Boston High School: Dirigo
Class A Boys: The West looks like a three-team race between Portland, Deering, and Bonny Eagle, with South Portland ready should there be an opening. Junior Justin Zukowski is Portland’s top all-around player, and he has help in Nick Volger and Jayvon Pitts-Young. Deering tries to beat you inside, with six-six Labson Abwoch, and six-four Thiwat Thiwat, both of whom are from the Sudan and moved to the United States at an early age.
Hampden was upset by Deering in the state final, and even though the Broncos return only two starters, they were still the pick for first place in Eastern A’s preseason coaches poll. Edward Little, Lawrence, and Bangor, all programs with strong traditions, could each challenge Hampden. Lawrence relies on forward Spencer Carey and guard Xavier Lewis, a transfer from Bangor.
Class A Girls: Western A has at least four strong teams in McAuley, Scarborough, Cheverus, and Deering. Oddly enough, none of them play each other until January. Point guard Allie Clement leads two-time defending state champion McAuley. Add in three six-footers and a talented guard in sophomore Olivia Dalphonse (a transfer from Bonny Eagle), and this team should go far in the tournament again.
In the East, Edward Little, Mt. Ararat, and Mt. Blue should fight it out for the top spot. Edward Little’s top scorer is guard Ashlee Arnold, and the Red Eddies have some motivation after blowing an 11-point halftime lead and losing to Cony in last winter’s regional final. Mt. Blue has balanced scoring, and guard Gabby Foy is a player who can run up a lot of points in a short time. Brewer was the big surprise in the early going, beating Mt. Blue on a three-pointer at the buzzer, then knocking off Lewiston the same way three nights later. Bangor has the height and athleticism to play with anyone, while Oxford Hills, Skowhegan, and Lawrence could be sleepers in a deep league.
Class B boys: Falmouth and York are two of the tallest and best teams in the West. York has five players six-four or taller; Falmouth has three at least six-five. Falmouth didn’t return any starters this season, but began the year with three lopsided wins. To go with York’s height, the Wildcats have senior guard Adam Bailey, who hit 11 three-pointers in York’s first four games this season.
Expectations are very high at Oceanside, which finished 12-8 last season but returns four starters and is loaded with height. The Portland Press Herald even said that, “Anything short of winning Eastern Class B would be a disappointment.” Winslow is expected to be a playoff team, but Oceanside beat the Black Raiders, 80-53, on opening night. Medomak Valley, Camden Hills, and possibly Caribou and Presque Isle will also look to get hot at the right time.
Class B girls: Defending regional champ Lake Region is probably the favorite again. Tiana-Jo Carter averaged 15 points and 17 rebounds per game last winter, and the Portland Press Herald reports she has already received full scholarship offers to Division I schools. The Lakers are so deep at guard that freshman CeCe Hancock stepped in and had 11 points and nine assists in an early-season win over Waynflete. York, Gorham, Spruce Mountain, and Wells could all make a run at Lake Region. Leavitt might not have all the pieces to go all the way, but the Hornets have one of the most entertaining players in the state in senior Kristen Anderson, who will play at the University of New Hampshire next season. Anderson can shoot from 30-35 feet out, and often does.
In Eastern B, Presque Isle is the decided favorite. The Wildcats finally got past Nokomis last winter and squeaked past Lake Region to win the state title. Presque Isle’s first three games this season were wins by scores of 39, 63, and 38 points, and that’s a good indication of how their regular season will go. The Wildcats are never very tall, but they throw lots of quick guards at you and can shoot from long range. Nokomis, which won’t face Presque Isle during the regular season, may have the best chance to defeat the Wildcats in the playoffs. The Warriors have three fine guards in Lindsay Whitney and twins Kylie and Kelsie Richards, and a good low-post option in Anna MacKenzie.
Class C boys: Dirigo has won four consecutive Western C titles, and until someone gets past the Cougars, they have to be considered the favorites again. Even after graduating seven seniors from last winter’s state champions, Dirigo was still picked first in the Mountain Valley Conference coaches poll. Boothbay is probably Dirigo’s toughest competition in the MVC, and Waynflete, which competes in the Western Maine Conference, could be a dark horse.
Houlton went 8-10 last winter, but may just be the No. 1 team in Eastern C. Kyle Bouchard, who can play pretty much any position, leads the Shiretowners. Among Houlton’s early wins this season was a seven-point victory on the road against a good Class B Presque Isle team. Penquis Valley and Lee Academy — which is currently on probation from the Maine Principals’ Association for recruiting violations — are also threats for the regional crown.
Class C girls: The Mountain Valley Conference is deeper, but the Western Maine Conference has the best player (Margaret Veroneau) and maybe the best team (Waynflete). The Flyers have a top-notch coach in Brandon Salway, and bring back all five starters. They’re good enough that they almost beat Class B Lake Region, losing by five on the road. Madison, Lisbon, and Monmouth are also contenders. Mt. Abram should have been in that mix, but the Roadrunners had some players decide not to return, and apparently don’t have everything they need to play with the top teams.
Calais, led by guard Madison McVicar and center Paige Gillespie, is the favorite in the East. Orono, Dexter, and Narraguagas are also in the hunt.
Class D boys: Forest Hills is known for a lot of things, like being closer to the Canadian border than any other high school in Maine, and having kindergarten through 12 all in one building. The Tigers also have a great basketball team. Senior Evan Worster already has over 1,000 points, and everyone returns from a team that went to the Class D state championship game this winter. The Tigers will get tested this season, as Valley, Greenville, and possibly Hyde all have the potential to cut down the nets after the Western D final in late February.
When Jonesport-Beals won the state title last season, it did so with a total high school enrollment of 58 students. It helped immeasurably that one of those was six-foot-five Garet Beal, the state’s Gatorade Player of the year. Beal will play at the University of Maine next season, and already has back-to-back 40-point games this season. The second of those was in overtime against Deer Isle-Stonington, a team that could challenge the Royals again this winter. Woodland could also give Jonesport-Beals a scare.
Class D girls: It looks like Rangeley and Richmond will battle once again for the Western D title. Rangeley, a school with about 80 students, has three six-footers in sophomore Taylor Esty, freshman Blayke Morin, and transfer student Emma Gunic. Richmond has its own six-footer in Jamie Plummer, the daughter of Colby College baseball coach Dale Plummer. Rangeley won the first meeting this season, 56-54 in overtime.
In the East, Washburn won the state title last winter with no seniors and three juniors. The Beavers did lose their coach when Mike Carlos was not rehired after winning two consecutive state titles. There were widespread rumors of parents being unhappy with Carlos, who is now coaching at East Grand. When Carlos was not rehired, superintendent Ed Buckley released a statement to the Bangor Daily News which included the line, “we do not measure the success of our athletic teams by the number of contests they win but whether it is a positive experience for all our students.” Diana Belskis Trams is now coaching the Washburn girls. Van Buren could give Washburn a run in the East. The Crusaders’ star is junior guard Parise Rossignol, who verbally committed to the University of Maine as a sophomore.
