February arrives, postseason looms-Portland edition

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February, the month of non-stop tournament action and hardware galore, is upon us.

Girls’ hockey’s regular season ends this weekend, which is when the swimming and wrestling postseasons begin. Basketball, hockey, skiing and track’s postseasons aren’t far behind.

Here’s a glimpse at where things stand as Punxsutawney Phil takes centerstage.

Boys’ basketball

While Cheverus’ boys’ basketball team continued to run roughshod over all comers (please see story), Deering continues to ascend.

The Rams find themselves fifth in the latest Western Class A Heal Points standings with a 9-4 mark after wins last week over visiting Westbrook (52-44) and Portland (65-42). Against the Blue Blazes, junior Jon Amabile had 22 points, senior Jamie Ross added 10 rebounds and junior Pat Green finished with seven points, five boards, three assists and a steal. In the victory over the Bulldogs, sophomore Labson Abwoch led the way with a breakout 26-point performance. He also grabbed 12 rebounds and blocked five shots.

“He’s a talented kid,” said Deering coach Dan LeGage, of Abwoch. “He’s been working really hard at playing physical and playing strong. He was getting hit, but he was still finishing tonight. I thought tonight he performed like I know he’s capable of.”

Amabile added 20 points (along with three rebounds and three steals).

“Tonight was huge,” LeGage said. “(Portland) had a win over (South Portland) and we didn’t beat (South Portland) the first time. That bumped them up. Our whole emphasis has been on playing four quarters with high energy, high enthusiasm and a lot of communication. I thought tonight the guys did a nice job with their rotations. They were pointing and talking and boxing out.”

The Rams played at Windham Tuesday, go to South Portland Thursday and host Marshwood Saturday and Cheverus Tuesday of next week.

Portland was coming off a 66-52 home loss to Bonny Eagle (sophomore Nate Smart led the team with 13 points). The Bulldogs got 10 points from junior Mike Herrick versus Deering.

“In the second quarter, our inexperience showed and the players got away from our game plan,” said Portland coach Joe Russo, on the Deering loss. “That was the difference in the game. We’re young. We’re inexperienced. We’re not an offensive team. So our best defense sometimes is a deliberate offense. We thought we could put some pressure on them and try some things. Then we took some bad shots and forced some bad passes.”

Saturday, Portland went to Cheverus and fell behind 14-0 early, 19-4 after one period and 39-11 at the half en route to a 70-43 setback.

“Anytime you get behind that early against a good team, it’s an uphill battle,” Russo said. “Their fullcourt run-and-jump took us out of the game. It shouldn’t have. They do a nice job with it, but we know how to break it.”

Sophomore Nick Volger and junior Pete Donato had 10 points each. Donato added nine rebounds, two blocks and a steal).

Portland (now 6-7 and 10th in the Western Class A Heal Points standings) has work to do to extend its postseason streak to 19 seasons. Only eight squads make the playoffs and the Bulldogs need a couple of big wins. They hosted Sanford Tuesday and go to Scarborough Thursday. Home games versus Biddeford and Deering and a trip to South Portland close out the slate.

“We have a couple goals,” Russo said. “We want to finish up strong and get a couple more wins to make it a respectable year. It doesn’t matter where they come from. I have two seniors and I don’t want it to be a miserable year for them. We’re building for next year and I hope it’s enjoyable. You can’t win all the time, so this is tough. Whether we get in the tournament or not, we need to win for our psyche.”

In Western C, Waynflete was 8-5 and seventh in the standings at the start of the week. Last week, the Flyers dropped a hard-fought 43-34 decision at Western B power Cape Elizabeth (despite 23 points from senior Joe Veroneau), then downed host North Yarmouth Academy, 40-27 (as Veroneau had 12 points and junior Mitch Newlin 11). Waynflete was at A.R. Gould Tuesday, hosts Valley Tuesday of next week and closes the regular season at home against Gould Academy Feb. 11.

Girls’ basketball

While Waynflete’s girls’ team hits its stride (please see story), undefeated Stevens Avenue rivals Deering and McAuley are on a collision course.

The Rams entered the week with a slim lead in the Western A Heals. Deering improved to 13-0 last week with victories at Westbrook (56-38) and Portland (63-44). Against the Blue Blazes, senior standout Kayla Burchill was held below her average, but still had 19 points. Junior Ella Ramonas added 13. At the Bulldogs, Burchill went off for 25 and Ramonas added 11. Deering broke that one open with a 21-7 run in the second quarter. The Rams hosted Windham Tuesday, then welcome McAuley in a highly-anticipated, delicious showdown Thursday evening. Monday, Deering visits Marshwood.

