The Star-Herald’s year in sports, part 1

2 years ago

The following is the first of two articles highlighting some of the top news stories from 2021. This article highlights events from January to June. The second installment will be published Jan. 5.


A strong defensive effort by the Hodgdon girls basketball team paid dividends as the Hawks flew to a 41-28 win over visiting Washburn. The win marked the first victory for the Hawks zon the young season as the team improved to 1-2 on the year. Washburn was playing in its first game of the season. 

 The shortened basketball season saw its first overtime game on Tuesday, Jan. 19, as the Hodgdon and Washburn boys needed an extra period to decide a winner. After battling to a 47-47 stalemate at the end of regulation, the Hawks went on a scoring run to collect their first win of the year, 62-52.

Caleb Nash (center) of Hodgdon comes down with a rebound during a Jan. 19 game with Washburn. Looking on is Washburn’s Beckham Vaughn (right). In the background is Hodgdon’s Isaac Jurson. (Joseph Cyr | Houlton Pioneer Times)

A 28-point effort from Presque Isle’s Faith Sjoberg lifted the Wildcats to a 52-48 victory over Houlton in girls basketball action. For Presque Isle, it was the team’s first game since playing in the Class B North Tournament last February. But the Wildcats didn’t seem to show any signs of rust.

The Presque Isle varsity hockey team skated its way to a 11-1 season-opening victory over the Houlton-Hodgdon-Southern Aroostook-Katahdin Black Hawks Wednesday evening at the John A. Millar Civic Center. The Wildcats jumped to a four-goal lead in the first half and added seven more in the second half for the win. Dawson Kinney scored six of his team’s goals, while Ethan Carlisle added two and Jonah Roy, Hiwatha Paul, Ethan Shaw, Cameron Levasseur and Breygan Mahan each had one goal. Roy finished with five assists on the night.

Members of the Houlton cheering squad perform at Caribou High School Friday evening during the Aroostook County Cheering competition. The Shires finished second. (Chris Bouchard | Aroostook Republican)


Instead of a high school gymnasium packed with screaming fans, this year’s cheering competitions will look remarkably different. In much the same way that basketball and hockey made adjustments to be held this winter, high school cheering competitions will be like nothing ever seen before as teams will record their routines to be judged at a later time.

The Presque Isle Wildcat girls basketball team defeated Caribou, 54-39, during a Feb. 9 game hosted at Caribou High School. The Wildcats maintained a lead over Caribou throughout the game, ending the first quarter with a seven-point lead at 15-8, and gaining an additional point lead by halftime, which ended with a score of 30-22.

Senior Julianna Morningstar came off the bench to score 17 first-half points, helping to lead Presque Isle to its sixth consecutive victory to begin the season, 76-41 over Central Aroostook in Mars Hill. The Wildcats beat the Panthers at home six days earlier, 63-40, but were even more impressive in the second outing.

In a week that would usually host the high school cross country state championships – this year they were called off due to COVID-19 – Aroostook County ski racers met on Feb. 18 for a regular season race at the Four Seasons Trail Association in Madawaska. On the 5K freestyle course, the Caribou boys and Fort Kent girls delivered decisive wins. Both Madawaska teams placed second, though the boys tied Fort Kent for the silver spot.

The much-anticipated matchup between the only undefeated girls’ basketball teams in Aroostook County turned into a runaway for the host Wildcats. The Class B Presque Isle Wildcats never trailed, building a 22-point lead at halftime and increasing the margin to 30 in the second half en route to a 55-30 triumph over Class D Southern Aroostook at Presque Isle High School.


The Presque Isle girls basketball team managed to preserve its perfect record with a 57-41 victory over Houlton, thanks to an incredible second-half effort from behind the 3-point arc. Playing against a determined Houlton squad, the Wildcats (10-0) had to overcome a first-half deficit that saw the team trailing by as many as six points on two different occasions before the break.

The Fort Fairfield boys basketball team roared to a 72-45 road victory over Hodgdon Feb. 24. Kadin Barnes paced the Tigers (3-8) with 23 points, including 10 in the final quarter alone, as Fort Fairfield led for most of the contest. Chase Coiley chipped in with 19 points, while Alex Oakes added 14 points; Micah Daigle had six; Gabe Theriault and Blake Senal each had three; and Kobe West and Bryce Martin each scored two.

The Presque Isle Wildcats, the top-seeded girls team in the Class B/C division, wrapped up an unbeaten regular season with victories over Fort Kent and Caribou. Coach Jeff Hudson’s team displayed its 3-point shooting attack and showed excellent scoring balance in both contests. The Wildcats nailed 10 threes en route to a 62-26 victory inFort Kent, and then hit nine more in a 59-29 home triumph over Caribou.

 The playoff run came to an end for the Presque Isle hockey team as the Wildcats fell to Hampden Academy 3-1. The two teams skated to a scoreless first half, but the Broncos heated up in the second, taking a 2-0 lead

The Southern Aroostook girls basketball team hoist the Aroostook County championship plaque after the Warriors beat Presque Isle 64-58 March 10. (Joseph Cyr | Houlton Pioneer Times)z

Championship games can bring out the best in a team, especially when that team is facing adversity. Such was the case for the Southern Aroostook girls basketball team as the Warriors took on Presque Isle for the Aroostook County girls title. Down two starters, Division II champ Southern Aroostook took a page from the New England Patriots playbook and used a “next man up” mentality to rally from a six-point deficit in the fourth quarter to beat Division champ Presque Isle, 64-58, and win the Aroostook County crown.

