Deering overcomes slow start, staggers Stags in quarterfinal

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Deering junior Abi Ramirez drives past Cheverus sophomore Emme Poulin for a key second half layup during the Rams’ come-from-behind 50-43 win over the Stags in Wednesday’s Class AA North quarterfinal.

Amber Waterman / Bangor Daily News photos.

More photos below.

BOX SCORE

Deering 50 Cheverus 43

C- 10 17 7 9- 43
D- 2 15 17 16- 50

C- Cavallaro 6-2-20, Poulin 4-2-12, Sanborn 2-2-6, B. Dawson 2-0-5

D- Titherington 2-11-16, Haines 6-0-13, Ramirez 4-2-10, Brett 2-0-4, Coyne 1-0-3, Garrand 1-0-2, Mastropasqua 1-0-2

3-pointers:
C (9) Cavallaro 6, Poulin 2, Dawson 1
D (3) Coyne, Haines, Titherington 1

Turnovers:
C- 18
D- 11

FTs
C: 6-6
D: 13-18

AUGUSTA—Digging deficits of 10-0, 16-2 and 27-12 is no way to go about winning a tournament game, but Deering’s girls’ basketball team was able to rise from the depths of despair at in the inaugural Class AA North quarterfinal at the Augusta Civic Center Wednesday evening.

The fourth-ranked Rams couldn’t buy a basket in the first half, while No. 5 Cheverus, behind the long range shooting acumen of sophomore Abby Cavallaro, seemingly couldn’t miss.

Deering started to show life late in the half, however, and despite all of its travails, only trailed by 10, 27-17, at the break.

And in the second half, the Rams returned to form, thanks to a team-wide effort.

Junior sparkplug Abi Ramirez, who was hindered by an injured ankle and foul trouble, sandwiched layups around a layup from freshman Delaney Haines to get Deering right back in the game.

Then, an improbable 3-point shot from well behind the stripe from senior Cassidy Coyne provided even more energy.

The Stags would hold the lead until the waning seconds of the third quarter, when a leaner from Haines made it 34-34 heading for the fourth period.

There, the Rams put Cheverus away.

Forty-four seconds in, freshman Mandy Mastropasqua’s runner off the glass gave Deering its first lead and the Rams wouldn’t look back.

With 3:31 to play, Ramirez, who was sitting with four fouls, returned to action and made successive layups to help the Rams stretch the lead to six. After sophomore Emme Poulin pulled the Stags within four, Ramirez set up Haines for a layup, Ramirez made two free throws and junior Tasia Titherington sank four free throws down the stretch to help Deering survive and advance, 50-43.

Titherington led the Rams with 16 points, Haines added 13 and Ramirez also finished in double figures with 10 as Deering improved to 12-7, ended Cheverus’ season at 10-9 and advanced to meet top-ranked Oxford Hills (15-3) in the AA North semifinals Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. in Augusta.

“I just told them, it’s the best win, other than winning the state championship, I’ve been involved in,” said Rams coach Mike Murphy. “The girls didn’t quit or put their heads down. We stopped playing tentative.”

Familiar foes, strange location

Cheverus and Deering had played 21 previous times this century (with the Rams winning 17) with every single game being played in the city of Portland.

This time around, due to the restructured tournament, the teams traveled to Augusta to play in what was far from the accustomed environment.

Both teams were streaky during the regular season.

The Stags started 3-0, lost five of six, won six of seven, then closed with losses to Gorham and McAuley to wind up 10-8 and fifth in the region.

The Rams looked great the first half of the season, going 7-2, but they lost four of the next five and after a three-game win streak, Deering closed with a shocking loss at Portland last Thursday and wound up 11-7 and fourth in AA North.

Cheverus and Deering met Dec. 30 and the host Rams prevailed, 59-42, behind 17 points from Ramirez, 15 from Titherington and 12 apiece from Haines and junior Amanda Brett. Cavallaro led the Stags with 11 points.

Cheverus won the lone prior playoff meeting, 33-31, in the 2013 semifinals.