The Lions are also 13-0 after dispatching visiting Kennebunk (48-17) and host Westbrook (58-20) last week. Second-ranked McAuley got 15 points from its senior star, Rebecca Knight, and 13 points, eight rebounds and six blocked shots from junior Alexa Coulombe in the win over the Rams. Against the Blue Blazes, freshman Allie Clement had 18 points and Knight added 13. The Lions hosted Massabesic Tuesday and after going to Deering, have another tough test at Gorham Saturday.

Cheverus finds itself in the No. 4 spot (Sanford’s third) with an 11-2 mark after wins last week over visiting Biddeford (56-37), which avenged last year’s playoff ouster, and visiting South Portland (52-41). Against the Tigers, junior Morgan Cahill exploded for 25 points. In the win over the Red Riots, Cahill had 23 points and sophomore Brooke Flaherty 14.  The Stags were at Gorham Tuesday, visit Marshwood Thursday, host Sanford Saturday, then play at McAuley Tuesday of next week.

Portland began the week 3-10 and 15th in the region. Last week, the Bulldogs dropped a 48-41 decision at Bonny Eagle, then lost, 63-44, to visiting Deering. At the Scots, senior Becca Smith led the way with 15 points. Senior Nicolette Kapothanasis had a team-high 16 versus the Rams. Portland was at Sanford Tuesday, plays host to defending state champion Scarborough Thursday, plays at Biddeford Saturday and hosts South Portland Tuesday of next week.

Boys’ hockey

It’s been a long year for the Deering boys’ hockey team, but the Rams may have turned the corner. Deering dropped a tough 4-2 home decision to Noble Thursday.

“We can’t find the back of the net,” lamented Deering coach Jack Lowry. “We’re averaging two goals a game. We have to score the ugly way. When we break down and make mistakes we’re in trouble. We don’t have the skill we had last year, but they go out and compete every game. That’s all I can ask for.”

Saturday, however, the Rams shocked Cheverus, 2-0, behind goals from seniors Denny Patenaude and Connor Petropoulos and 31 saves from junior goalie Jackson Stevens.

“I’ve seen it happen before, you get that one big win and it snowballs,” Lowry said.

Deering (3-7 and 11th in the Western A Heals) hosted Massabesic/Old Orchard Beach Monday, welcomes Lake Region Thursday and Marshwood Saturday. The Rams need to go in the top eight to qualify for the postseason.

“We need to finish strong,” Lowry said. “We’ll see what happens. I’m optimistic.”

Cheverus was coming off a pair of wins, 5-2 at Brunswick and 2-1 over visiting Bonny Eagle (behind goals from senior Nic Lops and junior Tommy Sullivan), but couldn’t tickle the twine versus Deering and dropped to 8-3 (second in Western A). The Stags went to Noble Monday and host South Portland Saturday.

Portland is still in playoff consideration. The Bulldogs are 5-8 after their losing skid hit four games by virtue of shutouts last week at defending state champion Biddeford (8-0) and top contender Falmouth (6-0). Portland (eighth in the region) is home against Thornton Academy Thursday.

Girls’ hockey

Cheverus’ girls’ squad is gearing up for the playoffs and a chance to defend its state championship. The Stags are third in the West region Heals, a shade behind York (Scarborough is set at the top), with a 10-5-1 mark after going 2-1 last week. Cheverus defeated visiting Cape Elizabeth (2-1), was blanked at Greely (6-0), then held off visiting Falmouth (2-1). Sophomore Dana Maloney and freshman Katie Roy had the goals against the Capers. Senior Paige Lucas and sophomore Emily Rodrigue scored against the Yachtsmen. The Stags host Gorham Wednesday and wrap up the regular season at home versus Winslow Saturday.

Portland is 5-9-2 and sixth in the region after last Wednesday’s 6-5 home loss to Yarmouth. Junior standout Raechel Allen scored four goals in the setback, including her 100th career point. The Bulldogs go to Cape Elizabeth Wednesday and close at York Saturday.

Waynflete’s co-op team with Cape Elizabeth entered the week 4-12 and seventh in the West. Last week brought a 2-1 home loss to Cheverus, a 5-0 setback at Falmouth and a 4-2 home victory over Gorham. Against the Stags, Lucy Crane had an assist. Roz Gray-Bauer had a hat trick versus the Rams. The season comes to an end this week with home games against Portland Wednesday and Biddeford Saturday.

Track

The penultimate week of the indoor track season produced more triumph Saturday at the Portland Expo.

