Boston High School: Ben Holmes

New England Roundup: Maine

April, 6, 2012
4/06/12
2:18
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It’s only been a few days since snow left the ground in Jackman and there’s no guarantee it won’t return before the end of April.

MaineNestled in the Moose River Valley just 16 miles from the Canadian border in northwestern Maine, Jackman is a winter haven for snowmobilers. In the warmer months, it attracts hunters and fishermen or tourists passing through on their way to Quebec province. Tourism is one of the leading industries in this town of 700 while the Jackman Lumber Mill and the Border Patrol Station are the two largest employers.

Athletes at Forest Hills High School in town are spread pretty thin. With an enrollment of 54 students, teams are allowed to include eighth graders on high school teams out of necessity. Basketball is the biggest game in town and this year the Tigers achieved unprecedented success, winning the Western Maine Class D championship after rallying from a 19-point deficit in the second half against top-seeded Hyde School. And last fall, the golf team won the conference championship.

Baseball is another matter. There is no middle school team and as Coach Mike LeBlanc says the youth program is “not anything to write home about.”

“When I first started they used a pitching machine to pitch to batters,” LeBlanc said.

A pitcher himself, LeBlanc changed that in a hurry. He arrived in Jackman 15 years ago after applying for a teaching job.

“I looked at the map and said ‘what the heck am I thinking of,’ ” he said.

LeBlanc grew up in Skowhegan where he still lives and makes the 75-mile commute each weekday to the school. A star at Skowhegan, he moved on to the University of Maine where he became the team’s closer. He was a member of the last UMaine team to reach the College World Series in 1986.

Jackman baseball is about as far removed from that experience as LeBlanc could get. Yet he’s had success despite some obvious drawbacks. Many of his players have little or no experience when they show up for tryouts.

“They’re first taste of it is when they’re in the eighth grade,” LeBlanc said. “They have no clue whatsoever but they play hard. I’ve never questioned their toughness.”

This year LeBlanc has three eighth graders on his team. Numbers have varied from a high of 21 players to as few as 11.

“They just play to play it,” LeBlanc said. “They have fun. I’m not too strict.”

Still, in 13 years as coach — LeBlanc took a two-year hiatus three years ago — his teams have qualified for the playoffs 10 times. They rarely get outside before the season begins. This year was an exceptional as temperatures wandered into the 70’s in mid-March. But they’ve since dipped to the freezing mark and there was snow on the ground earlier this week.

The gym provides little respite since it’s undersized at 47x74 feet and can accommodate a batting cage but no portable mound. Often the first outdoor action the Tigers see is when they travel down river to face rival Valley which is about an hour away. Travel is another issue for the Tigers who routinely face long bus rides. When they play at Vinalhaven, it involves a three-and-and-half hour bus ride a 45-minute ferry ride to the island. Because of all the travel, the Tigers play seven doubleheaders in their 16-game schedule.

They’ve had a few pitchers over the years, though. Jeff Mulhall, who plays for Thomas College in Waterville, struck out 294 batters in four years. This season, junior Evan Worster is the team’s ace. The star of the basketball tournament, Worster throws fairly hard but has plenty of finesse, according to LeBlanc.

“He has a pitcher’s mentality,” LeBlanc said. “He throws the ball inside. A lot of pitcher’s are afraid to do that.”

Junior Derek Ouellette and freshman Matt Turner have also shown promise on the mound which may make the Tigers a contender in Western Maine Class D. They open their season April 24 with a doubleheader at Valley.

“It’s pretty amazing what those athletes do up there,” LeBlanc said.

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New England Roundup: Maine

March, 7, 2012
3/07/12
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Eight Gold Balls were awarded over the weekend to boys' and girls' state basketball champion in four classes.

Boys Class A
MaineDEERING 59, HAMPDEN 50: The Western Maine champs pulled away with a 17-2 run early in the second half to win their first state title since 2006. Jon Amabile led the Stags with 27 points while Thiwat Thiwat added 15 points and Labson Abwoch 10 points and a thunderous dunk in the second quarter. Hampden’s Christian McCue scored a game-high 28 points. Deering finishes at 19-3 while Hampden closes at 20-2.

