The Portland and Cheverus girls’ basketball teams will renew their rivalry on Wednesday evening. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer Buy this Photo

It took a long time to get here in southern Maine, but the pandemic-shortened high school winter season begins in earnest this week.

And there are plenty of games worth watching. Even if you can’t do so in person.

Spectators are not allowed because of coronavirus pandemic restrictions. However, nearly every school will be live-streaming home games on sites such as YouTube, Facebook and Vimeo. Check the home school’s website to see how you can watch.

Teams will play up to 10 games during a regular season that stretches into mid-March. Playoffs and state championships have been canceled this winter because of the pandemic.

Bear in mind that every schedule is fragile this year. All it takes is a one or two cases of COVID-19 to shut down a team or even an entire school from engaging in athletic competition.

For example, Kennebunk High just returned to in-person instruction Monday after more than a week of full remote learning and therefore no practices. The Rams canceled this week’s games and won’t start until Feb. 19. The Waynflete girls’ basketball team has had to cancel its first three games because the majority of the team is in quarantine.

“Literally you have to call daily and check, it’s so fluid and changes so frequently, and all it takes is one kid to get contact traced and then that trace affects a whole team,” said Joe Schwartzman, Kennebunk’s athletic director.

Assuming the schedules hold, we’ve gathered a short list of basketball and ice hockey games that should be worth a look. Of course, as Cheverus boys’ basketball coach Ryan Soucie put it, for the players and coaches, every game is worth circling (in pencil) on a calendar.

“Honestly, that’s how we’re talking about it,” Soucie said. “We’ve lived the last how many months not knowing if we’re going to even be able to practice, or if we’ll get shut down, so we’re embracing the opportunity to have some sort of season.”

BOYS’ BASKETBALL

• Tuesday, Feb. 16, Deering at Cape Elizabeth, 7 p.m.: As was the case this fall, the pandemic has created many cross-conference, cross-class matchups as administrators created geographic-based schedules. Here Class AA Deering, which graduated a load of talent off its North regional runner-up squad, visits the Class B Capers where 1998 Cape Elizabeth grad Jeff Mitchell takes over as head coach for Jim Ray, who retired in May.

• Tuesday, Feb. 23, Thornton Academy at Bonny Eagle, 7 p.m.: Thornton, the 2020 state runner-up with one of the top duos in the state in Payton Jones and Dylan Griffin, meets 2019 state runner-up Bonny Eagle, led by senior guard Jacob Humphrey. As will be the norm this season, the two teams will play back-to-back, with Thornton hosting on Thursday.

• Tuesday, March 2, Edward Little at Greely, 7 p.m.: Greely Coach Travis Seaver, a Greely grad himself, said he doubts the Rangers and Eddies have ever played in a countable game. Edward Little, which hosts Greely on March 4, has won two of the past three Class AA titles. Greely won three straight Class A crowns from 2017-2019.

GIRLS’ BASKETBALL

• Wednesday, Feb. 10, Portland at Cheverus, 6:15 p.m.: Abby Hasson makes her coaching debut with Portland, a group that would have been preseason favorite for the Class AA title in a normal year. Hasson is the daughter of South Portland Coach Lynne Hasson. Portland hosts South Portland, Feb. 17.

• Thursday, Feb. 11, Brunswick at Freeport, 7 p.m.: A cross-conference, cross-class game between neighboring towns that would not normally be played. Brunswick has been one of the top teams in Class A South in recent years, winning the regional title in 2017, and reaching the regional final in 2018 and 2019. Freeport has been similarly strong in Class B, with regional final appearances in 2018 and 2019.

• Thursday, March 11, Marshwood at Kennebunk, 6 p.m.: This game is scheduled to be the final high school contest for Kennebunk’s Emily Archibald, a four-year starter and the 2020 Maine Gatorade Player of the Year, before she heads off to Providence College. Marshwood, the 2020 Class A champion, is a worthy opponent.

BOYS’ HOCKEY

• Wednesday, Feb. 10, Greely vs. St. Dominic Academy, Norway Savings Bank, Auburn, 6 p.m.: The two-time Class B champion Rangers open their season against a Class A power. Greely also meets Class A champion Lewiston on March 6 at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.

• Wednesday, Feb. 24, Lewiston at North Yarmouth Academy, Travis Roy Arena, 5 p.m.: This is scheduled to be the second of two games between the MPA Class A champs from Lewiston and NYA, which typically would be playing a 30-plus game prep school schedule but this year cannot travel out of state.

GIRLS’ HOCKEY

• Friday, Feb. 12, Lewiston at NYA, Travis Roy Arena, 4:30 p.m.: Same story as the boys’ meeting, it’s the state champion from Lewiston playing against a prep school program that features a lineup loaded with players from Maine.

• Saturday, Feb. 20, Scarborough vs. Cape Elizabeth/Waynflete/South Portland, Troubh Ice Arena, 9 p.m.: A year ago, Scarborough was the top seed from the South in girls’ hockey, but it was CE/Waynflete/SoPo that reached the state final against Lewiston. The two teams are also scheduled to meet in a season-ending game March 13, at Casco Bay Arena (7:50 p.m.).


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