“Whenever I talk to them,” Richardson said, “there’s always a point where we encounter, ‘You can’t play because you’re a boy.’ ”
You see, Richardson’s favorite sport is field hockey, and for many people, that doesn’t fit with the image they have of a young boy and man-to-be in the United States. While field hockey is popular for males in many other countries, that’s not the case in the U.S., and especially not the case in Maine, where Richardson is not allowed to play for Kents Hill, his high school team.
Ironically, Richardson’s path to becoming a field hockey player is the typical American sports story. His father, Randy, coached Kents Hill for 10 years and now coaches Lewiston, where he took the Blue Devils from 2-9-3 to 9-6 in his first season. His sister plays field hockey at Smith College, and when Nick was a toddler, the players on his dad’s team put a small field hockey stick in his hands.
“I can honestly say I’ve been playing since I could walk,” said Nick, a senior. “I love being able to move the ball around the field without touching the ball with your physical body. I would like to stay involved with the game as long as I can still walk.”
Richardson was able to play in middle school, when, as he tells it, no one minded that there was a boy playing because he was small and slow and not that good anyway. He’s improved to the point where he’ll play as part of the USA U-17 men’s team in a series Nov. 27-Dec. 2 in California against Canada.
But no matter how good he is, he can’t play in a high school game. Richardson originally attended Maranacook, a school that falls under the Maine Principals' Association (MPA). Kents Hill is an MPA in some sports and plays in the Maine Association of Independent Schools' Athletic Directors conference -- neither of which allow boys to participate in field hockey.
“The minute that I started to get physically bigger,” Richardson said, “I started to get, ‘Oh, we don’t want the boy to play.’ It forced me to look higher, which in hindsight, I’m grateful for. If I had kept playing with high school girls, I never would have thought about playing on a national team.”
A quick Google check will find other boys facing the same resistance. Keeling Pilaro, a 13-year-old boy in New York, was kicked off his field hockey team because people thought he was too good. This past weekend in Massachusetts, Walpole beat Dennis-Yarmouth in a high school playoff game. Dennis-Yarmouth’s goalie is a boy, and Walpole coach Marianne Murphy told The Boston Globe that he shouldn’t be allowed to play.
“They have a sophomore girl goalie on the bench that’s been displaced because they’re playing a boy,” Murphy told the Globe. “It’s something I feel strongly about and it’s disappointing to know other teams have come against them and lost because of it.”
If you follow field hockey long enough, you realize that the men who are involved in the sport are really into it, because they have to have the passion to overcome other people’s perceptions and stereotypes. Richardson is the same way. To stay sharp, he plays in Boston on weekends, driving seven or eight hours round-trip through the traffic to play pick-up for two hours with the Minutemen club team. He’s excited that he’ll also play with the Cape Ann Coalition U-19 boys’ indoor team this winter.
“I’ll be able to play indoors with the Minutemen nine-to-11 and train with Cape Ann one-to-three,” he said.
When most people think of Olympic athletes, the image is of children making everything else in their lives secondary to train for their sport. With United States men’s field hockey, that’s really not the case. There are so few players that, unlike with other countries like Germany and the Netherlands, there is no chance of a core group playing together for years. Coolidge, for example, didn’t play the sport until he was 12, and ended up on the U.S. Olympic team.
That’s where Richardson wants to end up as well. The training center for the U.S. team is in Chula Vista, Calif., and you don’t even have to look at a map to know that’s a heckuva long way from Maine. Richardson has thought through that process. He’d be a junior in college in 2016, and he’s probably have to take a year off.
“In the perfect world, I would love to walk on to the Astroturf in Rio De Janeiro in the 2016 Olympics with the U.S. men’s team,” he said. “I’d love to be able to do it again in 2020. It’s definitely realistic, definitely possible, but very, very challenging.”
IT’S STATE CHAMPIONSHIP FOOTBALL TIME
The state football championships are set for Nov. 17 at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland. Here’s a quick look back at the regional finals:
Class A: Cheverus had won 34 games in a row and the last two state championships, but Thornton upset the Stags, 20-13, as Andrew Libby rushed 28 times for 130 yards and three touchdowns. Cheverus fumbled the ball on a fourth-and-goal play at the Thornton 1 and later missed a 32-yard field goal. The Stags reached the Thornton 23 on their last drive, but ended up at midfield after three straight sacks by the Golden Trojans defense.
Thornton will take on Lawrence, which had its troubles with underdog Cony. The Bulldogs had overpowered Cony, 27-6, earlier in the season, but this time Cony took a quick 10-0 lead and still led 10-3 at halftime thanks to four Lawrence turnovers. In the second half, it was Cony’s turnovers that made the difference, as Spencer Carey picked off two passes by Cony quarterback Ben Lucas to set up two touchdowns. The second was a 47-yard run by Josh Doolan that salted away a 20-10 Lawrence victory.
Lawrence was the last Eastern A team to win a state title, defeating Gorham, 14-13, in 2006. That was also the last Class A state championship game decided by less than two touchdowns. The West has won nine of the last 10 state titles.
Class B: After squeaking by Wells, 15-13, in the semifinals, Marshwood held off York, 21-20, to win the Western B title and reach the state championship game for the first time since 1989. Marshwood quarterback Cameron Roll rushed for 105 yards and two touchdowns and also threw a touchdown pass. Brett Gerry also rushed for 108 yards for the Hawks. Still, it took some luck for Marshwood to win. Trailing 21-14, York scored on a 2-yard run by quarterback Ross Hogan with 2:25 left in the game. The Wildcats made the extra point, but were penalized five yards for having only six men on the line of scrimmage. The re-kick hit the upright, the Hawks recovered the onside kick, and Marshwood had the win.
Marshwood is coached by Alex Rotsko, a legend in Massachusetts football after winning 11 Super Bowls at Longmeadow. Rotsko is in his first season after the Hawks went 2-6 last fall.
There was no such drama in Eastern B, as Mt. Blue cruised to a 42-14 victory over Waterville. Calan Lucas and Chad Luker led a Mt. Blue attack that rolled up 367 yards on the ground. Lucas rushed 17 times for 148 yards, while Luker had 74 yards and four touchdowns. Waterville made it a game for a little bit, cutting a 21-0 lead to 21-14 with two touchdowns in a span of 14 seconds late in the first half. Mt. Blue added a touchdown in the third quarter and then two more in the game’s final seven minutes.
Class C: Winslow held off Dirigo, 17-6, in a game that was 3-0 into the fourth quarter. Then Justin Martin, Winslow’s 6-foot-5 defensive back, intercepted a pass and returned it 23 yards to the Dirigo 6. Winslow scored on the next play, and Martin later returned another interception 73 yards for a touchdown.
In the Eastern C game, Donnie Boyer ran for 266 yards and three touchdowns as Foxcroft defeated John Bapst, 33-7. It was actually one of the closest games of the year for the Ponies. Aside from a loss to Bucksport (and Foxcroft won the rematch in the playoffs, 45-0) the Ponies have won every other game by at least 35 points. Foxcroft is averaging 46.7 points per game this season, and that includes that 13-0 loss to Bucksport in the regular season.
