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A boys’ hockey team seemed destined for second place this year in its region. The team lost twice to the favorite during the season but came back to win the regional title in an upset.

Still, the team was again the underdog for the state championship.

And, again, the underdog prevailed to win its first state title.

Presenting the twin tales of Thornton Academy and York High.

Thornton lost twice to Biddeford during the season, and then beat the Tigers 4-3 for the Western Class A title. Then the Trojans, who lost to Lewiston twice during the year, beat the Blue Devils 4-3 in double overtime Saturday night for the state championship.

“I think this team, from start to finish, improved every day,” Trojans Coach Shawn Rousseau said. “The way these boys competed, the unselfishness, the willingness to play a role; I’m inspired by what I’ve seen out of these boys.

“We were asking a lot of these kids and they delivered.”

York lost to Greely twice during the season, but defeated the Rangers 6-4 for the Western Class B championship. The Wildcats were given little chance of beating unbeaten Brewer for the state title, but topped the Witches 4-3 in overtime on Saturday.

“I read all the hype at the beginning of the season that it was going to be Brewer and Greely in the final,” Wildcats Coach Michael Vessey said. “Guess what? That’s why they play the game.”

THORNTON PLAYED without senior defenseman Dakota Matthews, who broke his right wrist in practice on Friday.

“We were doing a routine warm-up drill and he went down,” Rousseau said. “I went to the hospital and they re-set his wrist right there. Fortunately, it was successful or he would have needed surgery.

“He said, ‘Coach, now I get to come to the game.’

“Dakota has been our intensity guy all year. He was the most vocal in the locker room. He was still able to bring that (Saturday). He was no less a part of this.”

THE TROJANS’ GOALIE situation was unsettled midway through the season. Senior Jay Finch was supposed to inherit the job from All-State goalie Rick Hebb, who graduated. But Finch did not look consistent and junior Joseph Ferrante was pushing for playing time.

But Finch settled down and backstopped the Trojans during their championship push.

“We had our ups and downs,” Finch said, preferring to turn the conversation from himself to the team. “But everyone started to believe midway through the season. Everyone bought into our system and accepted their role.”

Rousseau agreed that as the team improved, Finch’s ability shined. “Once everything came together,” he said, “I think everyone saw just how brilliant Jay Finch is.”

YORK HIGH GOALIE Alex Ahrikenchikh was a returning starter but he did not look like a veteran to begin the season.

“I had a slow start,” Ahrikenchikh said. “I was giving up too many rebounds. I wasn’t as confident or as focused.”

In the Wildcats’ first three losses, Ahrikenchikh allowed 17 goals, including eight in a loss to rival and underdog Marshwood/Traip Academy.

“Once we played Marshwood, I hit rock bottom,” he said. “That’s when I started covering everything and kept my team in every game.”

YORK’S DEFENSE found itself challenged by Brewer’s speed. Every possession by the Witches turned into a race to the York zone

“If they got the puck, you had to be going back right away or they’d go right around you,” York defenseman Conor O’Brien said.

While York allowed 35 shots, it was well under the Witches’ average.

Brewer Coach David Shedd said his team “usually puts up between 48 and 53 shots” a game.

BREWER SHOWED a lot of class in defeat. After the teams shook hands, the players lined up at their respective blue lines for the awards ceremony.

When the Brewer players picked up their runners-up medals, they then skated down the line of Wildcats, shaking hands and congratulating the York players again.

“That was the classiest thing I’ve seen all year,” York forward Craig Decato said.

ONE OF THE great things that comes out of February’s annual Southwesterns swimming and diving championships — besides the raucous atmosphere and ludicrously ugly haircuts — is the scholarship money awarded to seniors.

This year, a dozen senior swimmers and divers divided a pool of $6,200 raised by the Southern Maine Swim Officials Association — whose members donate their time and services to the meets — and ticket sales. Candidates must submit a personal essay.

Other important criteria are academics, extracurricular activities, citizenship, coach’s recommendation and swimming accomplishments.

The highest-scoring senior, and winner of the $700 Randy Comeau Memorial Scholarship, is Catherine Patchell of Bonny Eagle.

The remaining 11 winners, all recipients of $500 awards, are Katherine Morsehead of Cheverus, Sean Lannon of Falmouth, Abby Armstrong of Cape Elizabeth, Alison Reynolds of Scarborough, Aoife Ryle of McAuley, Sarah Howard of Greely, Kathryn Violette of Westbrook, Maureen Blanchard of South Portland, Jack Clark of Scarborough, Mark Endrizzi of Scarborough and Nathan Paluso of Windham.

Paluso, incidentally, was involved in the most exciting relay of the New England championship meet at the University of New Hampshire in Durham last weekend.

In the meet’s 22nd and final event, the boys’ 400-yard freestyle relay, the Greely High quartet of freshman Jon Dunnett, senior Ian Mecray, junior Evan Campbell and junior Dan Spencer broke a school record that had stood since 1981 by finishing with a time of 3 minutes, 20.31 seconds.

The relay behind Greely didn’t finish for another 17 seconds.

And yet Greely didn’t win the race. That honor belonged to Windham.

With Paluso swimming the third leg, sophomore Nicholas Sundquist, junior Alexander Gilvey and senior Lance Webster rounded out an Eagles relay that finished in 3:19.54.

The same four swimmers from Windham had won the Class A state championship 400 free relay less than two weeks earlier in a time that was nearly five seconds slower.

“I think the eight boys involved walked away pretty excited about the battle and gained a great deal of respect for each other,” wrote Greely Coach Rob Hale.

“I know (Windham Coach) Pete Small and I were both pretty pumped up after the race.”

— Staff Writers Kevin Thomas and Glenn Jordan contributed to this report.