Holiday break over, winter season gets serious

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(Ed. Note: For the complete Cheverus-Marshwood boys’ and Deering-South Portland girls’ basketball game stories, please see theforecaster.net)

The preliminaries are over and the winter sports season is about to ramp up dramatically.

Last week featured a mix of holiday tournament and regular season action. Now, it’s back to work for everyone on the hardwood, ice, mats and in the pool and the indoor track and skiing seasons are about to get underway as well.

Here’s a glimpse:

Boys’ basketball

As 2012 dawns, you could make the argument that the two best Class A boys’ basketball teams in the state reside in Portland.

Defending regional champion Cheverus was expected to come back to the pack after returning just one starter this winter, but the Stags extended their regular season win streak to 24 games with a 59-40 home victory over dangerous Marshwood Friday. Cheverus (which won its one holiday tournament game, 53-40, over Yarmouth) was playing without senior standout Louie DiStasio, but it turned out it didn’t need him.

The Stags improved to 6-0 by racing to an early lead, fending off a second quarter Hawks’ comeback, then putting the game away with a 21-7 run late in the first half and into the third quarter.

Cheverus senior James Kapothanasis hit some early baskets to get things started and led the way with 13 points. Senior Shawn Grover and junior Michael Flaherty each had 10 and senior Cam Olson eight.

“Coming into practice, we knew Louie wasn’t going to be able to play, but we have a bunch of players who can play well,” said Kapothanasis. “Everyone hustled and helped each other out. I was hot early on. When I missed a couple, I was looking for my teammates. Everyone ran the floor great. When you miss a shot, you know Grover will be there. We’re good at catching and shooting. Everyone’s confident with their shots.”

“I’m not going to say that we don’t need Louie because he’s a great player, but this just goes to show that we can play without him,” said Olson. “We’re a team. I think it just showed all the other teams that we can play together and win as a team. Marshwood’s a great team, but we took it to them today.”

The Stags (first in the latest Western Class A Heal Points standings) had a regional final rematch at Bonny Eagle Tuesday, host Sanford Friday and go to Scarborough Tuesday of next week.

“The schedule gets tougher now, but we’re starting to embrace what we’re doing,” Cheverus coach Bob Brown said. “If we play like this, we’ll be pretty good.”

Deering has lived up to preseason billing and has been every bit Cheverus’ equal. The Rams won their lone holiday tournament game, 58-32, over Spruce Mountain, then held on to edge host Bonny Eagle in a rematch of last year’s playoff loss, 57-55, in overtime. Deering improved to 6-0 behind 21 points and a clutch block in the waning seconds from junior Labson Abwoch.

The Rams (second in the Heals) were home with Kennebunk Tuesday, have a tough test at South Portland Friday and return home Tuesday of next week to face Biddeford.

Deering is at Cheverus Jan. 13.

The other two city teams have been pretty impressive as well.

Portland played a countable game last Tuesday, winning at Gorham, 46-36 (sophomore Matt Talbot led the way with 11 points), to improve to 4-2. The Bulldogs then played three holiday tournament contests, falling to Susan Wagner of New York (42-38) and Greely (59-37) before defeating Moore Catholic of New York, 62-58.

Portland (fifth in the Heals) was at Biddeford Tuesday, hosts Windham Friday and plays at Kennebunk next Tuesday.

In Western C, Waynflete takes a 5-0 record and the No. 2 ranking in the Heals into Wednesday’s home showdown with defending Western B champion Cape Elizabeth. After going to Fryeburg Friday, the Flyers visit Sacopee Tuesday of next week.

Girls’ basketball

On the girls’ side, defending Class A state champion McAuley hasn’t missed a beat, although the Lions did run into a speed bump from out of state.

After winning their first five games this winter with ease, McAuley faced Winnacunnet of New Hampshire in a holiday tournament game last Monday. Winnacunnet was riding an 80-game win streak and is the five-time defending Granite State champion. Winnacunnet broke the game open in the middle quarters and went on to a 63-45 win. The Lions got 10 points, five rebounds and two steals from sophomore Allie Clement, nine points and six boards from sophomore Olivia Smith and eight points and five rebounds from junior Molly Mack.

After downing Class B Wells, 67-42, in another holiday tournament game Tuesday, McAuley returned to league play Friday at home and dominated Biddeford, 60-19, behind 17 points and 15 rebounds from senior Alexa Coulombe, 12 points from Smith and 10 points and nine steals from Clement.