Cheverus’ boys scored 128 points and beat Westbrook (81), Biddeford (62), Massabesic (18). Individual winners included Jimmy Campbell in the junior 40 (4.8 seconds), freshman Elijah Yeboa in the junior 400 (1 minute, 1.4 seconds), Jackson McMann in the junior 45 hurdles (6.3) and the open 300 (37.2), Matt Cushing in the junior shot put (35-4.5), Joe Slattery in the senior 40 (4.8) and the senior 200 (25.7), Jack Terwilliger in the senior 800 (2:09.8) and the two-mile (9:55.5) and Adam Zieba in the open 600 (1:30.1). The Stags also won the junior (1:15.2) and open (1:43.4) relays.

The girls had 53.5 points and were third behind Biddeford (120) and Massabesic (83.5). Alex Dion won the senior 400 (1:08.2). Lizzie Gwilym was first in the senior 800 (2:39.1). Kiera Murray was tops in the open mile (5:39.6). Caroline Summa won the open high jump (5 feet, 2 inches).

Portland’s boys had 48 points to finish second to undefeated Scarborough (115.5). The Bulldogs beat Noble (32.5). Abram Marr took the junior 800 (2:21.7). Imadhi Zagon was first in the senior 40 (4.8) and the open high jump (6 feet) and Abde Ahmed won the senior 200 (25.8).

Portland’s girls (62) points were also runner-up to Scarborough (115), but beat Noble (23). Winners included Mary Nyembo in the senior 40 (5.4), Bianca Abdalla in the junior shot put (24-4.75) and Abby Daggett in the open mile (6:27.3).

Deering and McAuley took part in a meet against Thornton Academy and Windham. Results weren’t available at press time.

In the regular season finale Saturday, city teams battle each other and South Portland. The Southwesterns are Saturday, Feb. 12.

Swimming

The south division swimming Southwesterns will be held this coming weekend in Cape Elizabeth. The boys begin Friday at 5 p.m. The girls start Saturday at 3 p.m. Portland and the first-year Waynflete program will take part.

Cheverus, Deering and McAuley compete in the north division Southwesterns the following weekend.

Waynflete’s girls capped a perfect dual meet regular season last week with wins over Yarmouth (58-36) and South Portland (50-35).

Cheverus’ girls downed McAuley (56-38), Biddeford (76-18) and Windham (72-62) in recent action. The boys were 119-42 winners over the Tigers, but lost to the Eagles (94-74).

McAuley defeated Biddeford, 69-24.

Deering dropped its home meet versus defending Class B champion Greely. The boys fell, 117-56, and the girls were toppled, 107-63. Saturday, the Rams battled powerhouse Scarborough. The boys lost, 111-68. The girls fell, 102-79.

Deering hosts Cheverus in the teams’ regular season finale Friday.

Skiing

Deering, Portland and Waynflete’s Nordic ski teams took part at the Sassi Memorial Saturday at Black Mountain.

In the boys’ competition, won by Yarmouth with 50 points, Deering placed 19th with 381, Waynflete (422) was 22nd and Portland (519) came in 25th out of 28 scoring teams. Bulldog Ben Allen was the fastest individual, placing 38th (17 minutes, 2.1 seconds).

On the girls’ side, won also by Yarmouth (24), Portland (143) was ninth and Waynflete (328) placed 16th. Portland’s Sadie Sarvis came in 19th (19:46.0).

Waynflete will take part in the Western Maine Conference championships next week.

Turning to Alpine, Cheverus met up with several league foes at a giant slalom meet last Wednesday and a slalom meet Friday. At the giant slalom, the girls came in third and the boys sixth. Friday, both Stags teams came in fourth.

Wrestling

Cheverus, Deering and Portland will take part at the Western A regional wrestling championship meet Saturday at Noble High School.

The Bulldogs are coming off a 52-24 loss to Noble.

The Rams lost to Kennebunk (41-22) and Marshwood (66-18) Saturday.

The Class A state championship meet is Saturday, Feb. 12 in Augusta.

Cheering

The regional cheerleading championships were held Saturday in Augusta. Portland was 11th with 105.1 points and Deering finished 13th with 97.4. Neither team qualified for states.

Freelance writer Tom Minervino contributed to this story.

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster

Sidebar Elements


Waynflete senior Joe Veroneau goes up for two of his 12 points during Friday’s 40-27 victory at NYA.

Waynflete’s Ellen Silk swims the breaststroke leg of the 200 yard IM during last week’s meet versus Yarmouth and South Portland. The first-year Flyers girls’ squad capped a perfect regular season by downing both foes.

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