level. We have terrific student-athletes here at Yarmouth that I’m fortunate to have the privilege to work with. Assuming we stay healthy, I’m confident we will be in the mix come playoff time. Once again, Class B South is a deep, competitive division. We expect quality games night in and night out with any of six or seven teams that have a legitimate shot at a title.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Yarmouth enjoyed a magical season in 2015-16, as it woke up the echoes and returned to the biggest of stages, but the campaign ended in heartbreak when the overtime goal went to Waterville. The Clippers then had to part with some of the finest players the program has produced in recent vintage, led by reigning Winter Male Athlete of the Year Walter Conrad and standout Patrick Grant. This year’s squad might not be quite as potent, as least to start, but come February and March, Yarmouth has what it takes to finish what last year’s squad began.

Any championship caliber team needs to have a strong goalie and the Clippers boast one in Latham, who led the league with a 1.88 goals-against-average and a .924 save percentage in 2015-16. Latham was a third-team all-star and should have been listed higher, as he made an abundance of key saves. Latham will be aided by defensemen Ramsay and freshman Spencer King. Offense is where the Clippers will shine. That group will be paced by third-team all-star May (10 goals, 15 assists, 25 points, despite missing seven games last season) and Jacobs (14 goals, 3 assists). Romano (6 goals, 9 assists), Truesdale (3 goals, 3 assists) and Veilleux (2 goals, 6 assists) add depth and will tickle the twine with regularity. The return of senior Bennett Travers, who played as a freshman and sophomore, but moved away for his junior year, and the promotion of junior Dom Morrill from the junior varsity team, makes Yarmouth even more challenging to match up against.

The Clippers’ goal is simple this winter. They want to get back to Lewiston and finish the job. First, Yarmouth will have to get through a very challenging schedule, which includes top foes from Classes A and B. The Clippers hope for another top playoff seed, then will have to navigate a strong field where just about every team that qualifies could emerge. If Yarmouth gets back to the state final, it will likely see Waterville again. The Clippers would love nothing more than a chance to avenge last year’s agonizing loss. Fifteen years between championships is long enough. Don’t bet against Yarmouth celebrating at the Colisee in March.

GIRLS’ HOCKEY

Coach: Meghan Vaughan (second year)

2015-16 record: 8-11 (Lost, 3-2, to EL/Leavitt in North Region quarterfinals)

Top returning players: Katie Clemmer (Senior), Kelsey Meyer (Senior), Sydney St. Pierre (Senior), Kyaira Grondin (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: Dec. 17 CAPE ELIZABETH, Dec. 20 FALMOUTH, Dec. 27 ST. DOM’s, Jan. 4 @ St. Dom’s, Jan. 7 GREELY, Jan. 11 EL/LEAVITT, Jan. 21 @ Greely

Coach’s comment: “We have a lot of new players this year who are trying hockey for the first time. They’re doing a great job. We also have a core group of seniors who continuously push all of our players to get better and make the team a lot of fun. I hope we can be competitive against the strong teams in both divisions and to make this a memorable season for all the girls who are playing.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: The Yarmouth/Freeport/Gray-New Gloucester co-op team has reached the playoffs three years running and should be very much in the thick of things again this winter. Yarmouth/Freeport/Gray-New Gloucester opened with losses to Brunswick (7-2) and Scarborough (9-2) and wins over Mt. Ararat/Morse (8-1) and Biddeford/Thornton Academy (4-2).

The Yarmouth/Freeport/Gray-New Gloucester offense figures to be potent and is led by Clemmer, last seen leading Yarmouth’s girls’ soccer team to a state title. Last winter, Clemmer had 22 goals and nine assists as she was named to the North Region all-star team. Clemmer already has six goals in two games this winter. Grondin and Meyer are other experienced forwards to watch. They’re joined by freshman Caroline Grant, who already scored two goals in the win over Mt. Ararat/Morse and promises to score many more. Defensively, St. Pierre brings experience and is joined by freshman Sophie Newberg in front of new goalie, sophomore Isabelle King. That’s a pretty solid nucleus.

Yarmouth/Freeport/Gray-New Gloucester is in a very challenging region, which not only features defending state champion St. Dom’s, but also last year’s playoff foe, EL/Leavitt, and perennial powerhouse Greely. The schedule also includes several other top teams, so wins will be hard to come by. This group should be in the hunt all season, however, and by February, could boast the type of firepower that no one will want to face with their season on the line.

