Cooper Flagg (from left), Ruth White and the Bangor Little League team were among the state's most inspiring sports stories of 2022. Credit: BDN Composite

Over the past year, Maine’s high school athletes have included a once-in-a-lifetime basketball player, a national-contending cross country runner, a back-to-back Miss Maine Basketball and Softball winner, and more.

2022 was a year to remember in northern Maine, with inspiring stories throughout the sporting landscape. Here are some of the most memorable moments from the year.

Cooper Flagg reaches star status

Nokomis High School’s Cooper Flagg takes the ball to the hoop through three Falmouth High School defenders during the Maine Class A boys basketball championship game at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland on Saturday, March 5, 2022. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

Cooper Flagg has a chance to be the best high school basketball player ever to come from the state of Maine.

Flagg’s 2022 was a whirlwind. First, he led Nokomis Regional High School to its first Class A state title with a win over Falmouth. Shortly after that feat, he announced he’d be transferring to Montverde Academy in Florida, one of the best high school programs in the country.

Then he joined Team USA’s U17 team for the FIBA Men’s U17 World Cup. Flagg averaged 9.3 points per game and 10 rebounds for Team USA in the tournament.

And earlier this month the 16-year-old was named USA Basketball’s Male Athlete of the Year, a title previously given to some of the biggest names in the sport.

While it’s hard to know if Maine will see a basketball player of the same caliber in high school again, it’s safe to say fans of the game in the Pine Tree State enjoyed him while he was here.

Ruth White goes to nationals

Ruth White battles with Anna Robinson during the first mile of the seeded girls race at the 2022 Festival of Champions in October 2022.

Last fall, White stunned the Maine running community when she won the New England Championship.

This year she surpassed her incredible sophomore campaign by defending her Class C state title (18:02) and her New England title (17:51) before deciding to run in the Champs Northeast Regional race. There, White finished in fourth place (17:51) and then at Champs Nationals, White worked her way from the back and into a 17th-place finish (17:55).

White is now a household name in Maine and many are excited to see what the 4-foot-8 junior does next.

Jaycie Christopher wins Miss Maine — twice

Skowhegan Area High School’s Jaycie Christopher drives around a Greely High School defender in the Maine Class A girls state championship basketball game in the Cross insurance Arena in Portland on Saturday, March 5, 2022. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

After leading Skowhegan to a Class A state championship over Greely to complete a 22-0 season, Christopher was crowned both the Gatorade Player of the Year in girls basketball and the Miss Maine Basketball Player of the Year. Christopher averaged 24 points, 10 rebounds and six assists per game for the River Hawks.

But it was what she did next that etched her place in Maine high school sports history.

In the spring, Christopher was named Miss Maine Softball Player of the Year, becoming the first Maine athlete to ever pull off the feat of earning the honor twice in two different sports.

Christopher is now a basketball player on the University of Maine women’s basketball team and is averaging 5.8 points per game with the Black Bears.

Bangor Little League reaches new heights

The Bangor Little League All Star team went on a tear this summer, reaching the New England Regional Championship before losing to the Massachusetts state champions Middleboro 10-1.

Bangor’s Daxton Gifford, left, makes a play at second base getting the Middleboro player out during the Bangor vs Middleboro Little League New England Region Tournament championship game at the A. Bartlett Giamatti Little League Leadership Training Center in Bristol, Conn., on Aug. 11, 2022.

While it didn’t reach Williamsport, the group went further than any Bangor team before it. Had they advanced to the Little League World Series, they would have been just the fourth Maine team to do so.

Prepare for some strong teams in Bangor in the years to come.

Orono football lights up the postseason

Orono couldn’t even field a football team in 2019. Three seasons later, and the Red Riots reached the eight-player small school state title game.

To get there, No. 5 Orono had three upset victories in the postseason, including a 51-46 victory against No. 4 Bucksport, a 61-22 victory against No. 1 Dexter and a regional championship defeat of No. 2 Stearns, 57-36. Orono eventually lost to the south champion Old Orchard Beach 46-22 in the state final.

Orono averaged 42.5 points per game over its season, in which it went 7-4.

Orono’s Pierce Walston runs through a tackle against Stearns on Friday night during the eight-player small school North regional final at Stearns High School.

The Red Riots were a very young team filled with sophomores and juniors at important positions, so this could just be the beginning of a strong Orono football run.

Southern Aroostook sweeps Class D basketball titles

Kissing the gold ball are members of the Southern Aroostook girls basketball team after the Warriors defeated Seacoast Christian Academy 58-18 on March 5, 2022. Credit: Courtesy of Jan Vose

Southern Aroostook girls basketball glided through a 22-0 season and beat Seacoast Christian for the Class D girls title, 58-18.

After an undefeated regular season, the Warriors bring back many players from the championship team. No player that scored in the championship game graduated from Southern Aroostook, clearing the way for a repeat and a fourth title in five years.

On the boys side, the Warriors’ senior starter Hunter Burpee scored 31 points and helped Southern Aroostook defeat Forest Hills, 82-61, handing Forest Hills its first loss in 66 games.

Hunter Burpee graduated, but the Warriors return many players including Hunter’s brother, Dylan.

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Adam Robinson

Adam Robinson is a native of Auburn, Maine, and graduate of Husson University and Edward Little High School. He enjoys sports, going on runs and video games.