Boys Class B
YARMOUTH 65, GARDINER 53
: Josh Britten hit his first five shots en route to 29 points in leading the Clippers to their first state title since 1968. Chris Knaub added 14 points for Yarmouth (18-4) while Aaron Toman paced Gardiner (19-3) with 26 points. Yarmouth also won state soccer and football titles during the fall.

Boys Class C
DIRIGO 74, LEE 67:
After finishing runner-up in the state title game the past three seasons, the Cougars finally broke through with their first title in 29 years. The game was a rematch of last year and Dirigo pulled away by making all seven of its shots in the fourth quarter. Cody St. Germain led the Cougars (21-1) with 26 points and seven rebounds while Ben Holmes scored 18 points. Boubacar Diallo paced Lee (19-3) with 19 points and 13 rebounds while Jasil Elder added 16 points.

Boys Class D
JONESPORT-BEALS 83, FOREST HILLS 45:
The Royals had too much size and depth for the undermanned Tigers who carry just eight players. The winners forced 26 turnovers in all and pulled away to an early lead. Matt Alley led Jonesport-Beals (19-2) with 26 points, including the 1,000th of his career, while Garet Beal scored 16. Evan Worster paced Forest Hills (18-4) with 16 points. The title was the first for the Royals since 1993 and their 10th overall.

Boys Final Top 10
1. Deering
2. Hampden
3. Bonny Eagle
4. Mt. Blue
5. Cheverus
6. Edward Little
7. Yarmouth
8. Falmouth
9. Portland
10. Gardiner

Girls Class A
MCAULEY 54, CONY 41:
The Lions pulled away in the third quarter to successfully defend their title. McAuley’s 6-foot-2 forwards, Olivia Smith and Alexa Coulombe, proved too much for the smaller Rams. Smith finished with a game-high 15 points while Allie Clement added 11. For Cony (21-1-), Melanie Guzman scored 14 points and Mia Diplock 10. McAuley finished at 22-0 in winning its fourth state championship.

Girls Class B
PRESQUE ISLE 49, LAKE REGION 47:
Chandler Guerrette’s steal in the closing seconds sealed the win for the Wildcats. Guerrette finished with a team-high 11 points fro Presque Isle (22-0) while Karlee Bernier scored 10. Tianna-Jo Carter paced Lake Region (19-3) with 19 points while Abby Craffy scored 13. The Wildcats last won a state title in 2006 when they also beat Lake Region.

Girls Class C
CENTRAL 40, HALL-DALE 39:
The Red Devils rallied from 13 points down in the third quarter and caught the Bulldogs when Max McHugh hit a pair of free throws with 11.4 seconds left. Freshman Brianna Skolfield led the winners with 17 points and eight rebounds while Wendy Goldman paced Hall-Dale with 17 points. Hall-Dale, which won the title last year, finished at 18-4, while Central (19-3), located in East Corinth, last won a title in 1983.

Girls Class D
WASHBURN 60, RICHMOND 35: Freshman Mackenzie Worcester scored a game-high 24 points to lead the Beavers to their second straight state title. The game was a rematch of last year’s game and followed the same pattern with Washburn pressuring Richmond and pulling away in the fourth quarter. Olivia Doody added 12 points for Washburn (21-1) while Jamie Plummer led Richmond (19-2) while 14 points and 20 rebounds.

Girls Final Top 10

1. McAuley
2. Cony
3. Scarborough
4. Marshwood
5. Presque Isle
6. Lake Region
7. Nokomis
8. Edward Little
9. Leavitt
10. Thornton

Mr., Miss Basketball Finalists

Finalists for Mr., and Miss Maine basketball were named last week. The three finalists for Mr. Basketball are Mt. Blue’s Cam Sennick, Hampden’s Christian McCue and Bonny Eagle’s Cole Libby. Miss Basketball finalists are McAuley’s Alexa Coulombe, Cony’s Mia Diplock and Windham’s Meghan Gribbin.

