Freeport’s Angel Pillsbury plays defense against Brunswick in the Falcons’ 53-41 loss in the season opener. Eli Canfield / Times Record

(Ed.Note: For the complete Falmouth-Greely boys’ basketball game story, see pressherald.com/forecaster-sports/)

The gyms and rinks are devoid of fans and players and coaches are masked up and obsessed with social distancing, but the return of winter sports last week was hailed as a victory by everyone.

Challenges remain and there’s no guarantee that the season will be completed, but for now, a dose of normalcy is embraced and oh by the way, the play has been pretty good too.

Here’s a glimpse at the first week of the COVID-19-delayed/abbreviated winter sports season.

Boys’ basketball

Yarmouth’s Will Cox can’t get past a Brunswick defender during the Clippers’ 52-43 loss Monday. Eli Canfield/ Times Record

The first week of boys’ basketball saw teams playing home-and-away contests with nearby foes.

Falmouth, which hadn’t beaten Greely since January of 2015, beat the Rangers twice last week.

In the teams’ first meeting, Friday, the Yachtsmen dominated, 77-47, behind 36 points from Brady Coyne. Saturday, Falmouth won even more emphatically, 85-32, as Coyne had 21 points and Jack Stowell added 17. Sean Dilworth wound up with 12 points, 10 rebounds and six assists.

“It’s great to get out here,” Dilworth said. “I’ve been waiting forever, I love it. (The delayed start to the season) was really tough, but it made us stronger in the end. We have a great team. A great group of guys. I think under normal circumstances, we could have gone all the way.

“I’ve lost to Greely all three years and we finally got here and killed them both games.”

“(Greely’s) not full strength,” longtime Yachtsmen coach Dave Halligan said. “You take their best players out and it’s completely different. We talked about not caring about wins and losses. We just want to be as good as we can be.”

Falmouth goes to Cheverus Wednesday, then hosts the Stags Friday. The Yachtsmen go to Portland Tuesday of next week.

“We want to go undefeated,” Dilworth said. “We just want to play the game.”

“I feel badly for the seniors,” Halligan said. “They’ve worked so hard. We’ll give them the best situation we can and get some younger kids in.

“I think we would have been a top contender this year. That’s what we would have been aiming for. It’s a good group.”

Greely, which was down three senior starters in its first two games, will lick its wounds.

“It is what it is,” Rangers coach Travis Seaver said. “It’s a tough start to the season. We’re down three seniors, all starters. I think we’re better than we’ve played. We haven’t had a lot of time in the gym. It’s pretty obvious what we need to work on. It’s better they see it in a game than me saying it in practice.”

The Rangers host Fryeburg Academy Friday, then go to Cape Elizabeth Tuesday.

“We just want to make strides and get better every day,” Seaver said. “We’ll lick our wounds and look forward to getting back at it in practice. These kids have been waiting to play and no one likes to lose, but they’re chomping at the bit for Monday. If we could practice tomorrow, we’d practice tomorrow. They’ve missed so much. We’re just trying to get kids varsity experience. We want to give our seniors the best experience possible, they deserve that, and get our underclassmen as much experience as possible. They can just come out here and learn. We don’t have to worry about Heal Points this year.”

Freeport beat Brunswick twice to start its season, 66-43 at home and 47-44 in Brunswick. In the first encounter, Blaine Cockburn led the way with 22 points, Tony Casale finished with 14 and Colby Arsenault added 13. In the second meeting, the Falcons finished on a 7-0 run to improve to 2-0. Arsenault led the way with 19 points and Casale (12 points), scored the go-ahead hoop.

“I think the biggest factor was just coming off the bus, we haven’t played an away game yet and it’s something to get used to with going straight from the bus to warmups,” said Cockburn. “We definitely lacked some energy in the beginning but found our game as the game went on.”

Freeport hosts Mt. Ararat Thursday and goes to Cape Elizabeth Friday before returning home Tuesday of next week to face Yarmouth.

Yarmouth is off to a 2-1 start after sweeping Lake Region, 76-35 and 51-40, and Monday, falling at Brunswick, 52-43. In the opener, Peter Psyhogeos had 18 points, Matt Waeldner added 17 and Cam Merrill finished with 16. In the second win over the Lakers, Waeldner scored 18 points, Psyhogeos had 15 and Will Cox added 13. In the loss, Waeldner had a team-high 11 points. The Clippers host Brunswick Friday and play at Freeport Tuesday of next week.

North Yarmouth Academy started with a 59-42 home win over Sacopee Valley Saturday. Logan Welch scored 19 points, Elliott Oney tallied 16 points and six assists and Chris Hamblett added 15 points with seven assists. The Panthers went to Richmond Tuesday, play at Sacopee Valley Saturday and welcome Waynflete Tuesday of next week.

Girls’ basketball

The start of the girls’ season featured a fast 3-0 start for Yarmouth, which got to the Class B South Final a year ago. The Clippers swept Lake Region last week, 46-29 at home and 42-35 in Naples, then downed visiting Brunswick Monday, 49-34. In the first victory, Calin McGonagle set the tone with 13 points and Katelyn D’Appolonia added eight. In the second win over the Lakers, McGonagle scored 14 points, D’Appolonia added 10 and Margaret McNeil, who had 19 rebounds, in the opener, finished with eight points, 11 rebounds and four blocked shots. Monday, against the Dragons, Ava Feely scored 14 points and McGonagle added 12. Yarmouth is at Brunswick Friday, then hosts Freeport in a playoff rematch Tuesday of next week.

