February nears, playoffs on the horizon-Portland edition

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(Ed. Note: For the complete Cheverus-Portland and Portland-Thornton Academy boys’ basketball, Deering-McAuley and McAuley-Massabesic girls’ basketball, Cheverus-Portland/Deering boys’ hockey and Cheverus-Portland/Deering girls’ hockey game stories, with photos, see theforecaster.net)

The winter sports campaign begins to wind down at the end of the week when the girls’ hockey regular season comes to a close, along with indoor track, swimming and wrestling. Basketball, boys’ hockey and skiing won’t be far behind.

Here’s a glimpse at where things stand as January gives way to the championship month of February.

Boys’ basketball

Portland’s boys’ basketball team remained red-hot last week by edging host Thornton Academy (61-59), crushing visiting Cheverus (72-42) and winning at Windham (62-39) to improve to 13-1 and second behind Deering in the Class AA North Heal Points standings.

Against the Golden Trojans, the Bulldogs were far from their explosive selves in the first half, going nearly seven minutes without a point in the first quarter, and they trailed, 27-21, at halftime. They still trailed by five, 52-47, in the fourth quarter but Portland erupted for 12 straight points, to seemingly put the game away. The Golden Trojans refused to give in and pulled within two. Thornton Academy got the ball back and had a chance to tie or win, but as time expired, Charlie Lyall blocked a shot and the Bulldogs held on to prevail, 61-59.

Griffin Foley had  team-high 15 points and John Williams added 11 points off the bench.

“Coach told us to man up,” Lyall said. “We practice blocking every day with the baseline hand. I stepped to it and blocked it and got all ball. No foul.”

“We never give up,” Williams said. “We had a different approach in the second half and stayed within ourselves. It was tough.”

“It’s nice to know that when it comes down the stretch and we’re down, we still have something in our tank,” added Bulldogs coach Joe Russo. “These types of games are good for us.”

In the win over the Stags, Portland rode the 3-point shooting of Foley, Joe Esposito, Williams and Terion Moss to a 24-7 lead after one quarter and the Bulldogs never looked back. Portland put up 24 more points in the second period and went on to a 30-point victory, evening the all-time series (which dates to 1925) at 90-90.

Amir Moss had 18 points, Terion Moss added 15 and Esposito finished with 10.

“We just came out strong tonight,” Terion Moss said. “Before the game, Coach said to come out with energy and we did that. We do well under pressure.”

“We’re a very unselfish group,” Amir Moss said. “I feel like the team chemistry is there. We look for the open man.”

“We trusted our offense and got good shots off our offense, which was nice to see,” Russo added

In the victory over the Eagles, Amir Moss led the way with 23 points, Terion Moss had 13 and Esposito added 12.

After hosting Massabesic Tuesday, the Bulldogs welcome Deering for a showdown Friday (see theforecaster.net for game story), play at South Portland Tuesday and close at Cheverus Feb. 4.

Deering was also 13-1 at the start of the week after downing visiting Oxford Hills (81-59), visiting Massabesic (70-67) and host Cheverus (49-43). Against the Vikings, Anthony Lobor had 18 points, Manny Chikuta 13, Jean Claude Butera 11 and Max Chabot 10. Lobor also led the way against the Mustangs with 19 points, as Malik White added 16, Ben Williams had 12 and Raffaele Salamone finished with 11. Lobor had 16 points and Chikuta and Williams 10 apiece in the win over the Stags. The Rams (first in Class AA North) were home with Bonny Eagle Tuesday, go to Portland Friday, play at Scarborough Tuesday of next week, then close at home versus South Portland Feb. 4.

Cheverus enjoyed a 66-54 win at Lewiston, then fell to 8-6 and fifth in Class AA North with losses at Portland (72-42) and at home to Deering (49-43). Jack Casale had a team-high 11 points in the loss to the Bulldogs.

“We knew (Portland would) be tough and it would be a challenge,” first-year Stags coach Ryan Soucie said. “They got out fast and we couldn’t get out of that hole.”

