New year has arrived, let the fun begin-Portland edition

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(Ed. Note: For the complete Deering-Cheverus and Portland-Bangor boys’ basketball, Deering-Cheverus and McAuley-Cheverus girls’ basketball and Cheverus-Portland/Deering girls’ hockey game stories, with photos, see theforecaster.net)

The new year has arrived and possibilities are endless for local winter sports teams.

After limited action during the holidays, things are about to ramp up dramatically.

Here’s a glimpse:

Boys’ basketball

Portland and Deering’s boys’ basketball teams appear to be on a regional final collision course, although there is still a long way to go.

The Bulldogs, the defending Western A champions, improved to 7-0 and second in the Class AA North Heal Points standings at press time after recent wins over visiting Edward Little (82-64), Noble (100-33) and Bangor (68-39). Amir Moss had 29 points and his brother, Terion Moss, added 25 in the win over the Red Eddies. Against the Knights, in a game played at Portland High School, Amir Moss had 29 points, while Terion Moss again added 25. Against the Rams, Amir Moss had 19 points, Terion Moss 15 and Joe Esposito 11 points and 12 rebounds.

“I knew we’d be pretty good, but to play this well so far, I really didn’t expect that,” Amir Moss said. “Playing together in the summer and fall helped a lot.”

“We do a lot in practice to make sure the conditioning is there,” said Esposito. “Little things in practice push us to be good in the games. Our defense wears teams down.”

“I like our defense and I like the way we shoot the ball,” added longtime Bulldogs coach Joe Russo. “We play defense as well as any team I’ve had man-to-man. The kids are very unselfish.” 

Portland was at Scarborough Tuesday, hosts Gorham Friday and Sanford Tuesday of next week, then will get to measure itself against rivals Deering and Cheverus.

“Things are going well,” Russo added. “The kids are getting along and doing what I’m asking. We can still get better. It will be nice to play our rivals. Those will be awesome games.”

Deering matched the 2012 championship team with an 8-0 start, good for the top seed in Class AA North at press time. The Rams enjoyed recent wins over visiting Lewiston (69-36), host Gorham (56-51) and visiting Cheverus (69-45). Twelve points from Max Chabot and 11 apiece from Malik White and Ben Williams helped Deering eke out the victory at Gorham. In the win over the Stags, Williams paced a balanced attack with 12 points.

“Not one player on this team couldn’t play for any other team in the state,” Williams said. “We’re unselfish.”

“So far, so good,” said Rams coach Todd Wing. “I like the sound of 8-0. I like this team. I like our chemistry and our upside. This is a group of guys that will get better.”

Deering (which last started 9-0 in 2000-01, when it won its first 21 games before losing to Bangor in the Class A state final on a buzzer beater) is idle until Friday, when it goes to South Portland. After traveling to Thornton Academy, the Rams host Portland in the game of the year, part one.

“The meat of our schedule is coming up and it’s time to perform,” Wing said. “We’ll find out what we’re made of.”

Cheverus was 6-3 and fourth in Class AA North at press time after losing at Oxford Hills (77-62), beating visiting Noble (74-33), losing at home to Massabesic (61-54) and falling at Deering (69-45). Jack Casale and Jesse Matthews both had 18 points in the win. Against the Mustangs, Casale’s 25 points went for naught. In the loss to the Rams, Matthews had 18 points.

“(Deering’s) better than us right now,” said Stags first-year coach Ryan Soucie. “That’s plain and simple. They’re bigger, quicker and stronger.”

Cheverus was home against South Portland Tuesday, goes to Bonny Eagle Friday and plays at Portland Jan. 16.

“We’ve lost three out of four to quality opponents,” Soucie said. “It will be like this from here on out. It will be a challenge. We have to look in the mirror as players and coaches. We’re playing for February. That’s been our goal since day one and it’s still a goal.”

In Class C South, Waynflete improved to 5-1 and eighth in the standings after opening 2016 with a 44-37 victory at Old Orchard Beach. Milo Belleau led the way with 18 points. The Flyers were home with Freeport Tuesday, go to Fryeburg Academy Thursday, host Greater Portland Christian School Saturday and visit North Yarmouth Academy Tuesday of next week.

Girls’ basketball

On the girls’ side, McAuley is quietly (by the standards of the state’s premier girls’ program) putting together an excellent season. The Lions extended their regular season win streak to 24 and improved to 7-0 with recent victories at Scarborough (63-44) and Cheverus (56-44). Against the Red Storm, Jess Willerson had 21 points. In the win over the Stags, McAuley’s 24th without a loss in the series, the Lions were down by six entering the fourth quarter, but erupted to pull away and prevail behind 16 points from Willerson (who played at Cheverus her freshman and sophomore seasons) and 13 apiece from Brooke Howard and Eva Mazur.

“We had to execute better on offense and in the fourth quarter, we did that,” Howard said. “We got momentum back. We all feed off each other’s energy. Once someone gets it going, we all get in it.”

