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Good 'Dogs knock off Deering, 56-45

Sports

Good 'Dogs knock off Deering, 56-45

PORTLAND—The Portland boys' basketball team has been Jekyll and Hyde this winter.

When the Bulldogs are bad, they can be excruciating to watch and are average at best, but when the 'Dogs are good, look out, they resemble a top contender.

Portland's bark and bite returned Friday night at the Expo where the Bulldogs shot to an early lead and were never seriously tested en route to a 56-45 victory over rival Deering that left both teams 8-5 on the season.

Senior Koang Thok had 25 points to lead the way and the hosts had several other players step up as they hinted that they might be ready for yet another of their patented late-season surges.

"It's a nice win for us," said Portland coach Joe Russo. "This will be good for Heal Points. Deering will win a lot of games."

Koang's show

Prior to tipoff Friday, Thok was honored as a Maine McDonald's All-American selection. He's been solid all season, but his team has been up-and-down. The Bulldogs haven't won more than two in a row all year, but were coming off a 59-51 victory at Bonny Eagle two days prior.

Deering, meanwhile, got off to a great start this winter, winning five straight, but won just three of seven afterwards, and was coming off a 63-42 loss at Westbrook Monday.

The Rams took an early lead Friday before Portland seized control for good.

Just 24 seconds in, a floater from sophomore Jon Amabile made it 2-0 Deering. Bulldogs senior Joe Zukowski answered with a layup, but junior Nick Colucci made a 3 to give the Rams their biggest advantage, 5-2.

A steal and a layup by Thok, a pullup jumper from sophomore Will DeFanti, two Thok foul shots and a Thok layup put Portland ahead to stay, 10-5. After senior Eddie Tirabassi ended the 8-0 run with a layup, Thok scored on a putback, then sank a 3 to make it 15-7. A Tirabassi layup was answered by a 3-ball from senior Wally Stover. Junior Jackson Frey made two shots with 40.1 seconds left to pull the Rams within seven, 18-11, after one.

The hosts continued to surge in the second.

A floater by Zukowski was answered by a jump shot from Deering sophomore Cal Londan, but DeFanti made a layup, Thok hit a foul shot, drained a jumper and freshman Nate Smart made two free throws for a 27-13 lead. Amabile momentarily stemmed the tide with a baseline jumper, but Zukowski hit a jumper. After Amabile banked home a 3-pointer, Thok answered with a 3-ball for a 32-18 advantage.

With 1:42 to go in the half, Tirabassi hit a jumper in the lane, but Thok fed sophomore Peter Donato for a layup and Thok made two free throws to push the lead to 16, 36-20. A layup from Rams senior Sam Coyne in the final minute was answered by a Zukowski tip-in with 3.6 ticks left to give Portland a solid 38-22 advantage at the break.

The Bulldogs went ice-cold in the third, but the visitors weren't able to take full advantage.

When Thok started the period with a 3 to give his team its biggest lead, 41-22, it appeared lights out, but the hosts would score one more point the rest of the way. Amabile and Colucci hit consecutive 3s to make it 41-28. After a Thok foul shot, Colucci sank a jumper, Coyne made two free throws and Colucci fed Amabile for a backdoor layup to make it 42-34 after three.

Down the stretch, the Rams could get no closer than seven points.

A DeFanti coast-to-coast layup started the fourth. Junior Dennis Ross answered with a jumper for Deering, but Smart made a foul shot. After a Ross free throw made it 45-37, Zukowski scored on a layup with 4:35 left for a 10-point lead. Just 12 seconds later, Colucci made another 3-ball and it was 47-40, but DeFanti made one free throw and freshman Nick Volger scored a clutch layup to make it 50-40 with 3:18 to go.

Single free throws from Deering junior Riko Augustino and Amabile cut the deficit to eight, but Zukowski made one foul shot, Thok sank a pair, Zukowski hit one of two and with 17 seconds to play, Volger hit two. A 3-ball from Amabile in the waning seconds accounted for the 56-45 final score.

