Just a smattering of winter sports events remain, but there is optimism that high school sports will take a big step forward in their slow return to normalcy next month and that we’ll have something close to a full spring season, which will come as a huge relief to those athletes and coaches, who never had as much as a single practice a year ago due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

First things first, though, winter sports might have had a very short season, but it has been memorable and the action continued last week.

Here’s a glimpse:

Boys’ basketball

Falmouth’s Vinnie Hanrahan takes a contested jump shot during Monday’s 62-60 home win over South Portland. Ben McCanna / Press Herald

Falmouth’s boys’ basketball team fell from the unbeaten ranks last week. The Yachtsmen first improved to 5-0 Friday with a 67-58 home win over Deering (Brady Coyne scored 19 points, Jack Stowell finished with 17 and Vinnie Hanrahan added a dozen), but Saturday, at Deering, despite holding the Rams to one first quarter point, Falmouth dropped a hard-fought 69-67 decision. Stowell had 21 points and Coyne added 19.

“We hadn’t practiced in two weeks and we played back-to-back and a lot of different things happened in that game,” said Yachtsmen coach Dave Halligan. “We had a shot to win at the end and we missed 22 3-point shots.”

Monday, the Yachtsmen got back on track and improved to 6-1 with a 62-60 home victory over previously undefeated South Portland. Coyne scored 19 points, Stowell added 16 and Sean Dilworth made two free throws with 7 seconds to play to win it.

“We were super-excited for tonight,” said Dilworth. “We knew we were playing a good team. We learned that taking care of the ball was the most important thing. We had too many turnovers (in our loss to Deering).”

“It felt good to win this,” said Ethan McKee, who had eight points and 11 rebounds. “We wanted to go undefeated, but it felt great to come back and get this win against a great team. We just had to square up at the end, make sure we didn’t foul and let them shoot and get the rebound.”

“It was a fun basketball game,” added Halligan. “It feels so much better to win this. South Portland’s really good. They have legitimate bigs and good guards. We want to play the best teams. If you make mistakes, they make you pay for it. That’s how you get better.”

Falmouth closes at South Portland Wednesday.

“We expect a similar game,” said Dilworth. “It’ll come down to the last second again, I’m sure.”

Yarmouth extended its win streak to four and improved to 6-1 with a dramatic 42-40 overtime win at Cape Elizabeth Saturday. Peter Psyhogeos scored 14 points and Matt Waeldner added 11. The Clippers welcomed the Capers Tuesday, play at Greely Thursday (see pressherald.com/forecaster-sports/ for game story) and close at home versus the Rangers Saturday.

Greely fell to 2-7 after a pair of losses to reigning Class AA champion Edward Little last week, 68-41 at home and 58-56 in Auburn, and a 66-64 setback at Lake Region Monday. Luke Gabloff had a team-high 13 points in the first Edward Little game. The Rangers host Yarmouth Thursday and close at the Clippers Saturday afternoon.

Freeport snapped a four-game skid with a 58-52 at Mt. Ararat last Tuesday. The Falcons built a 29-17 halftime lead and held on, as Colby Arsenault scored 23 points, Blaine Cockburn added 16 and Cam Strong finished with 11. The Falcons then fell to 3-5 after a hard-fought 52-49 home loss to Cape Elizabeth last Thursday. Freeport was down by as many as 18 points in the first half and trailed, 32-16, at the break, but behind big man Elias Thomas, the Falcons roared back to take a 49-48 lead on Cockburn’s basket with 1:18 left. The Capers then scored four straight points and a game-tying 3-point shot attempt from Strong at the horn was just off-target and Freeport fell to 3-5 on the season. Thomas had a team-high 14 points and Arsenault added 12 points.

“Credit to Cape to close it out,” said Falcons coach Bill Ridge. “We came all the way back and took the lead, but they stayed focused and determined. We got some looks we wanted at the end, but they didn’t go. We take a ton out of this game. This was, no question about it, the best half of basketball we’ve played all year. We executed on offense. We were focused on defense. We did the little things.”

Freeport was at Gray-New Gloucester Tuesday and closes at home versus the Patriots Thursday.

“We want to finish strong and take two from Gray,” Ridge said. “That’s our goal.”

