Deering girls stagger Portland early, roll to Opening Night victory

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Deering junior Abi Ramirez goes flying as Portland freshman Reagan Brown looks on during the Rams’ 65-47 win in Friday night’s season-opener. Ramirez’s energy helped spark Deering to a 15-0 lead and she finished with 15 points, nine rebounds, five assists and two steals.

Mike Strout photos.

More photos below.


Deering 65 Portland 47

P- 9 2 23 13- 47
D- 25 7 15 18-65

P- Hatch 6-0-12, Sargent 4-1-12, Johnson 4-0-8, Burnham 3-1-7, Eubanks 2-0-4, Lynch 1-0-2, Walsh 1-0-2

D- Titherington 8-10-30, Ramirez 6-3-15, Haines 4-0-12, Brett 3-0-6, Mastropasqua 1-0-2

P (3) Sargent 3
D (8) Haines, Titherington 4

P- 18
D- 15

Free throws
P: 2-9
D: 13-22

PORTLAND—You couldn’t ask for a better start to a season than the one enjoyed by Deering’s girls’ basketball team Friday evening.

Hosting rival Portland, the Rams took the floor full of uncertainty, but in a matter just over three minutes, they let everyone know that they could be very good.

Very quickly.

Thanks to great energy on both ends of the floor from junior Abi Ramirez and sizzling outside shooting from classmate Tasia Titherington and freshman Delaney Haines, Deering built a 15-0 lead before the Bulldogs knew what hit them.

By the end of the first quarter, the Rams were on top, 25-9, and they took a 32-11 advantage to halftime. While Portland found its form in the third period, the Bulldogs weren’t able to get closer than 11 and Deering restored order in the final stanza and went on to a decisive 65-47 victory.

Titherington led all scorers with 30 points, Ramirez added 15 and stuffed many other statistical categories as well and Haines hinted at much greatness to come by debuting with a dozen points as the Rams kicked off their 2015-16 campaign in grand style.

“Overall, I’m very pleased,” said Deering coach Mike Murphy. “On Opening Night, no matter the sport, no matter the age, you fight jitters. The kids got off to a fast start and responded very well.”

Two contenders

Both teams reached the playoffs a year ago before bowing out in the quarterfinals.

Deering had a superb regular season, going 15-3, but the Rams went cold against South Portland in the tournament and lost, 49-37.

Portland had an up-and-down 8-10 regular season, then edged Cheverus in the preliminary round before being ousted by McAuley, 52-41, in a game that was closer than the final score indicated.

Last winter, Deering took both meetings, 58-39 at home and 53-47 at the Portland Exposition Building. 

Friday, the Rams beat the Bulldogs for the fourth straight meeting, thanks to a start that no one saw coming.

The start of the game featured an odd sight, no tip-off, as a Portland uniform violation resulted in a technical foul which sent Titherington to the free throw line for two shots.

She made the first and missed the second and without a second elapsed, Deering had the lead for good.

Just 18 seconds in, Haines made her presence felt, canning a 3-pointer.

Ramirez then forced a turnover and drove for a layup for a 6-0 lead.

Then, in a 47-second span, the Rams added nine more points, as first, Titherington hit a 3, Ramirez then drove for a layup, was fouled and hit the free throw to complete the old-fashioned three-point play and with 4:44 to go in the first quarter, Haines buried another 3, making it 15-0 Deering and forcing Bulldogs coach Jay Lowery to call timeout.

It helped momentarily, as Portland’s first points came on a 3 from junior Taylor Sargent with 4:25 remaining and 24 seconds later, junior Kate Johnson made a layup after a steal to cut the deficit to 15-5.

The Bulldogs would draw no closer, as Ramirez drove for a layup, Ramirez set up Titherington for a 3 and after a steal, freshman Mandy Mastropasqua made a layup for a 22-5 lead.

Portland got a point back on a free throw from senior Cierra Burnham, who played for the Rams last year, but Ramirez set up Titherington for another 3. A Sargent 3-ball then pulled the Bulldogs back to 25-9 after the opening period.

In that frame, Portland turned the ball over eight times, while Titherington had 10 points, Ramirez seven and Haines six.

Deering wasn’t able to match its first quarter output in the second, but thanks to a smothering defensive effort, the Rams were able to add to their lead.

A driving layup from Ramirez, two Titherington foul shots, another Titherington free throw and a Titherington layup, off an inbounds pass from Haines, pushed the lead to 32-9.

The Bulldogs didn’t score in the quarter until the final horn (Deering and its fans felt the shot came after the buzzer), when Burnham set up senior Margaret Hatch for a layup, which made the score 32-11 at the break.

