The Waynflete boys remain a title contender despite graduating All-State player Serge Nyirikamba from a squad that won the Western Class C championship last year.

The Flyers are 6-0 after defeating previously unbeaten Yarmouth 53-43 on Tuesday.

Waynflete, which lost to Houlton in overtime in the 2014 state championship game, figures to be a contender in this year’s playoffs against the likes of Class C powers Boothbay Region, Winthrop, Madison and Dirigo.

The Flyers are ranked fourth in the Western C Heal points. Yarmouth (7-1) is one of their three Class B opponents this season. Waynflete will host Poland on Jan. 15 and play at Wells on Jan. 26 in a rescheduled game.

Waynflete’s balanced attack was again on display against Yarmouth. Leading scorer Milo Belleau had 17 points. Harry Baker-Connick and Tom Silk scored 13 and 12 respectively.

Belleau averages 19 points a game. Baker-Connick is the top assist man, while Yai Deng, Pace Hutchinson and Belleau are the top rebounders.

“We’re also getting solid play from Abel Alemayo and contributions off the bench from players like Will Nelligan, Will Burdick and Tom Silk,” said Coach Rich Henry.

Henry said the team couldn’t replace what Nyirikamba brought to the team, but he hoped the returning players learned and absorbed his approach. Henry Cleaves and Joe Schnier, also graduated, and set good examples too, he added.

“Those guys worked hard and imparted their experience to the returning players,” said Henry.

“The team had the good fortune of a strong returning cast of seniors and juniors who have bought into what we’re trying to do with the program. That creates a good atmosphere for the younger players to develop,” he said.

Looking to the Yarmouth game, the Flyers knew they would be facing a team that likes to get up and down the floor and play pressure defense.

“We started working on dealing with handling pressure defense over the holiday break,” said Henry.

“That wasn’t just for Yarmouth. We want to take better care of the basketball and make sound ballhandling decisions,” Henry said. “The credit goes to the kids in the way they were able to execute the game plan. Yarmouth does a great job of speeding other teams up. They’re comfortable playing at that pace while most teams aren’t. I think we had more turnovers than Yarmouth, but we were able to avoid turning the ball over multiple times in succession. I was very pleased with the way the kids played.”

THE FALMOUTH boys snapped a two-game losing streak with a 50-45 win over York on Tuesday. Falmouth had lost to Yarmouth 69-62 on Dec. 30 and to Cape Elizabeth 50-45 last Saturday.

Dave Halligan, in his 28th season as coach, said he can’t recall a three-game losing streak in his time at Falmouth.

“If I have had one, it’s buried in my memory,” he said.

Falmouth plays at Greely on Saturday and then has a rematch with Yarmouth on Tuesday at home.

The Yachtsmen are ranked seventh in Western Class A. Falmouth is playing a Class B schedule as a member of the Western Maine Conference, but because of its enrollment bumps up to Class A for the tournament. Twelve teams make it in Western A.

“It doesn’t really make any difference where we finish in the Heal point standings,” said Halligan.

“If we finish seventh, we play the 12th-ranked team, and if we finish 12th, we play the seventh-ranked team. The tournament is going to be wide open,” he said.

THE SOUTH PORTLAND boys’ team (8-2) has bounced back nicely from a 6-12 season that saw the Red Riots miss the playoffs for the first time since the 2005-06 season. Two seasons ago, the Riots made it all the way to the Class A final where they lost to Hampden Academy 45-41 at the Augusta Civic Center. The team had one starter returning from that team a year ago in Jaren Muller. They took their lumps last season, but the players gained valuable experience, Coach Phil Conley said.

Muller, Jack Fiorini and Kam Harper were returning starters this season.

“Last year’s experience has helped the players on the team,” said Conley.

“Not making the tournament made them hungry to get back. The players came in three mornings a week last summer to work on their games in the school gymnasium. We had a strong summer league,” he said.

Conley won his 100th game on Tuesday as Riots’ head coach. Conley spent 12 years as a varsity assistant before becoming the head coach in the 2007-08 season. He’s in his eighth season.

“It’s a nice honor, something I’ll be able to look back on after my career is over,” he said. “It’s all about the team. I’ve been fortunate to have had some excellent players and assistants. They’re a huge part of the 100 victories.”

THE MCAULEY basketball program has been known for winning championships, producing Division I college players, and particularly in the last few years, being an explosive offensive team.

With dynamic scorer Allie Clement (now playing at Marist) running the floor show, McAuley’s defense was seldom acknowledged though Coach Bill Goodman would routinely make a point of emphasizing it.

“I think we get overlooked a lot,” said senior guard Olivia Dalphonse. “We know that defense is our strength.”

After Tuesday’s 29-25 win against previously unbeaten Thornton Academy (a superior defensive unit itself) coming on the heels of holding two teams in the teens, it’s time to recognize that this year’s McAuley team (8-1) is a contender again in large part due to its ability to play lock-down man-to-man.

“We have a lot of players that really get after it,” Dalphonse said. “Eva Mazur, our freshman, (she’s) huge on defense. Sarah Clement, huge on defense. We do focus on that a lot and we’re proud of our defense.”

– Staff Writer Steve Craig contributed to this report.

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