FINANCIAL CRISIS AT NOKOMIS
Nokomis Regional High School in Newport recently took the step of cutting all its junior varsity programs for winter and spring high school sports. The school will also not provide transportation for the varsity teams to away games, forcing students to find their own transportation.
Nokomis is the high school in Regional School Unit 19, which includes eight towns. RSU 19 superintendent Greg Potter, who took over in July, said the school unit is in a financial crisis because of mismanagement and accounting mistakes by the prior administration.
Voters in RSU 19’s eight towns were asked to approve a $3.6 million loan on Election Day. The referendum failed by a total of 353 votes, and RSU 19 began implementing the cuts the next day. According to information on the RSU 19 website, cutting the JV programs and eliminating transportation is estimated to save a combined $58,000. RSU 19 will also cut several full and part-time positions.
“Disappointed is, I don’t think enough of a description for how I feel,” Nokomis athletic director Earl Anderson told the Morning Sentinel. “I’m beyond disappointed.”
The Nokomis girls' basketball team has a record of 56-9 over the past three seasons, and went to the regional final in February. Nokomis also reached the 2012 regional final in softball.
DOUBLY SWEET WINS FOR SCARBOROUGH
It was almost like the Maine Principals’ Association was thumbing its nose as Scarborough. Here were the Red Storm, with teams in both the Class A girls and Class A boys’ state finals. Those games would be played at the Weatherbee Complex in Hampden, and Google Maps pegs that as a 133-mile drive, one-way. The Class B and C state finals, meanwhile, were played in … Scarborough.
If “bus legs” were a factor, it didn’t show. In the boys’ final, Scarborough defeated Mt. Ararat, 4-0. In the girls’ final, Scarborough outlasted Bangor, 2-1, in double overtime on a goal by Sarah Martens. It was the third straight year Scarborough and Bangor had met in the girls Class A state final.
With the double wins, Scarborough became only the second team to win both Class A titles outright in the same year. Waterville captured both Gold Balls in 1983.
Traip Academy’s football program has felt this numbers crunch. The Rangers have 18 players. Not 18 subs, or 18 guys who just play offense, but 18 total.
The interest is low, but the wins-to-players ratio is off the charts. Traip is 8-1 heading into Saturday’s Western C semifinal playoff game with Winslow. The Rangers have lost only one game, a 12-6 setback to Dirigo.
The Rangers have been dealing with this for a while. Last season, when they came within one win of playing for a state championship, they had 24 players on their roster.
“When you go to a Western Maine Conference championship like we did, we expected more kids,” Traip coach Ron Ross said. “We figured 30 would be nice, and 35 would be outstanding. We had 16 show up for the first day of two-a-days.
“It’s something we’re used to. We have a strong soccer program. It’s two good programs fighting for kids.”
Basic math tells you Traip can’t even run 11-on-11 plays in practice. But Ross insists the numbers aren’t a problem when preparing for a game. Adults step in, always in non-contact roles.
“We throw coaches in there when needed,” Ross said. “It’s helped us a lot. Some of the coaches are actually better than some of the players that we’re going to key on.”
Naturally, conditioning is a key, since every team Traip goes up against is going to have the advantage in depth. When senior Devon Draker, who starts at fullback and middle linebacker, went down in midseason, Ross said it was the team’s only major injury in the last three years.
“I don’t think there’s anybody who works harder than we do,” Ross said.
With Draker back and healthy, along with Corey Aldecoa, Nate Henderson, and Anthony Sowell, Traip has four solid running backs. Usually, that’s been more than enough with their defense. The Rangers have allowed 32 points (3.6 per game) and have recorded five shutouts.
“The kids want to play defense more than they want to play offense,” Ross said. “We like to call ourselves blue-collar. With 18 people, what else can you be?”
Ross and the players also see themselves as underdogs, and in a way, it’s an upset that Traip still has a football program. Ross became head coach in 2002, when the Traip program was known for two things: Going through coaches quickly, and being an easy win for opponents.
Ross was there through a string of winless seasons. He was there in 2002, when he devised a trick play for a 67-yard touchdown on the opening play of the game, and Traip still trailed 34-6 at the end of the first quarter.
Traip went nearly six years between wins, losing 51 games in a row. The Rangers won their first game under Ross in 2006.
“It has been a long road, but I wouldn’t take anything back,” Ross said. “The lessons I’ve learned, I wouldn’t trade for anything. I know what not to do now, to make sure we don’t get back to that point.”
Besides, the way Ross looks at it, his team is still in the same situation in at least one respect.
“When we were 0-and-whatever, teams didn’t want to lose to us,” he said. “(Now), nobody wants to lose to 18 kids.”
Ross isn’t one of those who is concerned about the future of the program, even though 10 of this year’s 18 players are seniors. He points out that the local team that draws from fourth, fifth, and sixth-graders has 40 players.
“Next year is a great freshman class,” Ross said. “We might go a couple years where we win three games, four games. But once they figure it out, we’ll be back where we are now.”
A NIGHT OF UPSETS IN CLASS B
Heading into the Eastern B football playoffs, it was clear the top three teams were Mt. Blue, Leavitt, and Hampden. Mt. Blue was undefeated, Leavitt had lost only to Mt. Blue, and Hampden had lost only to Leavitt.
That all changed on Friday night, as Belfast shocked Leavitt — the three-time defending conference champions — on Carl Dodge’s 2-yard touchdown run as time expired, giving the Lions a 20-17 victory. The Hornets had defeated Belfast, 36-0, earlier this fall.
Meanwhile, Waterville was 4-4 and hadn’t beaten a team with a winning record all season, but came away with a 25-17 victory over Hampden. Racean Wood had touchdown runs of 20 and 15 yards and added an interception.
Mt. Desert Island, a team that was 4-4 during the regular season and had lost 47-15 to Mt. Blue a little over a month earlier, nearly made it a trifecta. After Mt. Blue built a 14-0 lead in the fourth quarter, MDI fought back and was within 14-13 after Sandy Henggeler scored from three yards out with 3:41 to play. Bradley Jackson knocked down MDI’s pass on the two-point conversion, and Mt. Blue ran out the clock.
SKOWHEGAN EASILY WINS ANOTHER STATE FIELD HOCKEY TITLE
It had all the trademarks of a great game: Skowhegan had scored 144 goals, a state record, and Scarborough was attempting to become only the second team in United States high school field hockey history to go through an entire season without allowing a goal. Skowhegan had won 53 straight games, with the last loss coming to (of course) Scarborough.
Instead, it was a mismatch of Super Bowl proportions, as Skowhegan dominated from the start. The Indians couldn’t score in the first half, but put in three goals in a span of 2 minutes, 31 seconds early in the second half to take a 3-0 victory. Sarah Finnemore scored twice and Makaela Michonski knocked home the third goal. Skowhegan finished with 25 shots, while Scarborough had none.
Leavitt (Class B) and Lisbon (Class C) also won state field hockey championships.