The Lions (6-0 fifth in the Western A Heal Points standings) was at Windham Tuesday (see theforecaster.net for game story), goes to rival Deering Friday and returns home next Tuesday to meet Massabesic.

After starting the season with successive losses, Deering has won five straight and has risen to the No. 3 spot in the standings. Last week, the Rams did not play in a holiday tournament, instead competing in two league games.

Last Wednesday, Deering hosted South Portland and forced seven Red Riots’ turnovers in the first quarter as junior Marissa MacMillan scored four points and grabbed seven boards to help the Rams build a 13-4 lead. Deering never looked back and despite a late South Portland surge, rolled, 46-32.

MacMillan led everyone with 12 points and 11 rebounds and got plenty of help from the likes of seniors Emily Cole (nine points), Maura Densmore (seven points) and Ella Ramonas (six points, six rebounds, three steals) and junior Chelsea Saucier (eight points, six rebounds, four steals).

“We wanted to play the game right,” MacMillan said. “We ran plays right, played defense and boxed out and played together as a team.”

“We’re definitely acting more as a team,” said Saucier. “We just needed to get on the same page and work together. We’ve worked in practice on defense. We wanted to make it hard on (South Portland) with our pressure.”

The Rams then knocked off visiting Bonny Eagle, 50-35, in a playoff rematch Friday. Deering got 17 points from MacMillan and 15 points and 17 boards from Ramonas to improve to 5-2. The Rams were at Kennebunk Tuesday, host McAuley Friday and go to Biddeford Tuesday of next week.

“We’re still finding our identity,” Deering coach Mike Murphy said. “(The girls) have to believe in themselves and that they’re pretty good. Going forward, we’ve got to keep in mind that we have to play defense.”

Cheverus fell from the ranks of the unbeaten last week, 59-49, at Marshwood. Senior Alexandra Palazzi-Leahy had 14 points and junior Brooke Flaherty 10 in defeat. The Stags (5-1 seventh in the Heals) go to Sanford for a playoff rematch Thursday and host undefeated Scarborough Tuesday. Cheverus is at Deering Jan. 13.

Portland is still seeking its first victory. The Bulldogs fell to Cape Elizabeth and Winnacunnet in the holiday tournament, then dropped a 60-37 home decision to Gorham Friday to fall to 0-7. Senior Angie Reali had a team-high 15 points. Portland (17th in the Heals) was at Biddeford Tuesday, goes to Windham Friday and welcomes Kennebunk next Tuesday.

In Western C, Waynflete played two holiday tournament games, losing to Greely, 47-27 (despite 17 points from junior standout Martha Veroneau), and Windham, 51-35 (Veroneau had 22 points). The Flyers took a 3-2 mark and the No. 7 ranking in the Heals into a game Wednesday night at Cape Elizabeth. Waynflete is home against Fryeburg Friday and Old Orchard Beach Tuesday.

Hockey

The Cheverus and Portland boys’ hockey teams took part in the Maine High School Hockey Invitational last week.

The Stags lost to Tewksbury, Mass., in the only score reported, 3-1. Cheverus takes a 3-1 mark and the No. 8 ranking in the Western Class A Heal Points standings into Thursday’s game at Cape Elizabeth.

The Bulldogs dropped a 9-0 decision to Newington/Berlin N.H., in their lone reported holiday tournament game. Portland (0-5 and 15th in the Heals) was home with Yarmouth Monday, visits Kennebunk Saturday and plays at Class B state champion York Wednesday of next week.

On the girls’ side, Portland took a 5-2 mark (and the No. 4 ranking in the West Region) into Monday’s game at Gorham. The Bulldogs are home with York Thursday and Scarborough Saturday.

Cheverus fell to 3-4 (and fifth in the West) after a 5-0 home loss to Scarborough Saturday. The Stags were home with York Monday, host Biddeford Wednesday, go to Scarborough Saturday and visit Biddeford next Wednesday.

Swimming

Deering’s swim teams were in action last week, at Falmouth. The Rams won the boys’ competition, 85-55. The girls lost, 86-84. Deering swims at Cheverus Friday.

McAuley is at Cape Elizabeth and Waynflete swims at Portland Friday.

Wrestling

The wrestling season resumes Wednesday when Portland hosts Westbrook. Deering is at Nokomis Saturday.

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

Sidebar Elements


Deering junior Marissa MacMillan swats away a South Portland shot during last week’s 46-32 victory.

Cheverus senior Shawn Grover goes in for an emphatic slam dunk during last week’s win over Marshwood.

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