While most local teams were either participating in holiday tournaments or enjoying a few days off, the Cheverus girls’ basketball squad made a major, countable statement, stealing the show as 2009 came to a close.
Last Wednesday, the Stags visited Biddeford, a regional finalist last winter, and came away with perhaps the program’s biggest victory to date.
Cheverus forced seven first period turnovers, but found itself tied 7-7 heading for the second quarter. There, the Stags heated up and took a 22-19 lead to the break. When the visitors scored the first nine points of the second half, they appeared in control, but by period’s end, the Tigers were back within one, 36-35.
The fourth period featured three ties and four lead changes and after the hosts has a potential game-winning shot rim out, the contest would go to OT, tied at 51-51. In the extra session, with 2:48 to go, freshman Brooke Flaherty’s short jumper put the Stags ahead to stay. Cheverus got a free throw from sophomore Alexandra Palazzi-Leahy, but Biddeford answered with two. The Stags then exhaled when a potential Tigers’ game-winner fell short at the horn, giving the visitors the 56-55 win.
“It’s a statement win, a wonderful win,” said Cheverus coach Richie Ashley. “This almost guarantees we’ll get in the playoffs if we take care of the teams we’re supposed to. It was a great game. Biddeford’s a great team. Well coached. We didn’t give up or settle for moral victories. I’m very, very proud of them. I think we came of age, but we have to keep going. We’re still young.”
Palazzi-Leahy led all scorers with 23 points. Senior Hanna Lyons added 11, Flaherty had 10, and senior Theresa Hendrix finished with eight points and several key rebounds. Cheverus hit 17-of-24 free throws and forced 26 turnovers (while giving the ball away 24 times).
“We played a great game,” Hendrix said. “We gave it all we’ve got. Normally teams fall apart when the other team comes back, but we didn’t. We just pushed harder. Every girl stepped up. Our freshmen girls showed a ton of maturity. This is just the beginning. We’re coming along.”
Cheverus (7-1) faced another big test Tuesday, at Thornton Academy. After going to Bonny Eagle Thursday, the Stags get their most daunting challenge when undefeated Scarborough visits Saturday.
“We have to continue to play well,” Ashley said. “We have some tough ones ahead.”
Other local girls’ teams took part in holiday tourneys last week.
Deering won the Capital City Hoops Classic in Augusta for the third year in a row. The Rams defeated Skowhegan 36-35, Messalonskee 56-46, Jay 54-39 and Skowhegan again in the finale, 54-34. Saturday, Deering returned to league action and improved to 5-2 with a 44-31 victory at South Portland. Senior Claire Ramonas had 15 points and junior Kayla Burchill added 14.
Waynflete played at a tournament in Gorham and split a pair of games, downing Yarmouth 52-35 and losing 53-36 to Gorham. The Flyers (3-2 to date) returned to league action Tuesday at Traip. They play at Old Orchard Beach Friday.
McAuley participated in the Portland High Holiday Tourney, dropping decisions to Greely (61-33) and Falmouth (42-37). The Lions (4-2 this season) visited Bonny Eagle Tuesday, host South Portland Thursday and welcome Biddeford Tuesday.
Portland also took part in its tournament, but no results were available. The Bulldogs got into the countable games win column Wednesday with a 59-50 triumph at Massabesic (behind junior Nicollette Kapothanasis’ 24 points) and improved to 1-6 on the season. Portland was home with Windham Tuesday, goes to Kennebunk Saturday and hosts South Portland in a playoff rematch Tuesday.
On the boys’ side, Cheverus beat Deering to win one of the two holiday tournament championships at the Portland Expo (please see story). The host Bulldogs had an opportunity to win the other after eliminating Mountain Valley 61-48 and outlasting Susan Wagner, N.Y. 60-59 (in OT), but Portland had no answer for Transit Tech N.Y. in the title tilt, losing 55-37. The Bulldogs (3-3 in league play) were home with Massabesic Monday and at Windham Tuesday. Friday, Portland hosts Kennebunk and Tuesday, it goes to South Portland.
Waynflete returned to league play Tuesday at Traip. The Flyers (2-3 this season) are home with Old Orchard Beach Friday and visit Sacopee Tuesday.
Cheverus, Deering and Portland’s boys’ hockey teams competed in the ninth annual Maine High School Hockey Invitational last week.
The Stags went 1-2, defeating Moncton, New Brunswick 3-2 (in overtime) and losing 7-1 to Tewksbury, Mass., and 4-2 to Spaulding, N.H. Cheverus (4-2 so far in league play) returns to action Thursday at home versus Portland.
Speaking of the Bulldogs, they lost 8-1 to Daniel Hand, Conn., and 5-3 to Colchester, Vt. Portland (2-4 this winter) was at Brunswick Monday and visits Cheverus Thursday.
Deering went 1-2 in its three games last week. The Rams fell 3-1 to BBD, Conn., beat Kennett, N.H., 4-3, and lost 6-2 to Guilford, Conn. Deering (3-1-2 on the season) is idle until Monday when it hosts Hall-Dale.
On the girls’ side, Cheverus is still perfect. The Stags improved to 10-0 with wins over Biddeford (9-1) and York (4-2) right before Christmas. Cheverus is at Deering Thursday and visits Portland Saturday.
The Rams took a 1-6-2 mark into a game at Greely Tuesday.
The Bulldogs are 4-2-1 after tying Winslow 5-5 Wednesday. Portland was at Brunswick Monday.
The start of the 2010 indoor track season was postponed by snow from Saturday to earlier this week. Cheverus, Deering, McAuley and Portland will continue to compete at the Portland Expo this weekend.
McAuley’s girls’ swim team faced Greely Wednesday night and lost, 61-33. The Lions are at Deering this weekend. Cheverus is at Greely Thursday. Portland swam at Yarmouth Tuesday.
Having enough snow for the ski season is no longer an issue. Alpine and Nordic competition was scheduled to commence this week.
Portland and Deering’s wrestling teams met Wednesday night in Scarborough with the Rams winning, 42-18. Deering also competed against the host Red Storm (losing 43-42) and Biddeford (falling 37-36). Deering hosts Massabesic Wednesday in its first home match.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org