February, championship time arrive-Portland edition

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(For the complete Portland-Deering boys’ basketball, Portland/Deering-Scarborough boys’ hockey and Portland/Deering-York girls’ hockey game stories, with photos, see theforecaster.net)

The month of February means champions will be crowned in abundance.

Forecaster Country features potential champions in every winter sport, meaning the next few weeks will be memorable.

Here’s a glimpse:

Boys’ basketball

Portland’s boys’ basketball team, for the third year in a row, appears bound for the top seed and perhaps another trip to the state final.

Last week, the Bulldogs hosted two top foes, Massabesic and Deering, and beat them both. First, Portland downed the Mustangs, 71-57, thanks to 25 points from Terion Moss, 20 from Amir Moss and 18 from Griffin Foley.

Against the Rams, the Bulldogs gradually pulled away, led by as many as 21 points, then won by a convincing 74-62 margin behind Amir Moss’ game-high 20 points and Terion Moss’ 18. Nine players scored in all as Portland beat Deering for the eighth straight time and improved to 134-78 in the all-time series, which dates to Dec. 30, 1911.

“Deering gets us fired up more than other teams,” Terion Moss said. “We don’t want to lose to them. Our crowd really got us going tonight.”

“We came out and played hard and tried to match their intensity,” Amir Moss said. “We knew they’d come out tough and physical and it would be back and forth, but we ended up hanging in there and staying confident. Our team chemistry just keeps building and getting better each week.”

“We kept our energy up and our momentum going,” said Joe Esposito, who had 10 points, eight rebounds, six assists and two steals just five days after winning football’s Fitzpatrick Trophy. “We didn’t let them get on a run. We were able to get up and kill their momentum.”

“We talked about what Deering was going to do,” added longtime Bulldogs coach Joe Russo, who won his 377th game with the program and improved to 35-22 versus the Rams. “They’re a quality team. I knew they’d come out guns firing and I told the kids to meet their intensity. I was really pleased with that. I sat back and thought it was wonderful that we shared the ball, ran the floor, played good team defense, stuck together and helped each other.”

Portland (15-1 and first in the Class AA North Heal Points standings) went to South Portland Tuesday (see theforecaster.net for game story), then closes at Cheverus Thursday.

“At this point, I can’t ask for too much more other than cleaning up some things,” Russo said. “We can still get better.”

Deering preceded its loss to Portland with a 72-49 home win over Bonny Eagle (Malik White had 24 points and Ben Williams added 13). Against the Bulldogs, the Rams got 18 points (eight rebounds and three steals) from Williams and a double-double (16 points, 12 rebounds) from Raffaele Salamone, but they still had no answer for their rival/nemesis.

“In practice all week, we emphasized spacing and being ball tough, but it didn’t show tonight,” said Deering coach Todd Wing, who is now 0-8 against Portland. “We weren’t mentally tough. Individuals tonight performed well, but it takes more than individuals to be a championship contender. That wasn’t the case tonight. After watching film on the first game, I was a little more encouraged. We did good things in the second half of last game that I thought we could build on, but we didn’t do that.”

The Rams (14-2 and second in Class AA North) were at Scarborough Tuesday and host South Portland in the finale Thursday.

“Who knows who we’ll get in the playoffs?” Wing said. “Each game, we try to get better and tonight, I feel as a team, as a staff, we didn’t get better. We still have a lot of work to do.”

Cheverus was 9-7 and fifth in Class AA North at the start of the week following a 56-46 home loss to Thornton Academy and a 66-53 victory at South Portland last week. Jack Casale and Jesse Matthews both had 16 points in the loss. In the win, Casale erupted for 32 points, Matthews added 15 and Austin Boudreau had 11. The Stags went to Gorham Tuesday and close at home versus Portland Thursday. A win in either game could move them up the standings.

In Class C South, Waynflete started the week 14-2 and third after a 65-49 win at Traip Academy and a 59-34 home victory over Gray-New Gloucester. Milo Belleau and Will Nelligan both had 15 points against the Rangers. In the win over the Patriots, Yai Deng had 17 points and Abel Alemayo 13. The Flyers hosted Traip Monday (see theforecaster.net for game story) and close at Sacopee Valley Thursday.

Girls’ basketball

There was plenty of excitement last week on the girls’ side as well.

Portland earned its first victory in dramatic fashion Saturday, edging visiting Massabesic, 57-55, when Andrea Lynch scored on a buzzer-beating layup. Taylor Sargent led the way with 19 points. The Bulldogs previously fell at Noble, 52-48, despite 19 points from Kate Johnson and 13 from Shayla Eubanks. Portland (1-15 and eighth in the Class AA North Heal Points standings, where only six teams make the playoffs) hosted McAuley Tuesday and close the season at home versus Deering Thursday.

