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Deering junior Delaney Haines blocks the shot of Maine Girls’ Academy sophomore Serena Mower during the Lions’ 36-28 victory Saturday night.
Mike Strout photos.
More photos below.
MGA- 3 7 13 13- 36
D- 0 5 12 11- 28
MGA- Fitzpatrick 4-2-10, Reid 3-2-8, Joyce 2-3-7, Legassey 2-0-5, Mower 0-3-3, Weisser 1-1-3
D- Haines 4-3-11, Garand 3-2-8, Mastropasqua 2-0-5, Drelich 1-0-2, Mathisen 1-0-2
MGA (1) Legassey 1
D (1) Mastropasqua 1
PORTLAND—On a night where offense wasn’t just at a premium, but for most of the first half, it was completely non-existent, the Maine Girls’ Academy basketball team, 24 hours removed from a disheartening loss to one city rival, Cheverus, needed to somehow find a way to dispatch another, Deering.
And the Lions did what they always seem to do, play transcendent defense and win the battle of glass when an abundance of shots were bouncing off of it.
Saturday evening, visiting MGA only scored three points, all on free throws, in a first quarter of frustration, but luckily for the Lions, the Rams couldn’t muster a single point and the period ended 3-0.
The second quarter wasn’t much better, but MGA put up seven points to negate five points from Deering junior Mandy Mastropasqua and take a 10-5 lead to halftime.
Then, in the second half, each team’s offense somewhat awakened, but the Lions weren’t content with just scoring, they got a terrific effort on the glass from sophomore Katie Fitzpatrick as well and never allowed the Rams to catch up.
MGA went up by as much as 14 points, 21-7, in the third quarter, but Deering roared back to cut the deficit to four before the Lions took a 23-17 advantage to the final stanza.
There, MGA pushed it back out to 10 on a pair of Fitzpatrick free throws, but junior Delaney Haines capped a 6-1 Rams’ run and made it 28-23.
That’s as close as Deering would get, however, and the Lions gradually pulled away and prevailed, 36-28.
Fitzpatrick had a double-double of 10 points and 15 rebounds as MGA improved to 13-3, beat the Rams for the 11th straight time and in the process, dropped Deering to 7-9 on the year.
“We tried to get in the mindset that the shots would eventually fall,” said Fitzpatrick. “As a team, we’re mentally tough. We tried to shake it off as much as possible, then we got in a groove. Things started clicking in the second half.”
Deering and MGA (formerly McAuley) have done battle for years as contenders and this winter is no different.
MGA opened with a 52-44 win at Noble, then downed visiting Sanford (48-41), Westbrook (54-37), Bonny Eagle (59-40) and Biddeford (57-34). The Lions then won at Windham (68-62), Massabesic (39-37), Gorham (50-41) and Kennebunk (64-35) before finally falling from the unbeaten ranks with a 42-39 setback at Portland and a 62-40 home loss to South Portland. MGA got back on track with a 40-31 win at Sanford, then downed visiting Thornton Academy (44-34) Monday and Massabesic (48-43) Tuesday, but Friday, the Lions lost at home to Cheverus, 43-23.
Saturday morning, in a shootaround, MGA resorted to unorthodox methods to get rid of the sting of that setback as quickly as possible.
“It’s been a crazy 24 hours,” said Lions coach Billy Goodman. “We were down-and-out last night. We had a fun shootaround. I gave the girls golf lessons to break the tension.”
Deering opened with a 47-34 home win over Sanford, then downed host Lewiston, 48-33. After a 46-39 loss at Gorham, the Rams rallied to stun host Portland (48-43) and prevailed at Bangor, 43-36. When the calendar flipped to 2018, however, tough times followed, as Deering lost at Bonny Eagle (49-31), at home to Oxford Hills (50-35), at Scarborough (53-37), at home to Cheverus (32-20) and at Edward Little (55-32) and South Portland (49-40). The Rams got back in the win column with a 41-38 home victory over Massabesic and after falling at home to Windham in overtime, 49-44, Deering won at Thornton Academy Tuesday by a 35-31 margin and Thursday, downed visiting Noble, 47-37.
Saturday, the Rams hoped for their first win over the Lions since Feb. 11, 2011 (38-35), but instead, MGA made it 11 in a row in the series.
The first quarter featured an array of near-misses, far-misses and non-stop frustration, as not a single field goal attempt found the net.
The Lions got the game’s first point when sophomore Serena Mower made a free throw 3 minutes, 10 seconds in.
That was it for offense until 27.8 seconds remained, when Joyce made two foul shots for a 3-0 MGA lead after eight minutes.
Mower added a free throw 14 seconds into the second period and with 6:18 to go in the half, a Joyce jumper produced the game’s first field goal.
Eleven seconds later, Deering finally broke through, when Mastropasqua banked home a shot, but Mower made a free throw and Reid added a runner for a 9-2 lead.
With 40.6 seconds remaining, Mastropasqua buried a long 3, but senior Emily Weisser made a foul shot with 10.5 seconds to go to make it 10-5 Lions at the break.
MGA shot 10 percent in the first half and the Rams were even worse.
Not surprisingly, the offense picked up in the third quarter.
First for MGA.
A 3-pointer from senior Madison Legassey got things started and a pair of putbacks from Fitzpatrick extended the lead to 17-5, forcing Rams coach Mike Murphy to call timeout.
Haines made two free throws for her first points, but Fitzpatrick set up Weisser for a layup and with 4:06 left in the third, a short jumper from Fitzpatrick gave the Lions their biggest lead, 21-7.
