Senior Darryl Germain’s ball-handling and shooting skills will lead Deering’s boys’ basketball team to big things this winter. File photo.

BOYS’ BASKETBALL

Coach: Todd Wing (seventh year, 75-43 overall record)

2018-19 record: 12-7 (Lost, 51-50, to Portland in Class AA North quarterfinals)

Top returning player: Loki Anda (Senior), Darryl Germain (Senior), Max Morrione (Senior), Mike Randall (Senior), Mpore Semuhoza (Junior)

Pivotal games: Dec. 10 SOUTH PORTLAND, Dec. 17 BONNY EAGLE, Jan. 2 CHEVERUS, Jan. 4 @ Portland, Jan. 7 SCARBOROUGH, Jan 11 @ Edward Little, Jan. 24 @ Cheverus, Jan. 28 EDWARD LITTLE, Feb. 6 PORTLAND

Coach’s comment: “I like our talent, but it’s about coming together and doing something special as a team. We have a good blend of experience and new talent. The North will be very tough. We can’t sleep on any of the teams. We want to play to our maximum potential. If we do the little things well, we should do well as a team. We’re coming along. Hopefully, we’ll get there.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Despite suffering an agonizing buzzer-beating playoff loss last February, then graduating Mr. Maine Basketball finalist Ben Onek, Deering remains loaded and enters the 2019-20 campaign as the favorite in the region in the minds of many. The Rams can get the job done inside and out and their coaching staff has been bolstered by the return of Dan LeGage, who led Deering to the program’s lone two state championships (2006 and 2013). In a change from their previous roles, LeGage will serve as Wing’s assistant. A big year could be in store for all concerned.

The Rams’ offense will be paced by the sharpshooting Germain, a second-team Class AA North all-star in 2018-19, who averaged 10.1 points per game. Germain can distribute the ball as well. He was second in the SMAA last winter with 4.8 assists per contest. With Germain playing point guard, Morrione, Deering’s Fall Male Athlete of the Year, who averaged 8.8 points per game last season and senior Askar Houssein, the former Waynflete standout, who is a top ball-hander and assist man in his own right, can help fill the net. The Rams will be formidable in the front-court as well behind Randall (7.7 rebounds per game last winter) and Anda (4.8 rebounds per contest). Semuhoza (an All-Rookie team selection in 2018-19) will be a tough matchup at guard or forward and senior center Jess Kamalandua will help Deering control the paint and the glass. Sophomores Tateo Augusto, Mick Langella and Kymiqe Solomon add depth and will have an opportunity to play key roles.

The Rams face high expectations this winter, but they’ll be up for the task. Deering will get its opponent’s best effort every time out, but that will make the Rams battle tested for February and beyond. This year’s squad is primed for a deep playoff run and if the pieces fall into place, it could be a historic campaign.

GIRLS’ BASKETBALL

Senior Elizabeth Drelich is the most experienced returning player for Deering’s girls’ basketball team. File photo

Coach: Mike Murphy (12th year, 152-71 overall record, one state championship)

2018-19 record: 6-15 (Lost, 51-29, to eventual champion Oxford Hills in Class AA North Final)

Top returning player: Elizabeth Drelich (Senior)

Pivotal games: Dec. 6 OXFORD HILLS, Dec. 10 SOUTH PORTLAND, Jan. 2 CHEVERUS, Jan. 4 @ Portland, Jan. 7 @ Scarborough, Jan. 9 @ Oxford Hills, Jan. 24 @ Cheverus, Feb. 6 @ Portland

Coach’s comment: “I’m pleased with our preseason. We’ll have our hands full replacing Delaney (Haines). That’s a tall order, but I like our kids and our attitude. The kids play hard. We lack experience minus one position. I hope we’ll be well-rounded with scoring. We have to get better as the season progresses and hope it translates into wins.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Deering stole headlines last February, making a shocking run to the regional final after winning just four times in the regular season. The biggest impetus for that surge, Delaney Haines, has graduated, along with several other key contributors, so the Rams are largely starting from scratch this winter. Don’t overlook this group, however

Drelich is the lone returner with much varsity experience. She’ll play forward. Senior Livia Serappa and junior Gloria Muka will help the front-court cause. Senior Madison Alves will be the point guard. Senior guard Charlene Butera is a top defender. Junior forwards Kaylee True-Maye and Greyson Soldati, sophomores Yipsi Sibo (a forward) and Ella McGowan (a guard) and freshman point guard Nyabhana Lia round out the roster.

There are a lot of question marks with this team, but rest assured that Murphy will get the most out of the group. It’s possible, the Rams will win more games this winter than last year’s squad, but a lot will have to go right for Deering to catch lightning in a bottle and make a deep playoff run again.

