The high school basketball tournament begins this week and Forecaster Country teams will be in the midst of all of the excitement.

Can Clippers do it again?

Evan Hamm and his Yarmouth boys’ basketball teammates have their sights set on a repeat Class B state title. File photo.

Yarmouth’s boys won a memorable Class B state championship a year ago, then lost standouts Peter Psyhogeos and Matt Waeldner to graduation and Jonas Allen stepped down as coach. Through eight games this winter, the Clippers, now coached by former assistant Ilunga Mutombo, were just 4-4, but they saved their best for last, winning their final 10 games, including a 75-44 victory at Poland last Wednesday to end the regular season 14-4. Evan Hamm erupted for 29 points in that game, while Stevie Walsh added 18, point guard Matt Gautreau finished with 13 and Nate Hagedorn had 11.

“I’m really not surprised we’re playing so well,” Mutombo said. “There’s such belief in the work that’s gone in to the past few years. We have tough practices and expect a lot out of each other. We don’t settle. We find ways to get better no matter how tough things get. We’ve created good chemistry and brotherhood. Everyone’s bought in. We want to peak at the right time and play consistent basketball.”

Yarmouth earned the No. 2 seed in Class B South and will begin what it hopes is a repeat title run in the quarterfinals Friday at 5:30 p.m., at the James Banks Portland Exposition Building against either No. 7 Maranacook (9-9) or No. 10 Mountain Valley (9-9). The Clippers didn’t face either team this year. Yarmouth is 2-2 all-time versus the Black Bears in the playoffs, with a 55-41 loss in the 2019 quarterfinals the most recent. The Clippers beat the Falcons in their lone prior encounter, 77-52, in the 2011 quarterfinals.

“We know our region will be tough with some great teams,” said Mutombo. “No matter who we draw, we’ll be ready. We created a championship mindset last year. We want to emulate that and find our own identity. Last year motivates us to keep pushing. We want to go as deep as we can.”


The Class B South semifinals are Thursday of next week and the regional final is Saturday of next week, with both of those rounds being contested in Portland. The Class B state final is Saturday, March 4 at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland.

In Class A South, Falmouth is the reigning champion and is again the No. 1 seed after finishing 14-4 with wins over visiting Westbrook (61-41) and at Kennebunk (65-46). Against the Blue Blazes, Chris Simonds scored 22 points, Judd Armstrong added 17 and Lucas Dilworth had 14.

“From the get-go, we knew it would be competitive,” Dilworth said. “There was so much tension, but I was confident that our team would come out on top. We’ve talked all week about working as a team because that will help us win.”

“We just realized that we couldn’t lose this game,” Simonds said. “It was for the number one seed. The energy just shifted.”

“This is a big win,” added longtime Falmouth coach Dave Halligan, after his 577th victory with the program. “(Westbrook’s) a good team. We just started to run our stuff. Once we calmed down and shared the ball and moved the defense, shots started to go in.”

In the win over the Rams, Armstrong scored 19 points, Paul Dilworth added 14 and Lucas Dilworth finished with 12.


The Navigators will face No. 8 Mt. Ararat (9-9) in the quarterfinals Saturday at 9 p.m., in Portland. Falmouth won both regular season meetings, 48-37 and 57-45. The teams have no playoff history.

“This year, we’re really confident,” Lucas Dilworth said. “I feel like we’re 100 percent ready to compete for a state title. We’ll have to work really hard. We’re ready.”

“We’re all clicking,” Simonds said. “I think we have what it takes to do what we did last year, but we can’t underestimate any of our competition.”

“We can beat anybody and we could lose to anybody,” Halligan added. “We average probably 30 points less than last year, so we have to make the most of every possession. We just have to show a little more patience. You can never tell if the guys will buy in or not, but they’re buying in and seeing the team having success.”

Greely finished 10-8 and fifth in Class A South after last Wednesday’s 72-67 loss at Gray-New Gloucester in the finale. The Rangers got 25 points from Tyler Pettengill and erased a 12-point deficit, but fell just short.

“We have fight,” Greely coach Travis Seaver said. “Tonight shows how much we’ve grown over the year. We’ve played really well the last couple weeks and the guys are getting confidence. We came into an environment like this and things didn’t go our way, but we were still able to be in position to win at the end and that was great.”


The Rangers will meet No. 4 Westbrook (13-5) in the quarterfinals Saturday at 7:30 p.m., in Portland. The teams didn’t play this season. The teams’ lone prior playoff meeting saw Greely prevail, 60-50, in the 2018 regional final.

“We’ve come a long way,” Seaver said. “To sit where we are now, we’re much better than our record shows. Our goal all along was to be playing our best basketball come February and I think we’re there. These guys are playing with confidence and I think we’ve shown we can play with anyone. We just have to play better defense and have more consistency on both ends of the floor.”

The Class A South semifinals are Wednesday of next week and the regional final is Saturday, Feb. 25. Both rounds will be held in Portland. The Class A state game is Friday, March 3 in Augusta.

Freeport snapped a nine-game skid in its finale and downed visiting Fryeburg Academy, 56-51, to finish 5-13. Conner Smith had 20 points and JT Pound added 16. The Falcons wound up 10th in Class A South, but only eight teams made the playoffs.

