Deering girls pull away to beat Cheverus

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Deering junior Abi Ramirez leans in for a shot as Cheverus junior Alayna Briggs defends during the teams’ showdown Wednesday night. Ramirez led all scorers with 17 points as the Rams prevailed, 59-42.

Mike Strout photos.

More photos below.


Deering 59 Cheverus 42

C- 13 7 12 10- 42
D- 13 16 20 10- 59

C- Cavallaro 4-2-11, B. Dawson 2-2-8, Poulin 3-0-8, Briggs 2-1-7, Sanborn 2-0-4, Malmquist 1-0-2, McElman 1-0-2

D- Ramirez 7-3-17, Titherington 4-6-15, Brett 5-2-12, Haines 4-1-12, Mastropasqua 1-0-2, Garand 0-1-1

C (7) Briggs, B. Dawson, Poulin 2, Cavallaro 1
D (4) Haines 3, Titherington 1

C- 20
D- 18

C: 5-9
D: 13-19

PORTLAND—Deering’s girls’ basketball team entered the 2015-16 season flying under the radar and that’s worked just fine for the Rams so far.

Wednesday evening, Deering hosted city rival Cheverus and took a first half lead thanks in large part to junior sparkplug Abi Ramirez, who had eight first quarter points and four more in the second as the Rams opened up a 29-20 halftime lead.

After the Stags pulled within four points early in the second half, Deering blew the game open with a 20-7 run to lead, 49-32, after three periods, as junior sharpshooter Tasia Titherington found her stroke. Cheverus never got closer than 14 points down the stretch and the Rams went on to prevail, 59-42.

Deering got 17 points from Ramirez, 15 from Titherington and 12 apiece from junior Amanda Brett and freshman Delaney Haines as the Rams improved to 5-2 and dropped the Stags to 4-3 in the process.

“It’s fine with me to be under the radar,” said Deering coach Mike Murphy. “I like the kids and the makeup of the team. I like our chemistry. We all go out and do our job.”

Streaky rivalry

Deering won the first 14 meetings between the programs (see sidebar, below) before Cheverus broke through late in the 2012-13 season, winning, 48-38, at the Rams. The Stags then upset Deering in that year’s semifinals, 33-31, and won both meetings in 2013-14, but last year, the Rams swept Cheverus, 59-43 on the road and 58-25 at home.

This winter, both teams have shown promise.

The Stags opened by crushing visiting Noble (70-19) and winning at Portland (56-46) and at home over Bangor (49-37). Cheverus then came back to Earth, losing at home to South Portland (58-34) and at Edward Little (57-41), before getting back on track last Tuesday, 67-49, over visiting Oxford Hills.

The Rams opened by beating visiting Portland, 65-47. After a 40-37 loss at South Portland in a playoff rematch, Deering won at home over Edward Little (61-47) and at Sanford (47-32) and Bangor (46-41), but fell at Lewiston three days before Christmas, 49-38.

“We didn’t play well at Lewiston,” Murphy said. “They’re scrappy. It was our third game in a row on the road. We didn’t have the same intensity we’d had the first five games we’d played and we got what we deserved.”

The teams were originally scheduled to play Tuesday night, but snow pushed the game back 24 hours and it was worth the wait for the home team.

The game began sluggishly as just eight combined points were scored in the firs four minutes, but the Rams would eventually heat up.

It took a minute, 48 seconds for the first points to be scored and Ramirez did the honors with a jumper. After Cheverus sophomore Abby Cavallaro drained a 3-pointer to get her team on the board, Haines answered with a 3-ball for a 5-3 Deering lead.

The Stags drew even when sophomore Emme Poulin banked home a runner, but a short jumper from freshman Mandy Mastropasqua put the Rams ahead, 7-5.

A Poulin 3 gave Cheverus its first lead, but Ramirez tied the game with a free throw, then, after a steal, Ramirez raced in for a layup, was fouled and sank the ensuing free throw to complete the old-fashioned three-point play for an 11-8 lead.

The Stags responded on a leaner from sophomore Deirdre Sanborn and a 3 from junior Alayna Briggs to go on top, 13-11, but the wouldn’t lead again.

As time wound down in the first period, Ramirez kissed home a runner and the game was deadlocked, 13-13.

Ninety-two seconds into the second quarter, a Ramirez free throw put Deering on top to stay. After a Titherington steal, Haines sank a 3. Poulin countered with a 3-ball for Cheverus, but Brett scored her first points on a driving layup, then added two foul shots for a 21-16 lead.

After junior Kaylin Malmquist drove for a layup for the Stags, Ramirez countered with successive driving layups and Titherington hit a leaner to make it 27-18 Deering.

Two free throws from Cheverus junior Brooke Dawson were countered by a Haines leaner and the Rams took a 29-20 advantage to the break.

In the first half, Ramirez had 12 points, three rebounds and three steals, Haines had eight points and Brett added four points and five boards to help Deering, which forced 12 turnovers, earn some breathing room.

The Stags appeared poised to rally in the third period, but after a slow start, the Rams broke it open.

Cheverus got a jumper from junior Brooke McElman 59 seconds into the second half and Dawson added a 3 to cut the deficit to just four, 29-25, but Deering found another gear and pulled away.

First, Titherington banked home a runner. After Cavallaro countered with a leaner, Ramirez scored on a reverse layup, Ramirez banked home a runner and Brett scored on a leaner to make it 37-27. Dawson made a 3 for the Stags, but Titherington made two foul shots and after a Cavallaro leaner, the hosts closed the quarter on a 10-0 surge.

