Basketball, hockey campaigns wind down

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(Ed. Note: For the complete Portland-Cheverus boys’ basketball game story, with photos and a box score, please visit

The girls’ hockey season is over, basketball’s regular season culminates Friday and boys’ hockey isn’t far behind.

It’s nearly playoff time on the hardwood and ice and city teams will be heard from.

Here’s a glimpse at where things stand and what’s upcoming:

Boys’ basketball

Waynflete’s boys’ basketball team has already ensured its best ever regular season record. The Flyers improved to 14-1 Friday with an 80-42 victory at North Yarmouth Academy. Serge Nyirikamba had the game’s first seven points as Waynflete never trailed. The Flyers went up, 22-14, after one quarter and led, 41-22 at halftime and never looked back. Nyirikamba wound up with 16 points, while Max Belleau had 20 points and Jack Cutler added 17. Waynflete (first in the Western C Heal Points standings) closes the regular year Thursday at Sacopee.

In Western A, Portland is still in the hunt for the top spot, but began the week second to South Portland, where the Bulldogs played Tuesday night (see for game story). Last week, Portland had little trouble at Noble (75-50), over Cheverus (63-29), in a game played at Southern Maine Community College, and at home over Massabesic (78-38). Against the Knights, Justin Zukowski had 12 points and Matt Talbot added 11.

Against the Stags, the Bulldogs trailed for only 26 seconds and raced to an early lead behind the sharpshooting of Talbot. By halftime, Portland pushed its lead to 33-15 and an 18-3 third period run put it away. The Bulldogs went on to a 63-29 victory, as Talbot had 16 points and Cosmo Donato and Steve Alex were huge contributors off the bench, combining for 23 points.

“We had confidence coming in,” Alex said. 

“(Cheverus) beat up on us for years, so it’s always good to beat them,” said Talbot. “(My teammates) ran plays to get me open. We pushed it to a fullcourt defense and that got our energy going. Sometimes it takes us awhile to get going, but we strung a couple fast breaks and got our momentum going.”

“Some of the guys went through the motions, but there were streaks where we looked really good,” said Portland coach Joe Russo. “This type of game, we just needed to go out and win. We had the game in hand.”

In the win over the Mustangs, Angelo had 14 points, Talbot 11 and Donato 10.

The Bulldogs didn’t just face a showdown at South Portland, they close at Deering Friday.

Speaking of the defending champs, the Rams suffered a 53-38 home loss to South Portland and bounced back to handle visiting Gorham, 66-48, last week. In the setback, Labson Abwoch had 11 points, while Ahmed Ali added 10. In the victory, Abwoch had 21 points and Dominic Lauture scored 10. Deering (13-3 and third in Western A) was at Cheverus Tuesday and closes at home versus Portland Friday.

Cheverus, which hasn’t missed the playoffs since the 1999-2000 season, began the week 5-11 and 13th in Western A, where just 11 teams make the cut. The Stags beat visiting Kennebunk, 56-48, last Tuesday (Noah Stebbins had 14 points, Emmanuel Ismail 13 and Andrew Cloutier was also in double figures with 11). Cheverus then fell at Portland, 63-29. Ismail had a team-high nine points.

“We didn’t play well,” said Stags first-year coach Dan Costigan. “We didn’t shoot well. We didn’t do a lot well. Portland’s very good, so much of that was due to what they were doing. We didn’t help ourselves. (The kids) play hard and do what they can do. They’re in a spot they’ve never been. It’s hard. Portland’s good. They come at you with their style of play. Their style isn’t good for how we play. There are some teams we match up well against. Clearly, this isn’t one of them.”

Friday, Cheverus dropped a 46-38 decision at Thornton Academy (Stebbins had 11 points in defeat). The Stags hosted Deering Tuesday and close at home versus South Portland Friday.

The boys’ basketball tournament begins next week with preliminary round games Tuesday and Wednesday. The Western A quarterfinals are Feb. 15 and 16 at the Portland Exposition Building. The Western C quarterfinals are Feb. 18 at the Augusta Civic Center.

