(Ed. Note: For the complete Deering-South Portland boys’ and McAuley-Cheverus girls’ basketball game stories, please visit theforecaster.net)
The postseason craziness is underway in the city of Portland and beyond.
Swimming and track got a jump last weekend with their Southwestern meets. Girls’ hockey’s playoffs commence Wednesday, wrestling’s regionals are Saturday, skiing states aren’t far behind and of course, basketball’s tournament is only a week away. Even boys’ hockey is hitting the home stretch.
Here’s a glimpse:
The Southern Maine Activities Association held its indoor track championship meet Saturday at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham.
In the boys’ competition, which Scarborough won with 156 points, Cheverus (99) was third, Deering (83) tied South Portland for fourth and Portland did not score.
Individually, Deering’s Richardo Delgado won the junior high jump (5 feet, 8 inches). Teammate Anthony Miller took the senior 55 (6.72 seconds) and the senior long jump (20-1.75). Tony Sen won the senior 55 hurdles (8.07) and Bryan White was first in the senior shot put (53-10.75).
Cheverus won the senior 800 (1 minute, 35.84 seconds) and 3,200 (8:30.24) relays.
On the girls’ side, Scarborough also came in first with 189.5 points. Deering (89) was third, Cheverus (79) placed fourth, McAuley (3) was 12th and Portland (1) came in 14th.
The Stags got wins from Shannon Conley in the junior 800 (2:25.72), Fiona Hendry in the mile (5:13.80) and Kiera Murray in the two-mile (11:40.04). The 3,200 relay team was also first as Murray, Conley, Lizzy Gwilym and Hendry set a new league mark with a time of 9:49.55. The Rams were paced by event winners Tricia Stewart in the triple jump (34 feet) and Veronica Mitchell in the senior 400 (1:02.88). For the Lions, Elsa Curran came in fifth in the junior shot put (29-11.5) and Taxia Arabatzis placed sixth in the two-mile (12:48.11). Sarah Gale produced the Bulldogs’ lone point with a sixth-place showing in the junior 800 (2:34.46).
Next up is the state championships, Monday, Feb. 20. Class A is at USM. Class B competes at Bates College in Lewiston.
In the pool, Cheverus, Deering and McAuley took part in the north division Southwesterns Friday and Saturday in Westbrook.
In the boys’ meet, Cheverus’ 288 points left if five shy of Greely in second place. Deering (135) placed fifth.
Stags standout Trebor Lawton won the 200 freestyle in 1 minute, 47.37 seconds and the 100 butterfly in 52.15 seconds (which set a new meet record). Teammate Lars Murphy was first in the 100 breaststroke (1:05.50). Spencer Amberson, Connor Pothier, Jacob Smith and Lukas Temple combined to take the 200 free relay (1:37.54).
Rams distance specialist Eric Delmonte took first place in the 200 individual medley (1:59.86) and 500 free (4:52.97).
On the girls’ side, Deering came in fourth with 133 points (Cape Elizabeth took the title with 341). McAuley (123) was fifth and Cheverus (121) sixth.
The Rams had an event winner in Genevieve Worthley, who took the breaststroke (1:07.75). McAuley’s Libby Gajewski was runner-up in both the 200 free (2:04.73) and the 500 free (5:35.57). Cheverus’ Sarah Nappo was second in the backstroke (1:01.12).
In regular action, Portland hosted Waynflete and Yarmouth. In the boys’ competition, Portland beat both Waynflete (69-25) and Yarmouth (67-32). The Flyers lost to the Clippers, 46-36. On the girls’ side, Waynflete downed Portland (61-40) and Yarmouth (63-40). The Bulldogs lost to the Clippers, 53-51.
Portland and Waynflete will compete in the south division Southwesterns this weekend in Cape Elizabeth. Cheverus will have a regular meet at South Portland.
Swimming’s state championships are Feb. 20 and 21. Class A competes in Orono. Class B in Brunswick.