BANGOR CHRISTIAN’S OPPONENTS KEEP SHOOTING BLANKS
Bangor Christian has won the last three Class D boys' soccer state titles. This season started out uneventfully for the Patriots, as they posted wins scores of 3-2, 10-1, and 4-1.
Since that 4-1 victory over Searsport on Sept. 14, Bangor Christian has not allowed a goal. The Patriots ended the regular season with 11 consecutive shutouts, and followed that up by blanking Easton, 5-0, and Machias, 2-0, to advance to the Eastern D title game.
Bangor Christian will face Ashland on Wednesday in the regional final. Ashland has allowed as many goals in two playoff games (four) as Bangor Christian has given up all season.
SCHENCK BOYS' BASKETBALL COACH RESIGNS
In the big scheme of things, $1,500 probably isn’t a big deal when it comes to a stipend for a boys' basketball coach, especially at a Class D school with about 200 students. Of course, that’s easier to say when it’s not your money.
According to the Bangor Daily News, Schenck boys' basketball coach Steve LeVasseur resigned after being informed his stipend for coaching the Wolverines would be cut from $5,019 last season to $3,510 this winter.
The BDN reported that the school system recently established a policy that coaches who teach in the system get a higher stipend than those who aren’t teachers in the system.
LeVasseur is a Schenck graduate, and coached the Wolverines for 22 seasons, winning five state titles and more than 300 games.
“After 22 years of service to this school, I feel it’s a slap in the face,” LeVasseur told the BDN.
DiPietro is also legally blind. She told the Portland Press Herald that she doesn't drive a car, that she was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa at age 4, and that her vision has gotten worse over the last few years.
DiPietro, a senior, recently played her last field hockey game for Fryeburg as the Raiders lost 1-0 to Leavitt in a Western B semifinal game. Fryeburg field hockey coach DeDe Frost said she made a point of not publicizing DiPietro's vision until this season.
"I wanted them to be so shocked when they found out that she's the one that kicked their butts around the block and scored the goals, and that's what Christina's always wanted," Frost told the Press Herald.
"I can honestly say I've accepted it," DiPietro said. "I always have. But when people feel bad for me, I'm just like, 'Why? You don't have to.'"
LOOKING AT THE FOOTBALL PICTURE
Class A East: If you follow football in Maine, every year you hear at least one person proclaim that Cony is his sleeper team. The ritual is as inevitable as Cony's disappointment against those expectations.
This year is different. The Rams are 6-2, and have one of the pest quarterback-receiver combinations in the game in Ben Lucas to Chandler Shostak. Lucas has thrown for over 2,000 yards, and 10 of his touchdown passes have gone to Shostak, who also has eight interceptions on defense.
Still, the best team in the league is Lawrence (8-0). The Bulldogs had tough tests over the last two weeks, but posted a 27-6 victory over Cony (intercepting Lucas five times) and a 34-7 victory over Brunswick. The Bulldogs have an excellent shot at playing in their fourth Class A title game in seven years.
Class A West: With a 21-0 victory over Deering, Cheverus (8-0) set a state record with 32 consecutive Class A victories. The Stags' toughest competition is Thornton (7-1), and the Golden Trojans gave Cheverus a game at home on Oct. 13, losing 28-14 before an announced crowd of 4,011.
Class B East: This could also be a two-horse race, although Hampden supporters would argue the notion that Mt. Blue (8-0) and Leavitt (7-1) are destined to meet in the regional final. Mt. Blue defeated Leavitt 20-12 at home earlier this month. If Leavitt has a weakness, it's probably pass defense, and Mt. Blue is well-known for its pass-happy spread offense. Hampden (7-1) lost 27-17 to Leavitt on opening night and did not face Mt. Blue this season.
Class B West: Maine uses a formula called Crabtree points to determine playoff seedings. The formula simply adds your winning percentage to the combined winning percentage of your opponents. When the regular season ended Saturday, Marshwood (7-1), Westbrook (6-2), and York (6-2) all had the same number of Crabtree points. Add in Greely at 7-1 and Wells at 6-2, and this could be a very interesting playoff bracket.
Class C East: Foxcroft has scored the most points in the state (371) and allowed the fewest (35). The catch is the Ponies are not undefeated. They dropped a 13-0 shocker to Bucksport (6-2). On the other hand, John Bapst (7-1) and Orono (6-2) both defeated Bucksport rather handily, but were no match for Foxcroft. The Ponies blasted Orono, 42-0, then went to Bapst and beat the Crusaders 40-0 the next week before falling to Bucksport.
Class C West: Winslow (7-1) has been the best team in the league since getting back over a dozen ineligible players. Oak Hill is also 7-1, and posted a dominating 33-0 victory over Dirigo (6-2) on Saturday. But when Winslow played Oak Hill, Winslow had too much strength up front and led 27-6 at halftime on the way to a 34-18 win. Maranacook (5-3) looked like a state title contender early in the year, but lost three straight to end the regular season and will have to play its first playoff game without quarterback Caleb Castonguay, who was ejected for fighting in a 27-8 loss to Poland in the season finale.
FOOTBALL TOP 10
1. Cheverus - Last three games have been closest of season, but Stags have still beaten everyone by at least 14 points.
2. Thornton - Leads SMAA in scoring and looking forward to playoff rematch with Cheverus.
3. Lawrence - No one has come within three touchdowns of Bulldogs.
4. Scarborough - Red Storm returned 10 starters from a 3-6 team, but finished 6-2.
5. Mt. Blue - Only two teams have held Cougars and QB Jordan Whitney under 40 points.
6. Cony - Junior QB Ben Lucas has thrown 29 TD passes. Defense is also solid.
7. Brunswick - RB Jared Jensen has rushed for nearly 1,900 yards.
8. Leavitt - Hornets' defense has been sensational against the run.
9. Messalonskee - Eagles trying to bounce back from stunning 37-14 loss to Bangor.
10. Hampden - Broncos have reeled off seven straight wins, six by at least 28 points.
HISTORIC YEAR FOR FIELD HOCKEY
It has been a season for records in Maine high school field hockey. Entering this fall, the single-season record for goals in one season was 116, set by Dexter in 2003. Only one other team had scored over 100 goals in one year.
This year, both Skowhegan and Messalonskee have broken that record. Skowhegan has outscored its opponents, 142-1. Messalonskee holds a 121-8 edge on its opponents.
As you might imagine, the league is top-heavy. Skowhegan's only goal allowed was scored by Messalonskee, and the Indians have seven of the eight goals Messalonskee has allowed. Mt. Ararat was the No. 4 seed in Eastern A this year, and entered its playoff game against Skowhegan with an 11-4 record. Skowhegan led 7-0 at the half and went on to an 11-0 win.
The two teams also have two of the top scorers in the country, and those two are putting their own names on the records. Megan Fogarty scored 42 goals on that 2003 Dexter team to set the state mark. Heading into Tuesday's regional final between Messalonskee and Skowhegan, Messalonskee's Kristy Bernatchez has 43 goals, and Skowhegan's Makaela Michonski has 42.