Casale also led the way against the Rams with 17 points. The Stags were home with Thornton Academy Tuesday, play at South Portland Friday, visit Gorham Tuesday of next week, then wrap up the regular season at home against Portland Feb. 4.

In Class C South, Waynflete sandwiched wins over visiting Old Orchard Beach (52-35) and host Poland (58-45) around a 51-43 setback at Lake Region. Milo Belleau and Yai Deng both had 12 points and Will Nelligan added 10 in the win over the Seagulls. In the loss, Belleau led the way with 17 points, while Deng had 15. Against the Knights, Belleau had 15 points, while Abel Alemayo and Christian Brooks had 12 points apiece and Deng added 10. After going to Traip Academy Tuesday, the Flyers (12-2 and third in the Heals) are home with Gray-New Gloucester Saturday, welcome Traip Monday and close at Sacopee Valley Feb. 4.

Girls’ basketball

McAuley’s girls’ basketball team appears to have returned to form following the program’s first losing streak in six years.

Last week, the Lions handled visiting Massabesic, 81-49, then won a game at Deering in which they led from start to finish, 52-43.

Against the Mustangs, McAuley made 11 3-point shots, put nine players in the scoring column, led by 20 points from Jess Willerson and a dozen apiece from Sarah Clement and Catherine Reid.

“The two losses we’ve had have really motivated us to play better and work harder,” Clement said.

“The adversity made us work harder in practice and made us come out with the attitude that, ‘We’re McAuley and we’re going to show you that we can recover,’” Chelsea Rairdon said.

“The girls have been really great,” added McAuley coach Billy Goodman. “The teamwork, cheering for each other. They’ve been awesome and energetic.”

Against the Rams, McAuley shot to a quick 6-0 lead and was up, 14-8, after one period, and 29-17 at halftime. Deering tried its best to make a game of it in the second half, but the Rams never drew closer than nine and McAuley stayed poised and went on to a 52-43 victory.

Willerson led the way with 15 points, Brooke Howard added 13 points and Clement finished with 10, while Eva Mazur nearly produced a triple-double (7 points, 10 rebounds, 8 steals) and the Lions beat Deering for the ninth straight time.

“Deering’s a great team,” Willerson said. “We wanted to come out and have a quick start. Defense has turned us around. It was a big part of why we won.”

“It was a good win for us,” Mazur said. “It gives us a lot of confidence.”

“Tonight showed all the work we’ve done in practice,” Howard said. “Talking and defense were the keys to this game.”

“The girls did great,” Goodman added. “It was an amazing effort. Deering has a lot of offensive power, but the girls were disciplined.”

Saturday, McAuley improved to 12-2 and third in the Class AA South Heal Points standings (behind Gorham and South Portland) after a 58-36 home win over Portland. Willerson had 15 points and eclipsed the 1,000-points threshold for her career, Sarah Clement added 11 points and Rairdon had 10. The Lions were home against Scarborough Tuesday, host Sanford Friday, play at Portland Tuesday and close at home versus Cheverus Feb. 4.

Speaking of the Stags, they appear to be peaking at the right time, capturing five of six games. Last week, Cheverus sandwiched wins over visiting Lewiston (65-59) and at Thornton Academy (44-40) around a 62-47 setback at Windham. Against the Blue Devils, Alayna Briggs led the way with 16 points, while Kaylin Malmquist had 13, Abby Cavallaro and Emme Poulin both finished with 11 and Deirdre Sanborn added 10. Cavallaro had 16 points and Sanborn 10 in the loss. Against the Golden Trojans, Cavallaro remained red-hot with 20 points, while Poulin added 14. The Stags (9-6 and fourth in Class AA North) were at Massabesic Tuesday, host Gorham Tuesday of next week and close at McAuley Feb. 4.

Deering has hit a rough patch of late, losing three games last week: 44-37 at Oxford Hills, 52-43 to visiting McAuley and 58-23 at undefeated Gorham. Tasia Titherington had 17 points against the Vikings. In the loss to the Lions, Deering got 17 points from Titherington, but committed 16 turnovers and made just 5 of 12 free throws.