Freeport dropped its first two games to Brunswick, 53-41 on the road and 39-38 at home. In the first meeting, standout Rachel Wall had 24 points and Mason Baker-Schlendering added 11, but it wasn’t enough.

“It was nice,” said Wall, who will play soccer and basketball next year at Covenant College in Georgia. “Win or lose, it’s just good to be out here running up and down the floor.”

The second Falcons-Dragons game saw Freeport lead by four at the start of the fourth quarter, but the win slipped away in the final seconds. Wall again was the Falcons’ top scorer with 16 points and Baker-Schlendering added 12.

Freeport goes to Mt. Ararat Thursday, hosts Cape Elizabeth in a playoff rematch Friday and visits Yarmouth Tuesday of next week.

NYA opened with a 72-22 home win over Sacopee Valley Saturday, as Angel Huntsman led the way with 23 points and Erin Reid added 19. The Panthers were scheduled to host Richmond Tuesday (weather permitting), then play at Sacopee Valley Saturday and at Waynflete Tuesday of next week.

Greely was scheduled to open its season Tuesday at Westbrook (weather permitting). The Rangers’ first home game is Thursday versus longtime rival York. Greely is home against Cape Elizabeth Tuesday of next week.

Falmouth starts its season Wednesday at home versus Cheverus, then goes to Cheverus Friday. The Yachtsmen play host to Portland Tuesday of next week.

Boys’ hockey

The brand new Cheverus/Yarmouth boys’ hockey co-op team opened in style last Monday, downing visiting St. Dom’s, 11-2, as Ben Moll, Brian Connolly and Kevin Connolly all scored twice. Cheverus/Yarmouth came back to Earth a bit Saturday, losing, 4-1, at two-time defending Class B champion Greely to fall to 1-1. Brian Connolly scored the goal. After going to Falmouth Wednesday, Cheverus/Yarmouth hosts Portland/Deering in the “City Cup” Saturday (see pressherald.com/forecaster-sports/ for game story).

Greely, the two-time defending Class B state champion, began with a 4-1 home win over Cheverus/Yarmouth, as Evan Dutil had two goals and Wallace Alexander and Colin Petty each scored once.

“We’re excited to get started with some live game action against somebody other than ourselves,” said longtime Greely coach Barry Mothes. “It’s been a long time coming, but we’ve had great energy and enthusiasm since getting back on the ice for practices. The players have had a great attitude and spirit despite all the challenges they’ve faced. We feel fortunate to be where we’re at and we’re looking forward to the chance to finally play and compete.”

The Rangers were scheduled to host Gorham Tuesday (weather permitting) and welcome Falmouth Saturday.

Falmouth dropped a 7-3 decision at Lewiston in its first outing, as Nick Fischetto, Xavier Grenier and Mitchell Ham scored the goals. The Yachtsmen then evened their record at 1-1 with a 4-1 victory at Portland/Deering, as Ham scored twice and Grenier and Owen Drummey also tickled the twine. Falmouth was home versus Cheverus/Yarmouth Wednesday, plays at Greely Saturday and welcomes Gorham Tuesday of next week.

The South Portland/Waynflete/Freeport co-op squad split two games with Biddeford last week, blanking the visiting Tigers, 4-0, then falling at Biddeford, 1-0. After going to Scarborough Monday, the team is home versus Portland/Deering Thursday.

North Yarmouth Academy, which can’t play a New England prep schedule this winter due to COVID restrictions, won, 6-0, at Lewiston Saturday, in the teams’ first encounter since Feb. 10, 2004, as Cal Davies and Nathaniel Peretz both scored twice. The Blue Devils visit the Panthers Wednesday of next week.

Girls’ hockey

On the girls’ side, Yarmouth/Freeport opened with a 10-0 home win over Greely, then fell to 1-1 with a 3-1 loss at Mt. Ararat/Morse. In the win, Sadie Carnes, Lizzie Guertler and Rosie Panenka all scored two goals and added a pair of assists. The Clippers are home with Mt. Ararat/Morse Thursday, welcome Lewiston Saturday and play at NYA Tuesday of next week.

Falmouth opened with an 8-0 loss to Scarborough. The Yachtsmen are back in action next Wednesday at St. Dom’s.

Greely got 20 saves from goalie Maddie Singer in a season-opening 10-0 loss to Yarmouth/Freeport. The Rangers host Cape Elizabeth Wednesday, welcome St. Dom’s Friday and play at Biddeford Saturday.

NYA started its year with a 3-3 tie versus Lewiston last week. Sam Babbitt, Natalie Farrell and Anna Kuzarirov scored the Panthers’ goals. The teams meet again Thursday.

Swimming

Greely’s swim team is usually in the mix for a state title right about now, but the 2021 campaign is very different.

“This season is about the seniors,” said longtime Rangers coach Rob Hale. “It’s a special and talented group. I’ve coached most of them since the middle school team. In this crazy year, we’re trying to give them a wonderful send-off. Going into the year, they knew it was going to be memorable. Little did they know how memorable it was going to be. Pre-pandemic, we thought both teams had the potential to be the best teams in Greely history. Now, the focus is just about the seniors and the future. The seniors are trying to make the best of it while showing the underclassmen what is to be a part of our program in and out of the pool. Train hard and support each other. The biggest loss is the team stuff, planned, traditions and spontaneous things. We are taking advantage of whatever we do as a team.”

Skiing

With the weather cooperating, the skiing season is off to a fast start.

Falmouth’s boys and girls were first at an Alpine league meet last week. The girls’ race was won by Madeline Jacobsen. The boys were paced by Andrew Christie.

Times Record staff writer Eli Canfield contributed to this story.

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

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