The early trends have been positive on the winter sports front, and while COVID continues to make life challenging, we’re certainly in a better place than a year ago.

With more than three weeks in the books, here’s a glimpse at where things stand:

Boys’ basketball

South Portland senior Jaelen Jackson gets a leaner to drop during a recent win over Falmouth. Michael Hoffer / The Forecaster

As expected, South Portland’s boys’ basketball team has led the charge in the early going. The Red Riots opened by beating visiting Noble (76-32), then downed host Windham (62-39), visiting Sanford (66-34), visiting Falmouth (58-41) and held off host Thornton Academy (60-53). In the opener, Owen Maloney had 22 points and Jaelen Jackson added 16. Against the Eagles, Jackson led the way with 16 points. In the win over the Spartans, JP Estrella had 14 points and Jackson finished with a dozen. Estrella then put on a show against the Navigators, scoring 20 points, with half of them coming on rousing dunks. Estrella also had 15 rebounds and blocked five shots, while Jackson added 16 points.

“JP hadn’t played like himself the past couple games, but what you saw tonight is a lot more of what I’m used to seeing,” Jackson said. “I have complete faith he can get it done against any team in the state.”

“I just wanted to beat (Falmouth) after losing twice last year,” Estrella said. “Getting the lead was important. I’m having a blast with this team. We’re very skilled. We have a deep bench.”

“College coaches know what they’re talking about and (JP’s) a major Division I player,” Red Riots coach Kevin Millington added. “He does so many things. It’s not just that he can shoot a 3 and can dunk. He’s a willing passer, he’s got great court awareness. We talk all the time about life being a lot easier for the rest of the guys if JP is touching the ball. Jaelen and Owen and all those guys can get to the rim when we get JP touches.”

Advertisement

South Portland got tested by Thornton Academy in the teams’ first meeting since the Golden Trojans ended the Red Riots’ quest for a perfect season in the 2020 Class AA South Final, but Maloney scored 18 points, Estrella finished with 16 and Jackson added 15, including a pair of critical late 3-pointers, to help earn the victory. South Portland improved to 6-0 Tuesday with a 65-42 victory at Sanford. Maloney had 19 points, Estrella and Jackson 14 apiece and Gabe Galarraga 12.

“I think the shots just came to me,” Maloney said. “I was just playing in the offense and got open early.”

“You play so many games, you’re not going to play your best every moment of every game, so they are great complements to each other,” Millington said.

After going to Massabesic Thursday, the Red Riots host Scarborough Saturday, then go to Gorham Tuesday of next week.

“Defensively, we still have some things we can work on and offensively, our shot selection and execution isn’t always great,” Millington said.

Scarborough started 0-5 with losses to visiting Sanford (62-50), host Thornton Academy (58-28), visiting Bonny Eagle (46-38), visiting Gorham (50-42) and host Bonny Eagle (40-33). Rowan MacDonald led the Red Storm with 23 points versus the Spartans. In the first loss to the Scots, Jack Simonton scored 11 points. Reid Deniso had a team-high 13 points against the Rams and scored 13 in the second loss to the Scots. Scarborough hosted Thornton Academy Thursday, plays at South Portland Saturday and visits Noble Tuesday of next week.

Advertisement

Cape Elizabeth opened with victories at Wells (72-39) and at home over Waynflete (74-55); hit a rough patch with losses at York (58-38), Westbrook (55-52) and Lake Region (66-60); then got back on track and improved to 4-3 by downing visiting Brunswick (72-50) and Poland (76-42). Will Bowe scored 20 points and Evan Reeves added 14 in the opener. Against the Flyers, Bowe had 19 points, Reeves added 17, Jake Frame finished with 12 and Owen Tighe added 11.

“I think we just need to keep our tempo going, have high energy in practice and as long as we play together as a team, we’ll keep this wagon going,” Frame said.

“We knew we’re bigger and more athletic and we just tried to play our game,” Bowe said. “We tried to play the second half like the score was 0-0. We didn’t want to let our foot off the gas. We have a lot of potential this year. We’re big and athletic, and we feel good about our potential if we keep our attitude right.”

“The name of the game for us today was establishing tempo,” added second-year Capers coach Jeff Mitchell. “We wanted to play fast and shoot a lot. I challenged the guys to keep that in the forefront. The first unit that went in set the tempo and we picked it up from there.”