"In the first half, we looked like a team achieving our expectations," Russo said. "In the third quarter, we had flashbacks of why we haven't. In the fourth quarter, we regrouped and stepped it up a little bit."

In addition to Thok's 25 points, Zukowski had 12 for the Bulldogs. DeFanti finished with seven. Seven different players scored.

"The freshmen played well," Russo said. "Pete Donato played great. I think he's going to be good."

Deering had simply dug a hole that was too steep to emerge from.

"We just tried to get back in it and have some pride," said Rams coach Dan LeGage. "The third quarter was something we needed more of. They just jumped out. You can't spot a good team a big lead and expect to win. They hit shots in our face. Koang hit shots that were difficult. We were kind of sleepwalking a little bit defensively. We'll go back to practice and try and figure it out. We'll stay positive and try to get the next one."

Deering got 16 points from Amabile and 11 from Colucci.

The Rams (seventh in the latest Western A Heal Points standings) host Windham Tuesday and go to South Portland Thursday.

"The way the schedule is, we have all the top eight teams in a row, that's grueling," said LeGage. "Hopefully we can knock off one of the top teams. If we want to improve on our standing, we have to do that. We have to do a better job defensively. Offensively, we have to be sharper."

Portland (fifth in Western A) goes to Sanford Tuesday and hosts Scarborough Thursday. The Bulldogs and Rams meet again in the regular season finale, Feb. 5 at Deering.

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net

PORTLAND — The Portland boys' basketball team has been Jekyll and Hyde this winter.

When the Bulldogs are bad, they can be excruciating to watch, an average team at best. But when the 'Dogs are good, look out, they resemble a top contender.

Portland's bark and bite returned Friday night at the Expo where the Bulldogs shot to an early lead and were never seriously tested en route to a 56-45 victory over rival Deering that left both teams 8-5 on the season.

Senior Koang Thok had 25 points to lead the way and the hosts had several other players step up as they hinted that they might be ready for yet another of their patented late-season surges.

"It's a nice win for us," said Portland coach Joe Russo. "This will be good for Heal Points. Deering will win a lot of games."

Koang's show

Prior to tipoff Friday, Thok was honored as a Maine McDonald's All-American selection. He's been solid all season, but his team has been up-and-down. The Bulldogs haven't won more than two in a row all year, but were coming off a 59-51 victory at Bonny Eagle two days prior.

Deering, meanwhile, got off to a great start this winter, winning five straight, but won just three of seven afterwards, and was coming off a 63-42 loss at Westbrook Monday.

The Rams took an early lead Friday before Portland seized control for good.

Just 24 seconds in, a floater from sophomore Jon Amabile made it 2-0 Deering. Bulldogs senior Joe Zukowski answered with a layup, but junior Nick Colucci made a 3 to give the Rams their biggest advantage, 5-2.

A steal and a layup by Thok, a pullup jumper from sophomore Will DeFanti, two Thok foul shots and a Thok layup put Portland ahead to stay, 10-5. After senior Eddie Tirabassi ended the 8-0 run with a layup, Thok scored on a putback, then sank a 3 to make it 15-7. A Tirabassi layup was answered by a 3-ball from senior Wally Stover. Junior Jackson Frey made two shots with 40.1 seconds left to pull the Rams within seven, 18-11, after one.

The hosts continued to surge in the second.

A floater by Zukowski was answered by a jump shot from Deering sophomore Cal Londan, but DeFanti made a layup, Thok hit a foul shot, drained a jumper and freshman Nate Smart made two free throws for a 27-13 lead. Amabile momentarily stemmed the tide with a baseline jumper, but Zukowski hit a jumper. After Amabile banked home a 3-pointer, Thok answered with a 3-ball for a 32-18 advantage.

With 1:42 to go in the half, Tirabassi hit a jumper in the lane, but Thok fed sophomore Peter Donato for a layup and Thok made two free throws to push the lead to 16, 36-20. A layup from Rams senior Sam Coyne in the final minute was answered by a Zukowski tip-in with 3.6 ticks left to give Portland a solid 38-22 advantage at the break.