The winners will be announced at the Maine McDonald's High School Senior All-Star Awards Banquet on Friday evening at Husson University.

New England Roundup: Maine

March, 2, 2012
3/02/12
3:20
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State championship matchups are set for this weekend for boys' and girls' basketball teams in four classes.

Here’s a rundown of the games:

Class A Boys
HAMPDEN (20-1) vs. DEERING (16-3)

MaineRegional finals: Both teams were tested in regional finals and won on last second shots. Hampden’s Brian Fickett scored on an inbounds play with two seconds left to give the Broncos a 56-54 win against Mt. Blue. Christian led Hampden with 14 points. Deering beat Bonny Eagle 45-42 in the Western final on Pat Green’s 3-pointer at the buzzer. Green paced the Rams with 17 points.

Matchup: Both teams have good overall size and experience. In addition to McCue, the Broncos are led by 6-foot-7 center Fred Knight, 6-6 forward Logan Poirier and Pat Gilpin. Besides Green, the Rams are led by 6-6 Labson Abwoch, 6-4 Thiwat Thiwat and guard Jon Amabile.

History: Deering last won a state title in 2006 when it beat Hampden, Hampden won in 2005 by beating Deering in the state final.

Class B Boys
GARDINER (19-2) vs. YARMOUTH (17-4)

Regional finals: Both teams upset unbeaten top seeds in the finals. Gardiner beat Mt, Desert Island 70-58 behind 23 points from Jake Palmer and 16 from Aaron Toman. Yarmouth knocked off Falmouth 56-50 behind 26 points from Chris Knaub and 12 from Josh Britten.

Matchup: The teams are similar in size and style of play. Gardiner relies on team defense and rebouding. Toman is the tallest player at 6-4 while Palmer has taken off in the playoffs, scoring 33 and 23 in his last two games. The Tigers have good rebounders in Alonzo Connor and Matt Hall. Yarmouth looks to Britten, its 1,000 point scorer, to carry the offense, but showed others, like Knaub, can contribute. Sam Torres is also a key team member.

History: This is Gardiner’s first-ever trip to the state championship while Yarmouth last played for a state tile (Class C) in 1973 and last won in 1968.

Class C Boys
DIRIGO (20-1) vs. Lee (19-2)

Regional finals: Dirigo cruised to a 69-38 win against third-seeded Boothbay. during the three-game tournament, the Cougars outscored their opponents by a average scored of 76-35. Lee got 25 points from Boubacar Diallo to knock off upset-minded Houlton 58-47.

Matchup: This is a rematch of last year’s state final, won by Lee, 65-55. Because it’s a private school, many of Lee’s players from last year moved on but they do have some valuable additions including Boubacar and D.J. Johnson. The Cougars, led by Cody St. Germain, Ben Holmes and Josh Turbide, return most of their team with a new coach Travis Magnusson in charge. They run and pressure the ball which should make for an entertaining game.

History: Last year’s state final win was the first-ever by Lee. Dirigo has appeared in each of the last three state games without a win. They last won a state championship in 1983.

Class D Boys
FOREST HILLS (18-3) vs. JONESPORT-BEALS (18-2)

Regional finals: Forest Hills pulled off one of the most dramatic comebacks in the history of the Western Maine tournament when it rallied from 19 points down late in the third quarter to defeat top-seeded Hyde 61-60. Junior Evan Worster led the Tigers with 33 points and set a tournament scoring record with 106 points in three games. Jonesport-Beals shot 62 percent from the field in stopping Deer Isle-Stonington 75-62. Garet Beal led the Royals with 20 points while Cole Beal scored 14.

Matchup: Jonesport-Beals has the history and experience on its side, not to mention size with a couple of 6-5 forwards in Garet Beal and Justin Alley. The Tigers have only eight players on their team — the school enrollment is 54 — and start three freshmen.

History: This is Forest Hills’ first-ever appearance in a state final while Jonesport-Beals is gunning for championship No. 10.