Titherington alone outscored Portland in the first half, 15-11.

To their credit, the Bulldogs came alive in the third period and made things interesting, but the Rams’ veterans weren’t about to let it slip away.

Just nine seconds into the second half, a baseline jumper from junior Andrea Lynch got Portland going. Burnham then got two offensive rebounds before finishing to cut the deficit to 32-15.

Deering roared back, however, as Haines calmly sank a 3 and on two separate occasions, Titherington made a pair of foul shots to produce the Rams’ biggest lead of the night, 39-15.

After Hatch answered with a layup, Johnson made another, but a Haines 3 pushed the lead back to 23, 42-19.

The Bulldogs then went on a 15-3 run.

An up-and-under layup from Burnham got it started. Sargent then set up freshman Nettie Walsh for a layup and sophomore Shayla Eubanks added a jumper to make it 42-25.

After Titherington answered with a 3, Sargent hit a 3 and a bank shot and Johnson made consecutive jumpers to cut the deficit to 45-34, but Portland would draw no closer.

In the final seconds of the stanza, Titherington drove for a layup to put Deering ahead by 13, 47-34, heading for the fourth quarter.

There, the Rams put it away.

After Hatch drove for a baseline layup to again make it an 11-point contest, the Rams got a pretty driving layup from Ramirez, a layup from Titherington, a leaner from junior Amanda Brett, who had been held scoreless until that point, and a finger roll from Ramirez to make it 55-36.

“Tasia, Abi and Amanda have all played and have experience,” Murphy said. “They played well in the first half, but I was really pleased with how they played when Portland made it close. They stepped up again.”

A pair of Hatch pullup jumpers pulled the Bulldogs within 15, 55-40, with 4:11 to play.

Portland couldn’t get closer, however, as Titherington and Eubanks traded baskets, Burnham and Brett traded layups and Hatch and Brett traded hoops to keep it a 15-point game, 61-46, with a minute go.

Down the stretch, Sargent hit a free throw for the Bulldogs’ final point and Titherington and Ramirez both sank foul shots to bring the curtain down on Deering’s 65-47 triumph.

Titherington made four two-point baskets, four 3-pointers and sank 10 free throws to easily lead all scorers with 30 points. 

“Tasia is Tasia,” said Murphy. “She can knock down shots. She and Abi are a pretty good duo.”

Speaking of Ramirez, not only was she second in the game in scoring with 15 points, she also had nine rebounds (despite often being the smallest player on the court), five assists and two steals. 

“Abi was sick, believe it or not,” Murphy said. “She’s so tough. She’s such a good player. She brings energy, she’s positive, she goes 1,000 miles per hour.”

Haines made four 3-pointers and wound up with 12 points, three rebounds and a pair of blocked shots in her first varsity game and in the process, she demonstrated poise and confidence well beyond her years.

“Delaney is a good shooter and ball-handler,” Murphy said. “She’s a threat with the ball.”

Brett had a relative quiet scoring night with six points, but she had five rebounds and two steals.

Mastropasqua added two points for Deering, which overcame 15 turnovers. The Rams finished 13 of 22 from the free throw line and had a 27-23 edge in rebounds.

Portland got 12 points apiece from Hatch and Sargent. Johnson had eight points, Burnham seven (to go with 10 rebounds and two steals), Eubanks four and Lynch and Walsh two apiece.

The Bulldogs committed 18 turnovers and made just 2 of 9 foul shots.

Just getting started

Portland will lick its wounds and attempt to get in the win column Tuesday when it welcomes highly touted Cheverus in its home opener.

Deering goes to South Portland Tuesday, then returns home Friday for a rare encounter with Edward Little, a new opponent in this year of change.

“We have some tough games next week,” said Murphy. “We still have to get everyone on the same page offensively and defensively. We still have a lot to put in. We can rebound better and move more and rotate on defense better than we did. We still need to make better decisions with the ball.”

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

Deering freshman Mandy Mastropasqua gets past Portland senior Cierra Burnham. 

Portland senior Margaret Hatch looks to pass as Deering junior Abi Ramirez defends.

Deering junior Tasia Titherington tries to deny the layup attempt of Portland senior Cierra Burnham.

Deering freshman Delaney Haines, who had a dazzling debut with 12 points, is defended by Portland junior Kate Johnson.

Portland sophomore Shayla Eubanks shoots over Deering junior Tasia Titherington.

Deering senior Delaney Donovan and Portland freshman Reagan Brown battle for the ball.

Deering junior Amanda Brett goes up for a shot as Portland senior Cierra Burnham defends.

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