D- 21 13 19 17- 70
C- 13 16 6 19- 54
D- Onek 8-0-20, Germain 6-5-19, Randall 5-5-15, Morrione 3-0-8, Anda 2-2-6, Kamalandua 1-0-2
C- Burke 8-3-22, Duchaine 3-2-11, Foster 3-2-11, Galli 2-0-4, Oryem 2-0-4, Flaherty 0-1-1, Joyce 0-1-1
D (8) Onek 4, Germain, Morrione 2
C (9) Burke, Duchaine, Foster 3
PORTLAND—Deering’s boys’ basketball team has the pieces in place to do something special this winter and Tuesday evening at Keegan Gymnasium, against rival Cheverus, the Rams demonstrated why the best might be yet to come.
Deering raced out of the gate and took a 21-13 lead after one quarter behind 11 points from senior standout Ben Onek, but a minute into the second period, Onek picked up his third foul and had to sit the remainder of the first half.
After carrying his team to big things all year, Onek watched from the sidelines as his teammates returned the favor, not allowing the Stags to rally and hold on to a 34-29 halftime advantage.
Onek returned to the floor to start the second half and he sparked a 15-0 run that blew the game open, sandwiching baskets around a feed to junior Max Morrione for a slam dunk, and the Rams held a 53-35 lead after three periods.
Cheverus got as close as 11 points in the final stanza before junior Mike Randall helped Deering pull away and prevail, 70-54.
Onek led the way with 20 points, junior Darryl Germain added 19 and Randall finished with 15 as the Rams swept the season series, improved to 11-6 and in the process, dropped the Stags to 9-8.
“This is what we do,” said Deering coach Todd Wing. “We play together, we take good shots, we win games. These guys don’t have an ounce of quit in them. They do their job.”
While Bangor and defending state champion Edward Little might be viewed as the teams to beat in Class AA North, Cheverus and Deering like their chances to make some serious noise in the weeks to come.
The Rams defeated visiting South Portland (53-40), visiting Sanford (62-57), host Lewiston (80-57) and host Gorham (61-58) to start the year. After a 55-32 setback at nemesis Portland, Deering lost at Bonny Eagle (60-46), beat visiting Oxford Hills (41-36), dropped a controversial 52-51 decision at Scarborough, beat visiting Cheverus (65-52), lost at Bangor (47-42) and Edward Little (63-61), then downed host South Portland (50-41), visiting Massabesic (47-35) and visiting Windham (51-43). After falling at Thornton Academy on a buzzer-beater (50-47), the Rams handled visiting Noble Friday, 65-48.
Cheverus, meanwhile, started with a 58-48 victory at Windham and after losses at home to South Portland (63-45) and defending AA champion Edward Little (61-56), downed visiting Sanford (61-59) and visiting Bonny Eagle (61-49). The Stags rolled at Lewiston, 77-42, then lost at unbeaten Bangor, 78-60 and at home to Thornton Academy (54-29), before downing visiting Scarborough, the defending Class AA South champion (61-53), and visiting Gorham (68-64). Following a 65-52 loss at Deering, Cheverus romped at Massabesic (66-17), but losses to visiting Portland (72-42) and at Oxford Hills (54-49) followed. Last week, the Stags defeated host Noble, 62-40 and rallied to shock host Portland, 53-50.
Entering Tuesday’s contest, Deering had beaten Cheverus in 12 of the past 15 meetings (see sidebar, below).
This time around, on the Stags’ Senior Night, after 10 Cheverus players were honored in a pregame ceremony, the Rams led most of the way.
Germain set the tone with a bank shot just 12 seconds in.
After the Stags went up on a 3-pointer from senior Patrick Foster, Onek scored his first points on a jumper, then Onek, after a steal, pulled up and drained a 3-pointer for a 7-3 lead.
Senior Owen Burke then made a couple free throws and Foster made another 3 for an 8-7 Cheverus advantage, but Randall countered with a layup for his first points.
With 4:26 left in the opening stanza, senior Akera Oryem scored on a putback to give the Stags their final lead, but 12 of the next 14 points went to Deering, as a corner 3-ball from Onek put the Rams on top to stay, Germain made two free throws, Onek hit a 3 and a putback from junior Jess Kamalandua capped a 10-0 surge.
Senior Matt Duchaine’s 3 snapped the surge, but a runner in the lane from Germain made it 21-13 Deering heading to the second period.
There, Burke hit a leaner in the lane, but Germain converted an old-fashioned three-point play (leaner, foul, free throw) for a 24-15 advantage.
“Darryl is a quality player, a floor general,” Wing said. “He gets in the lane and makes people better.”
The game appeared primed to turn with 6:50 left in the half, when Foster was fouled by Onek, his third, forcing the standout to the bench for the rest of the half.
Foster made both attempts, then sank a 3 to cut the deficit to four, but Germain countered with a layup, then Germain drained a pair of free throws for a 28-20 Rams’ lead.
The Stags roared right back, as Duchaine and Burke both made 3s, but that’s as close as the hosts would get.
After Randall sank two free throws, Germain drove to the basket before kicking out to junior Max Morrrione for a 3.
Randall added a foul shot, but just before the break, Duchaine sank two free throws and senior Ryan Flaherty hit another to make it 34-29 Deering at the break.
In the first half of action, Germain led all scorers with 13 points, while Onek scored 11 in his limited time on the floor.
Onek returned to the floor for the second half and sparked a 15-0 run to break it open.
Just eight seconds in to the third quarter, Onek made a jump shot.