Haines got it started with a 3. Titherington added two free throws, Titherington set up Brett for a layup and as time wound down, a long Titherington 3 gave the Rams a 49-32 advantage.

Deering ended all doubt early in the fourth quarter as Ramirez set up Titherington for a three-point play, pushing the lead to 20 points, 52-32.

A left-handed floater from Sanborn ended the 15-0 run and Cavallaro added a putback to cut the deficit to 52-36. After a Ramirez free throw, Cavallaro hit a pair to make it a 15-point game, but Haines made a foul shot and Brett put home a miss for a 56-38 lead.

After Briggs hit a 3, she sank a free throw for Cheverus’ final point. Brett then made a layup and freshman Victoria Garand sank a foul shot to give the Rams a 59-42 victory.

“It’s always fun to play the city teams,” Ramirez said. “I think our defense really helped us win because Cheverus is a great shooting team.”

“We rushed too much and played too much into their hands running up and down the floor, but we settled in and made them play defense,” Murphy said. “We did a better job taking care of the ball. I was pleased with the effort.”

Deering was led by 17 points from Ramirez, who also had seven rebounds, five steals, two blocked shots and a pair of assists. 

“My mind goes 100 miles an hour,” Ramirez said. “I just love running to the basket. I just want to run and beat my defender off the dribble. Other teams that play me think my size limits me, but I feel like if I outhustle them, then I’m six feet tall and I can practically go dunk. Last year, I was really nervous coming to Deering. It was first year here and I was scared. I didn’t want to mess up. This year, I’m really comfortable.”

The Rams marveled at Ramirez’s effort.

“Abi brings energy,” Titherington said. “It helps the team. When she’s energetic, I’m energetic. I want to play like she does.”

“(Abi’s) so tough,” Murphy added. “She gets to spots most kids don’t get to. She’s just a great kid. She’s really learning the game. She’s fearless and competitive. She’s fun to coach.”

Titherington started slowly, but wound up with 15 points, five rebounds, four assists and four steals.

“I knew it was an important game for the team,” Titherington said. “At the beginning, I wasn’t really doing what I could do. I knew I had to contribute more.”

“Tasia has had a couple tough outings after starting so hot,” Murphy said. “She looked a little more like herself tonight. She can throw it in there with the best of them.”

Brett (nine boards) and Haines both had a dozen points, Mastropasqua added two and Garand had one.

The Rams enjoyed a 29-22 rebounding advantage, overcame 18 turnovers and made 13 of 19 free throws.

Cheverus’ lone double digit scorer was Cavallaro, who had 11 points, to go with six rebounds and three steals. Dawson and Poulin (three rebounds, two steals) both had eight points, Briggs finished with seven, Sanborn had four and Malmquist (four assists, two steals) and McElman (five rebounds, three assists) both added two.

The Stags committed 20 turnovers and made 5 of 9 from the charity stripe.

“We’ve been pretty consistent in how we’ve played, consistently inconsistent,” Cheverus coach Steve Huntington said. “We’re still making the same mistakes, but it’s a good group of girls. We don’t have a senior. We’re young again.”

New year, high hopes

Cheverus hopes to bounce back Saturday, but faces a tall task as it hosts McAuley, a team the Stags have never beaten.

“We’re looking forward to it,” Huntington said. “It’s another game. Obviously being at Cheverus playing McAuley is a big game, but we have to focus on us and executing better.”

Cheverus visits South Portland Tuesday.

This is a team that can and will get better.

“Part of having a talented perimeter, guard-oriented team and being young, we look for the spectacular highlight, but we have to focus on executing the simple stuff,” Huntington said. “Boxing out, getting to the paint. We have to work the ball better. We have pay attention to detail.”

Deering stays home to battle Massabesic Saturday and Windham Tuesday. The Rams expect to keep improving.

“We need to talk more on defense and pass the ball more on offense,” Ramirez said.

“We want to go far and we’re working for it,” said Titherington. “We know we’re the underdog, but we want to show what Deering can do.”

“The kids mesh and complement each other,” Murphy added. “It’s been that way from the first practice. The seniors have done a nice job with leadership and accepting their roles. Our goal’s to get better each day.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Deering junior Tasia Titherington and Cheverus junior Brooke Dawson battle for the ball.

Deering freshman Delaney Haines protects the ball from Cheverus junior Kaylin Malmquist.

Deering junior Amanda Brett drives to the basket as Cheverus juniors Brooke Dawson (2) and Brooke McElman defend.

Cheverus sophomore Abby Cavallaro shoots over Deering freshman Delaney Haines.

Cheverus junior Kaylin Malmquist drives on Deering senior Delaney Donovan.

Cheverus juniors Brooke McElman, right, and Ally Tillotson and Deering junior Amanda Brett battle for a rebound.

Previous Cheverus-Deering results

Deering 59 @ Cheverus 43
@ Deering 58 Cheverus 25 

Cheverus 65 @ Deering 42
@ Cheverus 44 Deering 29

Deering 60 @ Cheverus 56 
Cheverus 48 @ Deering 38
Western A semifinals
Cheverus 33 Deering 31

@ Deering 53 Cheverus 37
Deering 48 @ Cheverus 42 

Deering 56 @ Cheverus 44

@ Deering 66 Cheverus 34

Deering 50 @ Cheverus 25
@ Deering 57 Cheverus 22

@ Deering 54 Cheverus 27
Deering 74 @ Cheverus 52

Deering 67 @ Cheverus 44

@ Deering 70 Cheverus 38

@ Deering 47 Cheverus 30

Deering 76 @ Cheverus 39

Deering 90 @ Cheverus 35

Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.