INDOOR TRACK

Coach: John Rogers (first year)

2015-16 results:

(Boys) 8th @ Class B state meet

(Girls) 4th @ Class B state meet

Top returners:

(Boys) Will St. Amour (Senior), Tucker Whitney (Senior), Luke Laverdiere (Junior), Cole Buchanan (Sophomore)

(Girls) Abby Hamilton (Senior), Anneka Murrin (Junior), Gaby Colby-George (Sophomore), Paige Reinfelder (Sophomore), Sophie Walsh (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment: “Overall, I believe our senior leadership and veterans will be instrumental in creating a culture of being consistent in workouts. The boys will be strong and will have depth in the throws, sprints, middle distances and relays and we have some contenders in the jumps. Our girls will be strong in the jumps and sprints and we’ll contend in the middle distance distance. Overall, we lack depth to contend, but we’ll be heard from in most events.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Yarmouth doesn’t have a huge team, but it does feature some standouts as Rogers, a former assistant, takes over.

The boys are led by Laverdiere, the school’s Fall Male Athlete of the Year, who won the Class B mile a year ago. He’ll make a run at repeating in that event and winning the two-mile as well (he was third last season). Whitney (sixth in both the high jump and long jump last winter) hopes to move up. Buchanan (sprints and jumps) and St. Amour (middle distance) have experience. Three newcomers will also make a difference. Junior Sammy Potter competes in the distance races, sophomore Thomas Conrad is a sprinter and jumper and Odeh Rizkallah runs the longer races as well. This squad could improve on last year’s showing.

On the girls’ side, standout Emma Egan will be missed, but the return of Murrin (second in the 800 last winter) and Hamilton (sixth in the two-mile) helps. Both will be dominant in the distance. Colby-George (throws), Reinfelder (jumps and pole vault) and Walsh (hurdles and sprints) will also be heard from. Yarmouth will produce a lot of points behind Hamilton and Murrin. If others step up, the Clippers will be a factor in the conference and should score some points in February.

SWIMMING

Coach: Lenora Felker (fourth year)

2015-16 results:

(Boys) 10th @ Class B state meet

(Girls) 6th @ Class B state meet

Top returners:

(Boys) Braelan Creswell (Senior), Andrei Lougovtsov (Senior), Drew Michaud (Senior), Camden Thaxter (Senior)

(Girls) Eliza Lunt (Senior), Calista McLaughlin (Senior), Amanda Murray (Senior)

Coach’s comment: “We’re always smaller than other teams, so we never have the depth, but our strength will be individual performances and relays, which we’re always strong in. I feel the kids are hungrier this year and I’ve had most of them since freshman year, so they have great confidence that when it’s time to go hard, they will. I expect a few surprises from this small but mighty team. Not surprises for me, but they could be surprises for others.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Yarmouth returns some top-notch talent this season and looks forward to turning some heads.

The boys will miss the graduated Jack Snyder, but return Creswell (who was part of a scoring 200 free relay team a year ago). He’ll compete in the distance freestyle. Lougovtsov will look to score in the breaststroke, freestyle and individual medley. Thaxter also returns. He’ll compete in the sprint freestyle and breaststroke. Michaud, a Freeport student who swims with the Clippers, was seventh last year in the backstroke and plans to swim at the University of Maine. He can’t score for Yarmouth, but will help the team with his presence. This group has a solid nucleus and will be competitive throughout.

On the girls’ side, Lunt is the key returner. She was the runner-up in the breaststroke and came in sixth in the 50 free last season. She’ll make a run at the top spot in both events this winter. She’s joined by Murray (butterfly and freestyle) and McLaughlin (fly, IM, freestyle) to make up a solid nucleus. The Clippers will get a lot of points from Lunt and will look to finish higher than last year’s squad at the big meets.

ALPINE SKIING

Coach: Gavin Glider (first year)

2015-16 results:

(Boys) 5th @ Class B state meet

(Girls) No score @ Class B state meet

Top returners:

(Boys) George Jutrus (Senior)

(Girls) Hannah Van Alstine (Senior), Greta Elder (Junior), Vika Santoro (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment: “We’re off to a good start. Repeating in Class B is well within the girls’ grasp. I’m confident. For the boys’, I’d love to see George come in higher than last year. I think we’ll be in good shape.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Glider takes over the Yarmouth Alpine team this winter and inherits a squad ready to, as usual, be near or at the top of Class B.

