Emma Poulin helped lead Cheverus’ girls’ team to the Class AA North semifinals.
The Deering and Maine Girls’ Academy girls’ teams reached their respective quarterfinals.
Pedro Fonseca and his Portland teammates soared above the competition most of the winter before their quest for a third straight state title was denied in the semifinals.
Finn Scott and his Waynflete boys teammates closed the regular season on a 12-game win streak.
The 2017-18 basketball season will be remembered for producing drama from early December right into March.
While no Portland schools took home a Gold Ball this winter, for the first time in three years, it was still a season to hail.
Portland and Waynflete’s boys’ teams had the best regular seasons, winning 17 and 15 games respectively. Cheverus and Deering were competitive throughout and all four teams qualified for the playoffs.
The postseason would be disappointing, however, as Cheverus lost to eventual state champion Edward Little in the Class AA North quarterfinals, Deering was eliminated by Oxford Hills in the same round and Portland, despite being the top seed, was ousted short of the state final for the first time in five seasons, being upset by Windham in the semifinals. In Class C South, Waynflete went to Augusta with high hopes, but let a double-digit lead slip away in losing to Boothbay in the quarterfinals.
On the girls’ side, all five teams made the playoffs, but none made it to the regional final round.
Waynflete lost a preliminary round contest in Class C South. In Class AA South, Maine Girls’ Academy was ousted by two-time champion Gorham in the quarterfinals. In AA North, Deering was eliminated by Oxford Hills in the quarterfinals, while Cheverus edged Windham and Portland got past Bangor. The Bulldogs and Stags each met their match in the semifinals, as eventual state champion Edward Little took care of Portland and Oxford Hills held off Cheverus.
Here’s one last look at the best memories from this basketball season:
5) MGA starts fast
Maine Girls’ Academy wasn’t on the radar of the pundits entering the season, but at the midway point, everyone was aware of the Lions, as they won their first nine outings, including a victory at two-time defending Class AA state champion Gorham. MGA did revert to the mean in the second half of the season, winning just four of nine games, before falling at home to Gorham in the AA South quarterfinals.
4) Waynflete boys win 12 straight
Waynflete’s boys’ team lost December games to defending Class B South champion Wells and perennial power Cape Elizabeth, then dropped its 2018 opener to Yarmouth to fall to 3-3, but the Flyers soon hit their stride and didn’t fall again in the regular season. Waynflete started its surge with an 88-19 win over Greater Portland Christian School, handled Class B South playoff teams Gray-New Gloucester and Freeport and survived Lake Region in overtime before posting 108 points in a win over Sacopee Valley. A 61-27 win over North Yarmouth Academy gave the Flyers a dozen wins in a row and a 15-3 regular season record. Waynflete’s success didn’t translate to the playoffs, however, as it let an 11-point fourth quarter lead slip away in a disappointing loss to Boothbay.
3) Cheverus girls reach semifinals
Cheverus’ girls’ program welcomed a legendary coach this winter, former University of Southern Maine women’s coach Gary Fifield, and while the Stags had their ups-and-downs, they were at their best when it mattered most. Cheverus began 4-4, but behind the long-range shooting acumen of senior standouts Abby Cavallaro and Emme Poulin, and key contributions from several others, the Stags finished 7-3, including a victory over Gorham. In the quarterfinals, Cheverus got taken to the brink by visiting Windham, but held on for a 56-50 overtime victory. The Stags then fell behind defending regional champion Oxford Hills by a seemingly hopeless margin in the semifinals before roaring back to make things very interesting. Ultimately, Cheverus fell short, 59-49, but it was another successful campaign for the program.
2) Portland girls soar into contention
One year removed from a 3-15 campaign, Portland’s girls’ team was resurgent and one of the most entertaining collections around. The Bulldogs, who returned a core of improved players, were bolstered by the arrival of three players from the Congo: sophomore Gemima Motema and freshmen Amanda Kabantu and Davina Kabantu. Portland defended every inch of the floor, used its defense to lead to offense and the wins followed. The Bulldogs went 12-6 and even won a quarterfinal round game, over Bangor, but hopes of advancing deeper were dashed when Motema broke her foot. Portland was ousted by eventual state champion Edward Little, but the Bulldogs will be on the short list of title contenders when the 2018-19 season begins.
1) Bulldogs remain a powerhouse
Portland’s boys’ team didn’t win another Gold Ball, but all eyes were on the Bulldogs again, from start to finish this winter. Led by senior standout Terion Moss and several returning players who knew almost nothing but winning in their high school careers, Portland stumbled just once in the regular season, a close loss at eventual Class AA South champion Scarborough, but still wound up ranked first in its region for the fifth year in a row. After having no trouble with Lewiston in the Class AA North quarterfinals, the Bulldogs were stunned by Windham in the semifinals, bringing an end (for now at least) to their reign.