New year brings high hopes to local teams

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

The new year has arrived and it won’t be long until we’re talking about the month of February and championships for winter athletes.

There was a fair amount of action over the holiday break and trends are beginning to emerge.

Here’s a glimpse at where things look in the first week of the new year.

Boys’ basketball

All four city boys’ hoops teams are looking strong as 2015 dawns.

Defending Class A state champion Portland extended its two-year win streak to 29 with a 57-45 win at Cheverus last Tuesday, in a game much closer than the final score indicated. Steve Alex led the way with 19 points. Tanner Foley contributed a key 11 points, Amir Moss also had 11 and Liam Densmore added 10. The Bulldogs (7-0 and first in the Western Class A Heal Points standings at press time) hosted Westbrook Tuesday, go to Biddeford Friday and play host to Bonny Eagle in a regional final rematch Tuesday of next week.

Deering sat 6-2 and third in the region after a 64-58 home loss to South Portland and a 72-63 home win over Marshwood. Against the Red Riots, the Rams led most of the way, but were outscored down the stretch, 21-4, and despite 19 points from Malik White, fell short.

“It was free throws,” Deering coach Todd Wing lamented. “You go 14 for 35 from the line, you don’t win games. That’s how you close out teams. We had an opportunity to extend our lead. Games like this, the pace is what we like to force. We did everything right except for executing at the line. We went to the rim, but we didn’t finish it off.”

In the victory, the Rams got 21 points from Garang Majok. Deering was at Windham Tuesday, visits Massabesic Friday and plays host to Gorham Tuesday of next week.

Cheverus’ 57-45 home loss to Portland snapped a three-game win streak. Austin Boudreau kept the Stags close with 21 points. Cheverus improved to 5-2 and seventh in Western A with a 55-44 home victory over Noble Friday. Boudreau had 18 points, while Jack Casale added 15. The Stags were at Gorham Monday, play host to Thornton Academy Thursday, welcome Sanford Saturday and go to Westbrook Tuesday of next week.

Defending Western C champion Waynflete took a 5-0 mark into Tuesday’s home showdown against Western B power Yarmouth (see theforecaster.net for game story). The Flyers hadn’t played since Dec. 19. Waynflete is at North Yarmouth Academy Saturday and plays at another Western B contender, Lake Region, Tuesday of next week.

Girls’ basketball

On the girls’ side, don’t look now, but Deering is surging.

The Rams, one of the preseason favorites, were held back early by illness, injury and the process of meshing several newcomers on to the team, but began the week 6-2 and third in the Western A Heals after somehow rising off the deck to rally from 20 points down at halftime to beat visiting South Portland in an overtime thriller (59-52) and prevail at Marshwood (57-42), to make it four victories in succession.

Against the Red Riots, playing without star Tasia Titherington (who was unavailable), the Rams roared back in the third period behind Amanda Brett and actually took a late five-point lead, but the visitors forced overtime and there, Deering finished the job.

Forty-four seconds in, a jumper from Lodia Ismail put the Rams on top to stay. South Portland managed one free throw in the four-minute extra session and layups from Brett, Mary Tadsse and Cierra Burnham put the finishing touches on the inspirational triumph.

The Rams got a game-high 23 points from Brett and 13 more from Burnham.

“It was team effort and intensity,” Amanda Brett said. “All that and defense. We were missing layups and taking quick shots in the first half. I knew at halftime we could come back. Coach got us fired up and we hit a few shots. That got us in the game.”

“It took a lot of composure,” Ismail said. “We just had to relax. We needed to stop worrying about getting shots up. We just needed to play defense.”

“We stepped it up,” Burnham said. “It feels really good. I was really scared, but we pulled through. We knew we had to step it up. It felt really good to come from 20 points down.”

“This speaks volumes,” added Deering coach Mike Murphy. “We’d won a couple other games with Tasia in foul trouble, so these kids believe in themselves. That’s the pride factor which came in at halftime. They picked each other up.”

Deering was home with Windham Tuesday, welcomes Massabesic Friday and plays at Gorham Tuesday of next week.

McAuley has continued to quietly surge, although the Lions returned to the big stage this week. Last week, the Lions rolled at Windham (52-15) and at Biddeford (57-19) to make it seven wins in a row, improve to 7-1 and place second behind Thornton Academy in the standings. Against the Eagles, Jess Willerson had 17 points. In the win over the Tigers, Willerson led the way with 15 points, while Sarah Clement had 13. McAuley had a home showdown versus Thornton Academy (the lone squad to beat the Lions over the past four seasons) Tuesday (see theforecaster.net for the game story) and goes to dangerous South Portland Friday (see theforecaster.net for game story). McAuley is home against Scarborough Tuesday of next week.

