February arrives, postseason excitement nears-Portland edition

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Cheverus’ boys’ hockey team celebrates a goal during its 5-1 win over Cape Elizabeth Saturday.

Waynflete sophomore Askar Houssein drives for a layup during the Flyers’ overtime home win over Lake Region last week.

Cheverus’ Kat Kane is defended by Portland’s Amanda Kabantu during the Bulldogs’ 47-37 road victory Friday.

(Ed. Note: For the complete Portland-Bangor and Waynflete-Lake Region boys’ basketball, Cheverus-Portland, MGA-South Portland and Waynflete-St. Dom’s girls’ basketball and Cheverus-Cape Elizabeth and Portland/Deering-Falmouth boys’ hockey game stories, with photos, see theforecaster.net) 

It has gone by in a flash and with February upon us, the winter sports season is beginning to wind down.

That, of course, means that the best is yet to come, as the end of the regular schedule will produce many compelling matchups and the postseason promises to be memorable as well.

Here’s a glimpse at where things stand on the brink of a new month and what’s in store:

Boys’ basketball

Portland’s two-time defending Class AA state champion boys’ basketball team, which suffered its first loss at Scarborough Jan. 20, returned to form last weekend, dominating visiting Thornton Academy (78-39) and Bangor (77-47) to improve to 13-1. Terion Moss had 23 points against the Golden Trojans, while Griffin Foley added 16, Manny Yugu 11 and Trey Bellew 10. In the win over the Rams, Moss had 19 points, Foley added 17 and Simon Chadbourne finished with 11.

“We had some turnovers in the first half, but in the second half, we took care of the ball a little bit more and played as a team,” Foley said. “We looked at (losing a game) as a challenge. Once you lose, people think differently (about you). We met the challenge to get better.”

“The kids did a nice job today,” said longtime Bulldogs coach Joe Russo. “We talked about going back to team basketball, making the extra pass, sharing the ball, playing helpside defense. We’ve been winning, but we weren’t doing some of the things I wanted. We did that today, so I’m pleased.”

Portland (first in the Class AA North Heal Points standings) went to Bonny Eagle Tuesday, hosts Cheverus Friday (see theforecaster.net for game story) and has a state game rematch at South Portland Tuesday of next week.

Deering began the week 5-8 and sixth in AA North following Friday’s 56-47 setback at Windham. Ben Onek had 16 points and Cole Martinson added 12, but the Rams dropped their seventh game in a row. After hosting Thornton Academy Tuesday, Deering goes to Noble Thursday and Massabesic Friday, then welcomes Cheverus Tuesday of next week.

Cheverus was also 5-8 and seventh in the region following Saturday’s 48-40 home win over Massabesic. Will Shibles led the way with 18 points and Owen Burke added 10. The Stags hosted Noble Tuesday, go to Portland Friday, host Oxford Hills in a makeup game Monday and visit Deering Tuesday of next week.

In Class C South, Waynflete extended its win streak to eight after downing a pair of Class B South contenders, host Freeport (65-47) and visiting Lake Region (64-57, in overtime), last week. Against the Falcons, Dominick Campbell had 15 points, Christian Brooks added 12 and Diraige Dahia and Alex Saade both contributed 11. In the win over the Lakers, Askar Houssein took over in overtime and had a game-high 21 points. Abdi Mohamed added a dozen.

“It was a nice win,” said Waynflete coach Rich Henry. “I hope it’s a character-builder. Lake Region is very good. We try to take advantage of our depth and our athleticism with our press. We try not to give up hoops and we hope to eventually wear teams down.” 

The Flyers (fifth in the Heals) hosted Sacopee Valley Tuesday, then welcome Old Orchard Beach Friday and A.R. Gould Saturday.

Girls’ basketball

On the girls’ side, Portland had an up-and-down weekend. After a 47-37 win at Cheverus Friday, the Bulldogs had to travel to Bangor early Saturday morning and suffered a 44-41 loss to fall to 9-4 and second behind Oxford Hills in the Class AA North Heals. In the win, Shayla Eubanks starred with 18 points and 14 rebounds. Amanda Kabantu added 12 points. Portland also forced 25 Stags’ turnovers.