If Skowhegan can win Tuesday, the Indians will have one more game afterward, and Michonski has an outside shot at Fogarty's career record of 109 goals. Michonski currently has 104 career goals.
Of course, that one game afterward would be the state championship, and it could be against Scarborough. The Red Storm has not allowed a goal through 16 games this season. Since the Maine Principals' Association began holding state tournaments, the only team to go through an entire season without allowing a goal was Winslow in 1998. That squad was later inducted into the Maine Field Hockey Hall of Fame as a team.
PLAYERS REACH 100-GOAL MARK
Two Maine girls’ soccer players recently reached 100 goals for their careers. Central's Max McHugh hit the century mark with her fourth goal in a 7-0 win over Lee Academy. Meaghan Cavanaugh of Calais also has 100 goals this season.
McHugh and Cavanaugh are believed to be the 11th and 12th Maine high school girls’ soccer players to score 100 goals.
KENNEBUNK COACH RESIGNS OVER ZUMBA SCANDAL
The Kennebunk Zumba prostitution case is receiving national attention, and when local police recently released the names of 21 "Johns," one of them was 52-year-old Donald F. Hill, the boys’ ice hockey coach at Kennebunk High School the last 14 years.
Alexis Wright, 29, is accused of using her Zumba fitness studio for prostitution. A police affidavit claims Wright has a client list. Lawyers involved in the case have said the list has over 150 names.
Leonardi Reed, 73, submitted his resignation a day before winning the Republican primary to represent House District 23 in the Maine Legislature. Reed will face Democrat Richard Thomas in the Nov. 6 general election for the right to fill the seat formerly held by Rep. David E. Richardson, who is also a Republican.
Reed, who retired this spring after a 47-year career as a teacher, hoped to continue coaching the Rams. In 27 seasons he led them to eight Class A state championships. In a career than began at Bangor Christian Academy, Reed has a career record of 571-201, a .740 winning percentage. After going 7-11 in his first year at Bangor, Reed’s teams posted 26 straight winning season including a 14-6 mark last winter. The Rams won their eighth state title under Reed in 2011.
Reed wanted to continue coaching next season but was told Bangor principal Paul Butler that demands of time and travel to Augusta would be too great to do both jobs. The Legislature is in regular session during the winter months.
“Somewhere and sometime ago, it was decided that I wouldn’t be allowed to do both,” Red told the Bangor Daily News. “I really don’t think that it has anything to do with logistics. I was assured by all who encouraged me to run that I would have no reason to give up coaching.”
Butler, who played for Reed in the late 1980s, said he asked several people if someone could serve in both capacities and do justice to both jobs. He determined than it wasn’t “It was an honest, good-faith decision. I think Bangor High School athletes and our program deserve 100 percent of a person’s attention, and I just felt that it was untenable for somebody to do both,” he told the BDN.
“Once I made the decision, I waited until after the season and asked Roger to choose us,” Butler said. “I wanted, and offered, to have Roger back as coach and gave him until June to make that decision. I told him the only time I ever rooted against him was going into the primary.”
WESSEL WINS JOHN WILKIN AWARD
Scarborough High School senior Ben Wessel won the Dr. John Winkin Award, presented annually to the state’s top baseball player at the senior all-star game. Wessel sustained a torn ulnar collateral ligament which prevented him from pitching the Red Storm in the second half of the season but he returned to the lineup as a designated hitter and helped the team to the Western Maine Class A title.
Wessel led the Southern Maine Activities Association in batting average (.486), slugging (.943), on-base percentage (.600), RBI (21), triples (4) and home runs (2). As a pitcher the right-hander went 6-0 with a 0.62 earned run average and struck out 45 batters in 34 innings.
He expects to undergo Tommy John surgery in July and will attend the University of Rhode Island this fall.
GEAUMONT NAMES MISS MAINE SOFTBALL
Thornton Academy senior Julia Geaumont could have won the Miss Maine Softball Award as a pitcher or a hitter. She excelled at both. Geaumont got the good news at last week’s senior all-star games. The award is presented annually by the Maine High School Softball Coaches Association.
This season Geaumont went 14-2 on the mound with an 0.84 earned run average and 136 strikeouts. At the plate, she batted .679 with 10 home runs and 38 RBI. Geaumont, who will attend Bowdoin College next fall, was also named Gatorade and Southern Maine Activities Association player of the year.
SANFORD NAMES NEW MASCOT
Soon after its boys track and field team won the Class A state championship, Sanford High School announced its new mascot.
Superintendent David Theoharides reported the new mascot will be the Spartans. Students in grades seven through 12 voted on four new nicknames — Spartans, Pride, Stampede and Cardinals. The Spartans claimed 587 votes to 423 for Pride, 202 for Stampede and 113 for Cardinals. The new mascot will go into effect starting with the 2012-2013 school year.
Sanford’s school committee voted 4-1 last month to retire the Redskins mascot, the last high school in the state with such a nickname.
Baseball and softball championships in four classes were decided on June 16 at venues in Bangor and Windham. Eastern Maine teams swept the softball championships while East and West split for the baseball titles.
Class A Baseball
Messalonskee 6, Scarborough 3: The Eagles took advantage of seven errors by the Red Storm to win their first Class A title. All six of Messalonskee’s runs were unearned. The Eagles turned two double plays including a memorable one in the bottom of the fifth when shortstop Sam Dexter dove for a ball in the hole, relayed it to second to younger brother Jake who threw to first. Messalonskee finished at 15-5, winning its last 10 games.
Class B Baseball
Falmouth 2, Foxcroft 0: Ninth-place hitter Ryan Conley ripped a two-run double in the second inning to lead the Yachtsmen to their first state title since 1998 and their first in Class B. Starter Thomas Fortier pitched a complete game, holding the Ponies to two hits while striking out six. Falmouth finished at 17-3.
Class C Baseball
Dirigo 6, Calais 1: The Cougars took an early lead and senior Ben Holmes preserved it to give the Cougars their second title in three years. Dirigo took a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the second, the big hit a two-run double from Caleb Turner. Holmes finished with eight strikeouts in running his season record to 12-1. Dirigo finished at 19-1 overall while three-time reigning Eastern champion Calais closed at 18-2.
Class D Baseball
Bangor Christian 7, Buckfield 3: Sophomore Cody Collins drove in four runs on a pair of singles and a double to lead the Patriots to their first baseball title. The Eastern Maine champs scored five runs in the first inning en route to the win. They finished at 19-2 while Buckfield closed at 17-2.
Class A Softball
Cony 2, South Portland 0: Junior Sonja Morse pitched a one hitter and struck out 10 to lead the Rams to their first state title since 1983. Morse lost her no-hitter with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning. She also issued a walk but both runners were picked off as she faced the minimum number of batters. Cecelia Fuller singled home both Cony runs in the fifth inning.
Erin Bogdanovich allowed three hits and struck out 13 for South Portland (17-3). Cony finished at 20-0.
Class B Softball
Old Town 4, Fryeburg 1: Junior Kendra Hayward struck out 15 and contributed a two-run double to lead the Coyotes to their first state championship. Hayward allowed three runs in four Eastern Maine games while striking out 38 batters in 28 innings for fifth-seeded Old Town. The Coyotes finished at 17-4 while defending Class B champion Fryeburg closed at 18-2.