“The last five, six games, we haven’t answered the bell,” Rams coach Mike Murphy said. “I’ve tried everything, but we’re not responding.

Deering (8-6 and fifth in Class AA North) hoped to get back on track Tuesday at Bonny Eagle. After hosting South Portland Friday, the Rams welcome Scarborough Tuesday of next week and close at Portland Feb. 4.

Portland fell to 0-14 and eighth in Class AA North after losses last week to visiting Thornton Academy (54-29), visiting Windham (49-46) and host McAuley (58-36). Margaret Hatch had a team-high nine points against the Golden Trojans. Reagan Brown and Taylor Sargent had 10 points apiece in the loss to the Lions. The Bulldogs sought their first victory Tuesday at Noble. After going to Massabesic Friday, the Bulldogs host McAuley Tuesday and Deering Feb. 4.

In Class C South, Waynflete was clinging to the 14th and final playoff spot after winning at Old Orchard Beach (40-27) and losing at home to Lake Region (48-22) and Poland (54-38). Annika Brooks had 20 points and Lydia Giguere added 13 in the victory. Against the Lakers, Brooks and Giguere had seven points each. Ali Pope had a team-high 14 points in the loss to the Knights. The Flyers (5-9) host Traip Academy Wednesday, go to Gray-New Gloucester Friday, visit Traip Academy Tuesday of next week and close at Sacopee Valley Feb. 4.

Boys’ hockey

The annual Cheverus-Portland/Deering “City Cup” was delayed five days by bad weather, but it was certainly worth the wait when the rivals squared off Thursday evening.

Portland/Deering needed a signature, Heal Points-rich victory and appeared on its way when Mason Martell and Cam King sandwiched goals around a tally from Cheverus’ Ryan McSorley for a 2-1 lead after one period. Portland/Deering was even more prolific in the second period, as after the Stags tied the score on McSorley’s second goal, Donato Tocci, Martell and Joe Pichette all tickled the twine to make it 5-2.

When Martell completed his hat trick with 12:07 left, the competitive phase of the contest appeared over, but 10 seconds later, Cheverus got life on a goal from Chris Vallee. With 4:15 to play, Sean Walsh scored on a rebound and the Stags’ cheering section began to believe. When Luke Trickey found the net with 3:40 to play, all the pressure was on Portland/Deering and sure enough, with 1:53 remaining, Cheverus pulled even when Jesse Pierce set up Cam Dube.

The game would go to overtime and where Pierce ended it 4:33 into the extra session and Cheverus had an improbable 7-6 win.

“It was great to get the team the win,” Pierce said. “Cam Dube made a great play through the neutral zone to get the puck in. I was just lucky to pick it up and put it in the net.”

“We had the momentum going into overtime,” Trickey said. “That’s always big. This is one of the best games I’ve ever been a part of. It was almost unbelievable to win it in overtime.”

“We wanted to play the game in their end and get one (goal) at a time and see what happened,” added Cheverus coach Dan Lucas. “It’s a big boost.”

Saturday, Cheverus settled for a 2-2 home tie against defending Class A champion Scarborough. The Stags got goals from Trickey and Walsh, but gave up the equalizer with 13 seconds left. Cheverus (5-5-1 and third in Class A South) has a rematch with Portland/Deering Thursday and welcomes Biddeford Saturday.

Portland/Deering, which had lost, 5-3, at Thornton Academy the day before, was left in shock by Cheverus’ rally in the “City Cup.”

“It was a great game for Maine high school hockey,” first-year Bulldogs coach Jeff Beaney said. “It was fun. I’m awfully proud of the guys. We’ve come an awfully long way.”

Portland/Deering fell to 3-9 Saturday with a 2-1 loss at Cony. Portland/Deering is was ninth in Class A South at press time (only eight teams make the playoffs) and its schedule gets no easier as Cheverus pays a visit Thursday and Scarborough comes to town Saturday.