“We’ve had Cheverus in our sights most of the season,” Eubanks said. “We didn’t play all week, so we focused all week on this. This is a big win for our team.” 

“Our game plan was to wear (Cheverus) down, wear their shooters down,” said Bulldogs coach Gerry Corcoran. “Our press wasn’t the defining factor tonight. Our halfcourt defense was.”

In the loss, Eubanks had 14 points, Gemima Motema added 11 and Davina Kabantu had 10. Portland hosted Bonny Eagle Tuesday, goes to Noble Wednesday, hosts Scarborough Friday (see theforecaster.net for game story) and plays at undefeated South Portland Tuesday of next week. 

Cheverus fell to 8-5 and fourth in AA North after a 47-37 home loss to Portland. Emme Poulin had 11 points, but it wasn’t enough.

“We’ve been sick, but that’s not an excuse because (Portland’s) good,” Stags coach Gary Fifield said. “They’re so athletic and deep and we’re not athletic and we’re not deep. They wore us down.”

Cheverus was at Noble for a makeup game Tuesday, visits Oxford Hills in a makeup game Wednesday, goes to Maine Girls’ Academy Friday and comes home Tuesday of next week to host Deering.

Deering snapped a six-game skid last Wednesday with a 41-38 home win over Massabesic. Delaney Haines had 12 points and Victoria Garand added 10. The Rams then fell to 5-8 and sixth in AA North with a 49-44 overtime home loss to Windham Friday. Haines had 22 points and Mandy Mastropasqua added 11, but it wasn’t enough. Deering was at Thornton Academy Tuesday, welcomes Noble Thursday and Maine Girls’ Academy Saturday (see theforecaster.net for game story), then plays at Cheverus Tuesday of next week.

In Class AA South, Maine Girls’ Academy suffered its second straight loss last Wednesday, 62-40, to visiting South Portland, then improved to 10-2 and fourth in the standings with a 40-31 victory at Sanford. In the loss, Catherine Reid had 14 points, but the Lions couldn’t overcome a 27-11 first period deficit.

“They were amazing,” said MGA coach Billy Goodman, of the Red Riots. “They played great. They played team basketball, they made every shot they took. They get all the credit. That was probably the best quarter I’ve seen in high school basketball.”

Reid and Jill Joyce both had 10 points in the victory. The Lions hosted Thornton Academy in a makeup game Monday (see theforecaster.net for game story), welcomed Massabesic Tuesday, play host to Cheverus Friday, then go to Deering Saturday and play at Marshwood Tuesday of next week.

Waynflete saw its skid hit six games with losses last week to visiting Freeport (58-46) and St. Dom’s (41-38) and at defending Class B champion Gray-New Gloucester (65-22). Lydia Giguere had 21 points and LZ Olney added 10 against the Falcons. In the back-and-forth loss to the Saints, Giguere had 16 points, but it wasn’t enough.

“The girls battled,” said Waynflete coach Mike Jefferds.”We compete every game. We’re in every game. We’re just trying to put it all together.”

Giguere had a team-high seven points against the Patriots. The Flyers (13th in Class C South, where 14 teams make the playoffs) went to Sacopee Valley Monday, visit Hebron Academy Wednesday, host Old Orchard Beach Friday and visit St. Dom’s Tuesday of next week.

Boys’ hockey

Cheverus’ boys’ hockey team is peaking at the right time. Last week, the Stags extended their win streak to five and improved to 8-2-1 and first in Class A South after prevailing at two-time defending state champion Lewiston (2-1) and beating Class B South power Cape Elizabeth (5-1). Cheverus ended the Blue Devils’ 22-game win streak behind goals from Luke Church and Jackson Wilson. 

“Kept it tight and I think at the end of the day, it could have gone either way, but it was a good game, so we’ll take it,” said Stags coach Dan Lucas.

In the win over the Capers, Wilson and Justin Ray both scored twice, as Cheverus opened up a 3-0 lead after one period and never looked back.

“We wanted to play strong defense and keep the puck in their zone,” Wilson said. “It was very important to get off to a fast start. It helped us set the pace and play our game and kept them on their heels.”

“The guys are buying in,” Lucas said. “They’re seeing they have to work on the little things.”

The Stags go to Marshwood Wednesday, host Massabesic Saturday and play at defending regional champion Falmouth Tuesday of next week.

