February, postseason loom

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(Ed. Note: For the complete Portland-Sanford boys’ basketball, Cheverus-Marshwood, McAuley-Portland and Portland-Scarborough girls’ basketball and Cheverus-Capeflete girls’ hockey game stories, with additional photos, please visit theforecaster.net)

The regular season is coming to an end in basketball and girls’ hockey and it’s almost time for other sports to hold their big postseason meets.

Here’s a look at what happened last week and what’s to come:

Boys’ basketball

Portland’s boys’ basketball team is somewhat quietly putting together a very special season. Last week, the Bulldogs improved to 14-0 (the deepest into a season they’ve been undefeated since 2004-05) with decisive home wins over Scarborough (81-52) and Sanford (77-42). Matt Talbot had 26 points and Steve Alex added 16 in the win over the Red Storm. Against the Spartans, Talbot led all scorers with 24 points and Portland forced 27 turnovers. Justin Zukowski added 13 points and Alex had 12.

“We’re on a roll,” said Talbot. “We got pressure going and controlled the game. We don’t want to play someone else’s game. We passed well. We hit the open man. We’re not selfish. We’re a good team when we’re not selfish.”

“Every game we take seriously,” said Bulldogs coach Joe Russo. “We wanted to control the tempo from the beginning.”

Portland was second to Falmouth in the Western A Heal Points standings at press time. The Bulldogs welcomed Windham Tuesday, go to Cheverus Friday, then host South Portland and Deering to wrap up the campaign.

“Obviously we think about going undefeated,” Talbot said. “It would be fun, but we go into every game thinking about just that game. We don’t look ahead.”

“Going undefeated doesn’t matter,” said Russo. “Since we were 10-0 last year, we wanted to go 11-0. Now, at this point, we’re entitled to nothing. We want to keep playing hard. Our goal is number one. It would be a good seed this year. We’re capable of doing that.”

Deering lost its third game in a row last Tuesday, 52-45, to Sanford, despite nine points apiece from Ahmed Ali and Jason Thach. Friday, the Rams got back on track with an 88-72 win at Scarborough to improve to 9-5 (good for fourth in Western A). Ali had 21 points, Benedict Williams added 16 and Liam Densmore had 15. Deering was at Biddeford Tuesday, hosts South Portland Thursday and closes the regular season next week with a home game versus Cheverus and a showdown at Portland.

Cheverus took a week off, then lost to visiting Marshwood (54-50, despite 15 points from Noah Stebbins and 10 from Zordan Holman) and beat host Biddeford (62-31, as Holman had 14 points and Stebbins a dozen) last weekend to improve to 7-7 (and eighth in the Heals). After hosting Scarborough Tuesday, the Stags welcome Portland Friday and close with games at Deering and South Portland.

In Western C, Waynflete improved to 12-2 and extended its win streak to four last weekend with a 69-48 home win over Traip and a 72-43 victory at Old Orchard Beach. Serge Nyirikamba had 21 points and Henry Cleaves added 16 in the victory over the Rangers, as Waynflete broke it open in the second half. Nyirikamba had 19 against the Seagulls. The Flyers (third in the standings) go to Sacopee Valley Saturday, welcome Greater Portland Christian School Tuesday, then close with a home game versus Hyde Feb. 7.

Girls’ basketball

On the girls’ side, three-time defending Class A champion McAuley has returned to form and is now atop the Heal Points standings at 13-1 after dominating visiting Westbrook (65-28) and host Portland (79-47) last week. Against the Blue Blazes, the Lions got 21 points from Allie Clement, 16 from Olivia Smith and 13 from Victoria Lux. In the win over the Bulldogs, McAuley made an early statement inside, as Smith blocked several shots and Lux cleaned the glass. The Lions then put on a display of passing and shooting in the second period, as they rolled behind Lux’s 16 points and 18 rebounds, seven points, eight rebounds and eight blocks from Smith, 16 points from Clement and 14 from Jackie Welch.

“We’ve practiced all week to come out strong early,” Lux said. “We knew Portland would give us pressure and that we’d have to come out strong.”

“Earlier in the year, we struggled playing team basketball, but (the girls have) turned it around and deserve all the credit,” said Lions coach Billy Goodman.

McAuley was at Bonny Eagle Tuesday, hosts Marshwood Friday on Senior Night, then closes with games at Deering Monday and Cheverus Feb. 7.

“We don’t worry too much about (finishing) 1 or 2,” Welch said.

I’m a firm believer that whatever it is it is and that you don’t wish for anything,” Goodman added. “We have to continue to play like we did tonight. There’s a big dropoff when we don’t. I feel that we’ve focused on what we need to do to play good playoff basketball. We’ll constantly work on that the next month.”

Portland has hit a rough patch, due in part to an injury to junior Elizabeth Donato, who is out after hurting her knee. Prior to losing to McAuley, the Bulldogs dropped a tough 61-59 decision at Scarborough last Tuesday, despite 18 points and 18 rebounds from Gabby Wagabaza, 15 points off the bench from freshman Kate Johnson and 10 from Brianna Holdren. Portland was done in by 22 turnovers.