Wednesday, in front of a sparse gathering (there might have been 200 people in the building at the tip), the Stags got the early jump, as Poulin made a 3, then sank a pair of free throws and junior Brooke Dawson (off a pass from Poulin) knocked down a 3 for an 8-0 lead, forcing Murphy to call timeout. 

It didn’t help, as sophomore Deirdre Sanborn made a pair of free throws to extend the lead to 10.

Finally, with 54.3 seconds showing, Brett drove in the lane and managed to finish a contested runner to break the ice and Cheverus’ lead was 10-2 after eight minutes.

Deering played nine players in the first period hoping for a combination that worked. 

Action picked up a bit in the second quarter, but it took the Rams most of the frame to truly hit their stride.

The Stags came out hot as first Cavallaro, then Poulin (from Cavallaro) drained 3s to make it 16-2, forcing Murphy to call another timeout.

This time it created a momentary spark as Titherington made two free throws, but Cavallaro took over and Cheverus opened it up even more.

After Cavallaro made one 3, Haines made a long jumper, but Cavallaro countered with another 3 to make it 22-8.

After Haines scored on a runner, Cavallaro buried another 3 and the lead was 25-10.

After Deering got a bank shot from freshman Victoria Garrand, Sanborn made a layup, but the Rams closed strong behind a bank shot from Titherington and a Titherington 3.

Haines’ 3 at the horn went in and out, a fitting ending to a tough half for the Rams and the Stags took a 27-17 lead into the locker room.

Cavallaro had a dozen points to lead the way, while Poulin added eight. Titherington had a team-high seven points for Deering.

After Murphy got his charges refocused, the third period saw the Rams start fast.

After Haines set up Ramirez for a layup, Coyne had a steal at one end and Haines drove the baseline for a layup at the other. Ramirez then made a layup after a steal to cut the deficit to 27-23, forcing Stags coach Steve Huntington to call timeout.

It didn’t help, as Coyne got the ball behind the college 3-point line and sank a shot to cut the deficit to one. After a Cheverus turnover, Deering had a chance to take the lead, but threw the ball away.

Cavallaro then drove to the basket and was fouled by Ramirez (her fourth) and sank two free throws to snap the Rams’ 14-0 run and the Stags’ 7 minute, 24 second drought. 

Titherington again cut the deficit to a point with two free throws, but Poulin banked home a runner. One Titherington free throw made it a two-point game, but after a steal, Cavallaro pulled up for a 3.

Deering then closed on a 5-0 run to pull even, as Haines (from Titherington) knocked down a 3-pointer from the corner and Haines (from Mastropasqua) scored on a leaner to make it 34-34 heading for the fourth quarter.

Where the Rams finally took control.

With 7:16 to go, a runner from Mastropasqua gave Deering its first lead. 

With 6:09 left, Titherington made two free throws for a 38-34 advantage.

After the Rams couldn’t extend their lead despite a couple chances, a Sanborn baseline jumper with 4:22 remaining ended Deering’s 9-0 run and a 5:18 drought and made it a two-point game. 

The Rams answered as after Ramirez re-entered the game out of a timeout, she drove for a layup while being fouled.

“I sprained my ankle against Portland on a fastbreak layup,” Ramirez said. “It was excruciating pain going in for the layups tonight, but it was a once in a lifetime game and I couldn’t think about it. I just wanted to go out there, play my game and get the team the ‘W.’ I’d rather go out and hustle and go to the basket and go out trying than to play scared.”

Ramirez missed the free throw, but the lead was two possessions.

After Sanborn missed a 3, Titherington got the rebound, but Cheverus tied up the ball and got it back on the possession arrow. Cavallaro tried to keep the 3-point magic going, but her shot was short and Haines rebounded.

With 1:56 to play, Brett set up Ramirez for a backdoor layup and a 42-36 lead. 

Stags junior Brooke McElman was just off on a 3 to cut the deficit in half and after junior Ally Tillotson kept possession with an offensive rebound, Poulin made a layup with 90 seconds to go to keep hope alive.

Deering then broke the press and Ramirez fed Haines for a layup. 

After Dawson missed a 3, Brett got the rebound and Ramirez was fouled.

With 1:03 remaining, Ramirez pushed the lead to eight with two foul shots and after a Titherington steal, Titherington was fouled and made two more free throws to essentially ice it, making 48-38 with 39.4 seconds left.