The Portland and Cheverus girls’ hockey teams are on a playoff collision course. The Bulldogs, who finished 9-9 after wins over Cape Elizabeth (6-4, behind four goals from Raechel Allen) and Cheverus (10-4, thanks to a hat trick from Drew Barry and two goals each from Allen and Kylie Dalbec) and a 5-4 overtime loss to Greely last week (despite two Allen goals), earned the No. 4 seed in the West Region and will host the fifth-ranked Stags in the quarterfinals Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. at Portland Ice Arena. Cheverus wound up 7-11 after losses to Portland (10-4, despite a hat trick from Katie Roy) and Yarmouth (3-0).
The Bulldogs won both regular season meetings, also prevailing, 8-3. The teams have no prior playoff history.
The Waynflete co-op team with Cape Elizabeth ended up 5-12-1 after losses last week at Portland (6-4) and Scarborough (5-0) and fell short of the playoffs.
On the boys’ side, Cheverus began the week 7-4 and eighth in the Western A Heal Points standings after a 6-0 home win over Fryeburg and a 2-1 setback at Gorham last week. Sterling Weatherbie had two goals in the win and the Stags’ only tally in the loss. Cheverus went to Kennebunk Monday, hosts Noble Thursday and visits Marshwood Monday of next week.
Portland is 0-12 and 15th following an 8-1 loss at defending Class A state champion Thornton Academy last week. The Bulldogs are at Falmouth Thursday and go to South Portland Saturday.
The only thing for certain about the boys’ basketball landscape entering the final week of the regular season is that nothing’s for certain.
Deering appears to have the inside track for the top seed in Western A, but it won’t be easy. The Rams improved to 14-2 by downing visiting South Portland (49-38) and host Gorham (61-54). Against the Red Riots, senior Jon Amabile had 27 points, junior Labson Abwoch added 10 and the Deering defense forced several turnovers that led to easy hoops.
“We wanted to take advantage of our speed and athleticism, so we pressured them,” said Rams coach Dan LeGage, who before the game was announced as the Southern Maine Activities Association Coach of the Year. “Once we picked up the defensive intensity, we started getting in the passing lanes. We were then able to get out and run. We always tell them that defense leads to offense.”
In the win at Gorham, Deering was paced by 18 points from Amabile, 16 from Abwoch and 15 from senior Pat Green. The Rams had a huge home test against reigning regional champion Cheverus Tuesday night (see theforecaster.net for game story) and close at Portland Friday, a team that handed Deering its most recent loss.
“I can’t wait for that rematch because we’ve got something to prove,” said Abwoch. “That was a homecourt loss. We’ll be ready. If all of our heads are in it, no one can stop us. If we just keep doing what we’re doing, we’ll be fine.”
Portland entered the week in the No. 2 spot, but Bonny Eagle and Cheverus were nipping at its heels. The Bulldogs entered the week 12-4 after romping over visiting Noble (71-32) and at Massabesic (87-48) last week. Sophomore Justin Zukowski had 19 points and senior Pete Donato added 14 against the Knights. Zukowski had 20 and Donato 17 in the win over the Mustangs. Portland was home with South Portland Tuesday and closes at home versus Deering Friday.
Cheverus rolled at Kennebunk, 69-15, last Tuesday behind 16 points from senior Louie DiStasio and a dozen from classmate Cam Olson, then fell to 12-4 on the season Friday with an agonizing 46-45 home loss to Thornton Academy. In the one, the Stags clung to a 45-44 lead in the final minute, but a turnover, two Golden Trojans foul shots and a missed shot at the end spelled defeat. DiStasio had 13 points, senior Shawn Grover 12 and Olson 11. Cheverus hopes to move up from its fourth place spot in the Heals. After going to Deering Tuesday, the Stags close at South Portland Friday.
In Western C, Waynflete is now second to unbeaten Dirigo in the standings after winning at Hyde (61-44), at North Yarmouth Academy (63-35) and at home over A.R. Gould (59-28) to improve to 12-3. Sophomore Serge Nyirikamba had 17 points to help the Flyers avenge an earlier loss to the Phoenix. Against the Panthers, junior Jack Cutler led the way with 11 points. Senior Mitch Newlin had a team-high 12 points versus A.R. Gould. Waynflete is at Pine Tree Academy Wednesday and wraps up its regular season Friday at Sacopee.