Class A Girls
CONY (21-0) vs. MCAULEY (21-0)
Regional finals: Cony got past No. 2 seeded Edward Little 46-41 behind 17 points from Mia Diplock who scored two key baskets down the stretch. McAuley coasted to a 61-43 win against second-seeded Scarborough. Allie Clement led the Lions with 19 points and seven assists while Olivia Smith added 15 and tournament MVP Alexa Coulombe scored eight points, grabbed seven rebounds and had seven steals.

Matchup: The Lions are the defending state champs and enjoy a decided height advantage with Coulombe and Smith, both 6-2, in the lineup. Cony relies on the guard play of Diplock and junior Josie Lee and a host of three-point shooters. Both teams like an uptempo game.

History: Cony is making its sixth appearance in a state final since 2002 while McAuley is making its fifth. The Rams defeated McAuley for the title in 2007.

Class B Girls
PRESQUE ISLE (21-0) vs. LAKE REGION
Regional finals: After losing in the final the past two years to Nokomis, Presque Isle finally broke through and downed the Warriors 52-40 behind 13 points from Chandler Guerette and 11 from Hannah Graham. Lake Region defeated Greely 46-30 behind 22 points from Sydney Hancock and 14 rebounds from Tianna-Jo Cater.

Matchup: Presque Isle averaged 70 points a game during the regular season and would like to push the pace while a slower pace would favor Lake Region.

History: The teams last played for a state championship in 2006 when Presque Isle defeated lake Region 48-36. Lake Region last won a title in 1975.

Class C Girls
HALL-DALE (18-3) vs., CENTRAL (18-3)
Regional finals: Top-seeded Hall-Dale knocked off No. 7 Waynflete behind 16 points and some big plays down the stretch from Carylanne Wolfington. Central beat Stearns 42-41 in overtime behind 21 points from freshman Brianna Skolfield and nine from Sam Brownell.

Matchup: Hall-Dale is the defending state champion but a different team with the graduation of center Taylor Massey. Wolfington is a Miss Basketball finalist and a versatile player who can score inside and out. Central relies on defense and will likely assign Max McHugh to guard Wolfington.

History: Hall-Dale won its first state title since 1986 last season while Central last won in 1982.

Class D Girls
RICHMOND (20-1) vs. WASHBURN (20-1)

Regional finals: Richmond junior Jamie Plummer scored 21 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to led the Bobcats past Rangeley 46-33. Freshman Mackenzie Worcester scored 20 points and Carsyn Koch added 19 as the beavers flew past Hodgdon 68-44.

Matchup: The game is a rematch of last year’s state final won by Washburn 43-40. The Beavers will press, run and try to quicken the pace of the game while the Bobcats would like to slow things down and get the ball inside to Plummer and six-footer Alyssa Pearson.

History: This will be Richmond’s seventh appearance in a state final but the Bobcats have yet to win one. Washburn won its fourth championship last year.

TOURNAMENT RECORDS
Waynflete junior Martha Veroneau and Forest Hills junior Evan Worster each set tournament records last week at the Augusta Civic Center. Veroneau, a 5-7 guard, scored 47 points against Boothbay to break the single-game Class C tournament record of 45 set by Boothbay’s Katie Sibley. Veroneau also connected on nine 3-pointers to break her own tournament record of seven in a single game.

Worster scored 51 points in a quarterfinal win against A.R. Gould to set a single game Class D record of 45 set by A.R. Gould’s Ian Nono. Worster, a 6-3 forward also set a new tournament scoring record of 106 points, breaking Buckfield’s Paul Bessey’s mark of 96.

New England Roundup: Maine

October, 26, 2011
10/26/11
4:04
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Madison Memorial High School senior Seth Sweet has established himself as the top high school golfer in the state.

MaineSweet recently won his second straight Class C state individudal title, shooting a 2-under par 70, the lowest in any class. Last summer he was one of two Maine golfers to qualify for the U.S. Junior Amateur. He also finished fourth in the Maine Amateur last year and, when he was 12, he was the youngest qualifier ever for that tournament. He recently answered questions about himself and the game he loves.

Q: How did you get started in golf?