Cheverus got a 3 from Cavallaro (giving her six for the game) with 18.5 seconds to go, but Titherington countered with two foul shots and even though Dawson made a late layup, it was too little, too late and the Rams advanced, 50-43.

“To be honest, I was about to give up on the game, but we had that pep talk in the locker room, we all were fired up and we knew we had a chance,” Ramirez said.

“You can’t come out playing soft,” Murphy said. “We gave about 12 playing minutes away and you saw what happened once we got going. We were out to lunch, but the kids responded. That’s a good team we beat.” 

Deering got 16 points from Titherington, who also had five rebounds and three steals. Haines had 13 points, five rebounds, three assists and a blocked shot. Ramirez added 10 points, four rebounds, two steals and two blocks.

Brett (nine boards) had four points, Coyne three and Garrand and Mastropasqua two apiece.

Murphy paid tribute to the team’s collective effort.

“I thought Haines was tremendous all night long,” Murphy said. “Coyne obviously gave us great minutes in the second half. That 3 she threw in was a big lift from where it was. I thought Tasia did her thing. She was sitting back and I told her to throw it up there and she took charge. Abi was tremendous. She’s been on one leg the past five days. She didn’t have her explosiveness, but she was full of energy and that made up for playing on one leg. She was terrific. Brett gave us great minutes in the lane. The kids who came in off the bench all did their jobs. It was a great team effort.”

The Rams committed only 11 turnovers, forced 18 and made 13 of 18 free throws.

Tough lesson

For much of the game, Cheverus appeared on its way to just the third quarterfinal round victory in program history, but the still-young Stags weren’t able to finish strong.

“Offensively, we did some things very well in the first half,” Huntington said. “I think our defense surprised them by playing a 1-3-1 zone. It might have startled them a little. We held them at bay and Abby shot the ball well. That helped. We did a good job getting in the paint and that led to Abby’s 3s. The first half was the best half that anyone in the league I bet has played all year. We showcased our skills and what we can do.

“In the second half, we just were a young team. Deering went on a run and we just couldn’t control their dribble penetration. They got into the paint.

“We just couldn’t put a complete game together all season. It didn’t end the way we wanted it to, but the girls grew up and learned a few things. I was certainly very proud of the girls.”

Cavallaro did have a terrific outing, leading all scorers with 20 points, which included six of Cheverus’ nine 3-pointers. Cavallaro also had five rebounds and three steals.

Poulin had 12 points (and six boards), Sanborn six (to go with nine rebounds) and Dawson five. Junior Kaylin Malmquist didn’t score, but had four assists. McElman didn’t score, but grabbed six rebounds and blocked three shots.

The Stags enjoyed a 35-30 rebounding advantage and made all six of their foul shot attempts.

Cheverus doesn’t have a single senior on its roster, which suggests that it will be very much in the hunt next season.  

“We’ve put the pieces together,” Huntington said. “We’ll get to work this summer. We’re looking forward to next year. We have to be better defensively. We have to get out and pressure. Offensively, we can’t have these lulls. We’re too good for that to happen.” 

Facing the best

Oxford Hills (15-3), led by standout Tiana Sugars, is next up for Deering. 

The Rams lost the regular season meeting, 44-37, in Oxford Jan. 18. Deering won both prior playoff meetings with a 55-43 victory in the 2008 Class A Final the most recent.

The Rams have a tournament game under their belt, are now familiar with the Civic Center floor and like their chances.

“We’ve played here now and Oxford Hills hasn’t, so we have an advantage there,” Ramirez said. “We need to come out and play with fire and not get in a hole right off.”

“We have another game,” Murphy said. “We’ll got out and have some fun. We’ll have some good practices, we’ll come up here Tuesday and we’ll see what happens.”

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

Cheverus sophomore Abby Cavallaro can’t stop the drive of Deering junior Tasia Titherington.

Deering freshman Mandy Mastropasqua looks to dish the ball as Cheverus junior Kaylin Malmquist defends. 

Previous Cheverus-Deering playoff result

2013 Western A semifinal
Cheverus 33 Deering 31 

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