Despite snow and cold, local teams stay hot-Portland edition

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(Ed. Note: For the complete Portland-South Portland boys’ basketball and Portland-South Portland boys’ hockey stories, visit theforecaster.net)

Although two days of games were lost to snow, there was plenty of drama in the last week. As we draw nearer to the playoffs, locals are making noise in several sports. Here’s a glimpse:

Boys’ basketball

While Cheverus was staying perfect by downing Deering Saturday (please see story), Portland has quietly been surging and is now in the midst of the Western Class A playoff hunt.

After a 2-4 start, the Bulldogs have now won four straight. Last Wednesday, Portland hosted South Portland in the 208th all-time meeting between the schools, one that proved to be a game for the ages.

The Red Riots were coming off a double-overtime win at Thornton Academy and had no idea that they’d play even longer at the Expo. The Bulldogs rallied from an 11-8 deficit after one quarter to lead 28-21 at halftime. Portland led by as many as 14 in the fourth period before South Portland rallied to lead in the waning seconds, where Bulldogs senior Matt McInnis raced down and fed junior Pete Donato for a tying shot at the horn. After each squad scored two points in the first overtime, the Red Riots appeared primed to put it away in the second four-minute session, but junior Mike Herrick kept the hosts alive with an improbable 3-pointer as time expired and it was on to the third overtime. 

“Driving in the car with my Dad before the game, we talked about depth perception and shooting,” Herrick said. “That’s all I was thinking about, concentrating on the rim and making that shot. It felt wonderful.”

In the third overtime, finally, Portland put it away and went on to a stirring 80-71 win.

“This boosts our confidence way up,” said Herrick, who led all scorers with 32 points. Donato added 19.

“Wow!” added Portland’s longtime coach Joe Russo, who said afterwards he didn’t recall ever coaching in a triple-overtime game. “I say wow because it was an exciting high school game. Fans got their money’s worth. Neither team quit. It was nice to see two teams go at it like that and the excitement.”

Saturday, in a much calmer affair, the Bulldogs improved to 6-4 with a 53-30 triumph at Kennebunk (Herrick again led the way with 13 points). Portland (ninth in the Western Class A Heal Points standings and knocking on the door to get in the top eight, who make the cut for the playoffs) now faces a brutal stretch. The Bulldogs hosted Bonny Eagle Tuesday, go to Deering Friday and visit Cheverus Saturday in a makeup of this past Friday’s contest which was postponed by snow.

In Western C, Waynflete is also in the thick of the playoff hunt. The Flyers extended their win streak to three games, improved to 7-4 and sixth in the Heals after edging visiting Traip, 42-40, Saturday (behind 13 points apiece from juniors Chris Burke and Mitch Newlin). Waynflete is at Western B power Cape Elizabeth Wednesday, goes to North Yarmouth Academy Friday and visits A.R. Gould Tuesday.

Girls’ basketball

While Deering’s girls’ team stayed perfect with its impressive win at Cheverus (please see story) Saturday, McAuley was staying atop the Western Class A heap.

The Lions improved to 11-0 last week after downing host Biddeford (54-29) and visiting Portland (68-42). Against the Bulldogs, McAuley raced to an 18-8 first quarter lead as senior Rebecca Knight and junior Alexa Coulombe impressed with their scoring and shot-blocking acumen, respectively, but Portland battled back to tie the score at 21-21 midway through the second period. The Lions then came to life as Knight hit a jumper, freshman Allie Clement made a layup after a steal, Knight made a layup, hit two foul shots and buried a leaner, Clement made another layup and sophomore Hannah Cooke scored on a putback to give McAuley a 35-21 halftime lead. The Lions cruised from there behind 26 points and 10 rebounds from Knight, 16 points from Knight and a dozen blocks from Coulombe.

“It’s going well,” said Lions’ first-year coach Amy Vachon, the one-time Cony High and University of Maine standout. “We haven’t had a lot of time together, only 25 practices. We’re definitely still learning. We’re getting there and getting better, but each day is a learning process. Every game we have to come out and be in attack mode and be ready for whoever we’re playing.

“One of the things that I’m really proud of is the roles the girls have been willing to accept and play. We do have Becca and Alexa who are our players and everyone knows that. Hannah Cooke does a nice job doing the little things, getting rebounds. (Junior) Sadie Dipierro always guards the best player on the other team. (Sophomore) Molly Mack’s a workhorse who gets rebounds. Allie’s a fantastic freshman off the bench. She adds an extra spark to our team. We have seniors who don’t get a lot of playing time, Kayla Daigle and Olivia Porch, who are great leaders and want to win. Having a team like this makes it fun. It’s been great. I went through a spell where I wasn’t sure which role I wanted to have with basketball. It’s been my entire life. It’s a great opportunity. The kids have been awesome. It’s been a great fit.”

