Rookies playing key role for Yachtsmen, Red Riots
Two first-year varsity basketball players who have had an immediate impact on their teams are Tom Coyne of Falmouth and Jaren Muller of South Portland.
Both players come off the bench. Coyne, a 5-foot-10 freshman guard, scored 14 points in Falmouth´s win Thursday over previously unbeaten York. Muller, a 6-foot-5 sophomore, scored 14 points Friday when the Red Riots suffered their first defeat of the season, losing to Deering in overtime.
Their names should be familiar to local basketball fans. Coyne´s father, also Tom, was a standout guard for Portland High in the 1980s. Muller´s brother, Jordan, played for South Portland the last three seasons.
Coyne comes in to spell Grant Burfeind at point guard and also can play the shooting guard position. Coach Dave Halligan uses different backcourt combinations, so Coyne and Burfeind are often on the floor together. Coyne has a multi-dimensional game. He can hit the 3-pointer or slash to the basket.
At times Friday night, Muller was the best player on the court against Deering. He and Conner MacVane took turns sharing the spotlight for the Riots. Both finished with 14 points. Muller has the size to go inside and score, but also the quickness to finish off a fast break, which he did in scoring the go-ahead basketball with 20 seconds left in regulation. Labson Abwoch of Deering hit 1 of 2 from the line with no time on the clock to send it into overtime.
Through eight games, Falmouth (8-0) is the clear leader in Western Class B Heal points. South Portland (7-1) is a top-four team in Western Class A.
AFTER CANCELLATIONS in consecutive winters because of a lack of snow, the popular Telstar Relays returned to Bethel on Saturday, featuring Nordic skiers from more than two dozen Maine high schools.
Schools assemble relay teams of two boys and two girls, each skiing a 3-kilometer leg. In the "A" race featuring the top skiers from each school, Class C Merriconeag of New Gloucester came out on top, with sophomore Graham Roeber and senior Jack Pierce teaming with senior sisters Zoe and Emelie Chace-Donahue for a combined time of 37 minutes, 50 seconds.
Only two other schools broke 40 minutes: Gould Academy (38:10) and Yarmouth (39:02).
"It was a nice way to start the season," said Merriconeag Coach John Tarling, whose team completed a four-day training camp at Sugarloaf prior to New Year´s Day. "Most teams approach the race as fun."
Indeed, Tarling said, his skiers may have been more interested in the traditional postrace raffle of "wild and crazy tights that shouldn´t see the light of day" than with trying to prove Merriconeag sported the top entry in the field.
"The tights are hidden behind a curtain and unveiled to the kids, who have lots of fun cheering or jeering as each raffle winner´s number is called to go to the stage and select their winning tights," Tarling said. "The winners are encouraged to ... wear the tights at next year´s race."
The deepest team seemed to be Yarmouth. Not only did Yarmouth´s "A" team of sophomores Carter Hall and Emma Torres, senior Jackson Hall and freshman Lucy Alexander finish third, but the Clippers´ "B" team of juniors Sam Alexander, Ihila Lesnikova and Braden Becker and sophomore Caitlin Teare was fourth -- the only "B" team among the top 13 quartets.
"Our team is looking forward to the upcoming individual races," Tarling said, "to see where they stand."
-- Staff Writers Tom Chard and Glenn Jordan contributed to this report.