Cheverus senior Jesse Matthews, left, is congratulated by junior Will Shibles after scoring a basket during the Stags’ 51-43 home win over Bonny Eagle Saturday afternoon.
Mike Strout photos.
More photos below.
BE- 15 10 14 4- 43
C- 8 19 12 12- 51
BE- Hendrix 7-5-19, Sirois 4-1-12, Maturo 2-1-6, Thorne 2-0-6
C- Casale 7-5-22, Shibles 3-1-8, Matthews 3-0-7, Duchaine 1-2-5, Ephron 1-3-5, Foster 1-1-4
BE (6) Sirois 3, Thorne 2, Maturo 1
C (7) Casale 3, Duchaine, Foster, Matthews, Shibles 1
PORTLAND—Cheverus’ boys’ basketball team had a lot to overcome Saturday afternoon.
The Stags hadn’t played for over a week, were coming off a loss and had to contend with an early start time, foul trouble and a determined opponent, but Cheverus dug deep and saved its best for last.
Hosting Bonny Eagle, the Stags started sluggishly, trailed most of the first period and were down, 15-8, after eight minutes.
When Scots sophomore William Hendrix hit two foul shots 31 seconds into the second quarter, Cheverus trailed by nine, but thanks to a spark from junior Will Shibles, it went on a 10-0 run to take the lead.
The Stags clung to a 27-25 advantage at halftime and when Bonny Eagle closed the third period on a 6-0 run, the game was deadlocked, 39-39, heading for the final stanza.
Seven seconds into the fourth quarter, Hendrix made a layup to put the Scots ahead, but Cheverus cranked it up at both ends of the floor and thanks to contributions from sources both expected and unexpected, pulled away for the win.
After senior standout Jack Casale tied the score with two free throws, Shibles made a foul shot to put the Stags ahead for good, then drove for a layup. Sophomore reserve Patrick Foster then knocked down the biggest shot of the game, a 3-pointer with 1:27 to go, and Cheverus went on to a 51-43 victory.
Casale led all scorers with 22 points and Shibles added eight as the Stags improved to 7-2 and dropped Bonny Eagle to 3-7 in the process.
“I’m proud of the guys,” said Cheverus coach Ryan Soucie. “It wasn’t pretty, but we grinded it out. We battled some adversity on all kinds of fronts. Early start, week off, coming off a loss, midterm week, all kinds of factors. I told the guys before the game that Bonny Eagle would be tough. They’re well-coached, they’ll grind and they can shoot.”
Both teams are in the playoff hunt this winter.
Bonny Eagle started with a 58-49 home win over Noble, then lost at defending AA champion Portland (61-50). After a 64-59 home victory over Massabesic and a 61-57 win at Scarborough, the Scots lost at Gorham (40-29), at home to South Portland (47-32), at Thornton Academy (56-40), at home to Oxford Hills (58-45) and at home to Biddeford (65-48).
Cheverus started fast this season, downing host Sanford in overtime (51-49) and edging visiting Scarborough (57-51) and Windham (64-59). After a 71-51 loss at Edward Little, the Stags downed visiting Oxford Hills (54-44) and won at Massabesic (56-45) and Bangor (58-44). A 67-48 home loss to Deering was the Stags’ last outing last Friday.
Last year, Cheverus won, 57-45, at Standish.
Saturday, Bonny Eagle hoped to end its slide while it played hard, the hosts had just a little too much.
The Stags started strong with a layup from junior Jesse Matthews, but the next seven points went to the Scots, as Hendrix made two free throws, junior Connor Sirois knocked down a 3-pointer and Hendrix added a layup.
After Matthews countered with a 3, Hendrix drove for another layup.
Junior Tobias Ephron got a point back at the line, but Hendrix countered with a free throw.
After Casale got his first points (two free throws), Hendrix had a layup and Sirois buried a 3 to make it 15-8 Bonny Eagle after eight minutes.
Hendrix had nine points and Sirois six in the first period.
Hendrix stayed hot to start the second quarter, hitting two free throws.
Cheverus then roared to life, erasing a nine-point deficit in just over two minutes.
Casale got it started by hitting his first field goal, a leaner.
Shibles then scored five points in 39 seconds, draining a 3 and scoring on a putback.
Casale, then stole the ball, knocking it to Ephron, who returned it to Casale, who made a layup while being fouled. With 4:35 left in the half, Casale sank the free throw to complete the old-fashioned three-point play and put the Stags ahead, 18-17.
A corner 3 from freshman Zach Maturo gave Bonny Eagle the lead back, but Casale knocked down a 3 from up top to make it 21-20 Cheverus.
The Scots went ahead again when Hendrix made a leaner in the lane, but two Ephron foul shots put the Stags ahead and Casale nailed another 3-ball.
Sirois made a corner 3 to pull Bonny Eagle within a point, but a foul shot from Foster gave Cheverus a 27-25 halftime lead.
Casale had 11 points in the second quarter and led the Stags with 13 first half points. Hendrix countered with 13 of his own to pace the Scots.
In the third quarter, neither team could seize control.