“I love pressure, I think we all do,” said Mazur. “We play more composed when there’s more on the line. We give it all we have. We switched up some matchups. When it came do help defense, we needed different people to do that. It all worked out.”

“There’s a sense of pride,” Willerson said. “We don’t want (Cheverus) to win. Never have, never will. We came through at the end. We needed more heart in the fourth quarter. We got the baskets we needed.”

“To produce under pressure, on the road, down six, I’m very proud,” added Lions coach Billy Goodman. “There was pressure on my team. If we want to be there at the end, we have to play under pressure. We didn’t handle it for three quarters, then we figured out how to do it. I was impressed.” 

McAuley (second to Gorham in the Class AA South Heals at press time) was at Marshwood Tuesday, hosts Windham Friday and visits South Portland Tuesday of next week.

In Class AA North, Deering was second to Edward Little in the standings at press time with a 6-2 mark following a 49-38 loss at Lewiston and wins over visiting Cheverus (59-42) and Massabesic (54-31). In the setback, Amanda Brett had 13 points and Tasia Titherington 12. Against the Stags, Abi Ramirez was the sparkplug, scoring 17 points, while Titherington had 15 points and Brett and Delaney Haines each added 12. 

“My mind goes 100 miles an hour,” Ramirez said. “I just love running to the basket. I just want to run and beat my defender off the dribble. Last year, I was really nervous coming to Deering. It was first year here and I was scared. I didn’t want to mess up. This year, I’m really comfortable.”

“I knew it was an important game for the team,” Titherington said. “At the beginning, I wasn’t really doing what I could do. I knew I had to contribute more.”

“It’s fine with me to be under the radar,” added Deering coach Mike Murphy. “I like the kids and the makeup of the team. I like our chemistry. We all go out and do our job.”

In the win over the Mustangs, Haines and Titherington both had 15 points and Brett added 13. The Rams hosted Windham Tuesday, then welcome defending Western A champion Thornton Academy Tuesday of next week.

Cheverus started the season 3-0, but found itself 4-4 and sixth in Class AA North at press time. After a 67-49 home win over Oxford Hills, the Stags lost at Deering (59-42) and at home to McAuley (56-44). In the victory, Brooke Dawson and Emme Poulin both had 14 points. Against the Rams, Abby Cavallaro scored 11 points.

“We’ve been pretty consistent in how we’ve played, consistently inconsistent,” Cheverus coach Steve Huntington said. “We’re still making the same mistakes, but it’s a good group of girls. 

The Stags took a 38-32 lead to the fourth quarter against the Lions, then were outscored, 24-6, and lost despite 16 points from Poulin.

“We know we can play with anybody,” Huntington said. “We have the talent. There was just a three or four-minute span where they handled it better than we did. I don’t feel like we were intimidated. It was just another game for us, but it meant a lot. There was great crowd support. We came out and played tough.”

Cheverus was at South Portland Tuesday, hosts Bonny Eagle Friday and is home against Scarborough Tuesday of next week.

Portland fell to 0-7 and eighth in Class AA North after losing at Edward Little (56-27) and at home to Bangor (64-43). Cierra Burnham had 10 points against the Rams. The Bulldogs were at Scarborough Tuesday, visit Gorham Friday and play at Sanford Tuesday of next week.

In Class C South, Waynflete fell to 2-4 and 12th after a 48-44 loss at Old Orchard Beach Saturday. After going to Freeport Tuesday, the Flyers host Fryeburg Academy Thursday, welcome Greater Portland Christian School Saturday and go to NYA Tuesday of next week.

Boys’ hockey

Cheverus’ boys’ hockey team has had some tough luck against some tough foes as its losing skid reached four after falling at Biddeford (5-3) and St. Dom’s (4-2). The Stags (fourth in the Class A South Heal Points standings) hope to get back on track Thursday at Cape Elizabeth (see theforecaster.net for game story). Cheverus welcomes Bangor Saturday.

Portland/Deering takes a 1-6 record and a six-game skid into Saturday’s home game against Lawrence, following losses at Falmouth (7-2) and at home against Bangor (6-3). Joe Pichette and Dominic Tocci scored against the Yachtsmen. Portland/Deering was seventh in Class A South at press time (eight teams make the playoffs).

Waynflete has players on a co-op team with South Portland and Freeport. That squad was 2-5 at press time after recent losses at Mt. Ararat/Lisbon/Morse (5-4) and Windham (5-2). After hosting Marshwood Thursday, South Portland/Waynflete/Freeport (ninth in Class A South) is at Noble/Wells Saturday.