North Yarmouth Academy finished its season 6-3 after sandwiching a pair of wins over St. Dom’s around a loss at Waynflete. First, the Panthers downed the Saints in Auburn, 46-38. Chris Hamblett had a game-high 22 points. Against the Flyers, Hamblett sparked a rally from down 15 points, but despite his 18 points, and 11 from Logan Welch, Waynflete pulled away late to win, 58-40.

“It’s nice we dug deep,” Panthers coach Jason Knight said. “The boys don’t quit. As long as you don’t give up, good things will happen. It was a fantastic basketball game, especially that third quarter. A couple mental mistakes and some key turnovers in the fourth quarter gave them some room. We’re a work in progress, but we battle. We love the Waynflete battles. In this crazy season, to have the normalcy of this rivalry is great.”

In the second win over St. Dom’s, 52-39, Hamblett scored 22 points.

“I’m very pleased with how it’s gone this season,” Knight said. “It’s the largest group I’ve had in my tenure. We have some promising players for next year. We’re using this opportunity to try some things and see where the pieces fit. Like anybody else, we’re just happy to be playing. Wins are nice, but being on the court and socializing is the most meaningful part.

“I’m hoping we have a normal summer. We’re not used to playing into March. Summer’s going to be here before we know it.”

Girls’ basketball

Yarmouth’s Margaret McNeil drives to the basket during the Clippers’ win at Freeport last week. Ben McCanna / Press Herald

Yarmouth’s girls’ team remained unblemished at press time after last week’s wins at Freeport (38-28) and at home over Cape Elizabeth (38-18) and Monday’s 43-27 home victory over Freeport made it eight games without a loss. In the first win over the Falcons, Margaret McNeil had 11 points and Calin McGonagle added nine, while Katelyn D’Appolonia made a memorable block on Freeport standout Rachel Wall.

“(Rachel) took the ball from me, so I wasn’t happy about it, then I saw an opening (to block it) and it worked,” D’Appolonia said. “That was, I think, my first block of the season.”

“Freeport’s my favorite team to play,” said McNeil. “Hands down. They’re always a good team. The playoff game last year was probably my favorite game to play in.”

“The key for us is how we play defensively,” added Clippers coach David Cousins. “No question. When we deny and we help, we’re good. Offensively, we missed an awful lot of easy shots, but I’m going to take the win. It’s always tough playing here. Freeport’s well coached and works hard. Overall, we controlled the tempo the way we wanted.”

Against the Capers, Yarmouth’s defense was stellar again and despite playing at 11 a.m. Saturday, just 16 hours after the win at Freeport, the Clippers got 14 points from McGonagle and surrendered just 10 points over the final three quarters.

“I thought it would be harder (with the early start), but we came in well-rested, with a lot of energy,” McGonagle said. “We didn’t have to be here really early. It was OK. We came out strong. We didn’t hit a lot of shots at the beginning, but it built.”

“It took awhile for us to get going, but once we started to run that was the big difference for us,” Cousins said. “Getting the ball up the court. We spent too much time in our offense, although I loved our patience. Our key is running the floor.”

Monday, in the second win over Freeport, McNeil had a game-high 15 points. The Clippers were at Cape Elizabeth Tuesday, welcome Greely Thursday, then close at the Rangers Saturday (see pressherald.com/forecaster-sports/ for game story).

“We’d love to win out, especially against a team like Greely that’s been our rival for awhile,” McGonagle said. “We want to prove that this really could have been our season. We want to build on next season because next year’s team is going to be strong as well. It’s amazing to be able to play. We weren’t sure we’d have a season at all. Once we got into our rhythm, we’re so grateful to be playing together. We wanted to have a season with the younger players. We’ve cherished that.”

Just down the road, NYA won its first seven games, capped by a 64-17 home victory over St. Dom’s last Tuesday. Madilyn Onorato scored 15 points, Lila Jackson added 13 and Angel Huntsman put on a show with 10 points, 13 rebounds and 15 assists.

“We’re very young, but we believe in each other,” Huntsman said. “We all lean on each other. We’ve been working really hard. That’s what’s really showing.”

“Angel’s a great player,” Panthers coach Tom Robinson said. “Even when others’ shots aren’t going in, she doesn’t try to get her own. She still looks to the open person. We want teams to press us because she’s the consummate point guard. She’s our only starter back, but last year, she was an off-guard. She’s a point guard and we want the ball in her hands. She’s got it all.”