McAuley hosted Kennebunk Tuesday, visits Westbrook Friday and welcomes Massabesic Tuesday. Then, the fun really begins as the Lions still have Deering twice and Cheverus and Gorham once apiece.

“We need to keep getting better,” Vachon said. “We’ve been focusing on moving the ball around and getting it inside and getting the opponent to play defense against us. That’s tough for other teams.”

Portland has been very competitive, but just hasn’t been able to get in the win column. Last Wednesday, the Bulldogs gave host South Portland fits before going down to a 63-54 defeat (senior Nicolette Kapothanasis had 21 points and junior Rebecca Smith added 14). In the loss at McAuley, Kapothanasis finished with 14. Portland (3-8 and 16th in the Heals) went to Bonny Eagle Tuesday and hosts Deering Friday. Tuesday of next week, Portland goes to Sanford.

In Western C, Waynflete started the week 9-3 and sixth in the Heals after going 1-1 last week, rolling, 73-50, at Hebron, then losing, 45-35, to visiting Traip. In the victory, sophomore Martha Veroneau had a career-high 32 points, senior Lydia Stegemann added 19 and senior Liz Lewis finished with 10. In the loss, senior Sam Oakland led the way with 10 points. The Flyers hosted Greater Portland Christian School Tuesday, visit Hyde Wednesday and welcome NYA Friday.

Boys’ hockey

On the ice, Cheverus started the week 6-2 and fourth in the Western Class A Heal Points standings. Last week, the Stags lost, 4-1, to Portland (senior Nic Lops had the lone goal), but bounced back with a 3-1 home win at Gorham Saturday (junior John Cella, sophomore Liam Fitzpatrick and sophomore Cameron McLain had the goals). Cheverus is at Brunswick Wednesday, hosts Bonny Eagle Thursday, welcomes Deering Saturday and goes to Noble for a makeup game Monday.

The Rams are 2-6 and 15th in the region after splitting a pair of road games last week, winning at Windham (2-0) and falling at Massabesic (2-1). Deering hosts Noble Thursday, goes to Cheverus Saturday and is home with Massabesic Monday.

Portland is still in the playoff hunt at 5-6 and seventh in Western A (the top eight teams make the postseason). Last week, the Bulldogs beat Cheverus (4-1), then lost to visiting South Portland (4-1) and Falmouth (5-2). Against the Stags, freshmen Zach Luce and Colin Merrill and seniors Eddie Apon and Bronson Guimond had the goals. Apon had the goal versus the Red Riots and Apon and Guimond scored against the Yachtsmen. Portland is at defending state champion Biddeford Wednesday and goes to Falmouth Saturday.

Girls’ hockey

On the girls’ side, defending state champion Cheverus is in good position to return to the playoffs. The Stags entered the week 8-4-1 and third in the West region Heals after a 2-1 victory at Lewiston (behind goals from junior Sarah LaQuerre and freshman Katie Roy) and a 1-1 home tie versus York (LaQuerre tied the game with a late goal). Cheverus is at Cape Elizabeth/Waynflete Wednesday and hosts Falmouth Saturday.

Portland has work to do to make the playoffs. The Bulldogs dropped to 4-8-2 and sixth in the region (where just four teams make the playoffs) after a 3-1 home loss to Scarborough, a 5-5 tie against visiting Biddeford and a 4-2 victory at Gorham. Sophomore Drew Barry had the goal against the Red Storm and Barry and junior Raechel Allen both scored twice versus the Tigers. Allen scored all four times in the victory. Portland hosts Yarmouth Wednesday.

Waynflete’s co-op team with Cape Elizabeth improved to 3-10 (and seventh in the standings) Saturday after a 6-3 home win over Brunswick. Wednesday brings a home tilt versus Cheverus. Thursday, a trip to Falmouth and Saturday a home date versus Gorham.

Indoor track

Deering’s indoor track teams continued to excel on Saturday.

