Portland hoops the big winner in a busy week
(Ed. Note: For the complete Portland-Deering boys' basketball story, with additional photos and a box score, please visit theforecaster.net)
There were several big moments for city teams last week, but no one had a better time of it than the Portland boys' basketball squad, which downed a pair of rivals to confirm its status as a championship contender.
It wasn't just basketball that witnessed greatness, however, local athletes also turned heads on the ice, the track, the slopes, trails and mats and in the pool.
Here's a glimpse:
Portland had the daunting task of going to Bonny Eagle and Deering last week, but the Bulldogs embraced the challenge and came out looking like the champions they hope to become.
Last Tuesday, Portland faced Bonny Eagle in the only regular season meeting between the Southwestern Maine Activities Association co-favorites. The game was moved from Bonny Eagle High School to St. Joseph's College to accommodate the expected large crowd and not surprisingly, the teams put on a good show. The Bulldogs enjoyed a strong second quarter to take a four-point halftime lead, then went up by 14 points entering the fourth period before enduring a late Scots' rally to hold on, 69-60, behind 21 points from Jayvon Pitts-Young, 17 from Matt Talbot and 16 from Steve Alex.
Friday, the Bulldogs paid a visit to its ancient rival, Deering, and this one wasn't even close.
Portland set the tone just seconds in, when Talbot blocked a shot and at the other end, Pitts-Young converted a 3-point play to put the Bulldogs on top to stay. Portland's defense smothered the Rams and by the end of the first period, it was up by 15 points, 20-5. The Bulldogs stretched their advantage to 39-17 at halftime and any Deering comeback hopes were immediately dashed in the third period when Talbot scored 15 points. Portland easily cruised home from there to a 77-42 victory. Talbot had a game-high 20 points, Justin Zukowski made the Bulldogs' engine go and had 14 points, Alex added 12 points and Travis Godbout pitched in 11 as Portland improved to 12-0.
"It's huge to beat two good teams," said Talbot. "It feels great. I've been hearing from Deering fans all week."
"This was a big win for multiple reasons," said Bulldogs coach Joe Russo. "One, it's a rivalry. Two, it's two good teams in a week. Three, we have to play them again. It's big for confidence. If it was a close game, next time we would have been on eggshells."
Portland forced 33 turnovers.
"The fullcourt zone can frustrate teams," Zukowski said. "We stuck to that all game."
The Bulldogs (third in the Western Class A Heal Points standings behind Falmouth and Bonny Eagle) hosted Scarborough Tuesday and welcomes Sanford Thursday. Portland then welcomes Windham, goes to Cheverus and hosts South Portland and Deering to wrap up the campaign.
"I think we're at a better point than we were last year," Talbot said. "We know what to do. They're all tough games. We have to keep working on things."
"(Tonight was) confidence building, but we look forward," said Zukowski. "We have a lot of work to do. We have to finish teams. We did a good job today. Finally."
"I think it's important to be first (in the Heals)," Russo added. "It doesn't guarantee anything, but it's an opportunity. This makes me feel like we're for real."
Deering saw its six-game win streak snapped three days prior, with a 59-52 loss at Gorham (despite 22 points from Ahmed Ali). Against Portland, the Rams were paced by 14 points from Benedict Williams, but were never in the game and fell to 8-4 on the season.
"It was hard to keep track of our turnovers," Wing said. "You have to value possessions. Their press obviously did its job, but we're capable of doing better."
Deering (fourth in Western A) was back in action Tuesday at home versus Sanford. The Rams then go to Scarborough and Biddeford, host South Portland and Cheverus, then close Feb. 6, at Portland.
"We're facing a little adversity and it will tell us a lot about who we are," Wing said. "Will we solidify a top spot or accept going middle of the pack? I'm confident we'll respond and bounce back well."
Cheverus' skid hit five games last Monday with a 56-50 loss at Noble (Zordan Holman had 19 points), but Tuesday, the Stags bounced back and downed visiting Westbrook, 57-45, as Holman had 17 and Manny Ismail added 13. Cheverus evened its record at 6-6 Friday with a 56-41 home win over South Portland (Holman had a game-high 19 points). The Stags (eighth in Western A) are back in action Friday at home versus Marshwood. Saturday, Cheverus goes to Biddeford. Tuesday of next week, the Stags host Scarborough.
In Western C, Waynflete suffered a 67-51 home loss to Western B contender Lake Region last Tuesday (despite 16 points from Serge Nyirikamba and 13 from Milo Belleau), then improved to 9-2 and fourth in the standings with a 63-57 victory at Poland Friday (Harry Baker-Connick led the way with 21 points, Belleau added 16 and Nyirikamba had 15). The Flyers were home against Buckfield Tuesday, welcome Traip Friday and go to Old Orchard Beach Saturday.