Saturday, NYA hosted reigning Class AA South champion South Portland gave the taller Red Riots fits, twice erasing 10-point deficits, but the Panthers could never grab the lead, lost Oronato to an ankle injury and fell to 7-1 with a 53-41 loss. Huntsman had 16 points, seven assists, five rebounds and three steals and Erin Reid added 10 points.

“The game benefited both of us,” said Robinson. “We needed to get pushed and they needed a win. I give them respect for coming over here when a lot of other schools wouldn’t. It was a hard game. We got more out of this game than any other this year.”

NYA hosted Waynflete Tuesday and finishes at Lisbon Thursday.

“We’ll be back next year and this year’s experience is very helpful,” Huntsman said. “It’s been a hard year, but we’ve done a lot of team bonding and leaning on each other.”

Greely extended its win streak to six games and improved to 8-1 after downing host Edward Little (64-31), visiting Edward Little (54-30) and host Falmouth (58-49) last week. In the first win over the Red Eddies, Camille Clement scored 21 points, while Chelsea Graiver and Mollie Obar added 12 apiece. Clement scored 26 points in the second victory, while Halle Roy added 16 and Sophia Ippolito added 10. Against the Yachtsmen, the Rangers dug out of an early seven-point hole and held off a spirited Yachtsmen team behind 22 points (including six 3-pointers) from Obar, 16 points from Clement, inside dominance from Kaiyla Delisle (nine points, 16 rebounds) and a clutch, game-altering four-point play from Ippolito.

“We knew Falmouth would give us everything they had,” said Obar. “They’re always good competition. It was definitely a team effort. Once someone gets going, everyone else pitches in. This was a great team win for us.”

“I think we all came in expecting this to be a tough game,” Delisle said. “We came in with a good mindset. To see everyone play their role was amazing. We realized we had to play as a team to beat a team as strong as (Falmouth). We just realized we’re a better team when we work together. Even when we’re down, we have to keep the winning mentality.”

“I’m really proud of the girls,” said Rangers coach Todd Flaherty. “There’s big competition between the two schools. Without a state tournament, this felt like a tournament game. They were really getting after it. Falmouth’s a good team, so that’s a good win for us.”

Greely is at Massabesic Wednesday, visits Yarmouth Thursday and closes at home with the Clippers Saturday.

Falmouth has won three of four and is now 3-5. Last week, the Yachtsmen swept Deering, 50-26 at home and 50-36 at the Rams. Sloane Ginevan scored 25 points in the first game, while freshman Maddy Christman added nine points with 13 rebounds. In the second victory, Ginevan scored 16 points and Anna Turgeon returned to action and scored nine.

“It’s awesome to win some games,” Ginevan said. “We started out the season playing some really tough opponents. We have a lot of potential and our team is very talented. It’s nice to get some wins under our belt, especially for our freshmen to experience that. It’s been a really hard year, but it’s really nice to have basketball.”

“We have a young team this year, so it’s been challenging, but we’re working well together and getting to know where everyone is,” Turgeon said.

“It’s nice to see us put some things together,” Falmouth coach Dawn Armandi added. “We still have a lot to work on, but it’s fun to see the girls get some wins. It’s brought out a lot of spirit. We’ve talked about why we hadn’t been able to close out games. We wanted to control the pace more. The other team can’t score if they don’t have the ball. We’re not there yet, but we’re getting better.”

Saturday, the Yachtsmen got 22 points and gave visiting Greely a scare before losing, 58-49.

“The girls really wanted it,” Armandi said. “They know they can compete with the best and this was the best team we’ve faced. We haven’t beaten Greely in a long time and the girls wanted it. They left everything they had on the floor. We just didn’t knock down shots at the end.”

Monday, Falmouth won at South Portland, 58-50, as Ginevan erupted for a career-high 34 points. After hosting Gorham Tuesday, the Yachtsmen finish at home against South Portland Wednesday.

“We get another good test against Gorham,” Armandi said. “It’s all about getting these kids ready for the future. It feels like the season just started. I can’t imagine where we’d be if we had a full season.”