The South Portland/Waynflete/Freeport co-op team was 10th in Class A South with a 3-8-1 record following a 3-2 home loss to Massabesic and a 9-0 setback at Camden Hills. Next up is a game at Marshwood Wednesday.

Girls’ hockey

Cheverus’ girls’ hockey team won the annual “City Cup” showdown against rival Portland/Deering last week and got in the win column for the first time this calendar year. It wasn’t easy, as the Stags dug an early 2-0 hole, but two goals apiece from Sophia Pompeo (including the winner) and Lilly Wolff and 34 saves from goalie Taylor Courtois sparked a 6-3 victory, giving Cheverus the Cup for the third year in a row.

“It was awesome,” Pompeo said. “It was my first “City Cup.” It was a big deal. I loved it.”

“We knew it would be hard to come back, but we put our heart in it,” said Courtois (34 saves). “We really wanted this game.”

“We just regrouped,” added Stags first-year coach Kent Hulst. “It’s a game of emotion and luckily, we came out on top.”

Cheverus fell to 10-6 and third in the South Region Heals after Saturday’s 3-2 loss at Cape Elizabeth/Waynflete/South Portland. Elizabeth Cain and Caroline Ray scored in defeat. The Stags welcome York Thursday and close the regular season at Falmouth Saturday.

Portland/Deering, which had previously defeated host Gorham/Bonny Eagle (7-2), got two goals from Lauren McIntyre and another from Raven Bradenday, along with 19 saves from Anna Freund in the loss to Cheverus.

“It was a great one to watch,” Portland/Deering coach Tim Murphy said. “I enjoyed it. I thought my girls played one of their best games the entire season.”

Portland/Deering improved to 5-11 (and seventh in the South Region, where only six teams make the playoffs) after Saturday’s 4-3 win at Biddeford. Kerry Wells had two goals and McIntyre and Mia Thurston both scored once. After hosting Cape Elizabeth/Waynflete/South Portland Wednesday, Portland/Deering finishes the regular season at home Saturday versus York.

The Cape Elizabeth/Waynflete/South Portland co-op team suffered an 11-0 loss at Falmouth, then improved to 5-10 and fourth in the South Region after a 3-2 home victory over Cheverus. After visiting Edward Little/Leavitt Monday, Cape Elizabeth/Waynflete/SP is at Portland/Deering Wednesday and closes at Gorham/Bonny Eagle Friday.

The playoffs begin Wednesday with the regional quarterfinals. The semifinals are Friday, Feb. 5. Both rounds will feature the higher seeds hosting. The regional finals are Wednesday, Feb. 10, at the Colisee in Lewiston. The state final is Saturday, Feb. 13 in Lewiston.

Indoor track

A snowstorm Jan. 16 meant local runners, jumpers and throwers had two meets last week.

Last Monday, Deering’s boys beat five other teams (including Portland, which was fifth). Paolo DeMarco took both the senior 200 (23.85 seconds) and senior 400 (52.01). Ezra Chapola was first in both the senior long jump (18 feet, 2.75 inches) and the senior triple jump (38-8).

The Rams girls were second to Westbrook, while the Bulldogs placed fifth. Deering’s Annah Rossvall won three events, the junior 55 hurdles (9.56), junior long jump (15-4) and junior triple jump (31-6.5). Portland got wins from Ella Altidor in the junior 55 (7.7) and junior 400 (1 minute, 3.86 seconds).

Cheverus’ girls were third and the boys fourth in a five-team league meet (Thornton Academy was first in both genders). In the girls’ meet, Emily Turner won the senior 55 (7.69), senior 200 (26.94) and senior long jump (16-0.5).

McAuley did not score in its meet.

