Yarmouth Clippers Winter Sports Preview

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Senior Nolan Hagerty is a matchup nightmare and before he takes his game to the college level, he’ll look to lead Yarmouth’s boys’ basketball team to the Class B state title.

File photos.

More photos below.

BOYS’ BASKETBALL

Coach: Adam Smith (14th year, 168-90 overall record, one state championship)

2016-17 record: 18-3 (Lost, 41-38, to Wells in Class B South Final)

Top returning players: Nolan Hagerty (Senior), Noah Eckersley-Ray (Junior), Jonny Torres (Junior)

Pivotal games: Dec. 22 @ Waynflete, Dec. 29 GRAY-NG, Jan. 4 WELLS, Jan. 9 @ Cape Elizabeth, Jan. 11 @ Gray-NG, Jan. 15 GREELY, Jan. 23 CAPE ELIZABETH, Jan. 26 @ Wells, Feb. 2 @ Greely

Coach’s comment: “We’ve enjoyed our time in the gym so far. We’ve started off as a close-knit group. We’ll have some ups and downs and I hope we stay close. We have good size, speed and athleticism, but we have a long way to go. I wish for good health. Nolan does a great job reading the defense. For us to be our best, there will be trips when he’s behind the arc and trips when he’s on the block. The league is better top to bottom this year, but we’re hungry after a couple of tough ousters.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Yarmouth had a superb season in 2016-17, but the Clippers’ title dreams were dashed in an agonizing regional final loss. After losing several key contributors, including reigning Winter Male Athlete of the Year Aleksandar Medenica, Yarmouth has some holes to fill, but with Hagerty leading the way, the Clippers figure to be one of the last teams standing again.

Hagerty averaged 12 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists per game a year ago, as he made the All-Conference first-team. Hagerty stands 6-foot-7 and will a force to be reckoned with inside the paint, but he can also step out and knock down shots from the perimeter. To call him a matchup nightmare would be a massive understatement. Torres will be the point guard. Eckersley-Ray is another key returner who can play guard or forward. It’s rare for Yarmouth to boast any tall players, but this winter, the Clippers have two, as Hagerty is joined by junior Jake Rogers, who stands 6-6. Senior Jack True will be top to stop as a forward. Sophomore Aidan Hickey will see time as point guard and junior Ashanti Haywood is another guard to watch.

The Clippers are poised for another big season, but it won’t be easy as Cape Elizabeth is now in Class B, Wells is still a daunting foe and Gray-New Gloucester is expected to contend. Yarmouth still has to match up with defending Class A champion Greely twice as well. Expect the Clippers’ up-tempo style to produce plenty of points and wins, but they’ll need to find consistent offense in lower scoring contests against top-notch foes. Hagerty will get his stats. If other players can step up, Yarmouth might just finish what last year’s team started.

GIRLS’ BASKETBALL

Coach: Christina Strong (fifth year, 32-42 overall record)

2016-17 record: 12-7 (Lost, 45-30, to Lake Region in Class B South quarterfinals)

Top returning players: Sara D’Appolonia (Senior), Clementine Blaschke (Junior)

Pivotal games: Dec. 12 @ Freeport, Dec. 22 WAYNFLETE, Dec. 29 GRAY-NG, Jan. 11 @ Gray-NG, Jan. 13 @ Lake Region, Jan. 15 GREELY, Jan. 19 FREEPORT, Feb. 6 POLAND, Feb. 8 LAKE REGION

Coach’s comment: “It will be a building year for us getting the younger kids minutes. We’ll have to rely heavily on three sophomores and four freshmen. They’re holding their own in practice. They’re very bright girls who understand the game. Our strength is our basketball IQ. We’re aggressive and we have height, so I’m hoping we can control the boards. We have nice team chemistry. Our future is bright, but we’re definitely aiming to make the playoffs this year.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Yarmouth is coming off its best season in over a decade, but the Clippers’ hopes for a long playoff run were dashed by nemesis Lake Region. Yarmouth then had to part with four key seniors, including league all-stars Alison Clark and Cory Langenbach, who helped build the program into a contender. This year’s team will have to endure some growing pains, but its upside is obvious.

D’Appolonia returns at point guard. She was second in the league in steals (3.9 per game) and seventh in assists (3.3) a year ago. D’Appolonia’s steady presence will be important early in getting newer girls comfortable. The team will then be without her from late-January on, as D’Appolonia is graduating early to start school at the University of Delaware, where she’ll play Division I soccer. Blaschke saw key moments last season and has a nice shooting touch. She’s another key returner to watch. Junior Ceanne Lyon, a forward, will play a much bigger role this season and freshman guard Margaret McNeil could be a star of the future.

Speaking of the future, Yarmouth’s is bright, but the Clippers are hoping to surprise some people this winter. Yarmouth won’t have many easy games, but as the season progresses, the Clippers will learn how to win and could be a very challenging foe when the calendar flips to February.