A: "My dad introduced me into the game when I was 2 years old. He brought me out to a little par three course with a plastic set of Little Tikes golf clubs. I didn’t play that often but he brought me to the golf course just enough so I could really get a liking for this game. After a while I knew there was something about this game that was special and I knew it would be able to take me places."

Q: When did you first get hooked on the game?

SWEET
SWEET
A: "I first became serious around the age of 10. I played my first tournament when I was 7 but did not realize what it took to really become an elite golfer. I started playing several tournaments when I turned 10, and began to practice a lot harder. I tried to take my game to the next level and set different levels of goals that I needed to achieve."

Q: Who have been your greatest influences in the game?

A: "My dad has definitely been the biggest influence in my game. He taught me everything I needed to know to become who I am today. He made it so I could play in every tournament I wanted to play in, and would do everything for me. My mother has also been there supporting me and always telling me that if I want it I can get it. She is always there to watch me play tournaments, and I couldn’t do it without them. My brother Zack also has been there to push me as he is a good golfer and always taught me how to act, as well as made me the best I could ever be. My swing coach has also been able to bring me to the tip top in my game and has taught me how to play this game like the pros.

Q: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment to date?

A: "I believe my greatest accomplishment has been making the U.S. Junior Amateur in Bremerton, Washington where I played two great days to make a playoff to make the cut for match play. Unfortunately, I missed the playoff, but was the proudest to place 55th best junior in the nation. I may not have met my goal, but was very pleased with how I played."

Q: How often do you play and practice?

A: "I play every day and practice every day. In order to be the best you have to have the club in your hand acting like it is your lifeline."

Q: What do you work on?

A: "Lately I work on the short game because I am able to hit the ball on the green, but where I am going to save strokes is making the putts for birdies. I will also work on hitting the ball in different shapes, I usually hit a draw but I understand that I need to be able to hit the cut to be one of the best as well. I believe that short game is where the pros make it look easy and win the tournaments."

Q: Where will you attend school next year?

A: "I have recently just verbally committed to Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia."

Q: How did this come about?

A: "I had a friend from Rhode Island who is a freshman there and had told the coach about me. He must have put in a good word for me because the next week I got a call from the coach and it eventually led to an official visit offer. I visited the campus and fell in love with it and
fell in love with the golf facilities this school has to offer."

Q: What are your short and long-term goals in the game?

A: "My short term goal for golf is to really become a better player and win my state amateur, and qualify for the U.S. Junior Amateur again. My long term goals are to become a golf professional and play on the PGA tour, I do realize this will be a tough task but I am ready to make a run for it. I also want to be in a scoring spot all four years in college and be a key asset in our successful team.

Q: What are your strengths and weaknesses?

A: "My strengths are definitely being able to drive the ball, chip the ball and putt the ball. I hit the ball about 290 yards down the middle and my short game has grown incredibly and improved greatly. I also am able to keep a great state of mind while playing golf which is to my advantage. I believe my weakness is paying too much attention to other people, I shouldn’t watch my competitors, but I do and get caught up in their game a little too much."

Q: Who is your favorite pro golfer and why?

A: "My favorite player used to be Tiger Woods because I idolized his work ethic, he won his tournaments by out-working his competitors and there was no question that he did every week. I also loved watching how he worked on the golf course he made himself expect the best of the competitors so he would not be surprised when they hit a good shot. My new favorite player is Bubba Watson, I enjoy how he hits the ball so long and is changing the game with his stride in great length. I also like how he has fun while he is playing and is very personable while he is playing. It is truly an awesome thing for him to be able to enjoy the game the way he does."

Q: What other activities or sports do you enjoy?

A: "I enjoy playing basketball with a passion; it is a very fun game for me and keeps me in shape during my long winter up in Maine. I enjoy running, and weight lifting as it keeps me in shape and I enjoy doing that every day."

Q: What are your plans for the summer before college?

A: "I plan on playing in 5-10 golf tournaments and practice my short game and the little details golf demands you to do. I am going to play in the big tournaments in the state and going to qualify for some USGA events. I just want to keep my competitive edge and make my game in fine tune for the fall college season."

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