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Local teams hit holiday break

Sports

Local teams hit holiday break

Just as quickly as we began, the 2009-10 winter sports season is set to take a brief holiday hiatus. While the sample size is small, early results have impressed and plenty more drama and triumph appear in store for 2010. Here's a glimpse at where things stand a couple days before Christmas.

Boys' basketball

This just in: Cheverus' boys' basketball team is once again very, very good. The Stags are still stinging over having their perfect season ended with an upset loss to eventual state champion Thornton Academy in the semifinals back in February, but this year's squad continues to make powerful statements.

Last Tuesday, Cheverus hosted rival Portland and dominated to the tune of 63-35. The Stags were led by 15 points from senior Kyle Randall and rode a 26-point third period to the easy win in a contest that saw Cheverus senior Indiana Faithfull and Portland senior Jake Alexander ejected after an altercation.

“It was important that we didn’t flounder around there when Faithfull went out,” said Cheverus coach Bob Brown. “He’s been our starting point guard for three years and all of the sudden we’re looking around and he’s not there. But we had some guys step up and hit shots - make some big plays - and we fed off that.”

If that win wasn't impressive enough, what the Stags did to visiting Windham was jawdropping. Cheverus led the Eagles 37-7 at halftime and cruised to a 61-43 win behind sophomore Louie DiStasio's 16 points in improving to 5-0 on the season. The Stags wrapped up the 2009 portion of their schedule Tuesday at Massabesic.

Portland was able to bounce back from its loss Friday with a 58-41 home win over Gorham. The Bulldogs, playing without Alexander and senior Wally Stover, rode a big first quarter run to seize control. Senior Koang Thok led all scorers with 25 points. Portland had seven players score in all and got a lot of clutch performances from unexpected sources.

"The kids played a nice game tonight and played as a team," said Bulldogs coach Joe Russo. "The young kids stepped up tonight. We were down two starters. I was really concerned. I like how we rebounded as a team. The Cheverus game was bad, but it's out of our system. We're coming along."

Portland (3-2) played at Westbrook Tuesday.

Deering is quietly putting together a superb start to its year. The Rams improved to 5-0 with wins last week at Gorham (74-40) and Biddeford (80-50). Against Gorham, Deering was paced by 19 points apiece from senior Eddie Tirabassi and sophomore Jon Amabile. Versus the Tigers, Amabile had 21 points and Tirabassi finished with 20. The Rams faced their biggest test yet Tuesday when they went to Thornton Academy.

In Western C, Waynflete suffered its third loss in a row, 65-50, to host Old Orchard Beach last Tuesday (despite senior John Malia's 17 points). The Flyers (1-3) closed 2009 at home versus Sacopee Tuesday.

Girls' basketball

On the girls' side, while Deering got back on track last week (please see story), McAuley passed a couple tests of its own.

The Lions held off visiting Cheverus 46-39 last Tuesday (thanks in large part to 15 points, 17 boards and 16 blocks from sophomore Alexa Coulombe), then improved to 4-1 Friday night with a 53-29 home victory over Noble (as Coulombe had 17 points, 13 rebounds and 10 blocks). McAuley was at undefeated Scarborough in its 2009 finale Tuesday night.

In their loss to the Lions, the Stags were led by 24 points from their super-soph, Alexandra Palazzi-Leahy. Thursday, Cheverus bounced back and improved to 5-1 with a hard-fought 53-50 win at Windham (Palazzi-Leahy had 16 points and freshman Brook Flaherty added 14). The Stags were home with Massabesic Tuesday and return to action next Wednesday at Biddeford.

Portland is still chasing its initial victory. The Bulldogs fell to 0-5 Friday after a 57-46 loss at Gorham. Sophomore Katryna Gilson had 22 points in defeat. Portland hosted Westbrook Tuesday and goes to Massabesic next Wednesday.

In Western C, Waynflete evened its record at 2-2 last Tuesday after a 54-33 triumph over visiting Old Orchard Beach. In that one, senior standout Morgan Woodhouse led the way with 27 points, 10 rebounds and a half-dozen steals. Freshman Martha Veroneau added 18 points. The Flyers hosted Sacopee Tuesday.

Boys' hockey

On the ice, the Cheverus boys have already eclipsed last year's win total thanks to a four-game winning streak. The Stags enjoyed a 6-2 home triumph over Westbrook Thursday, then won 4-0 at Kennebunk Saturday to improve to 4-1. Against, the Blue Blazes, senior Matt Rague scored twice. In the win over the Rams, Sean Oddy had a hat trick. Cheverus was at Deering Wednesday morning in their final pre-holiday contest.

Portland got in the win column for the first time Thursday with a 4-1 win over Deering (behind two goals from senior Jason Knight). Saturday, the Bulldogs made it two straight and improved to 2-3 with a 5-3 win at Marshwood. Portland goes to Gorham Wednesday.

The loss to Portland was Deering's first, but the Rams rebounded Saturday and improved to 2-1-2 with a 6-4 home triumph over Sanford (behind senior Travis Wade's two goals). Deering was home with Cheverus Wednesday morning.

Girls' hockey

On the girls' side, Cheverus continues to dazzle, even after getting a test for the first time. Last Tuesday, the Stags went to Scarborough and found themselves tied 1-1 in the second period before senior Alyssa Audet put her team ahead to stay. Cheverus added one more in the third and went on to win, 3-1.

"We did have a battle," said Stags coach J.P. Lavoie. "It was the closest game we've had. We knew it would be close. They're a good team. We had some ups and downs, but overall, I'm happy that we were challenged and stood up to it. We need games like this to make us a better team. Scarborough gave us a real run. I'm happy where we're at. We still need to improve in some areas, but we expect to do that."

The Stags then downed visiting Gorham (8-0, behind two goals each from Audet and senior Grace Fitzpatrick) and Winslow (9-1, thanks to two more from both Audet and Fitzpatrick) to boast a record of 8-0 heading into a showdown against visiting Biddeford (the team that knocked Cheverus out of last year's playoffs) Tuesday. The Stags welcome York Wednesday, then take the rest of 2009 off.

Portland continues to impress in the early going, despite suffering its first loss, 7-4, at Biddeford last Wednesday. The Bulldogs (3-1) are home with Cape Elizabeth Wednesday and go to Winslow the following Wednesday.

Deering is 1-5-1, earning its first victory, 8-0 over Gorham/Bonny Eagle last Wednesday. In that game, the Rams got three goals and three assists from senior Tiffany Leadbetter and three goals from junior Jennifer Lynch. Deering was at York Tuesday and visits Leavitt next Wednesday.

Swimming

In the pool, the Cheverus girls enjoyed a 128-66 win over Westbrook and a 128-93 triumph over McAuley Friday. The Lions defeated the Blue Blazes, 93-66. Deering swept South Portland with the boys winning, 103-83 and the girls rolling, 104-75. The Portland boys defeated North Yarmouth Academy, 93-22 while the girls fell short to the Panthers, 88-66.

Wrestling

The Deering wrestling team has had a pair of close matches with Sanford, edging the host Redskins, 40-39, last Wednesday, then losing 42-36 to Sanford Saturday. Deering also fell, 60-18 to Bonny Eagle. The Rams are idle until a match at Scarborough on Dec. 30.

Eric Carson contributed to this story.

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

Photo: Jason Veilleux

Portland sophomore Willie DeFanti drove to the basket during the Bulldogs' 58-41 home win over Gorham Friday night.

Photo: Jason Veilleux

Bulldogs senior Joe Zukowski drove past a defender toward the basket Friday. Portland bounced back from a one-sided loss to Cheverus.