Showdown season arrives Rivals do battle on hardwood, ice, track and in pool
By Michael Hoffer
The first full week of 2009 winter sports action continued to provide ample thrills for fans of Cheverus, Deering, McAuley, Portland and Waynflete.
There have been highlights galore whether the sport was basketball, hockey, track, swimming or wrestling.
SUBHEAD-Boys' basketball: Deering stays hot
While defending Class A boys' basketball state champion Cheverus stayed perfect on the 2008-09 season with a win over Portland last weekend (please see accompanying story, page 13), Deering remains a top contender.
The Rams, still riding high after a recent overtime upset win over then-undefeated Thornton Academy, cruised to a 70-20 win at Noble Thursday (behind junior Eddie Tirabassi's 16 points), then held off visiting Bonny Eagle 49-45 Friday to improve to 7-2.
In the win over the Scots, Deering trailed 8-0 early, then scored 13 in a row to take the lead after one quarter. The Scots drew even at 23-23 at the half, but a 19-7 third period run put the Rams ahead and they held on down the stretch behind 19 points from senior Ronald Abwoch. Tirabassi added 16 rebounds and six steals. Sophomore Dennis Ross had eight rebounds.
Deering (fourth in the Western A Heal Points standings) was at Kennebunk Tuesday (too late for this edition), then faces its sternest tests of the season back-to-back with home games versus defending state champion Cheverus Thursday and powerhouse Portland Saturday. Tuesday, the Rams host Massabesic.
In Western C, Waynflete finally got its second win. Last Tuesday, the Flyers lost 82-24 at defending Western B champion Cape Elizabeth. Waynflete also lost 63-52 at Traip Friday. Against the Rangers, junior John Malia had 23 points. Senior Hassan Jeylani added 13. Monday, however, the Flyers downed host Sacopee 63-45 behind Malia's 23 points
The Flyers (now 2-7 and 16th in the Heal Points) host Western B power Greely Friday and welcome Traip Tuesday.
SUBHEAD-Girls' basketball: McAuley wins 'Holy War'
On the girls' side, Deering, the defending Class A champion, remains the gold standard and took a couple huge steps toward a possible undefeated regular season with recent wins at Scarborough and Noble (please see story, page 13).
The other four city teams remain entertaining as well.
In Western A, Cheverus, McAuley and Portland continue to run the gamut of emotions.
Friday night, the Stags fell 33-31 to visiting Marshwood, the Lions lost 41-39 at home to Windham and the Bulldogs were a 60-46 home loser to Biddeford.
Portland got 14 points from senior standout Nyachuol Biliew, but it wasn't enough.
Cheverus and McAuley both fell on late shots.
The Stags got 15 points from senior Jamie Lowery in defeat.
The Lions went up 21-9 (courtesy an 18-2 run) late in the first half and appeared primed to run away, but Windham got back within seven, 21-14, at the break. McAuley pushed its lead back to 11, 30-19, thanks to strong play from freshman Alexa Coulombe and sophomore Rebecca Knight, but back came the Eagles again and they got within five, 32-27, after three.
McAuley went up seven on a Knight layup to start the fourth, but Windham slowly chipped away and to its credit, was never fazed by the Lions' defense or the noisy surroundings. With 2:05 left, Meghan Gribbin hit a 3 to pull the Eagles to within one, 37-36. Twenty-two seconds later, Gribbin sank a pull-up jumper to make it 38-37 Windham. A bank shot by Knight with 1:27 left put McAuley back up 39-38, but Riley Graves made a free throw with 1:04 to go to tie it and set the stage for the final seconds.
With 46 seconds left, Lions' sophomore Nicolette Kapothanasis (who played the hero last Friday with a buzzer-beater 3) went to the line for a one-and-one, but before she could attempt her shot, McAuley was whistled for a lane violation. With 10 seconds left, Windham appeared to turn the ball over, but it wound up being grabbed by both teams and the possession arrow went to the Eagles. Graves got the inbounds pass up top, drove past a couple defenders, stumbled and tossed up a layup with five seconds to go. The Lions' last attempt ended when Graves intercepted a pass at midcourt.
"It's been bouncing about 50-50 for us," said McAuley coach Wil Smith. "Windham played hard. A lot of it was them. They crashed the boards. Credit to them. They got back in it."
Saturday night, the Lions hosted Cheverus in the renewal of the schools' "Holy War." The improved Stags hoped to beat McAuley for the first time, but the Lions rose to the occasion, pulling away in the second half to a 48-33 win behind 16 points from Coulombe and 11 apiece from Kapothanasis and Knight. Cheverus was paced by 13 from freshman Alexandra Palazzi-Leahy.
The Stags fell to 5-6 Monday with a 43-33 loss at South Portland. It was Cheverus' fifth in a row. The Stags (seventh in the Western A Heals) were at Sanford Tuesday (too late for this edition), host Windham Thursday and go to Gorham Saturday.
The Lions improved to 4-4 and are 11th in the Heals. They remain a work in progress.
"We've been in a lot of close games," Smith said. "Right now, a player to take over in a close game is yet to emerge. That's what happens when you have a young team. Ninety percent of the time we have the ball in the hands of a freshman or sophomore."
McAuley was at Gorham Tuesday (too late for this edition), hosts Deering Thursday, visits Scarborough Saturday and plays host to Westbrook Monday.
Portland is 3-6 on the year and is 15th in the Heals. The Bulldogs were home with Marshwood Tuesday (too late for this edition), play host to Sanford Thursday, go to Windham Saturday and welcome Gorham Monday.