Class C Softball
Bucksport 2, Dirigo 0: Cassidy Adams pitched a two-hitter to lead the Golden Bucks to their first Class C title. The Bucks, who dropped down a class this season, reached the Class B title game last year before losing to Fryeburg. They last won a Class B title in 2006 and have gone five for eight in championship games. The win completed a perfect season at 20-0.
Class D Softball
Penobscot Valley 4, Richmond 2: Jenna Hope’s two-run single in the third inning capped a three-run rally to lead the Howlers to their first state championship. Winning pitcher Kayla Dube allowed four hits, including three bunt singles, while striking out 14. Penobscot Valley finished at 19-1, while Richmond, playing in its third straight state title game, finished at 16-2.
Class A Boys
Scarborough 9, Cheverus 4: Ryan Pallotta scored five goals as the Red Storm rolled to its third straight state championship. Scarborough finished at 14-1.
Class B Boys
Falmouth 7, North Yarmouth 4: Charlie Fay scored three goals to lead the yachtsmen to their second straight state championship. It was Falmouth’s third win this season against North Yarmouth and also the second straight time the Yachtsmen have beaten the Panthers in the state final.
Class A Girls
Scarborough 11, Brunswick 9: Mary Scott scored four goals to lead the Red Storm to their third consecutive state championship. Scarborough (15-1) also defeated Brunswick (14-2) in last year’s state final by a score of 13-11.
Waynflete 16, Freeport 5: Martha Veroneau had four goals and five assists to lead the Flyers, who were playing in their fourth straight championship game. Sadie Cole added five goals and Walker Foehl scored four for Waynflete (14-1) which rallied for wins against Falmouth and Cape Elizabeth in the regional tournament.
Leonardi finished the 1,600 in 4 minutes, 56.87 seconds, a little more than five seconds off her state record pace in 2010. She caught Lawrence’s Erzsebet Nagy on the final lap and held her off down the stretch.
“I missed more than a month of training," Leonardi said, "so it was just more about being mentally tough."
Leonardi won 3,200 later in the meet in 10:45.49, again a few seconds off the state record she set in 2010. In four years, Leonardi has posted four cross country individual championships and 12 outdoor track titles. She holds state records in 1,600, mile, 3,000, 3,200 and the two mile.
She is widely considered Maine’s best female high school runner since Joan Benoit Samuelson, who won the inaugural women’s marathon at the 1984 Olympics. This year Leonardi finished fourth in the prestigious Foot Locker Cross Country Nationals, setting a PR of 17:35.30 in the 5,000 meter event.
“What we’ve tried to do is not go too crazy with her in high school and chase every big meet,” her father Jack said.
Abbey will attend the University of Oregon next fall on a running scholarship and will step on campus with plenty of gas left in her tank. She hasn’t run indoor track in high school nor has she over-trained.
“I actually think she can get a lot better,” her dad said. “We’ve tried not to stress her too much. I think Abbey’s at the low end of the top kids in high school in terms of mileage.”
Her dad got her started in running and said he got up to speed in training methods as she progressed. He credits middle school coach Mike LeBlanc as an important influence. As she’s grown older, Leonardi has trained with Kristen Barry, a former 2:40 marathon runner and Falmouth’s Sheri Piers, the top American female finisher in this year’s Boston marathon.
“She definitely has some physical talent but she works as hard as anybody at it,” jack Leonardi said of his daughter. “She’s really methodical about what she does. She’s pretty educated about what she’s doing.”
Leonardi won’t complete in this weekend’s New England meet in Saco, but will follow a training regimen to get her ready for cross country season next fall. Her only appearance in the new England cross country meet was her freshman year when she finished first. Oregon is one of the country’s strongest track and cross country school. Last fall, the Ducks placed fifth in the NCAA cross country meet and return five of their top seven runners.
“She had lots of opportunities (to attend other schools),” Jack said, “but she definitely is choosing to jump into the big pond. If she didn’t give the biggest stage a chance, she wished she would have.”
Leonardi, who has a twin sister, is a straight A student who also loves to cook.
“She’ll probably end up studying business and hope to apply that in some food area,” her father said.
Nestled 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.
Boys Class A
DEERING 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
3. Bonny Eagle
4. Mt. Blue
6. Edward Little
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
5. Presque Isle
6. Lake Region
8. Edward Little
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.
Here’s a rundown of the games:
Class A Boys
HAMPDEN (20-1) vs. DEERING (16-3)
Regional 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.
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.
Travis, who coaches the Dirigo High School boys team, came within a whisker of a perfect season before falling to Spruce Mountain, 39-34 Wednesday night. Still, his Cougars finished the regular season at 17-1 and enter the upcoming Western Maine Class C tournament as the top seed. Karen, who coaches the Cony High School girls team, finished at 18-0 Thursday and her Rams will enter the Eastern Maine Class A tournament as the top-seeded team.
There wasn’t much talk between Karen and Travis about going unbeaten this season — both recognize winning a state title as a larger goal — but it’s still hard to avoid.
“Honestly we try not to do it,” Karen said. “But it’s something that comes up with other people.”
The couple rarely get to see one another’s teams play since they usually play on the same night. Fans at both schools, however, recognize what’s going on.
“It’s almost like we share our programs with each other,” Karen said. “His fans ask how I’m doing and my fans ask how Trav’s doing.”
The Magnussons are both basketball junkies, a passion that began long before they met at the University of Maine at Farmington a few years ago. Karen Sirois starred at Cony in Augusta while Travis played for Georges Valley in Thomaston. Both played point guard at UMF and each of them totaled over 1,000 points and 500 assists in their careers.
Farmington women’s coach Jamie Beaudoin and men’s coach Dick Meader saw coaches in the two long before their playing careers ended.
"I knew from the first moment I watched her play that she was going to be a coach," Beaudoin said. "She was able to see things on the floor that many times an experienced coach wouldn't pick up on. She's just a student of the game."
Meader echoed those thoughts about Travis, who served as a varsity assistant at UMF the year after he graduated. Travis was hired as boys coach at Livermore Falls a year before Karen go the job at Cony so she helped him out and gave him an unbiased look at the players and the team.
"There was nobody I listened to more, especially with my team that first year," Travis said.
Travis turned the Livermore program around, reaching a tournament prelim game his first year in 2009 and the tournament itself the next two. He lost his job when Livermore and Jay high schools combined this year to form Spruce Mountain, but when the Dirigo job opened up he applied. The Cougars reached the state final last year and return many of those players.
The Magnussons talk basketball most of the time, often while breaking down film at home another or swapping drills.
"I get some of my plays and sets from him," Karen said. "I know his personnel, we definitely help each other out. Sometimes we sit up until 11:30 or 12 talking about it. We watch game film together. It's like having an assistant coach at home."
They also share a similar philosophy, borne from the way they played the game.
"We both like to run and gun, play pressure defense and give our players freedom to take shots." Travis said. "As I've gotten older I've realized the importance of quality shots."