Freeport sandwiched losses at home to Mt. Ararat (53-40) and Yarmouth (38-28) around a 46-26 victory at Cape Elizabeth last week. Against the Eagles, Mason Baker-Schlendering and Rachel Wall both scored 11 points. In the win, Wall led the way with 22 points. Against the Clippers, the Falcons held an early 18-13 lead, then scored just 10 more points. Wall had a team-high 13 points.

“Offensively, we’re not a juggernaut,” Freeport coach Seth Farrington lamented. “I think this group has a total of five career 3s made. We had some turnovers which really hurt us. Yarmouth’s one of the better teams. They play extremely hard. It turned more into a five-on-five game in the second half and that comes down to skill set and execution. We’re much better in transition, getting up and down the floor.”

The Falcons fell to 2-6 Monday after a 43-27 loss at Yarmouth. Wall had a team-high 13 points. Freeport hosted Gray-New Gloucester Tuesday and close at the Patriots Thursday.

“I think coaches took it for granted going to the gym every day, practicing and scouting, but this year gives me a whole new outlook,” Farrington said. “The girls are excited to be in the gym. They like to be with their friends and working hard every day. They’re happy to be high school girls again.”

Boys’ hockey

Freeport’s Josh Bourgoin runs into traffic during last week’s 3-3 tie versus Cape Elizabeth. Ben McCanna / Press Herald

Two-time Class B boys’ hockey champion Greely took a 5-0 record into last week and exited 6-2 after losing at Class A powers Edward Little (4-2) and Lewiston (3-0) and beating visiting Brunswick (3-1). Evan Dutil scored twice and Gage Cooney had the go-ahead goal in the victory. Keji Wiessner made 43 saves in the loss to the Blue Devils, in a battle of reigning state champions. The Rangers hosted Gorham Tuesday, welcome Cape Elizabeth Wednesday afternoon (see pressherald.com/forecaster-sports/ for game story) and close at Falmouth Saturday.

The Cheverus/Yarmouth boys’ hockey co-op team beat visiting Gorham, 3-2, last Wednesday, then fell to 4-4 after Saturday’s 7-4 home loss to Cape Elizabeth. In the win, Jackson Header scored twice and Cam Oliver had the other goal. Against the Capers, Kevin Connolly, Nick Giancotti, Jackson Header and Wyatt Header had one goal apiece. Cheverus/Yarmouth hosts Falmouth Thursday, then closes Saturday at Portland/Deering.

The South Portland/Waynflete/Freeport co-op team sandwiched wins at Thornton Academy (6-2) and at home over Kennebunk (7-1) around a 3-3 tie versus Cape Elizabeth last week. In the tie, Owen Anderson and Ian Wright scored in the first half and Cullen Adams forced overtime with his goal with 5 minutes to play.

“It was a great battle,” said SP/Waynflete/Freeport Coach Joe Robinson. “I think we started off strong, had a little bit of a lapse and fell behind, but we didn’t quit and we battled back. It was a physical game on both sides.”

Dylan Hannan had two goals against Kennebunk. SP/Waynflete/Freeport (3-4-1) closes with a game at Cape Elizabeth Saturday.

Falmouth fell to 4-4 last week after a 6-5 overtime loss to visiting Portland/Deering. Mitchell Ham and Aaron Higgins both scored twice. The Yachtsmen went to NYA Tuesday for the teams’ first countable meeting since the 2004 Western A semifinals, visit Cheverus/Yarmouth Thursday and close at home against Greely Saturday.

Girls’ hockey

On the girls’ side, Yarmouth/Freeport was 3-5 after a 3-2 loss at Portland/Deering, a 3-2 win at Brunswick and a 6-0 setback at Cheverus last week. After going to St. Dom’s Wednesday, Yarmouth/Freeport is home with Falmouth Friday and closes at home against Portland/Deering Saturday.

Greely fell to 0-8 after losses last week at Edward Little (10-0) and at home to Mt. Ararat/Morse (8-2). After playing at Mt. Ararat/Morse Tuesday, the Rangers close at home versus Brunswick Saturday.

Falmouth fell to 0-5 last week after losing at Cape Elizabeth/Waynflete/South Portland (7-4) and at Portland/Deering (6-4). Trinity Grenier and Kate Kinley both scored twice in the second game. The Yachtsmen are at Yarmouth/Freeport Friday and close at home versus Biddeford Saturday.

Skiing

Yarmouth’s girls came in first at Saturday’s Western Maine Conference Nordic skate championship in Fryeburg. The Clippers were led by Maddie Marston (third individually in 17 minutes, 14.2 seconds). Maine Coast Waldorf came in second (and had the second-fastest individual, Emma Haims, 17:01), Greely placed third (Alex Collins was fifth individually, 17:36.1), Freeport was sixth (Jillian Wight was sixth individually, 18:02.7) and NYA came in seventh.

Yarmouth also won the boys’ competition. Aksel Yeo came in second individually (14:31.6). MCW was runner-up, as Conrad Anderson placed third individually (14:38.8). Freeport was fourth, as Sam Robinson was the fourth-fastest individual (14:39.3). Greely, behind individual champion Leif Harvey (13:49.4) came in fifth as a team. NYA placed eighth.

On the Alpine side, the Western Maine Championships were held Monday at Shawnee Peak. Cape Elizabeth won both the boys’ and girls’ competitions. Yarmouth’s girls came in third, Freeport was fourth and Greely placed sixth. The Rangers featured slalom champion Liz Hansen, who had a two-run combined time of 1 minute, 40.62 seconds. The Clippers were led by Madison Williams (sixth, 1:50.75). Rosie St. Cyr (eighth, 1:51.80) was the fastest Falcon. In the giant slalom, Yarmouth’s Brooke Boone was first in 1:27.05. Greely’s Ruth Weeks was second (1:27.17). The Falcons were paced by St. Cyr (eighth, 1:29.86).

In the boys’ meet, Yarmouth placed fourth, Freeport fifth and Greely seventh. The Clippers were led in the slalom by Killian Marsh (fifth, 1:34.33). Bobby Strong (11th, 1:48.01) paced the Falcons. The fastest Ranger was Ben Hanson (17th, 1:55.43). In the GS, Asher Lockwood was seventh for the Clippers (1:23.76). Andrew Morrissey led the Falcons with a 14th-place finish (1:30.48). The Rangers were paced by Hanson (18th, 1:34.80).

Falmouth’s girls remained undefeated last week in SMAA competition, as Madeline Jacobsen came in first in the giant slalom with a two-run combined time of 1:07.17), then again in 1:44.36. The Yachtsmen boys were third in the giant slalom, as Ben Keller finished second individually (1:04.03) and third in the slalom, as Andrew Christie was second individually (1:35.31).

Volleyball

Practices have begun for the indoor volleyball season with matches set to begin this week and next.

Falmouth opens at Windham Wednesday and hosts the Eagles Friday.

Greely is home against Falmouth March 16.

Yarmouth begins with a match at Bonny Eagle March 20.

Spring sports

Last week, Gov. Janet Mills announced that she is relaxing COVID-19 capacity limits for indoor and outdoor gatherings. The increased capacity limits will open the possibility for more fans to attend sporting events at the professional, collegiate and high school levels and could have a big impact on the high school outdoor track season, possibly allowing for larger meets. Currently, fans are not allowed at college or high school sports events.

Maine high school officials said Mills’ announcement came as encouraging news for the spring season. The 2020 spring season was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic and the 2020-21 fall and winter seasons have been altered, with shorter schedules, regional scheduling and no playoffs or championships.

Maine Principals’ Association officials have sent their recommended sports guidelines for the 2021 spring season to state officials and are hoping to meet soon to discuss them.

“We’re cautiously optimistic,” said MPA Executive Director Mike Burnham. “I think it’s great and I hope that it has some positive outcomes that we can do some things with. We’ve sent all of our guidelines to state agencies and we’re awaiting their review and hopefully a meeting so we can go through those and see how today’s announcement affects those guidelines.”

It is still unclear if the MPA will be able to hold regional or state tournaments in the spring. Currently, teams are restricted to games against opponents within their geographic area.

The spring sports season is scheduled to begin Monday, March 22, when pitchers and catchers report for baseball and softball.

Everyone else begins practicing the following Monday, March 29.

Countable games are scheduled to commence April 15.

Press Herald staff writers Steve Craig and Mike Lowe contributed to this story.

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

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