Girls’ basketball

On the girls’ side, two-time defending Class A champion McAuley carried a 42-game win streak, a 16-0 record and the top spot in the Heals into its final two games. Last week, the Lions handled visiting South Portland, 75-48, behind 24 points from Allie Clement, 14 from Sarah Clement and 13 from Victoria Lux. Friday, McAuley won at Westbrook, 67-37, as Allie Clement scored 15 points, Sarah Clement added 14 and Lux again scored 13. The Lions hosted Portland Tuesday and close at home versus South Portland Friday.

Deering and Cheverus were 2-3 behind McAuley entering their showdown Wednesday night at Deering (see for game story).

The Rams improved to 15-1 with a 53-37 victory at Gorham Friday. Chelsea Saucier had 16 points, Keneisha DiRamio 12 and Marissa MacMillan and Alexis Stephenson 10 apiece. Prior to hosting the Stags, Deering welcomed South Portland Monday (see for game story).

Cheverus rolled at Kennebunk (67-28) and Thornton Academy (61-44) last week to improve to 14-2. Against the Golden Trojans, Victoria Nappi had 21 points and Brooke Flaherty added 10. After playing at Deering Wednesday, the Stags close at home versus Portland Friday.

Portland is closing in on a playoff berth. The Bulldogs were 6-10 and held the 11th and final postseason spot after wins last week over visiting Noble (55-31) and at Massabesic. Brianna Holdren had 14 points and Pam Lobor added 10 against the Knights. Portland was at McAuley Tuesday and closes at Cheverus Friday at it hopes to make the playoffs for the first time in four years.

In Western C, Waynflete romped at Hebron (81-20) and NYA (75-25) last week to improve to 12-3. The Flyers got 21 points from Martha Veroneau, 15 from Leigh Fernandez and a career-best 10 from freshman Arianna Giguere in the win over Hebron. Against the Panthers, Martha Veroneau had 16 points (she’s now 24 points shy of the school record held by her older sister, Margaret), Anne Veroneau had 14 and Rhiannan Jackson added 12. Waynflete (which began the week sixth in the Heals, but hoped to move up) went to Kents Hill Monday, host Greater Portland Christian School Wednesday and close at home versus Sacopee Friday.

The girls’ basketball tournament begins next week with preliminary round games Tuesday and Wednesday. The Western A quarterfinals are Feb. 18 at the Portland Exposition Building. The Western C quarterfinals are Feb. 19 at the Augusta Civic Center.

Boys’ hockey

On the ice, the Cheverus boys are well on their way to the playoffs, but the Portland/Deering co-op team still has work to do.

The Stags fell to 8-4 and third in the Western A Heals after losses last week at home to St. Dom’s (4-1) and at top-ranked Scarborough (5-0). Cheverus hosted Kennebunk Monday, welcomes two-time defending Class A champion Thornton Academy Thursday and plays host to Gorham Saturday.

The Bulldogs began the week 10th, one spot out of the final Western A playoff spot with an 8-4 mark, following a 2-1 win at Kennebunk Saturday. Chris Eye and Zach Luce had the goals. Portland plays at Lake Region Saturday and visits Yarmouth Tuesday.

The boys’ hockey postseason begins Feb. 23 with the preliminary round. The quarterfinals are Feb. 26. Those games will be played on the ice of the higher seeds.

Girls’ hockey

On the girls’ side, Cheverus barely made the playoffs, while Portland fell short.

The Stags continued their streak of making the postseason every year since the Maine Principals’ Association began sanctioning the sport, but just barely. Cheverus closed with home losses to York (5-2) and Scarborough (10-1) to end up 5-12-1 and fifth in the West Region (slightly ahead of Cape Elizabeth/Waynflete, which went 4-11-3, for the last spot). Standout Katie Roy continued her stellar season by scoring all three goals in the losses, giving her 50 for the season. The Stags go to Biddeford (10-7-1) Wednesday in the quarterfinals. Cheverus split with the Tigers in the regular season, losing, 8-4, at Biddeford and winning at home, 6-5, in overtime.

Portland went 3-13-2 and wound up eighth after closing with losses to visiting Gorham (6-4) and Biddeford (6-1). Drew Barry had two goals in the loss to the Rams.

The semifinals are Friday and Saturday, the regional final Feb. 13 at Portland Ice Arena and the state game Feb. 16 at the Colisee in Lewiston.

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Sidebar Elements

Cheverus senior Michael Flaherty reacts while driving between Portland junior Matt Talbot (5) and senior Nick Volger during the Bulldogs’ 63-29 win last week.

Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.