Portland has been up and down this winter, winning its first three, then losing three ina  row, but the Bulldogs bounced back with two victories last week to improve to 5-3 and eighth in Western A. After winning at Cheverus, 66-60 (behind 16 points from Sydney Fredrick, 15 from Gabby Wagabaza and 14 from Kate Johnson), Portland hosted Sanford Friday afternoon and appeared en route to an easy win, up, 38-25, entering the fourth quarter, but the Spartans rallied to tie at 41-41 and 43-43.

With 50.9 seconds showing, Wagabaza fed Fredrick for a layup to put Portland ahead to stay. Sixteen seconds later, Wagabaza calmly made two free throws, which loomed huge when Sanford got a 3 with 13.3 seconds left, but as time wound down, Fredrick took a pass from Merritt Ryan, made a clinching layup and time ran out, allowing Portland to escape, 49-46.

Johnson had 13 points, Fredrick and Taylor Sargent added 10 apiece and Wagabaza ended up with nine.

“We have to pick up the games that are 50-50 and make those wins count,” said Wagabaza. “I think we got lackadaisical going into the fourth quarter. We didn’t go out as hard as we should have. We just had to keep our composure and know we could win and we finished.”

“This game is about four quarters,” Portland coach Jay Lowery said. “We thought we could come out and press them in the second half and we were getting them pretty good in the backcourt, but we lost our composure and showed a little bit of youth there.”

The Bulldogs went to Westbrook Tuesday, play at Biddeford Friday and go to Bonny Eagle Tuesday of next week.

Cheverus fell to 4-4 and 11th after a 66-60 home loss to Portland and a 67-32 victory at Noble. In the loss, Laura Holman and Emme Poulin both had 13 points. Against the Knights, Brooke Dawson had 18 points, Deirdre Sanborn added 13 and Anne Veroneau finished with a dozen. The Stags hosted Gorham Monday (see theforecaster.net for game story), play at Sanford Friday and welcome Westbrook Tuesday of next week.

In Western C, Waynflete began the new year with a 44-37 home win over Wells Saturday, improving to 5-1 and ninth in the Heals. Helen Gray-Bauer had 17 points and nine steals and Annika Brooks added 12 and Lydia Giguere finished with eight. Julianna Harwood had five key fourth quarter points and grabbed 11 rebounds. After going to Yarmouth Tuesday, the Flyers are home with NYA Saturday and welcome Lake Region Wednesday of next week.

Hockey

On the ice, Cheverus’ boys were atop the Western Class A Heals at press time, but the Stags did finally meet their match Saturday, falling, 2-1, at Biddeford, despite a goal from Luke Trickey. Cheverus did win the “City Cup” New Year’s Day with a 7-0 victory over Portland/Deering. Jimmy Hannigan and Chris Vallee had two goals apiece. The Stags (6-1-1) make the long trip to Bangor Friday and play at Thornton Academy Monday.

Portland/Deering went 2-1 last week, sandwiching victories over visiting Windham (5-1) and at Scarborough (4-3, in overtime) around the 7-0 loss to Cheverus. Against the Eagles, Ryan Ruhlin scored twice. Mason Martell was the hero against the Red Storm with the winning tally. Portland/Deering (fourth in Western A) welcomes Cape Elizabeth to the newly named William B. Troubh Ice Arena Thursday. At the “City Cup,” Portland Ice Arena was renamed for Troubh, a former Portland city councilor who helped make the building a reality back in 1985. Troubh passed away in 2013.

On the girls’ side, Cheverus was 4-7 and seventh in the West Region (where six teams qualify for the playoffs) after a 6-1 win over Portland in the “City Cup” and a 3-2 loss to defending state champion Scarborough. Jill Hannigan had four goals in the victory. Hannigan and Sam Sessler scored against the Red Storm. The Stags are home against Biddeford Thursday and go to Capeflete Saturday.

Portland/Deering was eighth at 1-6 after a 6-1 loss to Cheverus and a 7-0 setback to Falmouth. Ebba Eriksso had the goal against the Stags. Portland/Deering hosts Capeflete Thursday, go to Falmouth Saturday and play at Winslow Tuesday.