Despite pandemic challenges, the Central Aroostook cheer team rose to another victory in the Aroostook County League’s virtual cheering championship with its 2:15-minute filmed routine. “This is our second [consecutive] Aroostook League win,” Coach Sami Allen said. “The virtual competition is very nerve-wracking. We can only do it once. Our AD [athletic director] stands in front holding a paper with date, time, password. And then we hoped for the best.”

 The top ranked Caribou Vikings defeated Central Aroostook, 83-55, to capture theAroostook League Division I championship. With the victory, the Vikings improved to 14-0 overall and will now play the Division II titlist, Southern Aroostook (11- 4) to determine an Aroostook County champion. That game will be played atCaribou High School.


The 12th annual Aroostook League Scholar Athlete Banquet was held April 13 via a Zoom teleconference meeting. The member schools of the Aroostook League were invited to bring one girl and one boy Scholar/Athlete to attend the Award Night along with a faculty member (athletic administrator or coach.) 

The Houlton Middle School cheering squad reclaimed its crown as the top squad in Aroostook County with an energetic performance at the Aroostook League Middle School Cheering competition. Held at Presque Isle High School, the Shires bested squads from Central Aroostook, Presque Isle and Caribou. The Shires finished as runners-up last year, and were the County champions in 2019.


Warm weather and clear skies greeted boaters as they embarked on Caribou’s Aroostook River Spring Runoff Canoe & Kayak Race on May 15, starting at the Lower Lyndon Street boat launch and paddling 6.2 miles along the Aroostook River – ending at Forbes Pit. A total of 34 participated and 21 boats were registered, with most finishing the race in under an hour, according to Parks and Recreation Program Director Neal Sleeper. The fastest recorded time was Dan Baumert of Bangor with a time of 44:18. Jim Park of Presque Isle received second place with a time of 49:04, and Roger Barnes of Presque Isle came in third overall with a total time of 49:23.

No, it’s not November and time for Thanksgiving dinner; but it is time for the spring hunt that may supply the tasty main course ingredient for that special meal. Fifteen years ago southern Maine was inundated with wild turkey. They were considered pests by many dairy farmers, but not a gobbler could be seen in Aroostook. A few birds were captured and relocated to Crown of Maine locations in 2007. By 2014 a total of 166 turkeys had been transferred and released, and with good survival rates, propagation and expansion a limited season was allowed.

Track and field athletes from across Aroostook County gathered at Caribou High School for the Aroostook League championships. While heavy downpours were noted in southern and central Aroostook, the rains held off at Caribou High School to allow County athletes an opportunity to shine in the final meet of the regular season. The Caribou boysteam ran away with the top honors, easily outdistancing the competition. Not to be outdone, the cooperative team between Houlton and Greater Houlton Christian Academy came away with top honors for the first time in the program’s modern history. 

The Presque Isle boys and girls tennis teams each picked up 5-0 shutout victories over Houlton in a match played in Houlton. With the victories, both Wildcat boys and girls teams improved their season records to 5-4, while the Houlton girls dropped to 2-7 and the Houlton boys are 1-8.

Presque Isle High School’s boys and girls varsity basketball staff are offering their 27th annual Wildcat Basketball Camp for local children. The camp is open to any SAD 1 boys or girls student currently in grades 2-7 and will run June 14-18 at PIHS. 

Lunging for the ball is Presque Isle’s Jack Buck (left) with doubles partner Gavin Dunleavy in the background during a May 18 tennis match with Houlton. (Joseph Cyr | Houlton Pioneer Times)


The Maine Principals’ Association announced a reopening of all interscholastic activities in the state. That means high school sports as they existed before the COVID-19 pandemic will again be the norm this fall. The MPA had been working in consultation with several state agencies to offer sports during the 2020-21 academic year, using community sports guidelines developed by the state to govern its own offerings.

A showdown between the Madawaska and Fort Fairfield baseball teams ended early on Thursday May 28, when the Owls rolled to a 16-0 victory in five innings. The home team faced a much younger Fort Fairfield crew – just four of the 12-person roster had played high school ball before this season. Some had never played baseball before at all, head coach John Ala said.

The Fort Fairfield High School Athletic Hall of Fame has announced eight athletes will be inducted into its group. Selected for this prestigious honor are a mix of former athletes and contributors to the school. The class of inductees is Dr. Courtney Churchill, Kerby Doughty, John Greenier, Brian Hollander, Shawn Ireland, Travis Noyes, Cathy Orser and Karla Tomlinson.

The regular season is now a fond memory for many baseball and softball squads, but there is still much work to be done. The postseason begins Tuesday, June 8, for all squads, as the Maine Principals Association opted to have an “Open Tournament” format for the postseason this year. Teams could choose to opt out of the playoffs if they so desired.

Katahdin Trust Company will once again be the major sponsor for the 37th annual Jefferson Cary Foundation, Cary Classic Benefit Golf Tournament at the Caribou Country Club. For the second time in tournament history golfers will have the chance at two Hole-In-One Par 3 Prizes; a 2021 GMC Canyon sponsored by Gagnon’s Auto & RV Sales in Caribou and a new 2020 Honda Civic sponsored by Griffeth Ford Lincoln and S.W. Collins Co. The one-day tournament, featuring four men’s and two ladies divisions, will be held on Saturday, July 10. Rain date is Sunday, July 11.