“We don’t have experience,” Bulldogs coach Jan Veinot lamented. “We’ve got kids who haven’t played.”

Against McAuley, Johnson had nine points, while Holdrem and Wagabaza each added eight.

“We knew we had our hands full,” said Veinot. “We’re adjusting. We’ve had people out. We had some good moments. Now we know what we have to do.”

Portland (11-3 and third in Western A) was at Windham Tuesday, hosts South Portland on Senior Night Thursday and closes at Biddeford and Deering.

“We have two big games, Windham and South Portland,” said Veinot. “A win against Windham puts them below us. Another win against South Portland keeps them below us. We’ve got to have one of those games.”

Cheverus improved to 9-4 (and fifth in the Heals) with a 48-41 come-from-behind home win over Marshwood Saturday, behind 24 points and 13 rebounds from Jess Willerson and a clutch late 3 from Georgia Ford, which helped the Stags close on a 16-0 run.

“We just had a ton of heart and we just played off each other,” Ford said. “We’re a team that does not quit. We ended up coming out with it.”

“Size was an advantage and our team played amazing together,” Willerson said. “We shared the ball well and got it into the post. We realized we had to play together more and we did and we got a good win.”

“It’s a win that could catapult us,” added Cheverus coach Richie Ashley. “We hadn’t played in a week, the last time we played we didn’t play that well and (the girls) had finals. (The girls) hung there and they won. They deserve all the credit.”

The Stags went to Scarborough Tuesday, host Biddeford in a makeup game Wednesday and Deering Friday, visit South Portland Tuesday of next week, then close with a “Holy War” showdown versus visiting McAuley Feb. 7.

“We’re just taking it each game at a time,” Ford said. “We feel like we can make some noise.”

“(This win is) definitely going to help our confidence and our Heal Points,” Willerson said. “It will be a good spark to the next few games which will be tough.”

Deering’s playoff hopes get better by the day The Rams began the week 6-8 and eighth (12 teams make the postseason) after a 43-37 loss at Sanford and a 49-44 home win over Scarborough. Amanda Brett had 14 points against the Spartans. In the victory, Tasia Titherington had 22 points. Deering hosted Biddeford Tuesday, goes to Cheverus Friday and closes next week at home versus McAuley and Portland.

In Western C, defending state champion Waynflete went 2-1 last week, winning at Buckfield (52-31) and Traip (59-57, in overtime) before falling at home to  Old Orchard Beach, 53-46. Against the Bucks, Leigh Fernandez had 13 points and Helen Gray-Bauer added 10. In the win over the Rangers, Gray-Bauer had 14 points, Arianna Giguere added 12 and Fernandez and Julianna Harwood both had 11. Against the Seagulls, the Flyers rallied from a 16-point deficit to lead, 46-44, but OOB closed on a 9-0 run. Fernandez had 15 points and Harwood added 13.

“It’s tough to play back to back games, but we had our chances,” lamented Flyers coach Brandon Salway. “We’re getting better and closer to consistent, but if we had good execution down the stretch, we could have won it.”

The Flyers (now 10th in the Heals) were at Kents Hill Tuesday, host Hebron Wednesday and Sacopee Valley Friday (a game that will be preceded by a ceremony honoring reigning Miss Maine Basketball Martha Veroneau). After welcoming GPCS Tuesday of next week, Waynflete closes at Hyde Feb. 7.

“There’s potential there, but we haven’t closed out close games,” Salway said. “If you don’t close out games in February, it’s a short postseason. We have big Heal Points games coming up. We can still set ourselves up.”

Boys’ hockey

On the ice, the Cheverus boys fell to 6-3-1 and second in the Western A Heals after a 5-3 home loss to Bangor Saturday. James Hannigan, James Kane and Keegan Thomas had the Stags’ goals. Cheverus plays at Thornton Academy Wednesday.

Portland/Deering was sixth at 3-6-1 after a 4-2 home loss to Yarmouth. Portland/Deering is back in action Saturday at home versus top-ranked Scarborough.

Girls’ hockey

On the girls’ side, the Waynflete-Cape Elizabeth co-op team, Capeflete, improved to 9-7 last week with wins over visiting Mt. Ararat (3-1), Cheverus (3-2) and Gorham/Bonny Eagle (9-2).

“We kept our composure and kept battling,” said Capeflete coach Bob Mills, following the win over the Stags. “We knew Cheverus was right behind us in the Heal Points. We knew if we beat them twice, chances are good they won’t leapfrog us.”

Capeflete hosts Biddeford Thursday and has a game at Gorham/Bonny Eagle to close on Saturday

“We have to beat Biddeford next week,” Mills said. “We haven’t seen them yet. If we beat them, we’ll be in good standing to have a home playoff game. I think this group has believed for the past month-and-a-half that they can do special things. If we can stay healthy and rested, I think we can do some damage.”

Cheverus got a pair of goals from Jill Hannigan in its loss to Capeflete and fell just short.

“We had some good chances, but we look at this as a missed opportunity,” said Stags coach Amy McNally.