Onek then stole the ball and passed ahead to Morrione, who broke in for a slam dunk.
“I wanted to get back on the floor really bad,” Onek said. “I know I can help the guys, but I can’t do that when I’m on the bench. I was hot tonight. I hit some shots and looked to hit some more shots and I tried to penetrate.”
“Ben carries us all the time,” Randall said. “He carries such a load, so whenever he’s out, it’s our job to pick him up. The energy stayed up and we held the lead.”
After Onek drained a long 3, Germian hit a 3 in transition, Morrione made a 3 from the corner and with 5:12 left in the frame, junior Loki Anda’s putback put the Rams ahead by an insurmountable 20 points, 49-29.
A 3-ball from Burke ended the run and gave the hosts their first points of the half, but Onek countered with a fadeaway jumper.
After Burke made a leaner for the Stags, Onek scored on a putback.
A late foul shot from senior Richard Joyce pulled Cheverus within 53-35 heading to the fourth quarter.
“We scored six points in the third quarter,” lamented Cheverus coach Ryan Soucie. “We missed a lot of shots and they scored 19 points, so they made their shots.”
In the final stanza, the Stags tried to make things interesting, but couldn’t do so.
An Anda driving layup started the fourth quarter.
After junior Nick Galli scored his first points for the hosts on a layup, Randall’s putback made it 57-37 Deering.
Burke then made a layup and hit a free throw, but Randall countered with a layup for a 59-40 lead with 5:11 on the clock.
Cheverus had one more push, as Oryem scored on a putback, Duchiane buried a 3 and Galli scored on a putback to make it 59-47.
Two Randall foul shots stemmed the tide and after Burke hit a 3 to make it an 11-point contest, Randall made a layup.
Burke’s layup cut the deficit to 63-52 with 2:49 left, but Germain made a 3, Anda hit two foul shots and Anda set up Randall for a layup and Deering’s final points.
In the final seconds, a Burke layup accounted for the 70-54 final score.
Onek paced the Rams with 20 points and eight rebounds.
“Ben’s more than one-dimensional,” Wing said. “He makes great shots, he gets us out in transition. We’re lucky to have him. That’s what great players do.”
Germain had 19 points and four assists, Randall added 15 points and four rebounds.
“All my buckets were off great setups from my teammates,” said Randall. “I didn’t have to work at that at all. Darryl had great passes. It’s just my job to be there and play with energy and finish.”
“Every team needs a Mike Randall and we’ve got one,” Wing said.
Morrione finished with eight points, Anda had six (to go with nine rebounds) and Kamalandua tallied two.
Deering enjoyed a 31-24 rebounding advantage, made 12 of 14 free throws and overcame 15 turnovers.
Cheverus got a game-high 22 points from Burke. Duchaine (seven rebounds and three assists) and Foster each tallied 11 points, Galli (six boards) and Oryem had four apiece and Flaherty and Joyce each tallied one.
The Stags turned the ball over 14 times and sank 9 of 17 foul shots.
“We weren’t making shots we’ve made all year long,” Soucie lamented. “I do think we missed an opportunity (with Onek on the bench). We should have capitalized on it. We didn’t shoot well. My kids played hard and didn’t quit, but Deering’s size and athleticism hindered what we wanted to do and made us rush offensively. Weaknesses get exposed against teams like Deering, especially when we’re missing shots and they make theirs.”
Cheverus (now sixth in the Class AA North Heal Points standings) closes the regular season Thursday at South Portland.
“We have bigger games ahead,” Soucie said. “Hopefully, this is a blip and we can learn from it. I think the home playoff game is out of the picture, but this season is all about matchups. We have to see what kind of matchup we get and game plan for it and play our best game of the year.”
Deering (fifth in the region) closes at home versus Portland Thursday.
“It’s very important to beat Portland, not just for me, but for the Deering community,” Onek said. “They’re our rival. A win would be big for Deering Nation.”
“We have to keep playing the way we’ve been playing,” Randall said. “We’ve had some unlucky bounces here or there. We have to get to the tournament and hope the bounces will go our way. We have the utmost confidence we can make a run.”
“We’re playing at a high level,” Wing added. “We compete every game. We take one game at a time.”
@ Deering 65 Cheverus 52
@ Cheverus 53 Deering 52
@ Deering 62 Cheverus 60
Deering 67 @ Cheverus 48
@ Deering 57 Cheverus 44
@ Deering 69 Cheverus 45
Deering 49 @ Cheverus 43
Cheverus 45 @ Deering 34
Deering 69 @ Cheverus 64
@ Cheverus 47 Deering 46
@ Deering 66 Cheverus 56
@ Deering 71 Cheverus 63
Deering 64 @ Cheverus 52
@ Cheverus 49 Deering 40
@ Deering 50 Cheverus 46
Western A semifinals
Deering 52 Cheverus 49
@ Cheverus 61 Deering 51
Cheverus 43 Deering 36
Cheverus 72 @ Deering 42
@ Cheverus 63 Deering 53
Cheverus 63 @ Deering 35
@ Cheverus 60 Deering 38
@ Cheverus 67 Deering 49
Cheverus 66 @ Deering 48
Cheverus 68 @ Deering 58 (OT)
@ Cheverus 55 Deering 34
Deering 50 @ Cheverus 49
@ Deering 51 Cheverus 47
@ Cheverus 57 Deering 51
Cheverus 60 @ Deering 51
Western A Final
Deering 45 Cheverus 42
@ Cheverus 65 Deering 54
Cheverus 66 @ Deering 52