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This photo does a good job of summing up Tuesday’s contest, as Deering senior Delaney Haines has a shot blocked by Gorham senior Mackenzie Holmes. Holmes had a night to remember, scoring 33 points, adding 28 rebounds and five blocks, and Gorham prevailed, 49-35.
Shawn Patrick Ouellette photos.
More photos below.
G- 16 7 15 11- 49
D- 2 15 9 9- 35
G- Holmes 14-5-33, Nadeau 4-2-12, Hamilton 1-0-2, Brent 0-1-1, Nelson 0-1-1
D- Haines 6-0-13, Mastropasqua 3-0-8, Wilkins 2-2-8, Garand 1-0-2, Kim 1-0-2, Serappa 1-0-2
G (2) Nadeau 2
D (5) Mastropasqua, Wilkins 2, Haines 1
PORTLAND—Deering’s girls’ basketball team knew it faced a tall task when it hosted defending Class AA South champion Gorham Tuesday night, but Deering had no idea it was going to be on the short end of a historic, stat-stuffing performance.
Gorham senior Mackenzie Holmes, the state’s premier post player and one of the finest players to ever come out of Maine, put on a 32-minute show that began with eight points and 10 rebounds in the first quarter alone, as the visiting Rams opened up a 16-2 lead.
Gorham extended its advantage to 21-4 midway through the second period, but Deering heated up from the perimeter and roared back to within 23-17 at halftime.
Holmes, who had 14 points and 14 rebounds in the first half, scored four quick points to start the third quarter and the visitors again pulled away, taking a 38-21 lead on a Holmes putback.
While Deering got within 12 by period’s end and made it a three-possession game when senior Delaney Haines opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer, Gorham got four quick points from Holmes and never looked back, going on to a 49-35 victory.
Holmes scored 33 points, one under her season average, added a mindboggling 28 rebounds and blocked five shots as Gorham improved to 3-0 on the young season and dropped Deering to 1-2 in the process.
“(Gorham’s) a really good team with the best big kid in the state,” said Deering coach Mike Murphy. “There’s a reason why she’s going to Indiana. She could be the best big (player) ever to come out of this state.”
While Gorham fell one possession shy of a third consecutive Class AA state title a year ago, losing, 50-49, to Edward Little, it remains the state’s premier program in the minds of many and with Holmes back for one more season, the Rams are favored to capture the Gold Ball again. Gorham started the year by downing visiting Massabesic, 82-55 (behind Holmes’ 38 points) and host Noble, 69-46 (as Holmes scored 30).
Deering began with a hard-fought 60-57 loss at Sanford, then held off visiting Lewiston, 42-35.
Entering play Tuesday, Deering held a 9-4 all-time lead in the series, which dates to the 2005-06 season (see sidebar, below). Deering won the first eight meetings, while Gorham had taken four of the past five, including a 46-39 home decision last year.
Deering was seeking its first win over Gorham since Jan. 13, 2015 (44-43 on the road) and its first at home in the series since Feb. 3, 2012 (46-33), but the visiting Rams had too much Holmes and prevailed again.
Deering had trouble even generating shots in the first quarter and Gorham quickly opened up a healthy lead.
The game’s first points came with 5:32 remaining in the frame, when sophomore Adele Nadeau hit two foul shots.
With 5:05 to go, Holmes got on the board, scoring on a putback while being fouled, then adding the free throw to complete the old-fashioned three-point play for a 5-0 lead.
Deering broke the ice with 3:43 remaining, when senior Mandy Mastropasqua hit a runner, but Nadeau answered with a 3, Holmes converted another three-point play, Holmes scored on a putback and Nadeau sank a 3 for a 16-2 advantage after eight minutes.
Nadeau had eight points in the first period, while Holmes finished with eight of her own, to go along with 10 rebounds and two blocks.
“I think I focused a lot this game on not forcing shots and getting offensive boards and putbacks,” Holmes said. “I’m trying to stay focused, get better every day.”
“(Mackenzie) does a lot of things,” said Gorham coach Laughn Berthiaume. “She can handle the ball, shoot from the outside, but the biggest thing that people maybe don’t see is how she changes other teams’ offensive games. Even shots that she doesn’t block, she still gets to. Her defensive presence is just as important as her scoring.”
“I thought in the first quarter we didn’t do a good job of looking to check (Holmes) off when we were scrambling,” Murphy said. “That’s something we focused on. She scored too many easy baskets to start the game.”
Deering senior Victoria Garand started the second quarter by making a short jumper, but Holmes scored on successive putbacks and senior Courtney Brent added a foul shot for a commanding 21-4 lead with 4:31 left in the first half.