Waynflete has climbed into the No. 2 spot in the Western C Heals. The Flyers continued their strong season last week with a 47-24 home win over Cape Elizabeth and a 47-37 victory at Traip. Monday, they won 39-20 at Sacopee to improve to 8-1.
Against the Capers, Waynflete broke open a close game in the second and third periods despite having junior standout Morgan Woodhouse on the bench in foul trouble. Woodhouse played enough to have 15 points and 13 rebounds. Senior Annie Cutler had 13 points and classmate Nina Russem added nine. Against the Rangers, senior Mariam Qazi had 15 points and Russem finished with 13. Monday, Woodhouse had 18 points and 18 boards.
The Flyers visit Western B contender Greely Friday and host Traip Tuesday.
SUBHEAD-Boys' hockey: Portland earns comeback win
On the ice, the Portland boys handed Gorham its first loss Thursday with a come-from-behind 5-4 home victory. The Bulldogs trailed 4-1, but got a power play goal from senior Greg Leborgne late in the second period, then got man-up goals from junior Scott Riggs, senior Brian Watson and senior Sam Guimond in the third to pull out the win. Senior Nick Sterling made 22 saves.
Portland hosted Yarmouth Saturday and played to a 2-2 tie. Senior Kirk Jurgelevich tied things up in the second period, but neither team was able to score again. Despite a 41-32 edge in shots, the Bulldogs settled for the deadlock. Sterling stopped 30 Clippers' shots.
Portland (3-5-1 and ninth in the Western A Heals) is idle until Saturday when it plays at Gray-New Gloucester/Poland. Monday, the Bulldogs host Brunswick.
Cheverus fell to 2-4 Saturday with a 5-2 loss at York. The Stags led 2-0 after two periods behind goals from senior Doug MacGillivray and senior Kyle Sangillo, but the defending Western B champion Wildcats erupted in the third period.
Cheverus (12th in Western A) goes to Brunswick Thursday and hosts York Saturday.
Deering (0-6 and 16th in the Western A Heals) is idle until Thursday when it hosts Mt. Ararat. Saturday, the Rams welcome Edward Little.
SUBHEAD-Girls' hockey: Cheverus finally loses
On the girls' side, Cheverus was knocked from the unbeaten ranks Saturday with a 3-2 home loss to Biddeford. Goals from junior Maggie Grindatti and Sage Witham gave the Stags a 2-1 lead, but they couldn't hold on. Sophomore goalie Saundrine Lanouette made 18 saves. Cheverus improved to 8-1 on the year with Monday with a 4-1 home win over Deering.
The Stags (fourth in the latest West Region Heals) have a home showdown with Scarborough Wednesday. Friday, Cheverus goes to Cape Elizabeth. Monday, it plays at Portland.
Speaking of the Bulldogs, they fell to 1-9 last Thursday with a 6-0 loss at Biddeford. Portland's home game with Deering Saturday was postponed. The Bulldogs (ninth in the West) play at York Wednesday, host the Wildcats Saturday and play host to Cheverus Monday.
Deering fell to 1-9 after losing to Cheverus. The Rams (seventh in the West Region Heals) play at Falmouth Thursday, host Cape Elizabeth Saturday and go to Winslow Monday.
The indoor track season continued over the weekend.
In boys' action, Deering scored 75 points to beat Bonny Eagle (64) and Scarborough (50); Cheverus (57 points) was second to Gorham (100) and beat Noble (30); and Portland (49 points) was runner-up to Biddeford (102) and downed Windham (36).
On the girls' side, Cheverus (75 points) and McAuley (48) were second and third respectively behind Gorham (114), but ahead of Noble (47). Deering (45 1/2 points) finished third behind Scarborough (98) and Bonny Eagle (56 1/2). Portland (39 points) came in third behind Biddeford (97) and Windham (61).
This Saturday, McAuley and Portland compete with Bonny Eagle and Westbrook at 8:15 a.m., Deering battles Biddeford and Gorham at 9:35 a.m., and Cheverus goes up against Scarborough and Thornton Academy at 10:55 a.m.
In boys' action, Portland meets Bonny Eagle and Westbrook at 3:05 p.m., Deering does battle with Biddeford and Gorham at 4:20 p.m., and Cheverus meets Scarborough and Thornton Academy at 5:45 p.m.
In the pool, Cheverus and Deering did battle in dramatic fashion Friday night. The Rams took the boys' meet by five points (93-88), while the Stags won the girls' competition by two (91-89). Defending Class B state champion McAuley was a 139-63 victor over Bonny Eagle and a 139-69 winner over Westbrook Friday. Portland's boys defeated visiting Windham 104-62 Friday, while the girls lost 121-36 to the Eagles.
Cheverus goes to Edward Little Wednesday and Cape Elizabeth Friday. Deering hosts Bonny Eagle Friday. McAuley faces Windham and Yarmouth Friday. Portland (with Kennebunk) is at Westbrook Friday.
Local divers had solid showings at a recent meet in Falmouth.
Deering's Brian McRae scored 301.50 points to win the boys' 11-dive competition. Cheverus' Justin Papkee was first in the boys' 6-dive with 106.35 points. Portland's Max Dinsmore (84.10) placed third, Deering's David Wells (77.85) was fourth and Portland's Kyle Richards-Connolly (70.50) came in fifth.
In the girls' 6-dive, Cheverus' Samantha Day (79.40) finished third, Portland's Samantha Dow (67.20) was fourth and Cheverus' Erin Bucci (65.70) placed fifth.
Deering's wrestling team went up against the Massabesic juggernaut Thursday and lost 63-9 at home. Senior Ryan Toussaint (130) and junior Tyler Debardino (285) won in their respective weight classes. The Rams go to Portland Wednesday.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com