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Surprises, thrills continue

Sports

Surprises, thrills continue

(Ed. Note: For the complete Cheverus-McAuley, McAuley-Scarborough and Waynflete-Kents Hill girls' basketball game stories, please visit theforecaster.net)

There was plenty of drama and even a dose of surprise during last week's action.

The hour is getting late for those teams hoping to qualify for the playoffs and for those who are in, getting optimal position is still the biggest concern.

Here's a look at what transpired last week and what's upcoming:

Boys' basketball

The Portland boys' basketball team finally proved mortal Friday evening. The Bulldogs, whose home tilt with rival Cheverus two nights prior was postponed due to bad weather, went to Thornton Academy and fell victim to a Golden Trojans' fourth quarter surge and lost for the first time in 11 decisions, 64-52. Nick Volger led Portland with 20 points in defeat. The Bulldogs (now second to Deering in the Western Class A Heal Points standings) hoped to bounce back Tuesday when they hosted dangerous Westbrook. Thursday brings a home showdown with Deering and next Tuesday a trip to Noble.

Speaking of the defending champion, top-ranked Rams, they improved to 11-1 after close wins over visiting Scarborough (54-40) and host Westbrook (49-41). Against the Red Storm, Liam Densmore and Dominic Lauture both had 13 points, while Labson Abwoch added a dozen. Abwoch led the way against the Blue Blazes with 18. Deering was home with Windham Tuesday, visits Portland Thursday and plays host to South Portland Tuesday of next week.

Cheverus had its game with Portland last Wednesday postponed by bad weather, then lost, 67-47, at Windham Friday, its sixth successive setback, to fall to 3-8 and 12th in Western A (only 11 teams make the playoffs). Emmanuel Ismail and Noah Stebbins both had nine points versus the Eagles. The Stags are idle until Friday, when they go to South Portland. After hosting Massabesic Saturday, Cheverus welcomes Kennebunk Tuesday.

In Western C, Waynflete continues to dazzle with an 11-1 mark, which had the Flyers third in the standings behind Dirigo and Boothbay at press time. Last week, they defeated host Yarmouth (62-38) and visiting Traip (71-59). Serge Nyirikamba had 19 points against the Clippers, while Jack Cutler added 15 and Paul Runyambo had 14. In the win over the Rangers, Cutler and Nyirikamba both had 18 points. Waynflete hosts Hyde, the top-ranked team in Western D, Thursday and Western B contender Wells Saturday.

Girls' basketball

At the start of the week, McAuley, Deering and Cheverus were 1-2-3 in the Western A Heals.

The two-time defending state champion Lions completed their tour of their top competitors last week by winning at Cheverus, 51-30, and at home over Scarborough, 65-42.

Against the Stags, McAuley took control in the first half and never looked back as Allie Clement, the league's leading scorer, had a game-high 18 points, Olivia Smith added 10 and Olivia Dalphonse finished with nine.

"We've talked about this game for awhile," Clement said. "It's a big rivalry game and we wanted it. Coming here gave us more motivation. We wanted to win. We've never lost to them. It was very fun. Walking out with a win is very exciting. Especially in their house with all their fans here. It's a really big win for us."

"We knew (Cheverus is) a good team and that we'd have a battle," McAuley coach Billy Goodman added. "We ramped up the intensity in practice yesterday. The girls we wanted to have step up stepped up tonight."

The Lions were hampered by foul trouble and pushed by the Red Storm. They led by only eight late in the third period before pulling away for their 38th successive victory behind 16 points from Clement, 12 from Smith, 10 from Victoria Lux and nine from Jackie Welch (all in the pivotal third quarter).

"I think we kept our composure," Welch said. "I was glad I limited turnovers tonight, especially against their pressure. They're so scrappy and quick. The score didn't do this game justice."