BOYS’ HOCKEY

Coach: Dave St. Pierre (seventh year, 64-49-6 overall record)

2016-17 record: 8-11 (Lost, 8-1, to York in Class B South semifinals)

Top returning players: Dan Latham (Senior), Cooper May (Senior), Dom Morrill (Senior), Joe Truesdale (Senior), Sam Marjerison (Junior)

Pivotal games: Dec. 13 YORK, Jan. 11 @ Portland/Deering, Jan. 13 WATERVILLE, Jan. 23 @ Greely, Jan. 27 @ St. Dom’s, Feb. 3 CAPE ELIZABETH, Feb. 17 @ Cape Elizabeth, Feb. 19 GREELY

Coach’s comment: “We have talent, but depth is a question mark. I like our leadership. We’re starting to find our identity. We should be in the hunt, but B South is always tough top to bottom and it will be a dogfight again. We have to stay healthy and play good defensive hockey. I think we can be a dangerous team.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: After falling one goal shy of a state title in 2015-16, Yarmouth wasn’t able to get back to that lofty level a year ago, but remained competitive and even sprung a playoff upset over rival Cape Elizabeth. This time around, the Clippers have a veteran, hungry squad and should be one of the best teams in Class B South yet again.

May was a first-team league all-star a year ago. The prolific scorer returns to lead the offense, along with Morrill, Truesdale and junior Kurt Heywood, a transfer from North Yarmouth Academy. Defensively, Marjerison is the key returner. He’ll team with sophomores Graden Caulfield and Spencer King (an All-Rookie team selection in 2016-17) to protect Latham, who is back for a third season as Yarmouth’s starting goalie. Latham was a third-team all-star last winter. This squad will have good balance, the question remains how deep on the bench it can go.

Yarmouth has re-established itself as a perennial contender since St. Pierre returned to the program. This year’s team finds itself in a very deep and balanced region, again, and there won’t be many easy games. The Clippers should steadily improve and their commitment to grinding out games will pay off with victories. Don’t be surprised if Yarmouth makes another trip to Lewiston and threatens to be the last team standing in the region.

GIRLS’ HOCKEY

Coach: Megan Vaughan (third year, 15-23 overall record)

2016-17 record: 7-12 (Lost, 6-3, to EL/Leavitt in North Region quarterfinals)

Top returning players: Kyaira Grondin (Junior), Margaret Perrotta (Junior), Sophie Newberg (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: Dec. 16 EDWARD LITTLE, Dec. 22 GREELY, Jan. 27 @ St. Dom’s, Jan. 30 @ Greely, Feb. 3 CAPE ELIZABETH

Coach’s comment: “We have several freshmen joining the team this season who show potential to help drive our offense and we look to strengthen as the season continues.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: The Yarmouth/Freeport co-op team started by tying Edward Little/Leavitt (3-3), then lost to Winslow (7-4), Cheverus (11-0), Lewiston (8-0) and Portland/Deering (10-4). This squad figures to overcome its early lumps and improve steadily in the weeks to come.

The offense will be led by Newberg (4 goals and 5 assists a year ago), Perrotta (3 goals, 1 assist last winter) and Grondin (1 goal, 8 assists in 2016-17). Junior Isabelle King and freshman Allie Perrotta are seeing time in goal.

Yarmouth/Freeport has the necessary ingredients to compete as the season develops. Look for this squad to win some key games before the year is complete.

INDOOR TRACK

Coach: Mary Green (first year)

2016-17 results:

(Boys) 5th @ Class B state meet

(Girls) 5th @ Class B state meet

Top returners:

(Boys) Luke Laverdiere (Senior), Wyatt Bates (Junior)

(Girls) Anneka Murrin (Senior), Gabby Colby-George (Junior), Kim Fuller (Junior), Paige Reinfelder (Junior)

Coach’s comment: “My hopes for this season would be for athletes to take risks by trying new events as well as gain strength in the weight room. We have a great group of kids. There are many talented runners, jumpers and throwers returning and the majority of the team is underclassmen which is exciting. We’re hoping to see a lot of fast times and long throws and jumps that will lead us into outdoor.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Some top-notch distance runners highlight the 2017-18 Clippers.

The boys’ team is led by the sensational Laverdiere, the reigning Class B champion in the mile and two-mile. He’s a heavy favorite to repeat. Bates will look to score in the high jump, while a pair of freshmen: middle-distance runner Nik Oaks and sprinter Evan Van Lonkhuyzen, add depth. The Clippers will get plenty of production out of Laverdiere and could again post a high state meet finish.

On the girls’ side, Murrin looks to move up from her runner-up showing in the mile and third-place finish in the 800 from a year ago. Yarmouth will be strong on the field side, as Colby-George was fourth last winter in the shot put. Reinfelder also hopes to improve on a fourth-place showing in the pole vault. Fuller is a jumper to watch. The Clippers have the ability to be among the best teams in the Western Maine Conference and will make some noise in the postseason.