After seeing its 56-game win streak come to an end at Thornton Academy and after struggling to beat visiting South Portland, the three-time defending Class A girls' champion McAuley Lions were at a crossroads last week, but the Lions, as they always seem to do, answered with a roar.
Last Tuesday, McAuley went to Scarborough and rolled in a playoff rematch, 59-30, as it pulled away in the second half behind 16 points from Allie Clement, 14 from Jackie Welch and 12 from Victoria Lux. Friday, the Lions improved to 11-1 with a 69-33 win at Sanford. They pitched a shutout in the second quarter and were led by Clement, who had 26 points. Lux added 14. McAuley (second to Thornton Academy in the Western A Heals) hosted Westbrook Monday, has a showdown at Portland Friday and plays at Bonny Eagle Tuesday of next week.
Speaking of Portland, this year's feel-good story also improved to 11-1 (third in the standings) with a pair of wins last week: 61-44 at Bonny Eagle and 60-55 over visiting rival Deering, the Bulldogs' first win over the Rams since Dec. 21, 2004. Against the Scots, in a game played at St. Joe's, Brianna Holdren had 15 points, Cierra Burnham 13 and Elizabeth Donato 11. Holdren's 21, 13 from Donato and 11 from Burnham helped hold off Deering. Portland played at Scarborough Tuesday (see theforecaster.net for game story), hosts McAuley Friday (seeking its first win over the Lions since Jan. 14, 2010) and goes to Windham Tuesday of next week.
Cheverus handled host Westbrook, 39-19, behind 18 points from Jess Willerson, then fell to 8-3 Friday with a 72-56 home loss to South Portland (Willerson had 15 points and Georgia Ford and Laura Holman both added 11). The Stags (fifth in Western A) were scheduled to host Biddeford in a makeup game Saturday, but that makeup game will have to be made up after bad weather delayed it again (no new date had been announced by press time). Cheverus welcomes Marshwood Saturday and goes to Scarborough Tuesday of next week.
Deering was ninth at 5-7 when the week began after losing at home to Gorham (53-44) and at Portland (60-55). Against Gorham, Deering was led by 14 points from Tasia Titherington. Amanda Brett had 20 points and LeeAnn Downs 18 against the Bulldogs. The Rams were at Sanford Tuesday, host Scarborough Friday and welcome Biddeford Tuesday of next week.
Defending Class C champion Waynflete fell to eighth in the Heals and dropped to 5-5 after losses at defending Western B champion Lake Region (62-37) and at home to Western B contender Poland (49-34). Leigh Fernandez and Julianna Harwood both had seven points against the Lakers. In the loss to the Knights, the Flyers fell behind early, 13-2, but rallied behind a couple 3s from Fernandez to pull within 14-11 after one quarter. A 3-ball from Dana Peirce put Waynflete on top momentarily in the second period, but Poland proved to be too much and Fernandez's 12 points weren't enough to prevent the Flyers from dropping their fifth game in six outings. Waynflete was at Buckfield Tuesday, hosts Traip Friday and Old Orchard Beach Saturday, then goes to Kents Hill Tuesday of next week.
Cheverus' boys' hockey team remained second to Scarborough in the Western A Heals with a 6-2-1 record after a 7-3 home win over Yarmouth Thursday. James Kane and Luke Trickey both scored twice. The Stags were supposed to host city rival Portland/Deering Saturday, but bad weather postponed the game. No reschedule date had been announced by press time. Cheverus hosts Bangor Saturday afternoon.
Portland/Deering was coming off a 3-2 loss at Cape Elizabeth, despite goals from Chris Eye and Zach Luce. Portland/Deering (fifth in the Heals at 3-5-1) was at Biddeford Monday and hosts Yarmouth Thursday.
On the girls' side, Waynflete's co-op team with Cape Elziabeth, Capeflete, was fourth in the West Region at 6-7 after handling visiting Portland/Deering (10-1) and losing at York (3-2). Capeflete was home with Mt. Ararat Monday, welcomes Cheverus Wednesday and Gorham/Bonny Eagle Saturday.
Cheverus began the week 6-6-1 and fifth in the West after a 6-0 home loss to Falmouth. The Stags go to Capeflete Wednesday and welcome reigning regional champion and undefeated Scarborough Saturday.
Portland/Deering fell to 0-12 and eighth after a 10-1 loss at Capeflete. After going to York Monday, Portland/Deering welcomes Yarmouth/Freeport Thursday and visits Falmouth Saturday.