The Portland/Deering co-op team fell to 5-6-2 and fourth in Class A South after losses to visiting Falmouth (9-2) and host South Portland/Waynflete/Freeport (3-2). Donnie Tocci and Alex McGonagle had the goals against the Yachtsmen.

“We’ll be fine and the guys will bounce back,” Portland/Deering coach Jeff Beaney said. “We’re starting to get healthy. The key is to get good practices in.”

Tocci and Joe Herboldsheimer both scored in the loss to South Portland/Waynflete/Freeport. Portland/Deering hosts Windham/Westbrook Thursday and travels to Bangor Tuesday of next week. 

The South Portland/Waynflete/Freeport co-op squad was 8-5 and fifth in Class A South after rolling at Marshwood (12-1) and holding off visiting Portland/Deering (3-2). Max Winson scored twice in the first victory and Mitchell Adams had a goal in the second. South Portland/Waynflete/Freeport hosted Cape Elizabeth Thursday and goes to Thornton Academy Saturday.

Girls’ hockey

On the girls’ side, the Cheverus/Kennebunk co-op team has the top seed in the South Region locked up. The squad produced its second seven-game win streak of the season after downing visiting Biddeford (7-1) and host Cape Elizabeth/Waynflete/South Portland (9-0) last week. Cheverus/Kennebunk (14-1) went to Falmouth Monday, visits Gorham/Bonny Eagle Wednesday and closes the regular season Friday at Scarborough. 

Portland/Deering will likely be the number two team in the South. Portland/Deering began the week 12-4 after wins at Falmouth (5-2) and at home over Mt. Ararat/Morse (4-1) last week. Emily Demers had four goals in both victories. Portland/Deering had a makeup game at two-time defending state champion St. Dom’s Monday and closes at home versus Biddeford Wednesday.

Cape Elizabeth/Waynflete/South Portland was 8-7 and third in the South at press time after home losses to Scarborough (3-0) and Cheverus/Kennebunk (9-0). Cape Elizabeth/Waynflete/SP was at Biddeford Monday, hosts Falmouth Wednesday and closes at Yarmouth/Freeport Saturday.

The girls’ hockey playoffs begin next Wednesday with the quarterfinals on the home ice of the higher seeds.

Indoor track

The last indoor track regular season meets were held last week.

Deering’s boys improved to 15-1 on the year by defeating South Portland, Cheverus and Portland in that order. The Rams got wins from Antonio Ciccomancini in the junior 55 (7.02 seconds) and junior long jump (18 feet, 00.50 inches), Samacha Sam in the senior 55 (6.93), Luc Harrison in the senior 200 (23.82), Jack Lynch in the senior 400 (53.79), Alec Troxell in the senior 800 (2 minutes, 5.08 seconds) and open two-mile (10:19.27), Chris Irakoze in the senior 55 hurdles (8.45), Manny Lam in the senior high jump (5-4), Wenston Dinizio in the senior long jump (17-10.5), Kabala Muka in the senior shot put (45-2.25), Nick James in the open 600 (1:19.26) and open pole vault (9-6), Yahya Nure in the open mile (4:43.47) and their junior 4×200 (1:46.15), senior 4×200 (1:35.96), open 4×400 (3:53.16) and open 4×800 (10:41.75) relay teams.

Stags first-place finishers included Sean Tompkins in the junior 200 (24.29), junior 400 (53.69) and junior high jump (5-6), Liam Doherty in the junior 800 (2:20.07) and Jakub Jastrzebski in the junior triple jump (35-0), 

In the girls’ meet, won by South Portland, Deering placed second, Cheverus was third, Portland finished fourth and MGA was fifth. 

The Stags were led by Emma Gallant, who won the junior 55 (7.5) and junior 200 (26.27). Other winners included Sophie Schuele in the junior long jump (14-0) and junior triple jump (31-4.25), Rosie Train in the senior 400 (1:08.53), Emma White in the senior 55 hurdles (9.19), Julia Ryan in the open 600 (1:49.36) and senior long jump (16-10.5) and the senior 4×200 relay team (1:50.61).