Cheverus fell to 6-8-1 and sixth in the Heals after a 6-0 loss at Scarborough Saturday. The Stags welcome Gorham/Bonny Eagle Thursday, then close Saturday at dangerous Yarmouth/Freeport. Cheverus also has to make up a game at Biddeford.

We’ve got to beat Gorham or Biddeford to have a chance at playoffs,” McNally said. “Our goal is to make the playoffs.”

Indoor track

Strong indoor track performances continued last weekend at USM.

Deering’s girls were first and Cheverus’ second in a five-team meet, while the Rams boys were second and Stags third behind Gorham.

Individually, the Deering girls got wins from Caitlin Lally in the junior 400 (1 minute, 7.17 seconds), Rashad Zagon in the 55 hurdles (9.55 seconds) and senior high jump (5 feet), Edie Pallozzi in the 600 (1:28.20), Cindy Hoang in the 55 (8.15), Katie Farrell in the senior 400 (1:05.91), Lili Kien in the junior high jump (4-10), Meghana Clere in the junior shot put (28-9.25), Alexis Elowitch in the senior shot put (34-1) and its 800 relay (1:55.12).

Cheverus’ girls produced event winners Sarah Mount in the 55 hurdles (10.0), junior long jump (14-11.5) and 200 (28.48), Lizzie Ford in the senior high jump (15-1.75) and Kiera Murray in the two-mile (11:42.77),

The Rams boys featured first-place finishers Hany Ramadan in the 200 (23.35), Ismail Diini in the 800 (2:09.11), Iid Sheikh-Yousef in the two-mile (10:25.46), Paulo DeMarco in the 800 (1:22.25), and the 3,200 relay (9:40.93).

The Stags got wins from Nick White in the shot put (47-8.5) and Jacob Schott in the high jump (6-0).

McAuley and Portland joined three other teams. In the girls’ meet, the Bulldogs came in fourth and the Lions were fifth. Portland’s boys were fourth.

McAuley was led by Megan Bailey, who was second in the 55 hurdles (10.65).

The Bulldogs girls got wins from Claire Kirby in the 55 hurdles (9.82), Jessica Wolfe in the shot put (24-7.5) and Madison Bolduc in the triple jump (31-11). The boys’ team’s top finisher was Matthew Bliss, second in the 600 (1:30.86).

Action resumes Feb. 8, with the SMAA championships.

Swimming

Cheverus’ defending Class A boys’ swimming state champions enjoyed a big win Friday, beating host Greely, the reigning Class B champs, 59-35. The girls lost to the Rangers, 50-44. Thursday, Cheverus closes the regular season at Falmouth.

Deering’s boys were 82-79 winners at Falmouth, while the Rams girls prevailed, 89-82. Deering’s girls return to action Feb. 7 at McAuley.

Speaking of the Lions, they’re coming off a 136-38 loss at defending Class A champion Cape Elizabeth.

Portland’s boys lost at Yarmouth, 86-68, and the girls fell, 84-65. The Bulldogs are home against Windham Friday.

Waynflete’s girls beat visiting Gorham, 85-83, while the boys lost to the Rams, 79-73. The Flyers go to Bonny Eagle Wednesday.

In the South Portland Diving Invitational Saturday, Cheverus’ Nick Jensen and Courtney Kane were the 11-dive champions in their respective genders.

Skiing

Portland’s boys’ Nordic ski team finished eighth among 38 teams at the Sassi Memorial Saturday. Waynflete was 29th, Deering 30th and Cheverus 32nd. The top individual was Portland’s Ben Allen, who was second in 13 minutes, 3.06 seconds. The Bulldogs girls were 12th among 41 teams. The Flyers came in 17th, Rams 19th, Stags 36th and McAuley 37th.

On the Alpine side, Cheverus’ girls were fourth in a six-team giant slalom meet last Friday at Shawnee Peak. Hanna Sonneson was fifth in a two-rum combined time of 1 minute, 12.33 seconds.

Wrestling

Portland’s wrestling standout Kidayer Aljubyly won his 100th career match Saturday, becoming the first Bulldog to do so. Portland beat Scarborough (49-12) and lost to Westbrook (42-34) and Massabesic (54-23). After welcoming Marshwood Wednesday, Portland closes the season at Sanford Saturday.

Deering, meanwhile, lost last week to Bonny Eagle (54-24), Wells (51-18) and Biddeford (60-24). The Rams go to Westbrook Wednesday and close the regular season Saturday by hosting Marshwood and Massabesic.

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

Sidebar Elements


McAuley senior Allie Clement shoots over Portland freshman Kate Johnson during the Lions’ 79-47 win Friday night.

Cheverus sophomore Caroline Ray and Capeflete freshman Kate Ginder fight for the puck during Capeflete’s 3-2 win last week.

Waynflete’s Booway Bilkales competes in the 500 free during the Flyers’ match versus Gorham last week.

Waynflete’s Phoebe Colvin-Oehmig (left) and Marijke Rowse take part in a Nordic ski relay meet last week. The Flyers came in seventh.

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