The winter sports season had some fits and starts, but did it ever end in style.

While COVID still impacted the schedule, by season’s end, it was full speed ahead and after an abbreviated 2021 campaign with no postseason, every sport got to crown a champion this time around.

And there was no shortage of triumph to go around.

South Portland’s boys’ basketball team ended 30 years in the championship wilderness by rolling to the class AA title. Cape Elizabeth and Scarborough each were beaten in the quarterfinals.

On the girls’ side, Scarborough made a nice run to the Class AA South Final before losing to Gorham. South Portland lost in the quarterfinals, while Cape Elizabeth was eliminated in the preliminary round.

On the ice, Scarborough’s boys saved their best for last, surging to an unforgettable Class A state title, thanks to three overtime game-winning goals from a fabulous freshman. Cape Elizabeth and the South Portland/Freeport/Waynflete co-op team each lost in the semifinal round.

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On the girls’ side, Scarborough, riding its brilliant goalie, also got to the state game, but lost to Lewiston. The Red Storm eliminated Cape Elizabeth/South Portland/Waynflete in the regional final, but only after Cape/SP/Waynflete outlasted Falmouth in a four-overtime thriller in the semifinals.

The indoor track, swimming, skiing and wrestling state meets featured strong performances across the board.

While it’s time to spring forward, let’s not do so too quickly and with that in mind, here’s one last look at and tribute to the stars and champions of winter.

Southern edition team state champions

Cape Elizabeth Capers boys’ swimming, Class B
Cape Elizabeth Capers girls’ swimming, Class B
Cape Elizabeth Capers, boys’ Alpine skiing, Class B
Scarborough Red Storm boys’ hockey, Class A
Scarborough Red Storm boys’ indoor track, Class A
Scarborough Red Storm boys’ swimming, Class A
South Portland Red Riots boys’ basketball, Class AA

Southern edition individual state champions

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Indoor track
Zach Barry, Scarborough, Class A boys’ 800
Nicholas Connolly, Scarborough, Class A boys’ shot put
Jayden Flaker, Scarborough, Class A boys’ 55 hurdles
Toby Martin, Scarborough, Class A boys’ pole vault

Swimming
Ali Bragg, Cape Elizabeth, Class B girls’ 200 individual medley
Cookie Mahoney, Cape Elizabeth, Class B girls’ 200 freestyle
Keegan McKenney, Cape Elizabeth, Class B boys’ 200 individual medley
Keegan McKenney, Cape Elizabeth, Class B boys’ 500 freestyle
Jack Pillsbury, Scarborough, Class A boys’ 200 individual medley
Jack Pillsbury, Scarborough, Class A boys’ 100 breaststroke
Ethan Smith, Cape Elizabeth, Class B boys’ 100 butterfly
Ethan Schulz, Scarborough, Class A boys’ 100 freestyle
Ethan Schulz, Scarborough, Class A boys’ 200 freestyle
Hope Taylor, Cape Elizabeth, Class B girls’ 500 freestyle

Skiing
Tiernan Lathrop, Cape Elizabeth, Class A boys’ Alpine slalom
Dana Schwartz, Cape Elizabeth, Class A girls’ Alpine slalom

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5 A state final run? No Swett

Scarborough goalie Ariella Swett was sensational all season and led the Red Storm to the state championship game. File photos.

Scarborough’s girls’ hockey team was only seeded third for the South Region playoffs, but the Red Storm knew they had a chance to beat any team they faced, thanks in large part to having a sensational senior goalie by the name of Ariella (A.J.) Swett and sure enough, Swett excelled during Scarborough’s postseason run. After helping the Red Storm down Biddeford, 4-1, in the quarterfinals, Swett had to stop every shot she faced in the semifinals versus Cheverus, because the game remained scoreless through regulation and a couple overtimes. She did so and finally, late in the third OT, Scarborough got the winning goal to advance, 1-0. Scarborough next upset top-ranked Cape Elizabeth/South Portland/Waynflete, 3-1, as Swett stopped 24 shots. The Red Storm finally met their match in the state final, losing to Lewiston, 3-0, but Swett made 24 saves in her farewell.

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“(Ariella’s) our rock back there,” said Scarborough coach Taylor Fowler. “She keeps us in the games we need to win and without her, we wouldn’t be winning these games.”