"We became a team tonight," said Goodman, who is now 34-0 with the program. "We got in foul trouble and other girls stepped up. I love it when other girls step up. I felt tonight was our best team win. We got a lot of good looks. We moved the ball nicely. (Scarborough's) a well coached team. I knew they'd be disciplined. I knew we'd be in a battle tonight."

McAuley (12-0) returns to action Friday at home versus Gorham. Saturday brings a trip to Sanford. Tuesday, the Lions are at South Portland.

Deering continued its stellar season last week with a 48-41 win at Scarborough and a 55-35 home victory over Westbrook. At the Red Storm, Marissa MacMillan scored the first 15 points of the game and wound up with 20. In the win over the Blue Blazes, Chelsea Saucier had 16 points, while Keneisha DiRamio added 12. The Rams went to Windham Tuesday and host Portland Friday.

Cheverus just couldn't take advantage of opportunities in its 51-30 home loss to McAuley, as the Stags fell to 0-18 all-time against their private school rival. Freshman Jess Willerson had a breakout 11-point performance in that one, but Cheverus turned the ball over 21 times.

"We had a lot of good looks," Stags coach Richie Ashley said. "We had a lot of layups and jump shots that just didn't go in. There's not much you can say. Of course, they played pretty good D. Some of the misses were because of their D, but we just missed shots. It was good to get a read on them. We didn't get out-toughed. That's for sure. We didn't get pushed around. I thought for the most part, we played tough. The girls responded to the physicality and the speed. I thought we did a fair job containing them, but it's hard to play defense if you're not scoring. We couldn't get a run going. For the most part, we scrapped and that's what we wanted. We played with more emotion tonight."

Friday, Cheverus snapped a two-game skid with a 60-37 home win over Windham (Brooke Flaherty led the way with 22 points). Cheverus' next three games are on the road: at South Portland Friday, Massabesic Saturday and Kennebunk Tuesday.

Portland was 3-9 and 11th (good for the final playoff spot) at press time after Thursday's 37-27 home loss to Thornton Academy. Brianna Holdren had nine points in defeat. After playing at Westbrook Tuesday, the Bulldogs are at Deering Friday and host Noble Tuesday of next week.

In Western C, Waynflete improved to 10-2 and fourth behind Madison, Boothbay and Monmouth in the Heals after wins last week over visiting Kents Hill (64-39) and Yarmouth (58-37) and host Traip (67-23). Against the Huskies, the Flyers got a game-high 28 points from senior standout Martha Veroneau, a superb all-around effort from senior Rhiannan Jackson and produced a tremendous display of teamwork, as 19 of its 26 field goals were assisted.

"We're a team and we work together," said Jackson. "We could have taken breakaways by ourselves, but we let other people take shots. Martha is so unselfish. She could score all day by herself, but she'll pass it to someone else to give them an open shot."

"The team chemistry is so good," said Veroneau. "We're not just teammates. We're friends on and off the court. That really pays off. We're all so unselfish. That's why we work together so well."

I feel like we came out pretty hard and had a good first half," Salway added. "We played everybody a lot. I tried to share the minutes."

In the win over the Clippers, the Flyers forced 15 first half turnovers and got 13 points from Leigh Fernandez. Veroneau had 19 points, while Fernandez and Harwood both added 10 versus the Rangers. Waynflete is idle until Saturday when it goes to Western B contender Wells.

Hockey

Cheverus' boys' hockey team remains third in the Western A Heals behind Scarborough and Falmouth. Last week, the Stags increased their win streak to four Thursday with a 5-2 victory at Cape Elizabeth. James Hannigan had two goals to lead the way. Saturday, Cheverus' run ended with a 4-3 overtime loss to Biddeford. Cameron McLain scored twice, but the Stags couldn't hold a late lead and fell to 8-2. Cheverus is idle until Jan. 31 when it hosts St. Dom's.