The girls return Elder (runner-up in the giant slalom last season) and Van Alstine (fourth in the GS). Santoro will play a bigger role and if others can step up, the Clippers have what it takes to be in the hunt.

On the boys’ side, Jutras is coming off a season which saw him place 19th in the slalom and 21st in the GS. He hopes to improve upon those results. Yarmouth will look for other skiers to also produce, so it can move up the standings.

NORDIC SKIING

Coach: Bob Morse (35th year)

2015-16 results:

(Boys) 4th @ Class B state meet

(Girls) Class B state champions

Top returners:

(Boys) Joe Inger (Senior), John Lane (Senior), Max Coury (Junior), Sean Moore (Junior), Justin Pietropaoli (Sophomore), Grady Welsh (Sophomore)

(Girls) Gretchen Barbera (Senior), Abby Condon (Senior), Grace Cowles (Senior), Tessa Houston (Senior), Hannah Corey (Junior), Isabel Brennan (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment: “The girls will be missing one of their top skiers, Sophia Laukli, who is going to school in Switzerland this year, but we have several others back to help defend our title. The boys have John returning as one of the top three skiers in the conference. We hope to challenge Freeport and Maranacook.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Yarmouth’s Nordic program is as loaded as ever and both teams will take aim at the Class B pinnacle.

The girls are the defending champs. While the absence of Laukli (third in the classical, fourth in the skate last year) will hurt, Cowles (fifth in both races) and Corey (eighth in the classical) return. They’re joined by veterans Barbera, Brennan, Condon and Houston, who make up a solid nucleus. Junior Hannah Merrill, sophomore Tillie Munroe and freshmen Alex Augur and Sadie Cowles add depth and the promise of sustained excellence. The Clippers will be pushed hard by Maranacook and Freeport, but when championship time arrives, don’t be surprised if more hardware comes back to Yarmouth.

The boys’ team features Lane, who was runner-up in both the classical and skate a year ago and looks to win them both this time around. Also returning are Coury (22nd in the skate), Pietropaoli (24th in the skate and 25th in the classical) and Welsh (26th in the classical). Inger and Moore also have experience and some newcomers arrive to make the team even stronger. Look for junior George McCosh, sophomore Simon Whitaker and freshmen Dan LaMourie and Kendrick Langenbach to quickly make an impact. Freeport is the defending champion and Caribou and Maranacook will also be tough at the state level, but the Clippers are ready to make a run at the top spot. Don’t bet against them.

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

Senior Nolan Hagerty’s excellence on both ends of the court will help lead the Yarmouth boys’ basketball team to great things this winter.

Senior Aleksander Medenica is poised to be one of the best players in Class B.

Sophomore Jonny Torres will play a bigger role this season.

Senior Cory Langenbach is a four-year varsity player who’s renowned for her skill and leadership. This winter, Langenbach and her girls’ basketball teammates are hoping to go deep in the tournament.

Senior Alison Clark was an all-star a year ago and will be a dominant post presence again this winter.

Senior Johanna Hattan is another seasoned veteran.

Senior Bill Jacobs scored 14 goals a year ago and this season, hopes to power Yarmouth’s boys’ hockey team all the way to a championship.

Junior Dan Latham has emerged as one of the top goalies in Class B.

Junior Cooper May will make life miserable for the opposition in the weeks to come.

Junior Joe Truesdale will be one of the Clippers’ key forwards this season.

Senior Katie Clemmer is a goal scoring machine. She’s up to her usual tricks early this season and hopes to lead Yarmouth/Freeport/Gray-New Gloucester to the playoffs.

Junior Luke Laverdiere won the mile a year ago. He’s one of the state’s premier distance runners.

Senior Tucker Whitney will be one of the conference’s better jumpers.

Senior Abby Hamilton is coming off a transcendent cross country season and will look to win titles in the mile and two-mile indoors.

Anneka Murrin was runner-up in the 800 last winter. She’ll contend for top honors in both the 800 and the mile this season.

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