The regular season wrapped up Saturday, where Deering’s boys hoped to end Scarborough’s long league win streak, but fell 12 points short in a meet which also included Windham. Iessa Ramadan was victorious in the junior 200 (24.27) and the open 600 (1:18.86). DeMarco again swept the 200 (23.51) and 400 (50.85). Chapola was first in the long (19-7) and triple (39-7.5) jumps. The Rams girls were second to Scarborough and McAuley placed fourth. Deering got wins from Elizabeth Erbe in the open 600 (1:40.53), Caitlin Lally in the senior 400 (1:04.20), Sryely Sao in the junior high jump (4-6), and its junior 800 relay team (2:00.04).  The Lions got first-place performances from Sophia Krieckhaus in the senior shout put (33-0.5) and Alessia Toohey in the junior shot put (29-1.75).

Cheverus’ boys and girls were second to Westbrook in a meet which also included Massabesic. The boys were led by Tre Fletcher, who won the junior 55 (7.02), junior high jump (6-0) and junior long jump (19-6). The girls got multiple wins from Hannah Abbott in the junior 55 (8.06) and the junior shot put (30-8.75), Emma White in the junior long jump (15-9) and the junior triple jump (32-10.25), Sarah Mount in the senior 800 (2:36.71) and senior 55 hurdles (9.68) and Turner in the senior 200 (26.97), senior 400 (1:00.40) and the long jump (15-11).

Portland’s boys and girls were both fourth against Thornton Academy, Bonny Eagle and Marshwood. In the girls’ meet, Altidor took the junior 55 (7.54) and junior 200 (27.01).

The Southwestern Maine Activities Association championship meet is Feb. 6.

The Class B state meet is Feb. 13. The Class A state meet is Feb. 15.

Swimming

Cheverus’ boys’ swim defeated St. Dom’s Friday, 83-24, while the girls beat the Saints, 67-16 and also downed McAuley, 61-31. The Stags close the regular season at Scarborough Friday.

McAuley defeated St. Dom’s, 64-21, and closes the season at home versus Cape Elizabeth Friday.

Deering’s boys lost to Greely, 44-24, while the girls also fell to the Rangers, 53-41. The Rams finish the regular season Friday at South Portland.

Portland hosts Kennebunk in its finale Friday.

Waynflete wraps up Friday at home against Massabesic.

Skiing

Portland’s boys’ Nordic ski team placed fifth at last week’s Maranacook Waves race. Kekoa Farnsworth was 25th (17 minutes, 33 seconds) and Thomas Sheils placed 26th (17:35). Deering didn’t score as a team, but featured two of the top five individuals: Caleb Niles (third, 15:15) and Peter Jordan (fifth, 15:28).

Deering was fourth in the girls’ meet. Leinani Farnsworth was sixth (17:43.1) and Ewka Varney came in ninth (17:52.8).

On the Alpine side, Cheverus took part in a six-team league giant slalom meet at Shawnee Peak. The boys were sixth and the girls didn’t score. Individually, Schuyler Black was second in the boys’ meet (a two-run combined time of 1 minute, 4.73 seconds). Liz Fossett came in 13th in the girls’ competition (1:21.09).

Wrestling

Portland’s wrestling team was 7-9 after beating Windham (42-24) and losing to Noble (47-25) and Westbrook (57-19). The Bulldogs also finished seventh of 12 scoring teams at last week’s Southern Maine Invitational in Gardiner.

Deering was 4-12 after a 54-15 loss to Wells and a 74-6 loss to Marshwood.

Cheverus was 0-11 after a 72-9 loss to Marshwood and placed 10th at the Southern Maine Invitational.

The regular season wraps up this weekend.

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

Sidebar Elements


Portland’s Charlie Lyall battles Cheverus’ Jesse Matthews (23) and Andrew Roberts for a rebound during the Bulldogs’ 72-42 victory last week.

McAuley’s Sarah Clement shoots a 3-pointer over Deering’s Abi Ramirez during the Lions’ 52-43 victory Friday.

Cheverus’ boys’ hockey team shows off the “City Cup” after rallying from four goals down in the third period to shock Portland/Deering, 7-6, Thursday night.

Cheverus freshman Sophia Pompeo and Portland/Deering senior Mia Thurston battle for possession during the teams’ “City Cup” battle Thursday night. Pompeo scored twice and the Stags prevailed, 6-3.

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