The boys tallied 112.5 points to down Gorham (51.5) and Biddeford (30). The Rams got victories from Jared Bell in the junior shot put (41 feet. 0.75 inches), Billy Farrell in the high jump (5 feet, 4 inches), Tom Dean in the mile (5 minutes, 6.7 seconds), Ricardo Delgado in the junior 45 hurdles (6.3 seconds), Tony Sen in the senior 45 hurdles (6.2), Tom Grey in the junior 40 (5.0) and the junior 200 (27.5), Renaldo Lowry in the senior 40 (4.7) and the 300 (37.7), Sam Balzano in the senior 200 (25.2), Joseph Luka in the senior 400 (57.4), James Ociti in the junior 800 (2:16.9) and Sean Perry in the senior 800 (2:16.3), along with their junior relay team (1:10.2).

The girls’ squad won with 92.5 points, besting Biddeford (74) and Gorham (39.5). Winners included Rashad Zagon in the high jump (4-1), Edie Pallozzi in the two-mile (12:27.5) and the junior 800 (2:39.0), Casey Girsch in the junior 45 hurdles (7.2), Veronica Mitchell in the senior 45 hurdles (7.1) and the 600 (1:40.8) and Tricia Stewart in the senior 200 (30.2).

Cheverus’ boys had 44 points to beat Thornton Academy (28), but finished second to Scarborough (125). Victors included Jackson McMann in the junior 200 (26.5) and David Woodbury in the mile (5:13.9). The girls were third with 28 points (Thornton Academy had 96 and Scarborough 76). Lizzie Gwilym won the senior 800 (2:41.4), Kiera Murray took the junior 800 (2:45.2).

Portland’s boys had 42 points and came in second to Bonny Eagle (118), while downing Westbrook (34). Abram Marr won the junior 800 (2:25.5). Faisal Hilowle was first in the mile (5:17.1). The Bulldogs also won the 840 relay (1:42.6).

The Portland girls, along with McAuley, competed against Bonny Eagle and Westbrook. The Scots were first with 150 points, the Bulldogs (73) second, Lions (42) third and Blue Blazes (14) fourth. Portland winners included Mary Nyembo in the senior 40 (5.4) and the senior 200 (29.1), Mariana Angelo in the junior 200 (30 seconds) and Darian Sobin in the junior shot put (24-10). McAuley had two runners-up, Jennifer Field in the high jump (4-6) and Christina Leake in the senior 400 (1:09.9).

Saturday, Deering and McAuley compete against Thornton Academy and Windham, Cheverus faces Biddeford, Massabesic and Westbrook and Portland meets Noble and Scarborough.

Swimming

Swim meets scheduled for Friday (Cheverus at Falmouth, Scarborough at Deering, McAuley at Cape Elizabeth and Portland at Sanford) were postponed due to snow.

Cheverus went to Windham Monday.

Saturday, Waynflete joined NYA at Kennebunk. Results weren’t available at press time.

At this weekend’s Falmouth Diving Invitational, Cheverus’ Michael Gordon placed eighth on the boys’ side, with a score of 223.35. Portland’s Liam Brochu came in 13th (157.80). In the girls’ competition, Cheverus’ Maria Cianchette finished ninth (223.65).

Skiing

Local Nordic ski teams took part at the Maranacook Wave race Saturday. In the boys’ competition, won by Yarmouth with 42 points, Waynflete had 260 points to come in 14th, Deering (272) was 15th and Portland (311) finished 17th. Gould Academy won the girls’ meet with 21 points. Portland came in sixth with 107 points, Waynflete was 14th with 229 and Deering placed 18th with 326.

Last Monday, in the Martin Luther King Jr. Day classic race at Twin Brook in Cumberland, Waynflete’s boys were fifth, Deering 10th and Portland 12th in a 14-team meet. On the girls’ side, Portland came in fourth, Waynflete sixth and Deering 12th out of 13 schools.

Wrestling

Portland’s wrestling team beat both Sanford and Windham by 43-42 scores and lost to Massabesic, 69-12, in its most recent meet. The Bulldogs host Biddeford and Marshwood Wednesday.

Deering is at Bonny Eagle Wednesday.

Cheverus meets Kennebunk and Marshwood Saturday.

In the latest SMAA weight class standings, Cheverus’ Iain Whitis (4-0) is first at 112-pounds. Portland’s Fred Huber is third at 145 (7-2), Evan Michalski (6-2) iis third at 140 and Leonard Schwartz (5-2) is fourth at 135. Deering’s Connor Darling (7-2) is third at 189.

Wrestling’s postseason is right around the corner. The regional championships are Feb. 5. The state title matches are Feb. 12.

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net

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