City runners, jumpers and throwers returned to action Saturday at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham.
Deering's boys won their meet, bettering Gorham, Westbrook, Bonny Eagle and Marshwood. The Rams got wins from Yahya Hussein in the mile (4 minutes, 46.59 seconds) and the two-mile (10:27.79), Paulo DeMarco in the 400 (54.28 seconds), Alec Halpin in the high jump (5 feet, 4 inches), Giles Holmes in the triple jump (38-9), Hany Ramadan in the 600 (1:16.82), the 800 (2:02.71) and the long jump (19-3) and their 800 (1:36.67) and 3,200 (9:31.31) relays.
Deering's girls were second to Westbrook, but got first-place finishes from Alexis Elowitch in the shot put (32-4), Rashad Zagon in the 55 hurdles (9.64), Edie Pallozzi in the 600 (1:31.43) and the 800 (2:22.07), Lili Kien in the long jump (14-5.25) and the high jump (4-6),
Cheverus and Portland competed against South Portland. The Red Riots were first, Stags second and Bulldogs third in both meets.
In the boys' meet, Cheverus got wins from Michael O'Brien in the junior 200 (28.05), Gerald Wagner in the senior 200 (25.49) and the 400 (55.08), Portland didn't have an event winner, but Cooper Collins was runner-up in the 55 (7.32) and its 800 relay team was also second (1:44.14).
Cheverus' Meredith Willard starred in the girls' meet, winning the senior 55 (7.64) and the senior 200 (27.42). Emily Turner won the 400 (1:06.69). Kiera Murray took the two-mile (11:34.01). Portland got wins from Lilly Thorne in the 200 (29.30), Claire Kirby in the 55 hurdles (9.84), Madison Bolduc in the triple jump (30-10.5) and Maggie Hosmer in the 800 (2:44.19).
McAuley came in fifth in a five-team meet. Elsa Curran won the 55 hurdles (9.6).
This weekend, Cheverus and Deering compete against Biddeford, Gorham and Massabesic and McAuley and Portland go against Marshwood, Westbrook and Windham.
Cheverus' defending Class A champion boys' swim team enjoyed an 85-65 home win over Windham Friday. The Stags girls also beat the Eagles, 56-32, and downed McAuley, 50-38.
Deering's girls lost at Greely, 89-80, while the Rams boys lost to the Rangers, 86-74.
Portland's boys defeated Gorham, 78-72, while the Bulldogs girls lost to the Rams, 109-48.
Waynflete's boys lost to Falmouth, 89-62. The girls were defeated by the Yachtsmen, 90-72.
Portland swims at Yarmouth Thursday. Friday, Cheverus goes to Class B power Greely, Deering is at Falmouth, McAuley swims at Cape Elizabeth and Waynflete goes to Gorham.
Cheverus' Alpine ski team took part in a six-team slalom meet last week. The Stags girls came in sixth, while the boys didn't score as a team. Individually, Schuyler Black came in fourth in the boys' meet (a two-run combined time of 1 minute, 43.54 seconds). Hanna Sonesson (sixth, 2:12.89) led the girls' team. Earlier last week, the girls were fourth in a giant slalom meet, while the boys didn't score. Sonesson placed sixth (1:18.34) to lead the girls, while Black was ninth (1:12.64) in the boys' meet.
Waynflete's Louis Frumer was fifth in a giant slalom race last week (1:04.96) against Falmouth, Greely and Lake Region. The girls' top finisher was Kelley Frumer (ninth, 1:11.16). The Flyers didn't score as a team.
Waynflete's girls were seventh at a Nordic skate meet last week at Starks Hill. Marijke Rowse was 23rd for scoring purposes (15 minutes, 28 seconds). Deering came in ninth. The Rams were led by Ewa Varney (19th, 15:06). Portland didn't score as a team, but Lizzy Landry (14:39.3) and Laura Frank (14:40.6) were 19th and 20th respectively. Cheverus also didn't score. Natalya Mavor was 44th (16:48.1).
The Waynflete boys didn't score, but Aidan Olney was 46th individually (13:50.6). Portland was sixth. Brad Ravenelle was 14th (12:14.2). Cheverus and Deering didn't score, but they had individuals make noise. The Stags were led by Paul Dube (28th-best time, 12:57.7). The Rams were paced by Caleb Niles (37th, 13:19.5).
Portland's wrestling team earned some bragging rights with a rare win over city rival Deering last week, 60-24. The Bulldogs compete at Massabesic Saturday. The Rams were at Bonny Eagle Wednesday and compete at Biddeford Saturday.