The Rams got first-place performances from Haldey Poirier in the junior 400 (1:06.29), Annah Rossvall in the senior 200 (a new school-record time of 26.87), Haley Foreman in the senior 800 (2:37.72), Nicole Johnson in the senior shot put (29-10), Jonna Rosenthal in the open mile (5:56.94) and open two-mile (13:55.90) and Darcy Lally in the open pole vault (8-0).

The Bulldogs wins from Noelle Walker in the junior high jump (4-10), Ella Altidor in the senior 55 (7.81) and Jaidyn Appel in the senior high jump (5-0) and senior triple jump (31-8.25).

Next up for city track standouts is the SMAA championship meet Saturday, Feb. 10.

Swimming

In the pool, Cheverus’ girls’ swim team tallied 187 points to beat both Gorham (94) and Maine Girls’ Academy (33). The Stags got wins from Caroline Arpin in the 50 freestyle (27.52 seconds) and 100 breaststroke (1 minute, 16.37 seconds), Rosie Traip in the 100 free (1:03.76), Patsy Ciampi in the 500 free (6:13.07) and their 200 medley (2:05.43) and 400 free (4:12.12) relay teams. The Lions got a first-place showing from Blake Wescott in the 200 individual medley (2:26.77). 

In the boys’ competition, Cheverus beat Gorham, 119-32. The Stags got wins from Quintin Hastings in the 200 free (1:54.66), Brim Peabody in the IM (2:04.65) and 100 free (52.12), Phineas Underwood in the 50 free (23.27), Ben Adams in the 100 butterfly (1:00.38), Jeremy Baker in the 500 free (5:34.91), Chase Cameron in the 100 backstroke (59.28), John Hight in the 100 breaststroke (1:07.26) and their 200 medley (1:49.76), 200 free (1:40.62) and 400 free (3:32.70) relay teams.

Portland was swept by Scarborough, as the boys fell, 91-76, while the girls lost, 122-46.

Deering swept its meet with Massabesic, as the boys prevailed, 100-57, and the girls won, 109-59.

Waynflete swept St. Dom’s, as the boys won, 64-49, and the girls prevailed, 91-16.

The regular season comes to a close this week, as Deering goes to Windham Wednesday, Cheverus visits Scarborough Thursday and Friday, MGA visits Yarmouth, Portland hosts Sanford and Waynflete welcomes Falmouth.

Skiing

On the slopes, Cheverus’ boys and girls finished fourth at a four-team giant slalom meet at Shawnee Peak last week. The girls were led again by Annesley Black, who finished second individually with a two-run combined time of 1 minute, 3.54 seconds. The boys’ top finisher was Joe Allen (ninth, 1:12.69).

Cheverus did better at a slalom meet last week, where the girls tied Falmouth for first (Black was the top individual, 52.14 seconds) and the boys did not score. Liam Allen was 10th individually in 1:03.10.

On the Nordic side, local teams took part in the Sassi Memorial at Black Mountain. 

In the boys’ meet, won by Maranacook, Portland placed 10th and Waynflete was 14th. Portland’s Liam Niles was the individual winner in 13 minutes, 40.6 seconds. Deering did not score as a team, but Peter Jordan placed third individually (13:52.9). The Flyers were paced by Nicholas Werner (35th, 15:45.7).

In the girls’ meet, won by Yarmouth, Deering finished ninth. The Rams were paced by Sierra Aponte-Clarke (sixth, 16:48). Portland didn’t score as a team, but Elizabeth Thomas had the 26th-best time (18:00.1). Waynflete didn’t score either, but Clara Sandberg had the 71st-best time (21:29.2).

Wrestling

The wrestling regular season is in its final week.

Last week, the Portland/South Portland co-op team beat Sanford (39-38), then fell to 8-5 after a 66-15 loss to Biddeford. Portland/SP is at Cheverus Wednesday, then closes at Kennebunk Saturday.

Cheverus began the week 5-10 after losses to Westbrook/Gorham (40-34) and Kennebunk (39-27) and a 34-23 win over Windham. The Stags are home with Bonny Eagle and Portland/SP Wednesday, then close at Sanford Saturday.

Deering was 1-8 following to Massabesic (66-10) and Scarborough (64-10) last week. The Rams go to Scarborough Wednesday and finish at Bonny Eagle Saturday.

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

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