Bowe had 13 points in the loss to the Wildcats, Frame had 17 in the loss to the Blue Blazes and Frame went off for 24 points (with six 3-pointers). Bowe had 17 and Sam Lombardo 13 in the win over the Dragons. Against the Knights, Bowe had a game-high 23 points, while Lombardo added 18.

Cape Elizabeth was at Gray-New Gloucester Thursday and visits Fryeburg Academy Saturday.

Advertisement

“I told the guys that I look at the schedule and I feel like we can win any game, or we could lose any game,” Mitchell said. “It’s cliché, but we have to take it one game at a time.”

Girls’ basketball

Cape Elizabeth’s Olivia Manning goes up for a shot during a recent win at Waynflete. Ben McCanna / Portland Press Herald

On the girls’ side, Scarborough won three of its first five games, beating host Sanford (57-37), falling at home to Thornton Academy (43-40), winning at Bonny Eagle (49-34), losing at Gorham (40-26), then holding off visiting Bonny Eagle (30-25). In the opener, Lindsay Fiorillo and Caroline Hartley both scored 17 points. Against the Golden Trojans, Fiorillo scored 21 points. In the first win over the Scots, Fiorillo led the way with 19 points and Hartley added 18. In the second victory over Bonny Eagle, Fiorillo scored a team-high 13 points. The Red Storm were at Thornton Academy Thursday, host South Portland Saturday morning (see theforecaster.net/sports for game story) and welcome Noble Tuesday of next week.

South Portland’s season began auspiciously with a 72-32 victory at Noble, but the Red Riots then lost at home to Windham (54-43), dropped a 49-42 decision at Sanford, then fell at home to Thornton Academy (68-61) and at Massabesic (41-33). Ruth Boles had 19 points in the opener. Against the Eagles, Ava Bryant had a team-high 10 points. Boles had 17 points and Neveah Bello had 13 in the loss to the Spartans. Hylah Owen had 18 points and Anna Brown added 14 in the loss to the Golden Trojans. Against the Mustangs, Brown had 19 points. Tuesday, South Portland improved to 2-4 with a 51-42 home win over Sanford, as Brown had 13 points, including five key free throws late, Boles added 12 points and Owen contributed a strong defensive effort.

“I think we needed this one really bad,” Brown said. “We’ve been struggling lately.”

The Red Riots welcomed Massabesic Thursday, go to Scarborough Saturday and host Gorham Tuesday of next week.

“I hope we can put something together,” South Portland coach Lynne Hasson said. “We have the pieces. We just have to stay healthy.”

Advertisement

Cape Elizabeth started with a 58-18 home loss to reigning Class B champion Wells, then got in the win column with a 36-19 victory at Waynflete. Olivia Manning had a double-double (12 points and 22 rebounds) and Emily Supple added 10 points against the Flyers.

“In practice, we’ve worked on rebounding,” Manning said. “Last game, I realized I had to step it up rebounding, and I kind of took out my anger from last game on this one.”

“Our rebounding was huge,” Supple said. “We were missing that in the Wells game on both ends of the court. That helped us in the scoring department.”

“A win’s a win,” added Capers coach Chris Casterella. “It was nice to see some shots fall. We’re still a work in progress.”

Cape Elizabeth then lost at home to York (58-37), Westbrook (51-25) and Lake Region (36-23), and fell at Brunswick (54-35) to drop to 1-5. Meghan Conley scored 13 points versus the Wildcats, Manning had nine points against both the Blue Blazes and Lakers and Supple scored 15 in the loss to the Dragons. The Capers hosted Gray-New Gloucester Thursday and welcome Fryeburg Academy Saturday.

Boys’ hockey

Colin Blackburn celebrates after scoring a goal during a home win over Greely earlier this season. Shawn Patrick Ouellette / Portland Press Herald

On the ice, Cape Elizabeth started with wins at York (2-0), at home over Greely (4-2), at home over Kennebunk (7-0) and at home over Leavitt (8-1). Against the Rangers, the Capers got a pair of goals from Colin Blackburn and Sebastian Moon added a clinching goal and an assist.

Advertisement

“It means a lot to win this one,” Moon said. “This gives us some more confidence. It was nerve-wracking knowing they’re a second and third period team, and they have great players, but we did it.”