BOYS’ HOCKEY

Coach: Jeff Beaney (fifth year, 34-41-3 overall record)

2018-19 record: 10-11 (Lost, 3-2, to Biddeford in Class A South Final)

Top returning players: Miki Silva (Senior), Whit Steele (Senior), Max Cheever (Junior), Dante Tocci (Junior), Ryan Becker (Sophomore), Carlos Braceras (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: Dec 12 SP/FREEPORT/WAYNFLETE, Dec. 19 BIDDEFORD, Dec. 31 @ Biddeford, Jan. 2 SCARBOROUGH, Jan. 4 @ Cheverus, Jan. 27 @ St. Dom’s, Feb. 1 FALMOUTH, Feb. 5 @ Lewiston, Feb. 8 @ Falmouth, Feb. 15 @ SP/Freeport/Waynflete

Coach’s comment: “We have a lot of young guys. It’s a rebuilding year, but we’ll have fun. We may start out slow, but our attitude is good and we’ll progress during the course of the season and have the potential to have a say in the playoffs. By the end, a lot of teams won’t want to play us.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: The Portland/Deering co-op team came within a goal of playing for a state title a year ago and after losing several key players to graduation, including Travis Roy Award semifinalist Donnie Tocci and all-state selection Jake Luce, have some holes to fill. The Bulldogs will have their hands full with the top teams in the state, but should again be able to compete with most of the squads on the schedule.

Portland/Deering returns Becker in goal. He’s supported by Cheever, who was a second-team all-state selection last winter, along with Braceras. The top offensive line will likely consist of Silva, Steele and Dante Tocci. Juniors Nick Becker and Nick McGonagle (the team’s lone Ram) and sophomore Colby Winship will play bigger roles in the offense this year. Junior Peter Gribbin and freshman Ryland Silva will provide depth on defense.

Portland/Deering is primed to make another run and while it won’t be an easy road, don’t be surprised if the Bulldogs find their way to Lewiston come late February.

GIRLS’ HOCKEY

Coach: Tom Clifford (third year, 19-20 overall record)

2018-19 record: 5-14 (Lost, 7-1, to Falmouth in South Region quarterfinals)

Top returning players: Elena Clifford (Senior), Kim Clifford (Junior), Lucy Howe (Junior), Caroline Lerch (Junior), Margaret Smith (Junior)

Pivotal games: Dec. 11 @ Cape Elizabeth/Waynflete/SP, Dec. 18 CHEVERUS, Dec. 21 @ Scarborough, Jan. 4 @ Cheverus

Coach’s comment: “With a team light on experience, our returning players have been leading the way for the younger players with their work ethic and determination. We will be looking to see weekly improvement  from all of the girls and hopefully as the season progresses, the hard work they have put in both on and off the ice will put us in a position to have a chance at postseason play.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: The Portland/Deering co-op team has a lot of new faces this winter, but there is some real talent on the roster and the Bulldogs could be primed for a move up the standings. Portland/Deering opened the year with wins over Brunswick (8-1) and York (3-1), a loss to Yarmouth/Freeport (1-0, in overtime) and a second win over York (5-4). The offense will be paced by Lerch (who scored 24 goals and had 11 assists last winter and already has 10 goals this season). Howe (10 assists last year, four goals and three assists this season) and Smith (five assists last winter) are other veteran scorers. Juniors Emma Harrigan and Rose Stait will step in and help the offensive cause as well. Defensively, Elena Clifford and Kim Clifford (who had 11 assists a year ago) will be the anchors in front of junior Anna Gannon and sophomore Caitlin Huynh, who will each see time in goal

Portland/Deering isn’t at the top of the list of South Region favorites, but the Bulldogs will be in the playoff hunt. Look for a better win-loss record this winter and if the pieces fall into place, Portland/Deering might just surprise some folks and make a playoff run.

INDOOR TRACK

Boys’ coaches: Gerry Myatt and Frank Myatt (eighth year)

Girls’ coach: Kevin Campbell (18th year)

2018-19 results:

(Boys) tie-9th @ Class A state meet

(Girls) 22nd @ Class A state meet

Top returners:

(Boys) Abubaker Abu (Senior), Ethan Berdeja (Senior), Galen Carey (Senior), Antonio Ciccomancini (Senior), Isaac Tabb (Senior), Will Vachon (Senior), Andrew James (Junior), Joey Lancia (Junior), Owen Pfaff (Junior), Ben Vachon (Junior)

(Girls) Darcy Lally (Senior), Mimi Banksmith (Junior), Hadley Poirier (Junior), Morgan Shibles (Sophomore)

Coach Myatt’s comment: “We’re looking to show some good growth and be competitive in the regular season and be at our best when the postseason comes.”

Coach Campbell’s comment: “Our team is young and small. but well-balanced and dedicated. Fatima (Rocha’s) switch from basketball to track is a great addition. We hope some other newcomers will be ready to step up when the season starts.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Deering’s indoor track teams look to move up the standings at the big meets this winter.