The Bulldogs went ice-cold in the third, but the visitors weren't able to take full advantage.

When Thok started the period with a 3 to give his team its biggest lead, 41-22, it appeared lights out, but the hosts would score one more point the rest of the way. Amabile and Colucci hit consecutive 3s to make it 41-28. After a Thok foul shot, Colucci sank a jumper, Coyne made two free throws and Colucci fed Amabile for a backdoor layup to make it 42-34 after three.

Down the stretch, the Rams could get no closer than seven points.

A DeFanti coast-to-coast layup started the fourth. Junior Dennis Ross answered with a jumper for Deering, but Smart made a foul shot. After a Ross free throw made it 45-37, Zukowski scored on a layup with 4:35 left for a 10-point lead. Just 12 seconds later, Colucci made another 3-ball and it was 47-40, but DeFanti made one free throw and freshman Nick Volger scored a clutch layup to make it 50-40 with 3:18 to go.

Single free throws from Deering junior Riko Augustino and Amabile cut the deficit to eight, but Zukowski made one foul shot, Thok sank a pair, Zukowski hit one of two and with 17 seconds to play, Volger hit two. A 3-ball from Amabile in the waning seconds accounted for the 56-45 final score.

"In the first half, we looked like a team achieving our expectations," Russo said. "In the third quarter, we had flashbacks of why we haven't. In the fourth quarter, we regrouped and stepped it up a little bit."

In addition to Thok's 25 points, Zukowski had 12 for the Bulldogs. DeFanti finished with seven. Seven different players scored.

"The freshmen played well," Russo said. "Pete Donato played great. I think he's going to be good."

Deering had simply dug a hole that was too steep to emerge from.

"We just tried to get back in it and have some pride," said Rams coach Dan LeGage. "The third quarter was something we needed more of. They just jumped out. You can't spot a good team a big lead and expect to win. They hit shots in our face. Koang hit shots that were difficult. We were kind of sleepwalking a little bit defensively. We'll go back to practice and try and figure it out. We'll stay positive and try to get the next one."

Deering got 16 points from Amabile and 11 from Colucci.

The Rams (seventh in the latest Western A Heal Points standings) hosted Windham Tuesday, go to South Portland Thursday and Marshwood Saturday.

"The way the schedule is, we have all the top eight teams in a row, that's grueling," said LeGage. "Hopefully we can knock off one of the top teams. If we want to improve on our standing, we have to do that. We have to do a better job defensively. Offensively, we have to be sharper."

Portland (fifth in Western A) went to Sanford Tuesday and hosts Scarborough Thursday. Saturday, it goes to Biddeford.

The Bulldogs and Rams meet again in the regular season finale, Feb. 5 at Deering.

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net

PORTLAND — The Portland boys' basketball team has been Jekyll and Hyde this winter.

When the Bulldogs are bad, they can be excruciating to watch, an average team at best. But when the 'Dogs are good, look out, they resemble a top contender.

Portland's bark and bite returned Friday night at the Expo where the Bulldogs shot to an early lead and were never seriously tested en route to a 56-45 victory over rival Deering that left both teams 8-5 on the season.

Senior Koang Thok had 25 points to lead the way and the hosts had several other players step up as they hinted that they might be ready for yet another of their patented late-season surges.

"It's a nice win for us," said Portland coach Joe Russo. "This will be good for Heal Points. Deering will win a lot of games."

Koang's show

Prior to tipoff Friday, Thok was honored as a Maine McDonald's All-American selection. He's been solid all season, but his team has been up-and-down. The Bulldogs haven't won more than two in a row all year, but were coming off a 59-51 victory at Bonny Eagle two days prior.

Deering, meanwhile, got off to a great start this winter, winning five straight, but won just three of seven afterwards, and was coming off a 63-42 loss at Westbrook Monday.

The Rams took an early lead Friday before Portland seized control for good.

Just 24 seconds in, a floater from sophomore Jon Amabile made it 2-0 Deering. Bulldogs senior Joe Zukowski answered with a layup, but junior Nick Colucci made a 3 to give the Rams their biggest advantage, 5-2.