On the girls’ side, McAuley has wrapped up the top seed in Western A for the first time in five years after wins last week over visiting South Portland (55-24), Westbrook (64-34) and Cheverus (57-40) lifted its record to 16-0. In the win over the Red Riots, senior Alexa Coulombe had 16 points. Sophomore Allie Clement had 16 points, classmate Olivia Smith 14, Coulombe 13 and senior Sadie DiPierro 10 against the Blue Blazes.
Saturday, on Senior Night, the Lions improved to 17-0 all-time against the Stags, but it wasn’t easy, as Cheverus played hard from start to finish. A 16-5 run to end the first half gave McAuley some breathing room and the Stags were never able to get closer than 10 points down the stretch as the Lions prevailed behind 15 points from Smith, 14 from Clement (all in the first half) and 11 rebounds off the bench from junior Molly Mack, which helped spell a 45-26 dominance on the glass for the night.
“We knew we needed to come out strong since (the Stags are) a tough team,” Mack said. “They wanted to beat us. We knew they’d come out hard. It’s a big rivalry. We had jitters at first, but we worked it out. We had to push all the way through until the end.”
“Whenever we play Cheverus, we know we’ll get their best game,” Clement said. “It’s always been that way and it will always be that way. No matter what anyone’s record is, it will always be a good game.”
“Everyone worked on pressuring the ball and denying the wings,” Smith said. “It was just a team effort in the end.”
First-year McAuley coach Billy Goodman was pleased with his team’s effort.
“The girls did their job,” Goodman said. “The girls dug down and played good halfcourt D. We got in foul trouble and didn’t play disciplined defense, but when it mattered most, they played good defense. The girls have played much better the past three weeks.”
Coulombe said the win was bittersweet as it was her last time playing at home.
“It’s kind of sad,” she said. “I tried not to think about it being my last game. I never thought (my basketball experience here) would be like what it is now. It’s such a special place. So many of my friends who play basketball don’t have this. I couldn’t ask for four better years. I’ll miss it.”
The Lions (winners of 20 straight games) were at Portland Tuesday and finish at South Portland Friday. They appear to peaking at the optimal time, but they can still improve over the next several weeks.
“I’m very excited,” said Clement. “I think we are still going strong, but there’s always room for improvement. Hopefully, we’ll have our best game March 3rd at the Civic Center (in the state final). “
“It’s been just an amazing ride,” Smith said. “It feels like we just started. We have another month, hopefully. We have to keep our heads. We can’t be too confident.”
“We can definitely improve on tonight,” Goodman added. “There’s still more to go. We have two more games to work on stuff, then the tournament starts. The record’s nice, but the key is getting better.”
Cheverus was coming off a 67-44 home win over Kennebunk and a 47-40 loss at Thornton Academy. Sophomore Georgia Ford had 18 points in the win. Junior Kylie Libby had a team-high 11 versus the Golden Trojans. At McAuley, the Stags were paced by junior Brooke Flaherty’s 14 points. Cheverus had its chances in that one, but couldn’t capitalize.
“We had to exert so much energy defensively to get stops,” Stags coach Richie Ashley said. “We just didn’t have enough left at that point. I’m happy with the way we played. I thought we played hard. I’m proud. I thought we scrapped and played 32 minutes. They hurt us inside. Offensive rebounds and second chances killed us. They’re a good team. They’re undefeated for a reason”
Cheverus (10-6 and seventh in the Western Class A Heal Points standings) has a big home test versus Deering Thursday and finishes with a home tilt against Portland Friday.
“Hopefully we’ll stay seventh and get a prelim game and get the monkey off our back,” Ashley said. “We want to be playing well at the end of the season and see what happens.”
Deering continues to quietly put together a solid season. The Rams began the week 12-4 and fourth in Western A after Friday’s 46-33 home triumph over Gorham. Junior Marissa MacMillan had 14 points and senior Ella Ramonas 11. Deering was home with South Portland Tuesday and closes at Cheverus Thursday.
Portland took a 2-14 record and the No. 15 spot into Tuesday’s home game with McAuley (only 12 teams make the playoffs). The Bulldogs got their second victory last Tuesday, 51-49, at Noble, then lost at home Friday to Massabesic (60-51). Brianna Holdren had 19 points in the win. Angie Reali finished with 10 against the Mustangs. Portland ends the season Friday at Cheverus.