The boys’ squad doesn’t return any of last year’s state meet scorers, but there is plenty of promise nonetheless. Berdeja, Carey, Ciccomancini, James and three newcomers, seniors Ben Brown and Donnio Brown and freshman Dany McLaughlin, make up the sprinting contingent. Abu is a top hurdler. The distance group features Lancia, Pfaff and Tabb. On the field side, Ben Vachon, Will Vachon and junior John Pomerleau are top jumpers and Berdeja hopes to score in the pole vault. The Rams will be chasing powerhouse Scarborough, as well as Falmouth and Thornton Academy in the league, but could turn some heads by season’s end.

On the girls’ side, Poirier (fourth in the 800 last season) is a top returner. She’ll be a threat in the distance races. In the sprints, Banksmith and Lally will be heard from. Sophomore Fatima Rocha is a nice addition who might step right in and make an impact in the short races as well. Shibles is a top hurdler. On the field side, Lally placed seventh in the pole vault last winter and hopes to move up. Rocha and freshman Claire Dunn will be top jumpers. The Rams have some individuals who will make noise and as a team, they’ll be right there in every meet.

SWIMMING

Deering senior Owen McLaughlin, far lane, will be a premier swimmer again this winter before going on to compete at the University of Pittsburgh. File photo

Coach: Sarah Rasmussen (third year)

2018-19 results:

(Boys) 10th @ Class A state meet

(Girls) tie-22nd @ Class A state meet

Top returners:

(Boys) Owen McLaughlin (Senior)

(Girls) Althea Hoag (Sophomore), Chelsea Hoag (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment: “We have a young team this year and I am hopeful we can see great growth among our new swimmers and leadership from our returners. We are going to take each meet as a fresh opportunity to be competitive.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Deering is eager to improve and compete as the season progresses.

The boys’ team features McLaughlin, who will swim at the University of Pittsburgh next year. Before he graduates, McLaughlin hopes to build on the Class A state titles he won a year ago in the 100 butterfly and 200 freestyle. McLaughlin will also swim the individual medley and could wind up one of the state’s most decorated swimmers when all is said and done.

On the girls’ side, sprinter Hadley Hoag and distance specialist Althea Hoag lead the way. They’re joined by freshman Chloe Brydon, who swims the freestyle and IM.

NORDIC SKIING (co-op with Cheverus and Portland)

Coach: George Aponte-Clarke (third year, one state championship)

2018-19 results:

(Boys) 3rd @ Class A state meet

(Girls) Class A state champions

Top returners:

(Boys) Will Jordan (Senior), Deven Abrams (Sophomore)

(Girls) Sierra Aponte-Clarke (Junior), Ally Butts (Sophomore), Megan Cunningham (Sophomore), Fran Freeman (Sophomore), Zuzia Varney (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment: “Our crew of skiers has grown tremendously over the past few seasons. This means we have a very young team with a lot of potential for growth and development over the years ahead. Our young crew is lead by a talented group of accomplished upperclassmen who were among the state’s best skiers last season. The team is already jelling after just a few practices, showing once again how supportive this multi-school team is of one another. Strong bonds have developed over their deep love for Nordic skiing. This all bodes well for a fun and action-packed season ahead.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Deering skiers were a huge part of the Portland Nordic co-op team’s success last year and that should be the case again this winter.

The girls will be led again by Aponte-Clarke, who was third in the skate and eighth in the classic a year ago. Butts, Cunningham, Freeman and Varney look to move up the standings this season.

On the boys’ side, Jordan (fourth in the classic and seventh in the skate last winter) should excel again. Abrams looks to make his mark as well.

WRESTLING

Coach: Ryan Hutchins (third year)

2018-19 results: no score @ Class A state meet

Top returners: Chauncey Alado (Senior), Bailey Eide (Senior), Jacob Irwin (Senior), Mohammed Al-Ahmad (Junior), Magnus Heisler (Junior), Mohammed Muhee (Junior), Max Hibbard (Sophomore), Grady Walsh (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment: “Our numbers are way up over last year, but with two-thirds of the team in their first or second year wrestling, this year will be all about gaining valuable experience as individuals and growing together as a team.  I am excited about the level of work and excitement the kids have brought to the wrestling room. We have a couple individual wrestlers who can make some noise at the regional and state levels and several student-athletes that have participated in other high school sports, so we will look to build on that athleticism and bring it to the mat.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Deering’s program is working its way back to contention and an infusion of talent will begin to be felt this winter before paying bigger dividends next year.

Alado (who will wrestle at either 170 or 182 pounds), Eide (195/220) and Irwin (160/170) are senior leaders. Al-Ahmad (heavyweight), Heisler (132/138), Hibbard (113/120), Muhee (126/132) and Walsh (106) are other veterans. Newcomers to watch include senior Travis Soule (152/160), junior Brillant Mercy (195/220) and freshmen Miguel Filipe (220) and Josiah Matias (182/195).

Deering will fill most of the weight classes and should show steady improvement in the weeks to come. The long-range forecast for this program is very promising.

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

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