Deering refused to get run out of its gym, however, and closed the half strong.
Mastropasqua made successive 3-pointers, junior Aviyonna Kim set up classmate Livia Serappa for a layup and after Holmes finished a feed from freshman Sophia Michaud and made a layup, junior Taja Wilkens sank a 3 and Haines stepped back and sank a long jumper just before the horn to make it 23-17 and make things very interesting heading into the half.
Holmes had 14 points and 14 rebounds in the first 16 minutes, but three Deering 3-pointers in less than three minutes kept the hosts within hailing distance.
Gorham quickly squashed Deering’s comeback hopes in the third period, as Holmes spun and made a layup, Holmes scored on a putback and after a runner from Kim, Nadeau made a runner, junior Jacqui Hamilton made a layup and Holmes converted a three-point play to make it 34-19.
Wilkins got two points back at the foul line, but Holmes made a leaner, then scored on another putback for a 38-21 lead.
Deering closed the quarter strong, as Wilkins drained a 3 and Haines drove for a layup to cut the deficit to a dozen.
When Haines started the final stanza with a 3, Deering was within nine, but Holmes took a pass from sophomore Olivia Michaud and made a layup, then Holmes finished a feed from Hamilton for a 44-29 lead with 2:49 to play.
Consecutive Haines layups after steals proved to be Deering’s last surge. Freshman Anna Nelson made a free throw and Holmes sank two and after Haines made another layup after a steal, a Holmes putback, fittingly, accounted for the 49-35 final score.
“We knew going in that Deering was a good team,” Holmes said. “I knew they’d start hitting shots and they did. They played great defense too. Credit to them. We struggled with their pressure in the first half, but we started to adjust and slow things down and not force passes.”
In addition to Holmes’ whopping production, Nadeau had 12 points (and six rebounds), Hamilton (five rebounds and two steals) two and Brent (six boards) and Nelson one apiece.
Gorham enjoyed a dominant 53-19 advantage on the glass, with nearly half (26) coming on the offensive boards. The Rams overcame 16 turnovers and made 9 of 17 free throws.
“They turned up their defensive intensity and we didn’t respond the way I’d like to,” Berthiaume said. “We played a little scared and we have to be stronger with the basketball. We moved it better in the second half.”
Deering was paced by Haines’ 13 points. She also had five rebounds and three steals. Mastropasqua and Wilkins added eight points apiece, while Garand, Kim (three assists) and Serappa each finished with two.
The Rams made their only two free throws and turned the ball over 10 times.
“The effort was there,” Murphy said. “We had a really down-to-the-buzzer game with them last year, so the start of the contest was a little disappointing. We showed some spunk in the second quarter and made it a contest.”
Gorham looks to stay perfect Friday when Scarborough pays a visit in a regional final rematch. The Rams then close the old year next week with games at at home versus Sanford on Thursday and at Portland Saturday.
“We just want to get better every day,” Holmes said. “You don’t know how appreciative you are of winning a state championship until you lose one. That loss gave us a motivating factor for sure. It was hard, but we’re a really tight-knit group. I love the girls on the team. Every day is so fun because we don’t take ourselves too seriously.”
“As far as the new season goes, we’re excited to be back in the gym and we’re ready to go,” Berthiaume said. “(Last year’s state game) is something we’re not going to forget, but we’re also not going to dwell on it. We hope to learn from it and get better and hopefully get back in a situation where we can use that information. We have to make sure we’re not one-dimensional and that other players can do their part on the offensive end and we have to move the ball when teams double Mackenzie.”
Deering looks to bounce back and even its record Thursday of next week, when it goes to Portland for its final 2018 contest.
“We didn’t back down, so to me, that’s a positive,” Murphy said. “Not mentally and physically quitting and making a game out of it was positive. We have to be consistent. I like how we’re playing overall.”
Gorham sophomore Adele Nadeau defends Deering junior Aviyonna Kim.
Deering senior Mandy Mastropasqua dribbles past Gorham sophomore Adele Nadeau.
@ Gorham 46 Deering 39
Gorham 50 @ Deering 23
@ Gorham 58 Deering 23
Deering 44 @ Gorham 43
Gorham 53 @ Deering 44
Deering 53 @ Gorham 37
@ Deering 46 Gorham 33
Deering 51 @ Gorham 40
@ Deering 63 Gorham 43
@ Deering 80 Gorham 33
Deering 57 @ Gorham 56
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Deering 49 @ Gorham 44