Girls’ hockey

On the girls’ side, Cheverus (which also includes players from Kennebunk and Old Orchard Beach) was 9-3 at press time, good for third in the South Region. The Stags increased their win streak to seven by downing visiting Mt. Ararat/Morse (4-2) and Portland/Deering (4-0), then lost at Scarborough, 6-0. Against Portland/Deering, Jill Hannigan and Sophia Giancotti scored in the first period, goalie Taylor Courtois stood tall in the second and Victoria Lemieux and Caroline Ray added goals to seal the victory. 

“I don’t think they were expecting us to come out as hard as we did,” Hannigan said. “When we score first and get off to a really good start, it’s good for us. It keeps our energy level up.”

“We have multiple girls who can put the puck in the net,” said first-year Cheverus coach Kent Hulst, the erstwhile Portland Pirates standout. “A lot of girls got ice time today. They worked hard and we were rewarded.”

The Stags hosted Scarborough in a rematch Tuesday, then are idle until Jan. 16, when they welcome Portland/Deering.

Portland/Deering has already surpassed last year’s win total. After home losses to Cheverus (4-0) and Scarborough (6-0) pushed a skid to five games, Portland/Deering improved to 3-7 and seventh in the South Region (six teams make the playoffs) after a 7-2 home victory over Gorham/Bonny Eagle Saturday.  Portland/Deering was at Brunswick Monday and welcomes reigning regional champion Falmouth Saturday.

“I’ve got good seniors and the kids coming up are really good,” Portland/Deering coach Tim Murphy said. “It will just take time. We’re still building. It will take another year. We’re looking forward to the rest of the schedule.”

The Waynflete/Cape Elizabeth/South Portland co-op team was 3-8 and fourth in the South Region after recent losses to visiting powerhouse Greely (12-0) and at Biddeford (4-1). A home game versus Gorham/Bonny Eagle is scheduled for Thursday.

Indoor track

Deering’s indoor track teams continued their strong season last Wednesday in Rhode Island, then in the first meet of 2016 Saturday at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham. 

At the Rhode Island Classic Invitational in Providence, the boys’ sprint medley relay team of Nick James, Jack Lynch, Songha Loth and Iessa Ramadan placed first in 3 minutes, 58.73 seconds. Ezra Chapola was fifth in the triple jump (40 feet, 7.75 inches).

At the league meet Saturday, Lynch lowered his own school record in the junior 200 to 24.99 seconds, Ramadan broke the school junior 400 record (54.84) and Kabala Muka tied former standout Jared Bell’s junior shot put record of 42-8. Paolo DeMarco won the senior 200 (23.61), open 600 (1 minute, 19.04 seconds) and the senior 55 hurdles (8.44). 

The girls featured multiple event winners Annah Rossvall in the junior 55 hurdles (9.73 seconds) and junior long jump (15 feet, 2.5 inches) and Lili Kien in the senior long jump (14-0) and senior triple jump (31-6.25). 

Portland joined Biddeford, Massabesic and Windham and both teams came in fourth.

In the girls’ meet, Ella Altidor took the junior 55 (7.66) and junior 400 (1:04.29). 

Cheverus boys and girls both placed fourth in a meet with Scarborough, Thornton Academy and Gorham.

In the girls’ meet, Emily Turner won both the senior long jump (15-2.5) and the open 600 (1:33.85). 

McAuley didn’t score in its meet against Bonny Eagle, Noble and Westbrook.

League action resumes Saturday, Jan. 16.

Swimming

Deering, Portland and Waynflete closed the 2015 portion of the swim season with a four-team meet at Deering, which also included Westbrook. In the boys’ competition, the Rams were first with 251 points, Portland came in second with 232 and Waynflete (87) placed fourth.

In the girls’ meet, Deering had 327 points, which was seven better than Westbrook. Waynflete (181) was third and Portland (157) finished fourth.

McAuley closed the old year with a 120-46 loss to Scarborough.

Skiing

With the arrival of snow last week, the Alpine and Nordic ski seasons are set to begin.

Wrestling

Portland’s wrestling team took a 5-6 mark into Wednesday’s match versus Cheverus. The Bulldogs were coming off a 58-6 win over rival Deering just before Christmas and losses to Bonny Eagle (45-24), Bonny Eagle again (48-27) and Marshwood (58-15).

Cheverus takes an 0-8 record into Wednesday’s match against Portland. The Stags’ most recent results included losses to Biddeford (72-12), Westbrook (66-18) and Massabesic (66-6).

Deering was 3-7 at press time, having lost to Bonny Eagle (78-6), Portland (58-6) and Oxford Hills (54-18).

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

Sidebar Elements


McAuley sophomore Eva Mazur and Cheverus sophomore Emme Poulin battle for a loose ball during the Lions’ 56-44 come-from-behind win Saturday night. McAuley stayed undefeated all-time against the Stags.

Deering junior James Sinclair and Cheverus sophomore Jesse Matthews meet in the air during the Rams’ 69-45 win Saturday night.

Portland/Deering’s Mia Thurston shoots as Cheverus freshman Caitlin Wolff defends during the Stags’ recent 4-0 victory.

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