The Waynflete/Cape Elizabeth/South Portland co-op team was fourth in the West at 5-4 after Saturday’s 3-2 win at Biddeford. Capeflete hosts Greely Wednesday (see theforecaster.net for game story), visits Portland/Deering Thursday and plays host to Cheverus Saturday.

Indoor track

The first indoor track weekend of the new year featured Deering and Portland competing against each other, as well as Gorham and Thornton Academy.

The Rams boys were second to Thornton Academy, while the Bulldogs came in fourth. Individually, Deering produced event winners Kevin Segal in the junior 55 (9.65 seconds), Ezra Chapola in the open triple jump (36 feet, 10.5 inches), Hany Ramadan in the 200 (23.10, tying a conference record) and the 600 (1 minute, 14:47 seconds, breaking a 41-year-old conference record set by Deering’s Mark Healy in 1974), Paolo DeMarco in the 400 (53.88) and the senior 55 hurdles (8.17), Yahye Hussein in the senior 800 (2:14.29) and senior mile (4:41.91), Iid Sheik-Yusef in the senior two-mile (10:05.25) and David Mathew in the senior high jump (5-4) and senior triple jump (38-3). The Rams also won the senior 4×200 relay (1:36.91). Portland was paced by Alex Frank, who was runner-up in both the junior 55 (7.29) and junior 200 (25.39).

Hany Ramadan broke the 41-year old Southwestern Maine Track Conference record in the Open 600 yard dash on Saturday  He ran 1:14.47, breaking the old mark of 1:16.0 that Deering’s Mark Healy ran at the Expo in 1974.  Later in the day, he tied Cheverus’ Jake Dixon’s Senior 200 record of 23.1.

Thornton Academy also won the girls’ meet, as Deering was third and Portland fourth. The Rams got victories from Caitlin Lally in the open 600 (1:36.65), junior 200 (28.33) and junior 55 hurdles (9.71), Lili Kien in the senior high jump (4-8), Deering also won the junior 4×200 relay (2:00.41). The Bulldogs were paced by wins from Ella Altidor in the junior 55 (7.85) and Madison Bolduc in the senior triple jump (34-2.5).

Cheverus and McAuley competed against Scarborough and South Portland. The Red Storm were first in both genders, while the Stags boys and girls each finished third and the Lions were fourth.

Cheverus’ boys got wins from Jacob Schott in the senior high jump (6-0), Jake Dixon in the senior 55 (6.99) and senior 200 (23.33) and Bobby Slattery in the junior 200 (25.66).

In the girls’ meet, the Stags got wins from Emily Turner in the junior 800 (2:33.53), Katelyn Gendron in the junior long jump (14-4.5) and the triple jump (32-00.75), Georgia Caso in the senior 800 (2:27.99), Milena Opielowski in the senior long jump (15-11) and the senior 4×200 relay (1:56.66). The Lions were led by Rachel Taylor, who was third in the senior triple jump (26-9.25.

There is no league action this weekend.

Swimming

Cheverus’ defending Class A boys’ swim team beat defending Class B champion Greely Friday, 92-51. The defending Class A champion Stags girls lost to the Rangers, 115-55. Cheverus is at Falmouth Thursday and swims at Bangor Saturday.

Deering’s girls defeated Falmouth Friday, 102-74, while the boys lost, 109-52, After swimming at Windham Tuesday, the Rams go to Cheverus a week from Friday.

McAuley goes to Westbrook Friday.

Portland is back in action Friday when Yarmouth pays a visit.

Waynflete is at Massabesic Friday.

Skiing

Deering’s Nordic ski team placed 12th, while Portland was 22nd at last weekend’s Telstar Relay.

Wrestling

Portland’s wrestling team tied York for 18th place at Saturday’s Spartan Invitational in Sanford. The Bulldogs (4-4 on the season) go to Biddeford Wednesday and take part in the Kennebunk Duals Saturday.

Deering and Cheverus competed at the Warrior Clash in Newport Saturday. The Rams came in ninth, while the Stags placed 13th. Cheverus’ Aiden Whitis won the 132-pound tile, while Deering’s Jonah Rogers was tops in the 220 pound division. Cheverus and Deering join Massabesic at Noble Wednesday.

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

Sidebar Elements


Deering’s Garang Majok hangs in the air as he looks to shoot over a South Portland defender during the teams’ showdown last week. The Rams couldn’t hold a double digit lead and lost to the Red Riots, 64-58.

Portland senior Gabby Wagabaza races up the floor during the Bulldogs’ 49-46 home win over Sanford last week.

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