SWIMMING

Coach: Dave Cox (first year)

2016-17 results:

(Boys) 13th @ Class B state meet

(Girls) 9th @ Class B state meet

Top returners:

(Boys) Charlie Keefe (Senior), Michael St. Laurent (Junior)

(Girls) Bay Hanson (Senior), Natalie Bourassa (Junior), Kara Murray (Junior)

Coach’s comment: “The girls’ team looks to meld quickly and improve on last year’s finish. The boys hope to crack the top 10 at states.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Yarmouth welcomes a new coach this winter as Cox joins the program after several successful seasons with Falmouth. He inherits some talent.

The boys’ squad is led by Keefe (sprint freestyle and butterfly) and St. Laurent (sprint freestyle and backstroke). Juniors Ben Cox-Faxon (breaststroke, individual medley), Will Lenardson (sprint freestyle, backstroke), Zachary Mogul-Campbell (sprint freestyle) and Sean Whynot (diving) and freshmen Nate Henninger (sprint freestyle) and Conor Wolff (fly, IM) are other swimmers to watch. If all goes well, the Clippers could move into the top 10 at states.

On the girls’ side, the loss of Eliza Lunt will be felt, but Bourassa (eighth in the 500 free) will look to lead the way. Hanson (sprint freestyle, fly) and Murray (backstroke, breaststroke) also have experience. Senior Joanie Estabrook (backstroke, distance freestyle), sophomore Tessa Piker (IM, breaststroke) and freshman Zoe Siegel (freestyle, butterfly) are other swimmers to watch. Another top 10 state meet finish could be in store for this squad.

ALPINE SKIING

Coach: Gavin Glider (second year)

2016-17 results:

(Boys) 4th @ Class B state meet

(Girls) 2nd @ Class B state meet

Top returners:

(Boys) Alex Hall (Junior)

(Girls) Greta Elder (Senior), Emma Marston (Senior), Cate Ralph (Senior), Emi Ruth (Senior)

Coach’s comment: “We’re underway with dry land training and we’re looking forward to snow. The girls had a heartbreaker at states after a dominant season last year, losing by one point. This year, they’re eyeing the title. Most of our top boys graduated, but we have a lot of freshmen. We hope to get better as the year goes on. We’ll have some strong individuals.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Yarmouth is, as always, on the short list of Class B Alpine favorites.

The girls’ team could find its way back to the top of the heap. Top returners include Elder (second in the giant slalom), Ruth (eighth in the GS and eighth in the slalom), Ralph (11th in the GS) and Marston (12th in the GS and 15th in the slalom). Sophomore Tasha Powers looks to make her presence felt as well and freshman Eleanor Donahue could soon become a household name. The Clippers will be a power in the conference and have a simple goal in February, to win it all. Don’t bet against them.

On the boys’ side, Hall returns after placing 21st in the giant slalom and 25th in the slalom last winter. Junior Griffin Primeau was injured last year, but could return with a vengeance this season. Freshman Thomas Morris will soon make a mark as well. Another high state finish is the likely destination for this squad.

NORDIC SKIING

Coach: Bob Morse (36th year)

2016-17 results:

(Boys) 3rd @ Class B state meet

(Girls) 2nd @ Class B state meet

Top returners:

(Boys) Max Coury (Senior), Justin Pietropaoli (Junior), Grady Welsh (Junior)

(Girls) Hannah Corey (Senior), Isabel Brennan (Junior)

Coach’s comment: “The boys will set their goal to place in the top three at the state meet. The girls will train hard to earn back the state title they lost to Maranacook.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Yarmouth is again on the short list of favorites to win Class B.

The boys’ squad graduated John Lane, but returns three state meet scorers. Coury was 14th in the freestyle and 25th in the classical last winter, while Welsh came in 18th in the freestyle and 21st in the classical and Pietropaoli was 20th in the classical and 24th in the freestyle. Senior Sean Moore and sophomore Kendrick Langenbach are other skiers to watch. The Clippers will be one of the last teams standing, perhaps the final squad if all goes well.

On the girls’ side, the loss of Grace Cowles hurts, but Corey (seventh in the classical and eighth in the freestyle) and Brennan (10th in the classical and 14th in the freestyle) are top returners. Several other girls have the potential to move into top spots and if that happens, another state title could be the end result.

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

Junior Noah Eckersley-Ray will score some big baskets in the weeks come.

Sophomore Aidan Hickey will play a bigger role for the Clippers this season.

Junior Jonny Torres returns as point guard.

Senior Sara D’Appolonia, the state’s best girls’ soccer player, returns to lead the offense of the Yarmouth girls’ basketball team.

Clementine Blaschke is another key returner for the Clippers.

Senior Dan Latham is back for his third season in goal for Yarmouth’s boys’ hockey team, which looks to make another playoff run.

Senior Cooper May will pace Yarmouth’s offense.

Senior Luke Laverdiere has long established himself as a standout distance runner. In his final indoor season, Laverdiere hopes to post a few more first-place finishes.

Senior Anneka Murrin will be one of the state’s top distance runners. She and her Yarmouth girls’ indoor track teammates figure to have a very competitive season.

Junior Paige Reinfelder scored in the pole vault last season and is another key returner for the Clippers.

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