4 On and on into the night

The Cape Elizabeth/South Portland/Waynflete girls’ hockey co-op team didn’t make it back to the state final this winter, but it did enjoy the most memorable victory. On the night of Feb. 12, top-ranked Cape/SP/Waynflete hosted No. 4 Falmouth in the South Region semifinals and was expected to advance with relative ease, but instead, found itself trailing with time running down. Then, Katharine Blackburn saved the day by tying it up with 7 seconds remaining. Next came an eight-minute overtime, which didn’t resolve matters, followed by a second, then a third. Finally, in the fourth OT, freshman Libby Hooper’s goal gave Cape/SP/Waynflete an exhausting, exhilarating 5-4 triumph.

“We played Lewiston in the state final in 2020 and I thought that game was the best I’d ever seen, but this one rivaled that,” said Cape/SP/Waynflete coach Bob Mills. “Boy, were we depleted at the end. We’re both exhausted and relieved.”

3 Swimming success like never before

Cape Elizabeth senior Ali Bragg, left, celebrates with sophomore Lucy Shaw after the duo finished first and second respectively in the 200 individual medley at the Class B state swim meet, which the Capers won.

Two of three local schools won swimming state titles and six area individuals captured a total of 10 crowns as the championship meets returned with a flourish. Scarborough’s boys’ squad won the Class A championship for the first time. The Red Storm were led by Jack Pillsbury, who won the 200 individual medley and the 100 breaststroke, and Ethan Schulz, who was first in the 100 freestyle and 200 freestyle. In Class B, Cape Elizabeth swept the crowns, as the girls were paced by Ali Bragg (first in the 200 IM), Cookie Mahoney (who won the 200 free) and Hope Taylor (first in the 500 free) and the boys had a multiple event champion in Keegan McKenney, who was first in both the 200 IM and the 500 free. Ethan Smith helped the cause as well, by capturing the 100 butterfly.

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2 The freshman steals the show

Scarborough’s Wyatt Grondin exults after his goal in the second overtime gave the Red Storm the Class A state title over Thornton Academy.

To say that Scarborough freshman Wyatt Grondin had a postseason to remember would be understatement for the ages. Not much was expected of Grondin and his Red Storm boys’ hockey teammates when the Class A state tournament began, as the Red Storm went just 9-8-1 in the regular season, but seventh-seeded Scarborough flipped the switch and went on a championship run that will never be forgotten. The Red Storm let a four-goal lead slip away and were nearly eliminated in the preliminary round, but Grondin scored in overtime for a 6-5 victory over No. 10 Portland/Deering. After Scarborough upset second-ranked Bangor, 4-2, in the semifinals, it took on No. 3 South Portland/Freeport/Waynflete in the state semifinals at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland and despite being down two goals early in the third period, the Red Storm rallied and in the second-overtime, Grondin played the hero again, producing a 5-4 victory. That set up a state final showdown versus Thornton Academy at CIA and after the Golden Trojans rallied late to force OT, Scarborough had to do it one more time and in the second extra session, Grondin capped his stunningly sensational postseason with yet another goal and the Red Storm had a 2-1 victory and the most delicious of state titles.

“It’s amazing,” Grondin said. “I’m just so happy to be here and win it for the seniors who lost (in the state final) two years ago. This year’s been so amazing. An amazing team. I’m so happy to play here.”

1 South Portland boys finally put 1992 to bed

After 30 years, South Portland’s boys’ basketball team captured a Gold Ball earlier this month.

Players on the 2022 South Portland boys’ basketball team admitted that they were on a mission this season. Sick of coming to practice and seeing the year 1992 the last one listed on the championship banner at Beal Gymnasium, this year’s squad wanted to create their own legacy. And that’s exactly what JP Estrella, Jaelen Jackson, Owen Maloney and Company did. After going 17-1 in the regular season, the top-ranked Red Riots took out No. 8 Noble (83-33) in the quarterfinals, eliminated No. 4 Bonny Eagle (50-32) in the semifinals, then solved nemesis Thornton Academy, which had ended their undefeated title run in 2020, with a therapeutic 56-39 decision in the regional final. Just one obstacle remained, Oxford Hills, in the Class AA state final and while the Vikings hung tough and only trailed by four at the half, it was only a matter of time before South Portland put the finishing touches on its title run. Estrella had a couple resounding dunks late to close it out and the Red Riots prevailed, 58-44, and the party began.

“It’s a dream come true,” said Jackson. “I’ve looked up at that banner and it still said 1992, so it’s nice to finally bring it back home.”

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

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