“It’s a big confidence booster for us,” Blackburn said. “We ramped it up in practice. We knew it was a big game coming in.”

“The rink was buzzing and the boys are having fun competing at this high level,” Cape Elizabeth coach Jake Rutt added. “We obviously have quite a history with (Greely). They’re a really good team and we had to play our best to compete with them. We weren’t nervous. We have a tenured group here that knows how to manage a lead. We didn’t sit back on our heels. We managed pucks in the neutral zone and the boys got it done. We stuck to the game plan.”

The Capers were at Scarborough Wednesday and host York Saturday.

The South Portland/Waynflete/Freeport co-op started with a 3-1 home win over Falmouth, as Dylan Hannan, Tobey Lappin and Jake Udomsay scored the goals, and goalie Jasper Curtis made some timely saves.

“We played our hearts out,” Lappin said. “It’s so important to get this win, to build momentum in game one of the season.”

Advertisement

“It’s a great start,” Curtis said. “We have a great team. We want to keep it rolling from here. We have to do what we did out there for 45 minutes every single time.”

“It’s a good win against a tough team,” South Portland/Waynflete/Freeport coach Joe Robinson added. “(Falmouth’s) talented, but we found a way to finish. I love this team. We’ve got talent, but we also have a good group of guys. They work hard, they’re fun and have fun with each other. I enjoy being with them.”

South Portland/Waynflete/Freeport then earned a key 4-1 win at reigning Class A champion Lewiston (Richie Gilboy scored twice and Hannan had a goal and a pair of assists) before improving to 3-0 with a 5-0 blanking of Portland/Deering behind a hat trick from Lappin. The squad was back in action Wednesday at St. Dom’s and hosts Marshwood Saturday.

Scarborough started hot with home wins over St. Dom’s (5-1) and the Cheverus/Yarmouth co-op squad (4-3, in overtime), then fell to 2-3 after losses to visiting Lake Region (7-5), Edward Little (6-0) and Thornton Academy (6-0). After hosting Cape Elizabeth Wednesday, the Red Storm welcome Biddeford Saturday.

Girls’ hockey

Cape Elizabeth/South Portland/Waynflete goalie Abbey Steinhagen blocks a shot over her shoulder during a recent loss to Lewiston. Russ Dillingham / Sun Journal

On the girls’ side, Scarborough lost its opener to Cheverus, then rattled off four straight wins, including a 4-2 victory at Lewiston. After a 2-2 home tie against Cape Elizabeth/South Portland/Waynflete, the Red Storm improved to 5-1-1 with a 6-0 win at Biddeford. In the win over the reigning state champion Blue Devils, Evelyn Boardman scored twice and Meagan Donovan scored the go-ahead goal. Boardman and Donovan had the goals in the tie. Scarborough was at Edward Little Wednesday, goes to Cheverus Saturday and plays host to Falmouth Monday.

Cape Elizabeth/South Portland/Waynflete won its first five games, tied Scarborough, beat Gorham (5-1, behind a hat trick from Marina Bassett), then fell to 6-1-1 with a 7-0 loss at Lewiston Saturday. Cape/SP/Waynflete only managed six shots against the Blue Devils.

Advertisement

“I thought the girls worked hard,” Cape/SP/Waynflete coach Bob Mills said. “I thought we gave it our best effort for three periods.”

Cape/SP/Waynflete plays at Biddeford Friday.

Indoor track

South Portland’s indoor track teams started the season by both placing first in a meet that also included Bonny Eagle, Falmouth, Marshwood and Massabesic. The boys then defeated Gorham, Westbrook, Noble and Sanford, while the girls placed third.

Scarborough swept Deering and Westbrook in its first meet, then swept Thornton Academy, Cheverus and Marshwood.

Swimming

In the pool, Cape Elizabeth is up to its usual tricks, dominating the opposition. The Capers opened the season with the both the boys and girls sweeping Windham and Scarborough. The boys then downed Morse, but the girls lost to the Shipbuilders.

Scarborough and South Portland split a season-opening meet, with the Red Storm taking the boys’ competition and the Red Riots winning on the girls’ side. After getting swept by Cape Elizabeth, Scarborough’s boys handled Cheverus, while the girls lost to the Stags by a point. The Red Storm then swept Bangor.

South Portland swept Freeport to start, split with Scarborough, then swept Waynflete.

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

Comments are not available on this story.