Deering senior Ben Onek shoots over Portland senior Jeremiah Alado during the Rams’ 64-40 victory Thursday night. Deering beat the Bulldogs for the first time in 15 meetings.
Shawn Patrick Ouellette photos.
More photos below.
P- 3 7 14 16- 40
D- 16 20 11 17- 64
P- Chadbourne 5-1-15, Fonseca 4-1-11, Bellew 2-2-6, Alado 1-1-4, Wakati 1-2-4
D- Morrione 7-1-21, Onek 9-1-20, Germain 6-0-15, Randall 2-2-6, Semuhoze 1-0-2
P (7) Chadbourne 4, Fonseca 2, Alado 1
D (10) Morrione 6, Germain 3, Onek 1
PORTLAND—The 15th time was the charm.
Oh my, was it ever the charm.
Deering’s boys’ basketball team, after six frustrating years and 14 futile attempts at beating rival and nemesis Portland, made an emphatic statement against the Bulldogs Thursday evening at home on the Rams’ Senior Night.
Deering, which has gotten off to a slow start so many times in the past against Portland, set the tone immediately, as junior sparkplug Darryl Germain drained a pair of 3-pointers.
Senior Ben Onek then got to the rim and finished twice and junior Max Morrione made two 3s, including one just before the horn, and after one quarter, the Rams had a healthy 16-3 lead.
By the half, Deering’s advantage would be commanding, as 13 points from Morrione, 11 from Onek and eight from Germain spelled a 36-10 advantage.
The Bulldogs showed some life in the second half, but never made a serious run and the Rams kept the pedal to the metal for 32 minutes and went on to a 64-40 victory.
Morrione scored 21 points, Onek added 20 and Germain finished with 15 as Deering finished the regular season 12-6, ended Portland’s campaign at 10-8, beat the Bulldogs for the first time since 2013 and in the process, earned the right to host Portland again next Thursday in a Class AA North quarterfinal.
“It feels awesome,” said Onek, who was in the sixth grade the last time Deering beat Portland. “We came out with energy, we stuck with the energy and that’s what gave us the lead. This means a lot for the program. We needed this one.”
Portland has long had Deering’s number and enjoyed its 14th successive win over the Rams Dec. 27 at the Expo, 55-32, behind a balanced attack led by a dozen points from junior Simon Chadbourne.
On balance this winter, Deering has been the stronger team, however.
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, 65-48, and Tuesday, won at Cheverus, 70-54.
Portland won its first four games: 80-48 at Noble, 59-46 over visiting Windham, 56-53 (in overtime) at Oxford Hills and 69-41 at Massabesic. After letting a 15-point halftime lead slip away in a 64-58 loss at Bangor, the Bulldogs beat visiting Deering, 55-32, then dropped a 56-53 overtime heartbreaker at Gorham and a 61-56 double-overtime decision to visiting Edward Little, the defending Class AA champion. After eking out a 49-47 home win over Sanford, Portland fell at South Portland, 58-48, then downed visiting Scarborough (59-40), visiting Lewiston (68-55) and host Cheverus (72-42). After losing, 54-23, at Thornton Academy, Portland lost at home in overtime to Bonny Eagle, 62-61, and at home to Cheverus, 53-50, before righting the ship Tuesday at home over South Portland (51-39).
Thursday, in front of a raucous home crowd, the Rams beat the Bulldogs for the first time since a 37-30 home victory Feb. 7, 2013.
It took just 15 seconds for Deering to hint that this time was going to be different, as Germain lined up a 3-pointer and buried it to put the Rams ahead to stay.
After a Germain steal on the defensive end, he canned another 3.
“Those shots were big to get us going,” said Morrione. “One of our leaders made a big play and everyone else started to feel it.”
“Darryl’s 3s got us going a lot,” Onek said. “He brought the energy.”
Moments later, Onek scored his first points, on a driving bank shot, and it was 8-0 Deering.
With 2:26 to go in the opening stanza, the Bulldogs finally got on the board, when senior Pedro Fonseca scored on a putback while being fouled, then added the free throw for an old-fashioned three-point play.
That was just a hiccup for the Rams, however, who before the first quarter was over, got a 3 from Morrione, a runner from Onek and a 3 from Morrione just before the horn to go up, 16-3.
“It’s all about momentum, so capitalizing was big,” Morrione said.
“Max was lighting it up,” Germain said. “We got it to his spots and he hit them.”
“This time, we knew we had to hit shots,” Onek said. “When we played at the Expo, we didn’t hit anything. Tonight, we came out and hit 3s.”
Deering then came out and proved that the first period was no fluke as it completely pulled away by halftime.
Morrione got things started with a 3. After Onek made a free throw and hit a jumper, Morrione made another 3 from the corner with 5:11 on the first half clock and it was 25-3 Rams.
A foul shot from Chadbourne with 4:45 to play before halftime snapped a 17-0 Deering run and a 5-minute, 41-second scoring drought, but Onek countered with a bank shot and a floater for a 29-4 lead.
After senior Jeremiah Alado made a 3 for the visitors, Morrione hit a free throw.
Fonseca drove and banked home a shot, but junior Mike Randall sank two foul shots, Germain drove for a layup and sophomore Mpore Semuhoza scored on a putback.
Alado made a free throw with 15 seconds to go, but that only cut the Rams’ advantage to 36-10.
“Anytime you can put a team on their heels, that puts you at an advantage,” said Deering coach Todd Wing, who beat Portland for the first time since taking over as the program’s head coach. “It started differently this time and it ended differently.”