McAuley extended its win streak to five with victories last week over visiting Scarborough (43-38) and Sanford (64-43). Jess Willerson had 17 points and Brooke Howard added 14 versus the Red Storm. In the win over the Spartans, Willerson led the way with 22 points and Sarah Clement added 10. The Lions (14-2 and second to undefeated Gorham in Class AA South, went to Portland Tuesday and close at home versus Cheverus Thursday (see theforecaster.net for game story).

Deering snapped a three-game skid with wins last week at Bonny Eagle (46-32) and at home over South Portland (51-45). Against the Scots, Tasia Titherington had 13 points and Delaney Haines added a dozen. When the Rams snapped the Red Riots’ 12-game win streak, Haines had 17 points and Amanda Brett 10. Deering (10-6 and third in Class AA North) hosted Scarborough Tuesday and closes at Portland Thursday.

Cheverus made it six wins in seven games last Tuesday with a 51-29 victory at Massabesic. Emme Poulin had 13 points and Grace Soucy added 10. The Stags (10-6 and fifth in Class AA North) hosted Gorham Tuesday (see theforecaster.net for game story) and close at nemesis McAuley, a team they’ve never beaten, Thursday.

In Class C South, Waynflete was 6-10 and 12th after a 35-31 home win over Traip Academy and a 42-22 loss at Gray-New Gloucester. In the victory, Lydia Giguere had 15 points and Annika Brooks added 14. Arianna Giguere had a team-high eight points against the Patriots. The Flyers went to Traip Academy Tuesday and close the regular season at Sacopee Valley Thursday.

Unified basketball

The new Deering/Portland Unified basketball team debuted in dramatic fashion last Friday, taking host Yarmouth to overtime before losing a close one, 39-34. After going to Kennebunk Monday, Deering/Portland plays its home opener Wednesday versus Bonny Eagle.

Boys’ hockey

Cheverus and Portland/Deering’s boys’ hockey teams did battle last week for the second time in six nights. Last Saturday, the Stags rallied from a 6-2 third period deficit to win in overtime. In the rematch, Portland/Deering held on for a 3-2 victory. Saturday, Portland/Deering fell to 4-10 and sixth in the Class A Heals after a 6-1 home loss to Scarborough. Walter Lewandowski scored his first varsity goal, but that was all the offense Portland/Deering could muster as longtime Red Storm coach Norm Gagne won his 700th career game.

“We had to start the game with seven forwards and four defensemen,” Portland/Deering coach Jeff Beaney said. “I brought some kids up from JV. When you play the defending state champions, they grind on you. You can see by our results, we take a step up and a step back.”

Portland/Deering is back in action Saturday when it hosts powerhouse Falmouth. A trip to Yarmouth follows Tuesday of next week.

Cheverus bounced back from its loss to Portland/Deering with a 3-2 home win over Biddeford Saturday to improve to 6-6-1 and third in Class A South. Cam Dube scored early, but Tigers rallied to lead. After Biddeford went up, 2-1, Chris Vallee tied the game and with just over a minute to play, Jesse Cyr-Brophy won it. The Stags go to Lewiston Wednesday and return home to face Thornton Academy Thursday of next week.

The South Portland/Waynflete/Freeport co-op team was 4-8-1 and 10th in Class A South entering Thursday’s home game vs. Mt. Ararat/Morse/Lisbon. Last week’s lone game resulted in a 3-2 win at Marshwood. Lake Region pays a visit Saturday.

Girls’ hockey

The girls’ hockey playoffs are underway.

Cheverus finished the regular season 11-7 following a 2-1 home win over York and an 11-1 loss at defending regional champion Falmouth. Sophia Pompeo had the lone goal against the Yachtsmen. The Stags earned the No. 3 seed in the South Region and hosts No. 6 Biddeford (6-12) Wednesday afternoon (see theforecaster.net for game story). Cheverus split with the Tigers during the regular season, winning at home 5-0 and losing in Biddeford, 1-0. The teams split two previous playoff encounters, as the Tigers won the 2009 regional final, 1-0, and the Stags won in the 2013 quarterfinals, 7-4.

If Cheverus advances, it will go to No. 2 Falmouth (14-2-2) in the semifinals Friday or Saturday. The Stags lost twice to the Yachtsmen this winter, also losing, 5-2, at home. The teams have played once prior in the playoffs, a 4-0 Cheverus win in the 2010 regional final.

Portland/Deering finished 6-12 and seventh in the South Region, but only six teams made the playoffs. Portland/Deering stayed alive with a 4-2 home win over Cape Elizabeth/Waynflete/South Portland last Wednesday, but was eliminated with a 6-3 home loss to York Saturday. Against the Wildcats, Kaylyn Madore, Mia Thurston and Kerry Wells scored, but Portland/Deering played from behind virtually the whole game and lost senior standout Lauren McIntyre to a knee injury.

“This was a very successful season,” said Portland/Deering coach Tim Murphy. “I want the girls to keep their heads up. They had a heck of a year. We hoped to make it to the playoffs, but we were one game short.”