The Rams then roared to life.
A 10-0 run began with two free throws from junior Victoria Garand. Garand added a layup, Haines drove for a layup, Garand set up Haines for a backdoor layup and with 1:12 remaining in the frame, junior Ashleigh Mathisen went coast-to-coast for a layup to cut the deficit to four.
MGA restored a little order with 7.1 seconds on the clock, when Fitzpatrick scored on a putback, making it 23-17 heading for the final stanza.
There, the Lions did enough to prevail.
Reid started the fourth quarter with a runner. After Fitzpatrick made two free throws, Garand countered with a jumper.
Joyce added a free throw, but Rams sophomore Liz Drelich made a jumper and with 5:01 left, Haines banked home a runner to make it a five-point contest, 28-23.
MGA wasn’t about to buckle, as Mower set up Joyce for a transition layup and with 3:21 to go, Reid got a runner to roll in, stretching the lead back to nine points.
Garand countered with a layup, but a runner from Legassey made it 34-25 with 1:33 to play.
Haines made a free throw 27 seconds later, but with 57.5 seconds on the clock, two Reid foul shots essentially slammed the door and while Haines hit a runner with 14.1 seconds on the clock, the Lions ran out the clock on their 36-28 triumph.
“It’s hard to keep Deering from scoring, so I’m not surprised they came back,” Fitzpatrick said. “We had confidence and it worked out for us.”
“We’ve struggled on offense, but the defense has been there,” Goodman said. “We needed to play defense to stay in the game. Delaney Haines is one of the best players in the league. We had to play tough on her. We respect her and they have other shooters.”
Fitzpatrick stuffed the stat sheet with 10 points and 15 rebounds (six coming on the offensive glass).
“I go in there knowing I’m not the tallest, but it’s just effort,” Fitzpatrick said.
“You can’t coach the effort (Katie) brings every time,” said Goodman. “She’s a winner. I’m lucky to coach her.”
Reid added eight points (as well as four rebounds and four steals), Joyce had seven (to go with four boards), Legassey five and Mower (five rebounds) and Weisser (four rebounds) three apiece.
StoreySmith didn’t score, but she grabbed seven rebounds.
MGA made just 11 of 21 free throws and turned the ball over 12 times, but enjoyed a 42-26 rebounding advantage.
Deering was paced by Haines’ game-high 11 points. She also had four blocks, four rebounds, four steals and two assists.
Garand added eight points (to go with six rebounds, three blocks and two steals), Mastropasqua had five (as well as six boards and two blocks) and Drelich and Mathisen two apiece.
The Rams made five of six foul shots and only committed 11 turnovers, but just couldn’t put the ball in the basket.
“There were plenty of possessions, but not many scores,” lamented Murphy. “We scored two hoops in the first half and only trailed by five. It’s just disappointing on so many levels. It came down to having confidence. That’s been a struggle all year. If it’s not Delaney, other kids have to step up. Then the defensive lapses came in and I’m more upset about that than the offensive lapses.”
Neither team has an easy stretch to end the regular season.
Deering (now seventh in the Class AA North Heal Points standings) visits Cheverus Tuesday and closes at home versus Portland Thursday.
“We have two left against teams who are strong,” Murphy said. “We struggled to score against Cheverus in the first game and somehow we beat Portland.”
MGA goes to Class A South power Marshwood Tuesday and finishes at red-hot Scarborough Thursday.
“This is good motivation going into our next two tough games,” said Fitzpatrick. “We just need to do what we know how to do.”
“If you told me at the beginning of the week, I’d have taken 3-1 (in our four games), but we have to learn to play better,” Goodman said. “I really like the defensive effort. Offensively, we have to keep working.”
MGA junior Jill Joyce defends Deering junior Victoria Garand.
MGA sophomore Serena Mower and Deering sophomore Aviyonna Kim go after a loose ball.
MGA senior Emily Weisser drives on Deering sophomore Victoria Cavallaro.
Deering junior Ashleigh Mathisen dribbles past MGA junior Catherine Reid, left, and sophomore Serena Mower.
MGA sophomore Katie Fitzpatrick, who had 10 points and 15 rebounds, handles the ball.
MGA junior Catherine Reid drives on Deering junior Mandy Mastropasqua.
Deering sophomore Liz Drelich shoots over MGA junior Catherine Reid.
@ MGA 43 Deering 40
McAuley 52 Deering 43
McAuley 49 @ Deering 48
@ McAuley 49 Deering 40
@ McAuley 46 Deering 33
McAuley 62 @ Deering 39
Western A quarterfinals
McAuley 52 Deering 30
@ McAuley 43 Deering 35
McAuley 30 @ Deering 25 (OT)
McAuley 47 Deering 43 (OT)
Deering 38 @ McAuley 35
Western A Final
McAuley 41 Deering 40 (OT)
@ Deering 42 McAuley 33
Deering 44 @ McAuley 41 (OT)
Western A semifinals
Deering 45 McAuley 35
Deering 47 @ McAuley 23
Western A quarterfinals
Deering 42 McAuley 27
@ Deering 45 McAuley 32
@ McAuley 50 Deering 48
McAuley 39 @ Deering 38
Western A semifinals
McAuley 46 Deering 35
McAuley 50 @ Deering 42
@ McAuley 44 Deering 37
McAuley 56 @ Deering 36
@ McAuley 56 Deering 48
@ McAuley 60 Deering 55
@ Deering 71 McAuley 62 (2 OT)
Western A Final
Deering 56 McAuley 46