The Magnussons are competitive by nature and haven’t played a serious game of 1 on since Travis came away with a bloody nose when the got together on the court in college.
"He's competitive and I'm competitive so we never really have the fun 1-on-1," Karen said.
Well, they did have a little fun on the court on the day they were married, playing a friendly game, she in her wedding dress and he in his tuxedo.
They’ll get a chance to watch the other’s team play in about 10 days when their teams will be favored to win regional championships at the Augusta Civic Center.
Q: You were a basketball coach for nearly 30 years. What misconceptions did you have about an athletic director’s job during that time?
A: "I didn't realize all the time and responsibility that came with this position. Being in charge of 23 varsity sports, 25 sub-varsity, 55 coaches, supervising events, and attending meetings, certainly puts a lot on your plate. I had tunnel vision when I was coaching. Basketball was all I saw. Wow, was I ever wrong."
Q: How many hours do you work during an average week during the school year? And what are those hours devoted to?
A: "I average between 50-70 hours a week. Bus scheduling, referee assignments, daily updates on events, committee meetings, cancellations, MPA information updates and paperwork, parent concerns, player concerns, student eligibility, drug and alcohol concerns, field and game preparations, special events, booster meetings, evaluations, and making sure there is enough pizza for tonight's game — just to name a few."
Q: What is the most important aspect of your job?
A: "The most important aspect of my job is to be a good listener. I may not agree with everything, but I must understand that everyone has their own opinion. I must listen, research, and evaluate all dilemmas. I then must come up with a solution that hopefully everyone will understand and agree upon."
Q: Augusta has a number of centrally located and well developed facilities which make it an attractive site for regional and state championship events. How much of an extra burden is this on your job?
A: "I don't know if I would call it a burden. This is what I envisioned the AD position would be like. I love watching athletics and I would do anything to promote events for our school and community. Yes, we are centrally located, but our administration, community and city have built some nice facilities that many people want to use. I feel it is one of my responsibilities that I help promote these outstanding facilities."
Q: How have athletes changed since you began coaching?
A: "School teams were always our No. 1 priority. I'm not sure that this is truly the case anymore. I've seen athletes miss practices and even games to attend other sporting events. Year round practices and games for elite groups are now being offered for all sports. Many athletes and parents have already chosen their career sport by middle school. Instead of developing athletes, it seems that we are focusing on a specific area and hoping for scholarships. The best teams I ever coached was when I had three sport athletes on our teams."
Q: What is the most difficult part of your job?
A: "The most difficult part of my job is my inability to have the time to spend with the student athlete. They need to know that we care about them and more than just being an athlete. It is a difficult world out there. Expectations for our student/ athletes is as pressurized as ever. We must remember that this is high school. Our job is to make sure that they feel good about who they are and that athletics is only one part of their high school education. We are teachers first and coaches second. Technology has made it very difficult to focus on certain areas."
Q: What is the most rewarding part of you job?
A: "The most rewarding part of my job is our support system. Our administration and school board have a great understanding that athletics play a huge role in a student's high school education. You must understand that Cony offers as many sports as any school in this state."
Q: Do you miss coaching and do you think you’ll ever return?
A: "I do miss coaching. I still run camps and attend clinics. I am positive that I will be coaching again."
Q: Is the turnover of coaches greater today than is was 15 or 20 years ago? If so, why?
A: "The turnover is much greater. I think if you check the coaches who have longevity, I think that you will find out that they are involved in the school system as an employee. Mike McGee, Dianne Fornier, Al Veneziano, Paula Doughty, Moe McNally, Scott Graffam, Mt. Blue football coach etc."
Q: Being a teacher in the system gives you a greater understanding of the student athlete and vice versa. How do you walk the fine line between parental involvement and parental interference in high school athletics?
A: "We need parent volunteers. Our All Sports Boosters raise a huge part of our athletic budget and it is all because of their great dedication and love that our parents have for their children. Cony High School is very fortunate to have such caring parents. With that said, I must admit that we do have dilemmas with parents voicing their personal opinions. I must also admit that I have been on both sides of the fence. I must again go back to my original statement; I must become a great listener. I hope what I have learned as a parent, teacher, coach, and administrator has provided me with the wisdom that I can share that provides comfort for the parent's concern."
Q: Cony continues to offer a number of sports that many schools do not. With a declining enrollment and budget considerations, how long can this be sustained?
A: "The athletic budget is less than two percent of the entire school budget. I am in hopes that the school board and community believe that athletics plays at least two percent of a role in a high school student's education."
Q: What changes, if any, would you like to see in high school athletics in Maine?
A: "I would like to see students receive credits for playing sports. A lot of lessons are learned in participating in athletics. We give chorus credit and band credit. Why not athletics?"
Q: Is today’s high school athlete as dedicated to their sport as he or she was 20 or 30 years ago?
A: "I believe that athletes are as dedicated today as they were 20-30 years ago. We just don't have as many. Kids have many more distractions today than they had 20 years ago."
Sweet 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?
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."
The season gets under way at the end of next week.
Here’s a look at some of the top teams in all four classes:
Westbrook: The Blue Blazes return several players from the team that was upset by Biddeford in the Western Maine final last season. Many of the players on this year’s team also played on a Little league World Series team five years ago. Among them is left-handed pitcher Scott Heath who will play at the University of Maine next season.
Sean Murphy, a 6-foot-5 right-hander, is also back and apparently over shoulder problems that limited his innings last season. He has verbally committed to play at St. John’s next season.
Deering: The Rams return seven seniors from last year’s playoff team, including center fielder Sam Balzano and pitcher Jamie Ross who was also the school’s quarterback. The Rams, who last won a title in 2009, have won eight out of the last 12 state championships. Former University of Maine standout and minor leaguer Mark Sutton takes over as coach.
Bangor: The Rams went undefeated during the regular season last spring before being upset by Brewer in the East A semifinals. Despite key graduation losses they return a lot of pitching, led by lefties Joe Stanevicz (8-0, 2.21 ERA) and Curtis Worcester. Catcher Dylan Morris, who hit .475 last season, also returns. Bangor also features a number of players who played for the team that reached the Senior League World Series championship game last summer.
Here are some of the highlights so far:
Boys Class A
In Western Maine games, top seeded and unbeaten Cheverus struggled before getting past No. 8 Marshwood 52-40. Louis DiStasio led the Stags with 16 points. Second-seeded Bonny Eagle won its quarterfinal against Westbrook but No. 5 Portland upset No. 4 South Portland behind 19 points from Mike Herrick and No. 6 Deering knocked off No. 3 Thornton, 41-33. The seedings held in the quarterfinal round in Class A East with No. 1 Bangor, No. 2 Hampden, No. 3 Edward Little and No. 4 Mt. Blue all winning.
Kennebec Valley Athletic conference southern division player of the year Bo Leary led Edward Little past Mt. Ararat with 28 points and 13 rebounds. Northern KVAC player of the year Graham Safford led Hampden past Lewiston with 22 points. The semifinal matchup between Bangor and Mt. Blue featured a pair of coaches with over 1,000 combined career wins. Bangor’s Roger Reed has 554 while Mt. Blue’s Jim Bessey has 463.
