For years, the girls’ basketball teams at Freeport and Yarmouth have watched other Western Maine Conference schools, like Greely or Lake Region or Gray-New Gloucester, celebrate championships.

This year, the two teams are riding high atop the Class B South standings. They meet Thursday night in Yarmouth with first place on the line. The Clippers come in at No. 1 with a 7-2 record, their losses to Class A South powers Greely and Brunswick. Freeport is No. 2 with a 5-3 record, its losses to Greely (twice) and Gray-New Gloucester, which moved up to Class A after winning the Class B state title last year.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” said Yarmouth Coach Dave Cousins. “Freeport has a great program and I have a lot of respect for those kids … This will be a great test to see where we stand.”

Freeport Coach Seth Farrington called the game “a huge test. It’s going to tell a lot about where everyone is.”

Caroline Smith of Freeport drives to prevent Kathryn Keaney of Yarmouth from driving to the basket during a game last winter. The Clippers and Falcons meet again Thursday as the top two teams in Class B South. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

The Falcons are coming off a 41-39 win at previously undefeated Brunswick on Tuesday, a victory that snapped a three-game losing skid. “That was a good morale booster,” said Farrington. “We just needed to get back to who we are, play how we play.”

Freeport entered the season as the clear favorite in Class B South, having advanced to the regional final each of the last two years. With that came expectations. “You should want that,” said Farrington. “You should want high expectations. You should want that pressure. It’s a good feeling. And this group has responded.”

Senior guard Caroline Smith continues to lead the Falcons, averaging about 17 points per game. But Farrington notes the Falcons are getting contributions from others, such as junior forward Rachel Wall, sophomore center Mason Baker-Schlendering, junior forward Hannah Groves and senior guard Catriona Gould.

Yarmouth, likewise, is balanced. Junior forward Margaret McNeil leads the Clippers with 13 points and nine rebounds per game, followed by sophomore guard Katelyn D’Appolonia (10 points, five assists and four steals) and junior guard Calin McGonagle (10 points, six rebounds).

“We are gaining confidence every game,” said Cousins. “We’re getting a sense of where we can go. The team is still growing, and that’s the best part. There’s still room for a lot of growth. We just need to play together and play within ourselves, do what we do instead of worrying about what the other people are doing.”

THE YORK GIRLS began the season with three losses. Since then, the Wildcats have won five in a row and are ranked third in Class A South.

“The first three games were tough ones (Greely, Gray-NG and Kennebunk),” said first-year coach Jess Stacy. “Coupled with a new coach implementing new things, it took a while to get into a rhythm and for the girls to buy into the different philosophy. Now that they have, we’ve jelled and meshed as a team. And it’s been a team effort. We’re feeding off each other.”

Senior guard Nina Howe has been the leader, not only scoring but playing great defense and finding open teammates. “Her unselfish play is something to see,” said Stacy.

Other players have also stepped up, notably sophomore forward Emily Rainforth, sophomore twin guards Clara and Rose Pavuk and junior forward Kristen Leroux.

MAGGIE WHITMORE became the fifth South Portland girl to score 1,000 career points in a 50-42 loss to Portland on Tuesday. She joins Maddie Hasson, Whitney Morrow, Abby Lesneski and Hannah Dawson as Red Riots to reach that milestone.

Senior guard Askar Houssein, a transfer from Waynflete, leads 7-1 Deering with 15.3 points and 3.8 assists per game. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer Buy this Photo

THE DEERING BOYS are off to a 7-1 start, ranked second in Class AA North, and Coach Todd Wing said the Rams can be better. “We haven’t played our best game yet,” he said. “We’re getting there.”

Four players are averaging double figures, led by senior guard Askar Houssein, a transfer from Waynflete. Houssein, who went to middle school with his Deering teammates, leads the Rams with 15.3 points and 3.8 assists per game. He’s followed by senior guard Darryl Germain (14.3 points, 2.3 assists), senior forward Max Morrione (11.9 points) and senior forward Loki Anda (10.1 points, 5.9 rebounds).

“We have multiple guys who can score,” said Wing. “The more we balance out and get them taking the best shot for the team, we’re going to be better off.”

The Rams play Oxford Hills (0-8) on Thursday, then top-ranked Edward Little (7-1) on Saturday. “We know (Oxford Hills Coach) Scottie Graffam will have his team ready to play hard and they won’t roll over,” said Wing. “We have to focus on the game right ahead.”

THE BONNY EAGLE boys have dropped three of four to fall to 5-4 in Class AA South, its losses coming to teams with a combined 29-3 record. And the Scots play unbeaten South Portland on Thursday. Coach John Trull is confident the defending regional champs can regroup.

“Right now we’re getting every team’s best shot and we need to focus on ourselves a little bit more and figuring out our problems,” he said. “It’s a long season, we’re only halfway through, and you want to be playing your best basketball at the end of January and into February … We want to be better than we are right now.”

Mike Lowe — 207-791-6422

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Twitter: @MikeLowePPH

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