“We started slow and they were extremely hot from the outside,” said Portland coach Joe Russo. “They shot lights-out and we couldn’t score. We missed a lot of shots. Our goal was to keep it close in the first half, but we didn’t.”
In the first 16 minutes, Deering forced 11 Portland turnovers.
The Bulldogs tried to make a run in the third quarter, but never got closer than 23.
Fonseca stared the second half with a 3-pointer, but Germain countered with one of his own.
After senior Ronaldo Wakati made a jumper for Portland, Morrione hit a 3 and Onek made a layup after a steal for a 44-15 lead.
After senior Trey Bellew made a hook shot for the visitors, Morrione made yet another 3 for the Rams’ biggest advantage, 47-17.
The final seven points of the frame went to the Bulldogs, as Fonseca made a 3, Bellew sank a free throw and Chadbourne made another 3, but that only pulled Portland within 47-24.
Deering then finished it off in the fourth period.
A putback from Chadbourne and a leaner from Bellew pulled the Bulldogs within 19, 47-28, but they would get no closer.
With 5:20 left, Onek’s putback snapped a 4-minute, 30-second drought and Germain added a layup.
After Bellew countered with a free throw, Onek got a jumper to rattle in, then after a Germain steal, Morrione’s layup made the score 55-29.
Chadbourne made a long 3 for Portland, but Germain hit a runner, Randall made a layup after a steal and Randall’s putback made it 61-32.
After Chadbourne made another 3, Wakati hit two free throws and after Onek made a 3 for the Rams’ final points, a late 3 from Chadbourne accounted for the 64-40 final score.
“It feels good,” Germain said. “We brought the energy, we played as a team, we played good team defense and that gave us energy on offense. This is a great win, good momentum for us going into the playoffs.”
“This feels amazing,” Morrione said. “It’s been a long time coming. I’ve thought about it since last time we played. We came in ready.”
“Everyone contributed, from the fans to the bench, everyone,” Onek said. “It was a team effort. That definitely helped us.”
“The kids showed up and we played better,” Wing added. “We hit more shots. Anyone who has seen us all year long knows we can play. If we show up and take good shots, we win. Winning in this league isn’t easy. It’s good to have a win. I like winning and our guys like winning. This was just another game.”
Morrione was on fire from the get-go, making six 3-pointers and tallying 21 points overall.
“Max has been a great shooter all year,” Wing said. “He didn’t play well at Portland and he took it to heart. He played like a seasoned veteran tonight.”
Onek was a matchup nightmare all night, with a double-double of 20 points and 10 rebounds. He also had three assists and three steals.
“I knew after three, four shots it wasn’t there, so I knew I had to get closer to the hoop and get to the rim,” Onek said.
Germain added 15 points and five assists. Randall had six points and 10 rebounds and Semuhoze added two points (to go with five boards).
The Rams had a 35-31 advantage on the glass, only turned the ball over 11 times and made 4 of 10 free throws.
Portland was paced by 15 points and seven rebounds from Chadbourne.
Fonseca added 11 points, nine rebounds and three steals, Bellew had six points and six boards and Alado and Wakati tallied four points apiece.
The Bulldogs turned the ball over 20 times and made 7 of 15 foul shots.
“The kids never gave up,” Russo said. “They played a great second half. We dug deep and played with a lot of class.”
Portland, which earned the No. 5 seed in Class AA North, finishes with its fewest number of victories since the 2009-10 season and will have its lowest seed since the 2010-11 squad was also ranked fifth.
While the Bulldogs’ regular season has seen its share of ups and downs, Portland hopes to be at its best in the tournament, like it has so many years before.
“We’ll meet again,” Russo said. “We’ll come back here. Our heads are up.”
Now that it’s gotten beating Portland out of the way, Deering, which finished fourth in the region, looks to do it again, then hopes to go on a long playoff run.
“We have a week of practice,” said Morrione. “We have this night, but we’ll get refocused.”
“This gives us a lot of confidence,” said Germain. “We hope to peak from now.”
“We’ll enjoy this right now, but we’ll come back tomorrow to work in practice,” Onek said. “We have to keep in mind if we let off the gas, teams can come back on us.”
“These guys have been tested,” Wing added. “We’re the only team in AA that played 10 road games. We had a garbage call at Scarborough and a great shot by a good player down at TA ,but the guys believed that would make us better at the end. We’ve got two fantastic seniors in Ben and Luke Hill. I’ve had some great ones over the years, but these are two of the highest quality kids you’d want to be around every single day. They serve as a great example to the younger kids and they represent the program in a fantastic way.
“You want to peak going into the tournament. We’ve played well for awhile. We’ll keep doing what we do. We’ll stick to our game plan and believe in each other.”
Deering junior Darryl Germain and Portland senior Lewis Gaddas lunge for the ball.
Deering junior Darryl Germain is defended by Portland senior Pedro Fonseca.
Deering’s student section showed up in big numbers Thursday.
@ Portland 55 @ Deering 32
Portland 39 @ Deering 35
@ Portland 46 Deering 22
Portland 60 @ Deering 57
@ Portland 71 Deering 47
@ Deering 59 Portland 50
@ Portland 53 Deering 47
Western A quarterfinals
Portland 48 Deering 41
@ Portland 63 Deering 55
Portland 64 @ Deering 49
Portland 63 @ Deering 58
Deering 61 @ Portland 58
Western A Final
Deering 70 Portland 64
@ Portland 54 Deering 46
Portland 55 @ Deering 52
Western A semifinals
Deering 57 Portland 54
Portland 85 @ Deering 46
@ Portland 65 Deering 38