Good teamwork often transcends the specific arena of competition, a fact that led to the Easton High School boys basketball team and the Falmouth High School girls squad being named recipients of the annual Maine Red Claws/Maine McDonald’s Team of the Year Award.
The awards are presented to one boys team and one girls team statewide based on the teams’ impact on Maine high school basketball as well as the lives of others through community service, sportsmanship, team spirit and academic excellence.
Each team receives $1,000 for its school’s basketball program.
The Easton boys team posted the first undefeated regular season in the program’s history this winter and advanced to the Eastern Maine Class D semifinals.
The Bears also served as volunteers with the Aroostook County Special Olympics basketball program and the Easton Recreation Department’s Little Bears youth basketball program. That latter effort included hosting two clinics that drew more than 40 youngsters from the community.
The team also was involved in organizing a benefit dinner for two local families whose homes were destroyed by fire, helping prepare, cook and serve food as well as cleaning up after the event.
Six of the 11 team members are National Honor Society members, while three others have been invited to apply for membership and the remaining two players are freshmen and not yet eligible for NHS.
The team has a 93.2 cumulative grade-point average, and members are involved in numerous other activities including math team, Key Club, Varsity Club, band, student plays, volleyball and soccer.
Easton team members are Hunter Brown, Connor Burtt, Nick Clark, Jake Flewelling, Cody Halvorson, Logan Halvorson, Colby Pangburn, Drew Sotomayor, Ian Sotomayor, Hunter Turner and Cameron Young, managers Jason Gurley, Trevor Hathaway and Zach Lamoreau, assistant coaches Dan Warren and Adam Kingsbury, and head coach Dillon Kingsbury. Steve Shaw is the school’s athletic administrator.
“These players have displayed outstanding character, integrity, sportsmanship, and teamwork throughout the season. The members of the Easton boys basketball team are true leaders within the school and community,” said an Easton resident in nominating the team for the award.
The Falmouth girls basketball program’s commitment to one of its major off-the-court activities dates back five years after an AAU teammate of seven of the players lost both her parents to domestic violence.
The Falmouth squad created a memorial tournament known as The Taylor Tip-Off to help provide financial support for their teammate and her sister. Each fall, Falmouth varsity and junior varsity players keep score and the clock for all the tournament games, sell tickets at the door, work at the concession stand and manage 50-50 raffles.
The tournament, which originated five years ago at two Falmouth gyms, has expanded to include gyms at Falmouth, Gray-New Gloucester, Pineland Farms YMCA and Thomas College in Waterville — with the 2013 event involving more than 100 teams and raising more than $30,000.
The Falmouth team raised an additional $2,000 separately to help this cause.
Since 2011, money raised from the Taylor Tip-Off has gone to Maine children affected by domestic violence. This year nine children from across the state received financial assistance and an additional donation was made to support a pilot program to develop an electronic monitoring system in hopes of reducing domestic violence.
“My pride for this team and the Taylor Tip-Off is immeasurable,” said Falmouth coach Mari Warner. “The commitment these players and their families make toward this cause is phenomenal. Falmouth alumni had the vision to start this memorial tournament and they can be proud that it continues with the same passion and dedication.”
Players on this year’s Falmouth team were Julia Brogan, Alaina Birkel, Jessica Burton, Adelaide Cooke, Ally Hickey, Shannon Page, Liina Paavonpera, Emma Powers, Abby Ryan, Maya Spiegel, Dayna Vasconcelos and Kayla Walsh.
Coaching honors, milestones recognized
Maine McDonald’s all-star weekend events held last Friday and Saturday not only recognized the state’s top senior high school basketball players but also honored some of the top coaching performances.
The following were recognized as coaches of the year by the Maine Association of Basketball Coaches:
Eastern Maine: Class A boys: Scott Graffam (Oxford Hills); A girls: Craig Jipson (Edward Little); B boys: Chris Casavant (Caribou); B girls: Jeff Hudson (Presque Isle); C boys: Rob Moran (Houlton); C girls: Jody Grant (Dexter); D boys: Dillon Kingsbury (Easton); D girls: Darrick Thompson (Schenck).
Western Maine: Class A boys: Joe Russo (Portland); A girls: Eric Marston (Thornton Acad.); B boys: Adam Smith (Yarmouth); B girls: Paul True (Lake Region) and Donnie Abbott (Wells); C boys: I.J. Pinkham (Boothbay); C girls: Dean Plante (Old Orchard Beach); D boys: Anthony Amero (Forest Hills); D girls: Mike LeBlanc (Forest Hills).
Also recognized were coaching milestones achieved during the season: 500 wins: Gavin Kane (Spruce Mountain); 300 wins: Graffam, Hudson, Russo; 200 wins: Chris Bessey (Spruce Mountain), John Regan (Old Orchard Beach), Amero, Matt Rossignol (Van Buren); 100 wins: Jessica Witham (Orono), Dwayne Carter (George Stevens Acad.), Rich Henry (Waynflete), Travis Magnusson (Dirigo), Jeanne Paradis (Maranacook), Rob Moran (Houlton).
Five assistant coaches were recipients of the MABC Service Award: Willis “Butch” Pierce (Central), Matt Umphrey (Mount Desert Island), Jeremy Bate (Brunswick), Aaron Ouellet (Gorham) and Mike Esty (Gorham).
Marshwood’s Hughes leads Maine wrestlers
Cody Hughes, a junior from Marshwood High School in South Berwick, was the top Maine finisher at the 50th annual New England Interscholastic Wrestling Championships last weekend in Providence, R.I.
Hughes reached the championship final of the 160-pound weight class before dropping a 2-1, three-overtime decision to Jonathan Viruet of Springfield (Mass.) Central High School.
Hughes was one of three Marshwood wrestlers who earned top-six finishes at the New Englands. Jackson Howarth finished fifth at 152 pounds and Bradley Beaulieu was sixth at 113 to help the Hawks emerge as the top-finishing Maine team at the meet, tied for sixth overall with 55 points.
Mount Anthony Union of Bennington, Vt., was the team champion with 121 points.
Three other Maine wrestlers were top-six finishers.
Peter Del Gallo of Gardiner, a sophomore who won the New England championship at 106 pounds last year, finished fifth at 113 pounds while Wells’ Michael Curtis placed third at 195 and Biddeford’s Dominick Day was sixth at 138.