A steal and a layup by Thok, a pullup jumper from sophomore Will DeFanti, two Thok foul shots and a Thok layup put Portland ahead to stay, 10-5. After senior Eddie Tirabassi ended the 8-0 run with a layup, Thok scored on a putback, then sank a 3 to make it 15-7. A Tirabassi layup was answered by a 3-ball from senior Wally Stover. Junior Jackson Frey made two shots with 40.1 seconds left to pull the Rams within seven, 18-11, after one.

The hosts continued to surge in the second.

A floater by Zukowski was answered by a jump shot from Deering sophomore Cal Londan, but DeFanti made a layup, Thok hit a foul shot, drained a jumper and freshman Nate Smart made two free throws for a 27-13 lead. Amabile momentarily stemmed the tide with a baseline jumper, but Zukowski hit a jumper. After Amabile banked home a 3-pointer, Thok answered with a 3-ball for a 32-18 advantage.

With 1:42 to go in the half, Tirabassi hit a jumper in the lane, but Thok fed sophomore Peter Donato for a layup and Thok made two free throws to push the lead to 16, 36-20. A layup from Rams senior Sam Coyne in the final minute was answered by a Zukowski tip-in with 3.6 ticks left to give Portland a solid 38-22 advantage at the break.

The Bulldogs went ice-cold in the third, but the visitors weren't able to take full advantage.

When Thok started the period with a 3 to give his team its biggest lead, 41-22, it appeared lights out, but the hosts would score one more point the rest of the way. Amabile and Colucci hit consecutive 3s to make it 41-28. After a Thok foul shot, Colucci sank a jumper, Coyne made two free throws and Colucci fed Amabile for a backdoor layup to make it 42-34 after three.

Down the stretch, the Rams could get no closer than seven points.

A DeFanti coast-to-coast layup started the fourth. Junior Dennis Ross answered with a jumper for Deering, but Smart made a foul shot. After a Ross free throw made it 45-37, Zukowski scored on a layup with 4:35 left for a 10-point lead. Just 12 seconds later, Colucci made another 3-ball and it was 47-40, but DeFanti made one free throw and freshman Nick Volger scored a clutch layup to make it 50-40 with 3:18 to go.

Single free throws from Deering junior Riko Augustino and Amabile cut the deficit to eight, but Zukowski made one foul shot, Thok sank a pair, Zukowski hit one of two and with 17 seconds to play, Volger hit two. A 3-ball from Amabile in the waning seconds accounted for the 56-45 final score.

"In the first half, we looked like a team achieving our expectations," Russo said. "In the third quarter, we had flashbacks of why we haven't. In the fourth quarter, we regrouped and stepped it up a little bit."

In addition to Thok's 25 points, Zukowski had 12 for the Bulldogs. DeFanti finished with seven. Seven different players scored.

"The freshmen played well," Russo said. "Pete Donato played great. I think he's going to be good."

Deering had simply dug a hole that was too steep to emerge from.

"We just tried to get back in it and have some pride," said Rams coach Dan LeGage. "The third quarter was something we needed more of. They just jumped out. You can't spot a good team a big lead and expect to win. They hit shots in our face. Koang hit shots that were difficult. We were kind of sleepwalking a little bit defensively. We'll go back to practice and try and figure it out. We'll stay positive and try to get the next one."

Deering got 16 points from Amabile and 11 from Colucci.

The Rams (seventh in the latest Western A Heal Points standings) hosted Windham Tuesday, go to South Portland Thursday and Marshwood Saturday.

"The way the schedule is, we have all the top eight teams in a row, that's grueling," said LeGage. "Hopefully we can knock off one of the top teams. If we want to improve on our standing, we have to do that. We have to do a better job defensively. Offensively, we have to be sharper."

Portland (fifth in Western A) went to Sanford Tuesday and hosts Scarborough Thursday. Saturday, it goes to Biddeford.

The Bulldogs and Rams meet again in the regular season finale, Feb. 5 at Deering.

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net