In Class C South, North Yarmouth Academy finished 6-12 after closing with a 46-34 home win over Sacopee Valley. Nate Oney led the way with 14 points and Cal Nice added 13 with 11 rebounds. The Panthers ended up 14th in the region, but only 12 teams qualified for the postseason.



Charlotte Harper-Cunningham is one of several key contributors for a North Yarmouth Academy girls’ squad which is coming off the best regular season in program history. File photo.

On the girls’ side, NYA, a regional finalist last season, just posted the best regular season mark in program history at 17-1.

That’s the good news.

The bad is that the Panthers will have to chase a Gold Ball without senior point guard extraordinaire Angel Huntsman, who suffered a knee injury late in the season and will be unavailable for the playoffs.

NYA downed host Sacopee Valley, 57-19, in its finale, behind 11 points apiece from Graca Bila and Charlotte Harper-Cunningham and 10 each from Madilyn Onorato and Erin Reid.

The Panthers are the top seed in Class C South and will meet either No. 8 Carrabec (11-7) or No. 9 Madison (12-6) in the quarterfinals Tuesday of next week at the Augusta Civic Center. NYA didn’t face either team this season. The Panthers beat the Cobras, 42-28, in last year’s semifinals in the lone prior playoff encounter. NYA has no history with the Bulldogs.

The Class C South semifinals are Thursday, Feb. 23, in Augusta. The regional final is Saturday, Feb. 25, in Augusta. The Class C state final is Saturday, March 4, in Bangor.


In Class A South, Falmouth earned the No. 4 seed after an 11-7 regular season, which culminated with a 64-48 win at Westbrook and a 53-47 (overtime) home loss to Kennebunk. In the victory, Emily Abbott scored 23 points and Anna Turgeon added 20.

“Emily and I were setting screens for each other and kind of playing off each other,” Turgeon said. “Sometimes one of us will get face-guarded and the other is more open and we’re kind of getting more used to that.”

I think we’re definitely all really motivated and really excited to get in the playoffs,” Abbott said.

“It was really great to see them come alive in the second half and shoot well,” added Falmouth coach Dawn Armandi. “We need that confidence going into playoffs.”

The Navigators face No. 5 Marshwood (12-6) in the quarterfinals Monday at 4:30 p.m., in Portland. The teams split this year, each winning on the road, with the Hawks prevailing, 35-26, and Falmouth winning, 46-34. Marshwood won the lone prior playoff meeting, 42-24, in the 2020 semifinals.

Freeport wound up 10-8 and sixth in Class A South after winning six of its last seven, including a 65-57 victory at Fryeburg Academy in the finale last Wednesday. Angel Pillsbury continued to impress with 26 points, while Maddie Cormier added 16 points and Sydney Gelhar had 11.


The Falcons meet No. 3 Mt. Ararat (14-4) in the quarterfinals Monday at 1 p.m., in Portland. The Eagles won the regular season meeting, 53-31, in Freeport. The teams have no playoff history.

Greely, the reigning regional champion, wound up 8-10 and seventh in Class A South after a 43-36 setback at Gray-New Gloucester last Wednesday. Playing without top scorer Sophia Ippolito, the undermanned Rangers managed to grab an early 10-point lead before running out of gas. Kylie Crocker led the team with 11 points and Cece Berthiaume added nine.

“I think I’m tearing up because I’m very proud of the girls,” Greely coach Todd Flaherty said. “They all played hard. Everybody contributed. That’s what we set our mind to do.”

The Rangers, who finished below .500 for the first time in 27 years, face the second-seeded Patriots again in Monday’s quarterfinals (2:30 p.m. tip time in Portland). The teams split this year, with Greely winning at home, 58-48. The Rangers hold a 3-2 edge in all-time tournament meetings, with a 54-49 (overtime) victory in the 2020 semifinals the most recent.

“If we improve, we can compete,” Flaherty said. “We have to limit our unforced turnovers and stop fouling so much. We’re not going to become great shooters, but we can clean up our game a little bit. We hope to save our best for last.”

The Class A South semifinals are Wednesday of next week and the regional final is Friday of next week. Both rounds will be held in Portland. The Class A state game is Friday, March 3 in Augusta.


In Class B South, Yarmouth wound up 7-11 and eighth after closing with a 56-33 home win over Poland last Wednesday. Delia MacDonald led the way with 14 points, Neena Panozzo added 12 and Maya Hagerty had 10.

The Clippers host No. 9 Oak Hill (8-10) in the preliminary round Wednesday at 7 p.m. The teams didn’t play this year and have no playoff history. If Yarmouth can advance to the quarterfinals, it will go up against top-ranked, reigning state champion Oceanside (18-0) Saturday at 1:30 p.m., in Portland. The teams didn’t play this year and have no postseason history.

The Class B South semifinals are Thursday of next week and the regional final is Saturday of next week, with both of those rounds being contested in Portland. The Class B state final is Saturday, March 4 at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland.

Press Herald staff writer Drew Bonifant contributed to this story.

Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected]

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