Portland/Deering set the stage for even more success in 2016-17.

“The coaching staff did a good job teaching things that aren’t taught any more,” Murphy said. “We played as a team. Everybody was supportive. The parents, bar none, were the best I could ask for. It’s the best team I’ve ever coached when it comes to working as a team. We have good girls coming up. We’ll continue on. I’m optimistic. I hope we’ll continue the tradition.”

The Cape Elizabeth/Waynflete/South Portland co-op team earned the No. 5 seed in the South Region with a 6-12 mark after losing at Portland/Deering (4-2) and beating host Gorham/Bonny Eagle (4-2). Wednesday brought a quarterfinal round test at No. 4 York (9-9). Cape Elizabeth/Waynflete/SP beat the Wildcats twice this year, 5-2 at home and 4-2 away. Cape Elizabeth/Waynflete/SP beat York in last year’s quarterfinal round, 4-0, in the teams’ lone prior playoff meeting.

The regional finals are Wednesday of next week in Lewiston and the state final is Saturday, Feb. 13 in Lewiston.

Indoor track

At the league’s “Last Chance” meet last weekend, Cheverus’ Tre Fletcher won the boys’ high jump (6-0) and Deering got victories from Paolo DeMarco in the 200 (23.57 seconds), Jack Lynch in the 400 (55.35), Abdi Hassan in the two-mile (10 minutes, 21.45 seconds) and its 4×200 relay team (1:35.77).

On the girls’ side, Cheverus’ Emily Turner took the 200 (26.70) and long jump (16-4) and the Stags won the 4×200 relay (1:52.75).

Athletes from Deering and Portland recently set league records.

Deering’s boys’ junior relay team of Songha Loth, Luc Harrison, Nick James and Jack Lynch set a new mark of 1 minute, 39.57 seconds on Jan. 18. Five days later, the Rams improved on their record, as Loth, Iessa Ramadan, Harrison and Lynch posted a time of 1:38.24.

Portland’s Ella Altidor set new league marks in the girls’ junior 55 (7.54) and the girl’s junior 200 (27.01) on Jan. 23.

The Southwestern Maine Activities Association championship meet will be held Saturday at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham.

The Class B state meet is Saturday, Feb. 13 at Bates College in Lewiston. The Class A state meet will be held at USM, Monday, Feb. 15.

Swimming

The swimming regular season wrapped up Friday.

Cheverus’ boys closed with an 111-59 win at Scarborough. The Stags girls beat the Red Storm, 95-73.

Deering’s girls edged South Portland, 91-89, while the Rams boys lost to the Red Riots, 113-41.

McAuley dropped a 126-41 decision to Cape Elizabeth.

Portland met Kennebunk and Westbrook in a three-team meet. The Bulldogs boys had 100 points, while the Rams had 118 and the Blue Blazes 37. In the girls’ competition, Kennebunk had 129 points, Portland 80 and Westbrook 62.

Waynflete’s boys lost to Massabesic, 85-76, while the girls lost to the Rams, 116-43.

The Southwesterns will be held this weekend in Cape Elizabeth. The boys swim Friday and the girls Saturday.

Skiing

Deering, Portland and Waynflete’s Nordic ski teams took part in last weeekend’s Sassi Memorial classical race at Black Mountain.

Deering’s girls placed sixth out of 24 scoring teams (Yarmouth came in first). Leinani Farnsworth had the eighth-best individual time over the 5-kilometer course (18 minutes, 37.6 seconds). Ewka Varney was 11th (19:01.8). Waynflete finished 14th. Marijka Rowse was the top Flyers, finished 57th in 22:19.3.

In the boys’ competition, won by Mt. Blue, Portland finished ninth. Brad Ravenelle finished third individually in 14:52.7. Deering didn’t score as a team, but Caleb Niles placed sixth individually in 15:58.9.

Wrestling

Portland’s wrestling team capped its regular season last week with a 39-24 loss to Kennebunk, a 40-30 win over Deering and a 36-27 loss to Massabesic.

Deering closed with losses to Biddeford (72-6), Westbrook (60-18) and Portland (40-30).

Cheverus finished with losses against York/Traip (39-18) and Noble (45-12) and a win over Windham (30-18).

The regional meet is Saturday at Marshwood High School in South Berwick.

The Class A state meet is Saturday, Feb. 13 at Noble High School in North Berwick.

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

Sidebar Elements


Portland’s Amir Moss and Deering’s Manny Chikuta hit the floor in pursuit of the ball during the Bulldogs’ 74-62 victory Friday. Portland beat its crosstown rival for the eighth straight time.

Portland/Deering goalie Sam Segal can’t stop a blast from Scarborough’s Matt Caron during the Red Storm’s 6-1 win Saturday.

Portlamd/Deering’s Sinead Scott sends the puck past a York defender during a 6-3 loss in the regular season finale Saturday.

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