Hendrix tied the game with a layup, but Casale put Cheverus back on top with a 3.
After Scots junior Nick Thorne tied it with a 3-ball, Casale made a layup after a steal to put the Stags ahead, 32-30.
After Matthews added a layup, Sirois got Bonny Eagle back within a point by making a layup while being fouled and adding the free throw, but Matthews set up Ephron for a layup and with 2:09 left, sophomore Matt Duchaine knocked down a 3 to make it 39-33.
“Matt’s done that all year long,” Soucie said. “He has one or two big 3s every game. That’s what he does.”
Back roared the Scots to tie the game by the end of the frame, as Thorne hit a 3, Maturo made a free throw and with 6.2 seconds showing, Maturo floated in the lane and got the ball to drop to make it 39-39 with eight minutes left.
When Thorne set up Hendrix for a layup seven seconds into the fourth period, it appeared Bonny Eagle was primed to spring the upset, but the Scots wouldn’t score again for 7 minutes, 47 seconds and Cheverus got the next 12 points to finally take control.
With 6:31 remaining, Casale tied the game with two free throws.
With 5:04 left, Shibles was fouled and hit one of two shots to put the Stags on top for good.
With 3:40 to play, Shibles drove to the basket and made a layup for a 44-41 lead.
“I’ve been on Will to be more aggressive,” Soucie said. “He came up big.”
Cheverus’ hopes were compromised 54 seconds later when Matthews fouled out, but the Stags didn’t buckle and after Bonny Eagle missed a shot and a free throw, Foster took advantage of his opportunity, knocking down a clutch 3 with 1:27 left and Cheverus was on top by six.
“I thought I had an open look so I thought I’d shoot it,” Foster said. “I’m glad it went in. When I come in, I just try to play as hard as I can and play defense. I just try to be tough and get rebounds.”
“Pat’s my bulldog,” Soucie said. “He’s fearless. He knocked down that shot. He’s got the will to win. He’s not scared.”
The Scots then turned the ball over and Duchaine was fouled. He hit both attempts to stretch the lead to eight with 55 seconds remaining.
After another Bonny Eagle miss, Casale was fouled with 40.7 seconds showing.
Casale missed the front end of a one-and-one, but he caught the sleeping Scots off guard, soared in and grabbed the rebound and laid it in to make it 51-41 with 38.2 seconds left to end all doubt.
“I knew the (free throw) was off,” Casale said. “No one moved and I knew it was a one-and-one, so I thought I might as well go get it and put it in.”
“That’s Jack in a nutshell,” Soucie said. “He has the will to compete. That play captured his character.”
Hendrix scored on a putback with 6.1 seconds to go, but it was too little, too late and Cheverus went on to a 51-43 victory.
“Our defense and toughness helped turn it around,” Foster said.
“We practiced hard all week, but a noontime game on a Saturday isn’t an ideal time to play,” Casale said. “We gutted it out and that shows our character. They only have three wins, but they’re always a tough team. They’re small and quick, quicker than most of us. They’re tough and we had to match their toughness.”
“We got some defensive stops,” Soucie added. “We rotated our pressure defense and got turnovers. We got the ball in the middle of the paint against their zone and went inside-out. That’s something we harped on doing all game and we finally did it.”
Casale started slowly, but led all scorers with 22 points. He also had six rebounds, three blocks, three steals and three assists.
Shibles added eight points, Matthews had seven, Duchaine and Ephron (seven boards, four assists) five apiece and Foster four.
The Stags only committed 10 turnovers and made 12 of 17 free throws.
Bonny Eagle got 19 points from Hendrix (who also had eight rebounds), 12 from Sirois and six each from Maturo and Thorne.
The Scots made seven of 12 foul shots and were doomed by 19 turnovers.
Each team grabbed 21 rebounds.
Bonny Eagle (currently ranked sixth in the Class AA South Heal Points standings) goes to Westbrook Monday and Windham Wednesday, then hosts Gorham Friday.
Cheverus (third behind Edward Little and Portland in Class AA North) travels to Noble Monday and visits South Portland Wednesday, then has a huge home test versus Portland Friday.
“I think we can definitely play with (South Portland and Portland),” Casale said. “We need to come with energy, play tough and execute our stuff. If we do that, we’ll be in the game.”
“It’s not going to get any easier,” Soucie said. “We have to clean up some things. It’s a process. We won’t get too high or too low. We’re progressing. We have three games next week, two against our city rivals. We’ll embrace the challenge. We’ll come and battle.”
Cheverus senior Jack Casale shoots over Bonny Eagle junior Connor Sirois for two of his game-high 22 points.
Cheverus senior Noah Johnson fights Bonny Eagle senior Jackson Hogan for possession.
Cheverus junior Will Shibles soars for a shot over Bonny Eagle sophomore William Hendrix (34) and junior Nick Thorne.
Cheverus junior Tobias Ephron drives on Bonny Eagle junior Christian Napolitano.
Cheverus sophomore Owen Burke shoots over Bonny Eagle senior Jackson Hogan.
Cheverus senior Jesse Matthews leans in for a shot.