In Western C, Waynflete is getting healthy and has returned to its winning ways. Last week, the Flyers defeated host Hyde (56-22), visiting Hebron (59-5) and visiting NYA (69-43). Junior Martha Veroneau had 19 points and sophomore Leigh Fernandez added 17 against the Phoenix. Freshman Dana Pierce had a career-high 16 points, Veroneau added 13 and senior Hanae Miyake had 10 in the win over Hebron. Against the Panthers, Waynflete never trailed, racing to a 16-0 lead midway through the first period, a 27-12 advantage after one quarter, a 43-22 bulge at the half and a 60-29 lead after three. Fernandez had a team-high 16 points (and six rebounds), Veroneau added 13 (along with 10 rebounds, eight assists and five steals) and juniors Rhiannan Jackson (seven boards) and Catherine Veroneau (eight rebounds, three steals) and freshman Helen Gray-Bauer had 10 points apiece. Freshman Julianna Harwood added eight points, five rebounds and three assists.
“We had a good start,” Fernandez said. “We’re definitely coming together, especially shooting-wise. We still need to work on boxing out. We’re not the tallest team.”
“Our last game against (NYA), we were 0-for-15 from the start, so we tried to come out strong today and knock down our shots,” Martha Veroneau said. “We practiced all week on shot repetition. It’s coming together at the right time. We showed we’re a team where anyone’s capable of stepping up on a given night.”
“It was nice to see us shoot well out of the box,” added Flyers coach Brandon Salway. “We’ve played well, but we hit a dry patch. Leigh’s played really well lately. She’s really stepped up. Rhiannan hit some big early shots too.”
Waynflete (8-7 and eighth in the Heals at the start of the week) hosted Greater Portland Christian School Monday, goes to Pine Tree Academy Wednesday and closes Friday at Sacopee. This could be a very dangerous squad come tournament time.
“I think we’re the dark horse in this year’s competition,” Veroneau said. “Anyone in the top 10 is capable of pulling it off on a given night.
“We think we can get as high as seventh,” Salway said. “There are still quite a few games left that will shake things up. At this point, all we can do is win what we have left. We hope to get a home playoff game.”
Cheverus took part in an SMAA giant slalom Alpine ski meet last Wednesday against Gorham, Kennebunk, Marshwood, Scarborough and Windham. The boys were fourth (Ryan Hoffman was eighth individually with a two-run combined time of 1 minute, 6.39 seconds). Deering’s Sam Goldberg competed as an individual and finished 22nd (1:15.16).
The girls placed sixth and were paced by Maddie Woods, who came in 12th (1:16.38). Portland’s Max Semba competed as an individual and was seventh (1:07.01).
The same teams took part in a slalom meet Friday where Cheverus’ boys were third and the girls fifth. Spencer Reynolds led the boys with a sixth-place showing (1:43.33). On the girls’ side, Woods came in sixth (2:03.00).
In a Nordic skate race held Thursday at Starks Hill, the Portland boys were ninth out of 13 teams. Deering finished 11th, Waynflete 12th. The Bulldogs were paced by Ben Allen, who was ninth (13:37). Dylan Kingsbury was the fastest Flyer, coming in 16th (14:06.7). The Rams featured Kuba Chandler (18th, 14:10.1).
Portland’s girls were third among 10 teams. Abby Popenoe finished ninth (16:22.4).
Deering’s wrestling team wrapped up its regular season last week by tying host Biddeford, 41-41, and losing to visiting Marshwood, 71-6.
Portland finished Saturday with losses to Noble (72-12) and Scarborough (39-36).
The Western A regional championships will be held Saturday at Noble. The state championships are Saturday, Feb. 18, at Windham.
Freelance writer Ryan Robb contributed to this story.
Portland’s David Bliss shows his form during his victory in the 100 butterfly at last weekend’s meet versus Waynflete and Yarmouth. The Bulldogs beat the Flyers and Clippers in their final regular season meet.
McAuley sophomore Olivia Smith floats a shot over Cheverus defenders during the Lions’ 57-40 win Saturday night. Smith, despite foul trouble, led all scorers with 15 points.