2008-09 Winter Male Athlete of the Year:
KEEGAN HYLAND, Junior-Basketball

* SMAA Co-Player of the Year
* SMAA All-Conference, first team

The legend of Keegan Hyland continued to grow this winter.

From his vocal and loyal legion of fans in gyms and online, to the respect he engendered from opposing players and coaches, there’s little question that Hyland has become the “it” guy in the local boys’ basketball world.

Having a following and following through are two completely different things, however.

Rest assured, Hyland followed through.

He had a season of memorable performances and again led his Red Riots to a stellar campaign. Even better, he’s remained grounded, hasn’t come close to reaching his ceiling and his senior season is shaping up to be something truly memorable.

In light of all of that, The Forecaster had an easy time selecting Keegan Hyland as South Portland’s 2008-09 Winter Male Athlete of the Year.

Hyland grew up in South Portland loving basketball. He began playing organized ball in the second grade. He shoots until he makes 800 shots. Every day. He’ll work out in the morning, during lunch, study hall and after school. He estimated he shoots seven hours a day on average.

That single-minded purpose has turned him into a star. Hyland had a solid freshman campaign and was named SMAA Rookie of the Year. As a sophomore, he led South Portland to a 15-win season and the semifinals, led the league in scoring and free throw percentage, and was named to the SMAA first team.

This year, with all eyes upon him, he made memory after memory.

He scored 32 points in a season-opening win over Massabesic, had 32 in a victory over Sanford, 40 against Marshwood, 29 versus Gorham and 31 against Deering.
That was just in the 2008 portion of the schedule.

Once 2009 commenced, the dominance continued. Hyland scored 32 points against Windham, then, on Jan. 13, he had the game of his high school career (so far). Playing at eventual Class A state champion Thornton Academy, Hyland went off for 47 points, many of them on long-distance circus shots, leading the Red Riots to an upset win. He later had 26 points against Noble, 34 against Kennebunk, 25 versus Portland and 39 a week later against the Bulldogs in the regular season finale.

Hyland wound up leading the league with a 27.7 points per game average. He was also second in made 3-pointers, sixth in free throws, ninth in steals and 11th in assists.

South Portland finished 14-4 for the second year in a row and earned the No. 3 seed, but was ousted by Portland, which flustered Hyland by running three defenders at him in the second half, in the quarterfinals. He wound up with just 18 points.

That disappointment was quickly assuaged when Hyland was named Co-SMAA MVP with Cheverus’ Mick DiStasio.

Hyland will play tennis for his father this spring. He also plays for the MBR.org AAU basketball team. He’s in the process of qualifying for the Reebok All-American camp and already has several colleges hot on his trail. Hyland’s goal is to play for a high-major Division I school.

You have to like his chances. Keegan Hyland, South Portland’s 2008-09 Winter Male Athlete of the Year, has already taken the basketball world by storm. We all can’t wait for his next act.

Coach Phil Conley’s comment: “”Keegan’s a great player that works extremely hard at the game. Because of his work ethic he’s only going to get better. He can shoot the ball. He can penetrate and score, and he’s a great passer. But the most important thing is that he’s a great team player. He wants us to win first.”

2007-08 winner: Nick Wright (Basketball)
2006-07 winner: Coleman Findlay (Basketball)
2005-2006 winner: Tim Clark (Hockey)
2004-2005 winner: Andrew Cousins (Basketball)
2003-2004 winner: Max Ludwig (Indoor track)
2002-2003 winner: Ethan Gato (Indoor track)
2001-2002 winner: Jesse Ludwig (Indoor track)

2008-09 Winter Female Athlete of the Year:
BRIANA HAWKINS, Senior-Basketball

* SMAA All-Conference, honorable mention
* SMAA Senior All-Star
* Maine McDonald’s Senior All-Star
* SMAA All-Academic team

The South Portland girls’ basketball program has featured an abundance of standout players in recent years.

One of the best was Brianna Hawkins.

Hawkins not only excelled down low, she was also a solid defender and best of all, had an infectious attitude about being on the court. She won frequently, had fun doing it and the program was fortunate to have her for four seasons.

In light of her approach to the game and to her myriad skills, Brianna Hawkins is The Forecaster’s choice for South Portland’s 2008-09 Winter Female Athlete of the Year.

Hawkins has more life experience than many people twice her age. She’s lived in Germany and Italy and came to South Portland for the fourth grade.

She’s got a pretty impressive athletic pedigree as well. Her father, Shaun, won the Fitzpatrick Trophy as the top senior high school football player in the state for Portland High in 1983. Her stepfather played in the National Hockey League.

Hawkins played goalie for the Red Riots girls’ soccer team and played varsity basketball for four seasons.

South Portland got to the regional final her freshman year, lost in the quarterfinals her sophomore season and reached the semifinals last year.

This season, the Red Riots were impressive again and Hawkins had several highlights. Early on, playing without teammate and top scoring threat Danielle McCusker, Hawkins was the focal point of opposing defenses, but still managed to regularly score in double figures. She had 16 points versus Scarborough, 20 against Thornton Academy and 20 versus McAuley.

In a preliminary round playoff win over Portland, Hawkins scored 12 points. She then bowed out with nine in a quarterfinal round loss to Scarborough.

Hawkins wound up sixth in the league in blocked shots, seventh in rebounding and 11th in scoring. For her career, she topped the 700-point plateau and had 475 rebounds. South Portland went 60-20 with her on the court.

Hawkins, who is also a dancing aficionado and is the vice president of the South Portland French Club, is looking at several top-notch schools. She wants to play basketball and is considering studying psychology.

Opposing teams will certainly be psyched that she’s no longer going to be wearing red and white. Brianna Hawkins, South Portland’s 2008-09 Winter Female Athlete of the Year, closed her career with a flourish.

Coach Mike Giordano’s comment: “Brianna is a great kid to have around. She always has a smile on her face. I think her success comes from her exceptional athleticism and work ethic. She was a great leader for us this year.”

2007-08 winner: Curry Girr (Diving)
2006-07 winner: Kelsey Flaherty (Basketball)
2005-2006 winner: Christina Aceto (Basketball)
2004-2005 winner: Whitney Morrow (Basketball)
2003-2004 winner: Courtney Albin (Indoor track)
2002-2003 winner: Abby Lesneski (Basketball)
2001-2002 winner: Abby Lesneski (Basketball)

Hyland.jpgKeegan Hyland
Hawkins.jpgBrianna Hawkins