By Mike Zhe firstname.lastname@example.org Jun 18, 2019
PORTSMOUTH — The Exeter High School boys basketball team is still undefeated.
Three months after their stirring, undefeated run to the Division I championship — the program’s first in 42 years — several members from the team had center-section seats on Tuesday night to hear their name called as Team of the Year during the 3rd annual Seacoast All-Star Sports Awards.
The Blue Hawks, who took the stage en masse after watching a big-screen highlight video along with a sold-out crowd at The Music Hall, were picked as the group that had the region’s biggest impact during a school year that saw teams from nine schools — Exeter, Portsmouth, Winnacunnet, Oyster River, St. Thomas, Coe-Brown, Newmarket, Epping and Marshwood — win a combined 24 state championships.
It was a night of honors at a sold-out Music House.
“Pretty cool idea to bring everyone on the Seacoast together and recognize the best,” said Marshwood junior fullback/linebacker Justin Bryant, who was honored as Football Player of the Year after helping his team win the Maine Class B championship.
“It’s great,” said Spaulding senior Leah Creteau, the Volleyball Player of the Year who is bound for Salve Regina. “It really is. We work hard and it’s great to see that everyone puts in the work for us, too.”
It was a big night for Exeter with the major awards. Jeff Holmes, who coached the Blue Hawks to that unbeaten season in his 22nd year as coach, was recognized as Boys Coach of the Year.
Kristen Morissette, whose tenure spans 24 years — and whose youngest son, Josh, took the stage with his Exeter basketball teammates — was cited as Girls Coach of the Year after the Blue Hawks’ softball team went 20-1 (winning their last 18 games) to win the first title in program history.
But this has also become an event that goes beyond the wins and championships, a collective source of local sports pride.
“It’s amazing,” said Portsmouth senior Abbe Laurence, who was named Girls Basketball Player of the Year and is heading to UMaine on scholarship. “Walking in I saw friends from all different teams. It’s just fun and special. I have a whole new chapter starting but this has kind of been my life for four years. Ending it this way is very special.”
Athletes from the region’s 18 high schools were awarded top honors in 16 different sports:
* Cross country — Addison Cox of Coe-Brown and Jake Winslow of Exeter
* Volleyball — Leah Creteau of Spaulding
* Football — Justin Bryant of Marshwood
* Golf — Justin Grondahl of St. Thomas
* Field hockey — Leah Glidden of Marshwood and Nikki Treadwell of Winnacunnet (co-winners)
* Soccer — Peyton Nickerson of York and Nick Dalesio of Portsmouth
* Swimming and diving — Hannah Lord of Exeter and Max Reich of St. Thoma
* Basketball — Abbe Laurence of Portsmouth and Arie Breakfield of Spaulding
* Hockey — Carissa Towlson of Exeter and Paddy Vetter of St. Thomas
* Wrestling — Noah Strout of Oyster River
* Indoor track — Devan McClain of Oyster River and Ryan Prinz of Portsmouth
* Tennis — Flo Hunter of Portsmouth and Mathis Savard of St. Thomas
* Softball — Sam Wiberg of Exeter and Abby Orso of York (co-winners)
* Baseball — Jake Bullard of Winnacunnet
* Track and field — Devan McClain of Oyster River and Jake Winslow of Exeter
* Lacrosse — Sallie Squire of Portsmouth, and Cole Brams of Portsmouth and Henry Vogt of Exeter (co-winners)
Additionally, several special awards were presented. Vetter and McClain were honored as overall Male and Female Athletes of the Year, respectively (see related story).
Sebastian Cook of Dover and Jackie Carter of Oyster River were selected as Scholar Athletes of the Year, and each received a $500 scholarship gift from Measured Progress.
The Courage Award, given to an athlete who showed the most heart and desire in overcoming adversity, was presented to York’s Emlyn Patry. The senior captain took a stick to the face during the Class B field hockey championship against Gardiner, lost teeth, and returned the game, later needing significant rehab time for that and other injuries.