Portland is 5-4 and eighth in Western A after splitting games last weekend. Friday, the Bulldogs rolled at Windham, 9-1, behind four goals from Luigi Grimaldi and two from Zach Luce. Saturday, Portland dropped a 6-5 home overtime decision to Gorham. Mike Fuller had two goals to help the Bulldogs rally from three goals down. Portland was home with South Portland Monday and goes to Westbrook Saturday.

On the girls' side, both city teams have work to do to punch their playoff ticket.

At press time, Cheverus was sixth in the West Region (only five teams make the cut) with a 4-10-1 mark, following a 6-0 home loss to Lewiston and a 10-5 setback at Leavitt/EL last week. 

Portland is 2-11-1 and eighth following losses to visiting York (3-0) and host Scarborough (7-0) last week. The Bulldogs went to Winslow Monday and welcome Cape Elizabeth Saturday.

Indoor track

Cheverus' indoor track team swept a five-team meet at USM last weekend. Deering's girls were runners-up, while the boys came in third. In the girls' meet, the Stags got multiple event wins from Abigail Goodrich in the junior 55 (7.8 seconds), junior 55 hurdles (9.74), open 55 hurdles (10.0) and junior long jump (29 feet, 6.25 inches) and Anne Slattery in the senior 55 hurdles (9.18) and senior 200 (27.62). The Rams had Edie Pallozzi win the open 600 (1 minute, 35.16 seconds) and senior 400 (1:02.5) and Lizzy Fowler take the junior 800 (2:42.07) and the junior high jump (4-10). On the boys' side, Cheverus' Jake Dixon won the junior 55 (7.02) and junior 200 (23.93) and teammate James Campbell took the open 600 (1:19.01) and senior 200 (23.5).

McAuley and Portland took part in a meet with Westbrook and Windham. The Bulldogs were third in the boys' meet. Tate Gale was first in the senior shot put (38-3.5). Jonathan Bobe was first in the senior 400 (55.52). The Lions were runners-up to Windham in the girls' competition, with Portland fourth. McAuley's Elsa Curran took the senior 55 hurdles (10.1) and senior shot put (28.6), while teammate Adele Werner was first in the open 600 (1:41.73) and the two-mile (13:09.68). The Bulldogs got wins from Claire Kirby in the open 55 hurdles (10.21) and junior 55 hurdles (9.94).

Action resumes Feb. 2 at USM with the conference championship meet. The state championship meets are Feb. 18.

Swimming

Cheverus' talented boys' swim team enjoyed a 101-61 win at Falmouth last week. Deering tallied 140 points to beat Waynflete (76) and Hyde (62). Portland handled Biddeford, 121-39.

In girls' competition, Cheverus edged Falmouth, 86-78. Deering had 125 points in its meet to edge Waynflete (119) and Hyde (16). Portland beat Biddeford, 113-29.

This weekend, Deering and Cheverus square off, Portland hosts Yarmouth and Waynflete goes to Gorham.

Skiing

Cheverus and Deering took part in an SMAA Alpine slalom meet last week at Shawnee Peak. Deering's Kevin Goldberg was fourth in the boys' meet with a two-run combined time of 1 minute, 43.13 seconds. Cheverus' Hanna Sonneson placed sixth on the girls' side (2:08.19).

In Nordic action, Portland's girls were runners-up, while Portland's boys were third, Waynflete fifth and Deering 12th at the Maranacook Wave race Saturday at Sugarloaf. The Bulldogs girls were paced by runner-up Abby Popenoe (16:47.9). In the boys' meet, Waynflete's Josh Espy was runner-up (13:56.2). Deering's Kuba Chandler finished third (13:59.5) and Portland's Ben Allen came in fourth (14:07.8). 

Wrestling

Portland's 4-7 wrestling team hosted Kennebunk and Windham Monday and welcomes Biddeford and Noble Wednesday.

Deering (1-6) is home with Scarborough Wednesday. 

The regional championships are Feb. 2. The state meet is Feb. 9.

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