Q: How has officiating changed since you began?
A: "To a great extent it hasn’t changed. Statewide. The big change is an increase in ongoing communication throughout the state, on the administrative and training side. Results statewide are a more consistent application of the rules. Years ago, the biggest difference is the offense was favored, which is not the case today. Today every situation matters the same to both teams."
Q: Assess the state of high school officiating today.
A: "We believe high school officiating in Maine is in very good order. Schoolboy and schoolgirl basketball remains a major focal point from November to early March way beyond many other states. With the scrutiny there is out there, it speaks well of the time and effort that is put into basketball officiating in Maine."
Q: Are there enough officials?
A: "Yes, not an overabundance but an ample supply. Annually each of the five boards of officials sponsor an extensive course each fall for prospective officials. It’s followed up by a written exam and a floor test."
Q: How is the training?
A: "Maine has a near 70 year relationship with IAABO, the International Association of Approved Basketball Officials. Videotapes and DVDs are used in addition to observations. Maine has always paid attention to training."
Q: Three man vs. two man — how much better with three?
A: "There’s no question it’s better with three. I observe about 150 or 160 games a year. And I do observe beyond Maine in another role I’m in. Eighty percent of the games I see need the service of a crew of three. The game changed from an officiating point of view drastically with the three-point arc. It requires a substantially different responsibility for the trail official. The other thing is there was a day when most of the defensive pressure didn’t come about until two or three minutes left in the game. Today, typically with boys and girls there’s pressure all game long. We’ve had crews of three completely in our tournaments for at least a dozen years. About 30 percent of the regular season games are crews of three. It isn’t a great difference in cost."
Q: Are there any points of emphasis this year?
A: "There are five points of emphasis this year, arrived at by the national federation for state high schools. The points of emphasis for this year, both for the NCAA level and high school, include rules enforcement. Really it means don’t bring your personal version of the rules to the game. The second point of emphasis is on sportsmanlike behavior of players and coaches. The third point is pretty much contact, especially on the perimeter. Officials have been encouraged to give that a lot of attention. The fourth point is closely guarded situations. The rule is six feet between the offensive and defensive player. The fifth one is referred to as the principle of verticality. Just because the defender is airborne, it doesn’t make him wrong or the offensive player wrong. But they must be vertical. It also applies in rebound play, too."
Q: What’s most difficult call or rule to enforce?
A: "The most difficult rule to enforce is traveling, no question. You have to watch the defender and a third person coming to set a screen while also watching the person with the ball. That’s what makes traveling difficult. A block-charge is probably the easiest rule for a well trained official."
Q: Have fans or coaches changed in their approach to officials?
A: "Overall I don’t think it’s changed. I think schools have changed their approach to how they regulate them."
Q: How are officials chosen for the tournament?
A: "There’s a long-time system in place. They have to have officiated a minimum of 50 regular-season Heal point games overall and 15 in that season to be eligible to be considered. They must also be fit and injury free. The commissioner has to have seen them officiate. Forms are sent to schools and coaches say who they would recommend. We usually have just about 100 for the three tournament sites. Coach recommendations and regional board recommendations are given consideration. I finalize it.
Q: What makes a good official?
A: "The quality official is someone who probably has a basketball background. From that point on, you truly have to have a passion for officiating. It’s obvious you have to have a mastery for the rules and the mechanics. You also have to be high on the composure side. It’s a rare official who gets to the varsity level in Maine prior to
five years. Without the commitment and passion you’re not going to make it. Basketball is played in a big living room compared to other sports and the emotions are high. The people around the court, it’s kind of like Sunday school, you have to forgive them when they complain. The good official gets every bit as much of an adrenaline flow as a ballplayer when he’s doing things well."
BOYS BASKETBALL TOP 10
1. Cheverus (7-0) The defending Class A state champions continued to roll through Western Maine with a 51-35 win against a good Thornton club in Saco.
2. Camden Hills (9-0) Keegan Pieri, a 6-foot-6 guard, returned after a month-long suspension to help the Wndjammers win 74-48 at previously unbeaten Winslow.
3. Bangor (8-1) After an opening loss, the Rams have reeled off eight straight, including Tuesday’s 49-35 win at Mt. Blue.
4. Hamden (7-2) The Broncos lost a 57-55 squeaker at Mt. Blue then bounced back with a 66-45 win against Messalonskee.
5. Edward Little (8-1) The two-time defending Eastern Maine champs downed Mt. Ararat 63-42 then nipped Brunswick 64-63.
6. Mt. Blue (7-2) The Cougars knocked off Hampden at home 57-55 but faltered a couple of nights later in losing to Bangor, 49-35.
7. Mountain Valley (9-0) The Falcons are going for their second straight unbeaten regular season. They recently faced their toughest test to date in a 52-45 win over Dirigo.
8. Thornton (5-2) After a 5-0 start the Trojans lost 50-48 to Deering then were beaten at home by Cheverus, 51-35.
9. Cape Elizabeth (6-1) After a loss to Yarmouth, the Capers bounced back with wins against Greely and Gray-New Gloucester.
10. Ellsworth (8-0) The Eagles remained unbeaten but face their toughest test of the season this week against unbeaten Mount Desert Island.
Junior point guard D.J. Johnson of Islesboro scored his 1,000th point recently against Calvary Chapel.
Senior forward Maggie Sabine of Oak Hill topped the 1,000-career point mark with a 21-point performance against Rockland.
GIRLS' BASKETBALL TOP 10
1. McAuley (7-0) The Lions, who routed Scarborough and topped Bonny Eagle, 48-33, await a couple of late-season tests against in-town rival Deering.
2. Cheverus (7-1) The Stags’ only blemish is a three-point loss to McAuley. They’re coming off a 34-point win against Thornton.
3. Deering (7-0) The Rams had surprisingly close wins against Biddeford (48-37) and Thornton (53-46).
4. Morse (10-0) The Shipbuilders remained unbeaten with a big 59-47 victory against previously unbeaten Edward Little.
5. York (10-0) The defending Class B champions downed Greely 48-22 and have yet to be challenged.
6. Leavitt (10-0) The Hornets kept pace with York in Class B West with a 66-61 statement win against Nokomis.
7. Gorham (6-1) The Rams, whose only loss is to unbeaten Deering, cruised to a big victory against Kennebunk this week.
8. Windham (7-2) The Eagles’ only losses tis seaosn are to McAuley and Cheverus. Next up is a key test against Gorham.
9. Edward Little (8-1) After losing to Morse in a battle of unbeatens, the Red Eddies bounced back with wins against Brunswick and Mt. Ararat.
10. Hampden (8-1) After losing a showdown against Edward Little, the Broncos rebounded with wins over Mt. Blue and Messalonskee.
BOYS' HOCKEY TOP 10
2. St. Dominic
9. Edward Little
WRESTLING TOP 10
2. Camden Hills
5. Mountain Valley
8. Mt. Blue