Male:

LIAM NILES, Senior—Skiing

 

* Class A state champion, classic

* Class A state champion, pursuit

* SMAA All-Academic team

To say Liam Niles bounced back from injury with aplomb would be a major understatement.

The Bulldogs standout simply had no peer on the trails this winter and helped his team to a strong finish at the state meet.

Niles made an immediate impact as a freshman, placing 11th in the skate. As a sophomore, he placed runner-up in the classic and fourth in the skate, taking the pursuit title in the process. As a junior, Niles had to overcome injury and still managed to come in ninth in the classic and 11th in the skate, helping Portland place third as a team.

This winter, the Bulldogs were bested only by Falmouth in the team standings at states and Niles showed steady improvement. He was 17th at the Hornet Classic, but two weeks later, against similar top talent, at the Sassi Classic, he moved up to third.

At states, Niles had a time of 15 minutes, 10.4 seconds to win the classic by 16 seconds over Deering’s Will Jordan. In the skate, Niles was second (by 2.6 seconds) to Greely’s Leif Harvey (14:46.2). He took the pursuit title by 20 seconds over Harvey, finishing as just one of two skiers in the state to wind up with a combined time of under 30 minutes (29:56.6).

Niles then capped his season by qualifying for the Eastern High School championships, but those races were canceled by the coronavirus outbreak.

Liam Niles, Portland’s Winter Male Athlete of the Year, certainly set the bar for greatness and his final season was one to long remember.

Coach George Aponte-Clarkes comment: “Liam had a great comeback following last year’s injury. He continued to get stronger and faster throughout the season showing what can come from perseverance and positive attitude. His championship performances led a young team to its best-ever finish at states. Liam’s balanced approach and drive to challenge oneself in the outdoors motivated his teammates to do the same.”

Previous winners:

2018-19 Will Couture (swimming)

2017-18 Terion Moss (basketball)

2016-17 Dom Tocci (hockey)

2015-16 Amir Moss (basketball)

2014-15 Steve Alex (basketball)

2013-14 Ben Allen (Nordic skiing)

2012-13 Kidayer Albujyly (wrestling)

2011-12 Ben Allen (Nordic skiing)

2010-11 Mike Herrick (basketball)

2009-10 Imadhi Zagon (track)

2008-09 Sam Guimond (hockey)

2007-08 Imadhi Zagon (track)

2006-07 Ryan Carmichael (basketball)

2005-06 Andrew Duncanson (basketball)

2004-05 Connor Cushman (Nordic skiing)

2003-04 Eric Shone (basketball)

Female:

AMANDA KABANTU, Junior-Basketball

* SMAA All-Star, first-team

* SMAA All-Defensive team

* Class AA North all-star, first-team

* Class AA North All-Defensive team

* Captain 

Watching Amanda Kabantu do her thing on the basketball court brings joy to all except those who have to try and stop her. Kabantu’s athleticism speaks for itself, her love of the game shines through and this winter, she was sensational from start to finish, leading the Bulldogs to their first regional final in two decades.

Kabantu, with her older sister Davina and cousin, Gemima Motema, arrived at Portland High as a freshman from the Congo and made an immediate impact, being named to the SMAA All-Rookie team. As a sophomore, Amanda Kabantu became one of the league’s top scorers (averaging 14.3 points per game, as well as 8.2 rebounds and 2 steals) and made the All-Conference and All-Defensive teams.

This winter was more of the same, as Kabantu’s tenacious defense, skill, speed, leaping and scoring ability was evident from opening night on. Kabantu wound up first in the league with 11.9 rebounds per contest, was eighth in scoring (10.9) and seventh in both steals (2.5) and assists (2.3).

Highlights were plentiful.

Kabantu got her memorable season started with nine points, 11 boards, five steals and four assists in a win over Bangor. She had 24 points and eight rebounds in a victory over Windham, scored 11 points and had six rebounds in a win over defending Class AA South champion Scarborough, had 12 points in a win over Edward Little, 14 points, nine rebounds and three steals in a victory over Cheverus, 11 points in a win over Lewiston, 16 points in a victory at Gorham, 10 points and 12 rebounds in a second win over Cheverus, 11 points in a victory over Windham, 17 points in a second win over Lewiston and 11 in a regular season-ending victory at Deering.
Kabantu then had a career-high 32 points, to go with 12 rebounds, three steals and two blocked shots in a quarterfinal round playoff win over Edward Little and added 20 points and 14 rebounds in a semifinal round victory over Bangor. Kabantu got in early foul trouble, but still wound up with a team-high 10 points, to go with eight rebounds and two steals in a regional final loss to eventual champion Oxford Hills.
Kabantu will enter her senior season 311 points shy of 1,000 (a very attainable goal) and will look to get Portland to the Promised Land for the first time this century before going on to play at the next level (at press time, she has several schools interested in her).

Enjoy Amanda Kabantu, Portland’s Winter Female Athlete of the Year, while you can. It’s not often that someone this talented and enjoyable to watch comes our way.

Coach Gerry Corcoran’s comment: “Amanda was our heart and soul. She’s one of the most talented young players I’ve ever been blessed to coach at any level. She is a blessing to the entire PHS community. She is the complete player with the work ethic to match. She has a personal desire to be great and has a motor that never quits. She set the bar for all the Lady Bulldogs and is a big reason for our success.”

Previous winners:

2018-19 Jaidyn Appel (track)

2017-18 Shayla Eubanks (basketball)

2016-17 Maggie Hosmer (track)

2015-16 Lauren McIntyre (hockey)

2014-15 Gabby Wagabaza (basketball)

2013-14 Brianna Holdren (basketball)

2012-13 Abby Popenoe (Nordic skiing)

2011-12 Kylie Dalbec (hockey)

2010-11 Nicollette Kapothanasis (basketball)

2009-10 Raechel Allen (hockey)

2008-09 Nyachuol Biliew (basketball)

2007-08 Nyachuol Biliew (basketball)

2006-07 Alex Perdomo (hockey)

2005-06 Regina Roberts (track)

2004-05 Ashley Anderson (basketball)

2003-04 Ashley Brownlee (basketball)

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

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: