We’ll never forget the 2020-21 winter sports season.

For better and for worse.

For starters, there was no 2020 portion, as after an initial burst of skills-and-drills, local teams went into a holding pattern when Cumberland County received a yellow designation. Counties classified as yellow in the Maine Department of Education’s color-coded system were not allowed to participate in any school-based activities.

Finally, three weeks into January, with some coaches and athletes about to give up hope, the Maine Principals’ Association reversed course and gave the go-ahead to schools located in yellow counties to begin practicing immediately with games to follow.

There would be five weeks of basketball and hockey games and a handful of skiing meets as well. Swimming held some virtual meets, while indoor track could only work out with local college facilities unavailable, and wrestling had its competitive season eliminated.

Once the games started, however, local athletes reminded everyone that even while wearing masks and playing with no fans, the quality of play was still excellent. Seniors got their well-deserved final moments in the spotlight and some promising newcomers hinted at greatness to come.

We’re eagerly looking forward to spring, where we’ll even have a postseason to enjoy, and the winter of 2021-22 promises a return to normalcy, but considering everything they went through, those who endured this past season deserve our admiration.

And here’s a look back at a few of the best memories.

Michael’s top five stories/moments

5) Lots of nice on the ice

Falmouth’s boys’ hockey team shows off the Dudley Cup after closing the season with a 4-1 win over two-time Class B champion Greely. File photos.

Boys’ hockey produced some brilliant performances this winter.

Greely didn’t get a chance to contend for a third straight Class B state title, but managed to go 7-4 against a daunting schedule. Falmouth. behind Travis Roy Award semifinalist Owen Drummey, peaked late and closed with a Dudley Cup win over Greely to finish 5-6. The Yarmouth boys teamed up with Cheverus for a new co-op program and finished 5-5. The South Portland/Freeport/Waynflete co-op team was competitive as well, winding up 3-5-1.

4) A memorable comeback

Greely’s Tim Walker drives on Yarmouth junior Matt Waeldner during the Rangers’ come-from-behind 74-66 overtime win.

Greely’s boys’ basketball team struggled for much of the season against a daunting schedule, but on the night of March 11, the Rangers authored arguably the most impressive comeback of the year. Trailing a very talented Yarmouth squad by 15 points early in the fourth quarter, Greely, on its Senior Night, in front of a small gathering of parents, erupted and rallied. Tim Walker sparked the comeback with 35 points and Luke Gabloff scored some big baskets as well as the Rangers forced overtime, then stunned the Clippers, 74-66. It was just one of two losses also year for Yarmouth.

“We needed a win like this,” said Greely coach Travis Seaver. “We needed to win together. It’s great to hear the guys hooting and hollering after a win. It was good to claw back. We haven’t put four quarters together, so it was good to see the guys put some good minutes together. Coming back from 15, I don’t care if it’s this year, past years, it’s a good accomplishment. The guys played tough.”

3) Angelic play at NYA

NYA sophomore Angel Huntsman had a stellar season, helping the Panthers to a 9-1 record.

North Yarmouth Academy’s girls’ basketball team nearly ran the table this winter and suggested that it will be even stronger next year. The Panthers dominated nine foes and only lost a close game to last year’s Class AA South champion South Portland. NYA’s attack was led by diminutive sophomore Angel Huntsman, who did it all, stuffing the stat sheet in everything from points to assists to rebounds. There are few point guards at any level that possess Huntsman’s vision, nor her willingness to get her teammates the ball in optimal position. She’ll be a lot of fun to watch the next two seasons.

“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 a point guard and we want the ball in her hands. She’s got it all.”

2) Greely’s girls surge at the end

Greely’s Mollie Obar’s sharpshooting helped the Rangers to a stellar season.

Greely’s girls’ basketball team is accustomed to battling for a Gold Ball in February and March. That wasn’t possible this winter, but the Rangers were playing at a championship level by the end of the season nonetheless. Greely, led by Miss Maine Basketball finalist Camille Clement and semifinalist Mollie Obar, only lost once and by the last couple weeks of the season, clicked on all cylinders, beating the likes of Class AA North contender Edward Little, twice, Falmouth, Class AA contender Massabesic and Yarmouth, twice.

“We won our last game of the year which is always the goal,” said Rangers coach Todd Flaherty. “There’s no fanfare this year, but the girls made the most of a strange situation and we had fun.”

1) Falmouth boys nearly perfect

Vinnie Hanrahan and his Falmouth teammates soared above the competition this winter.

Falmouth’s boys’ basketball team might have won a Class A state title in a normal season. The Yachtsmen weren’t able to make a playoff run this winter, but they nearly did the next best thing, getting within two points of an undefeated record. The Yachtsmen, who featured some blistering outside shooting from Brady Coyne, Sean Dilworth and Jack Stowell, as well as steady low-post play from Ethan McKee and Vinnie Hanrahan, won their first five games by an average of nearly 32 points. After a two-point loss at Deering, Falmouth then closed with consecutive wins over South Portland, punctuating the season in style while serving notice that next winter could feature a championship celebration when all is said and done.

“We always like to win the last game of the year and we did,” said longtime Yachtsmen coach Dave Halligan. “It just feels better that way. The younger guys got experience this year. I hope the guys remember this year, learn their lessons and hopefully we’ll get better.”

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

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