Portland's winter teams near home stretch
It's hard to believe, but the 2009-10 winter sports regular season is winding down.
With only a handful of weeks remaining, here's a glimpse at where the locals stand.
While the city's Class A rivals were going head-to-head last week (please see story), Waynflete's Western C playoff hopes are dwindling.
The Flyers enjoyed a 65-38 victory at Sacopee last Tuesday (senior Cecil Gardner erupted for 22 points), then lost, 63-39, at home to two-time defending Western B champion Cape Elizabeth (despite a game-high 11 from Gardner) and, 51-43, to visiting Traip (senior John Malia had 19 in a losing effort) to fall to 3-7 on the year.
Waynflete (18th out of 20 teams in the Western Class C Heal Points standings, only the top 10 make the playoffs) went to Gould Monday, play at Hyde Friday and host North Yarmouth Academy Saturday.
Don't look now, but here come the two-time defending Class A champion Deering Rams.
The Rams dropped two of their first three outings this winter, but have gotten healthy and are gaining more confidence by the day. Last Tuesday, Deering hosted upstart Cheverus and rolled to a 66-34 victory. Rams junior Kayla Burchill had four 3-pointers in the first period, five in the game and wound up with 31 points as Deering cruised.
"(Deering) shot the lights out," said Cheverus coach Richie Ashley. "What can you do if a girl's hitting from 26-feet out? We didn't get many shots in the beginning. We were overwhelmed. They had a barrage. It's hard to come back."
"Yesterday, I was shooting well in practice and I shot well in warmups," Burchill said. "I made my first shot and I wasn't going to hold back. I was very out of shape in the beginning of the season, but after I started practicing and running, I was good. We wanted to make a statement. We want to prove we're still one of the top teams in the state, even though we have a couple losses. We're still as strong. Now that we know our roles, I feel like we can three-peat, hopefully"
"People don't realize Kayla missed five weeks with tendinitis," added coach Mike Murphy. "Those first couple weeks were her first weeks back. She's starting to come through.
"We've played great in minutes, but it hasn't been consistent. It was a great team effort. We had 20 assists to just 10 turnovers. Obviously, we played terrific team defense. Our kids are starting to jell."
Deering improved to 9-2 Thursday with a 53-27 win a Noble (Burchill had a team-high 12 points), visits Westbrook Monday, hosts Portland Friday and Marshwood Saturday. The Rams don't face Scarborough again, but still have two games remaining with Stevens Avenue rival McAuley.
Cheverus fell to 9-3 with the loss and will look to regroup. The Stags, fifth in the latest Western Class A Heal Points standings, are idle until Friday when they go to South Portland.
"I don't know what to take from this," Ashley said. "We're a young team. They're the back-to-back state champs. They played hard and played well. I was proud of my girls for playing hard. They had a good attitude and never quit. We have six games left. We're 9-3. No Cheverus team had ever won nine games. It's good to have realistic expectations. We have to get better."
McAuley appeared primed to make a move, but last Monday, during an agonizing 40-37 home loss to Biddeford, the Lions lost junior standout Rebecca Knight after she reinjured her ankle. In that one, McAuley led 34-29 late in the third, but couldn't convert down the stretch and lost despite a team-high eight points (along with 10 rebounds and four assists) from senior Caitlin Cimino. Sophomore Alexa Coulombe finished with seven points and was once again dominant inside (16 rebounds and four blocks, to go along with five assists).
"When we lose a player like Knight, we get young again really fast," lamented McAuley coach Wil Smith. "Especially in the backcourt. We're back to where we were before last week. It's hard for us to generate offense. Especially when we expected to have (Knight). When we didn't expect to have her, we could plan accordingly and run sets accordingly, but tonight we had to fix the offense on the fly without her. We had a great game plan coming in with her. We kept playing hard and never flinched. We had a chance to win and that's all I can ask. I've never been prouder of them. We gutted out some wins lately, but I've never been more proud of the girls than tonight."
If that loss wasn't painful enough, McAuley turned around and was shocked, 49-45, at Portland Thursday. Coulombe had 13 points in defeat. The Lions bounced back Saturday with a win at Sanford to improve to 7-4 (third in Western A). After playing at Kennebunk Monday, McAuley hosts Westbrook Friday. The Lions still have two games remaining with Deering and one with Cheverus.
"We have tough games coming up," Smith said. "We have our work cut out for us. They're on the schedule, we can't make them go away. I like our chances. I like how we're playing right now."
The victory over McAuley was huge for the Bulldogs. Junior Nicollette Kapothanasis, who played for the Lions as a freshman and sophomore, had the go-ahead hoop. Kapothanasis and senior Mariah Callender both had 18 points as Portland (which was coming off an agonizing 58-56 overtime loss to South Portland, despite 21 from Kapothanasis) won for the third time in four outings and improved to 3-7 on the season.
"We're finally healthy," said Portland coach Jan Veinot. "We haven't had Mariah all year. We're finally playing the way we should."
The Bulldogs (12th in Western A) hosted Bonny Eagle Tuesday, welcome Windham Thursday and play at Deering Friday.
In Western C, Waynflete rolled, 50-23, at Sacopee last Tuesday (behind senior standout Morgan Woodhouse's 20 points), then upset host Cape Elizabeth, 48-44, in overtime two days later (Woodhouse had 19 and freshman Martha Veroneau had all nine of her team's OT points to also finish with 19). Saturday, at home against Traip, a team the Flyers downed, 45-31, in Kittery Jan. 5, Waynflete dug a 19-9 deficit after one quarter (thanks in large part to nine turnovers), then, despite a valiant, late rally, lost, 52-48, (Veroneau finished with 18) to fall to 7-3 (seventh in the region). Waynflete is home with Hebron Wednesday, visits Hyde Friday and goes to NYA Saturday.
On the ice, the Portland boys improved to 4-5 Saturday after a 6-3 home win over Bonny Eagle. Junior Bronson Guimond had a hat trick and sophomore Eddie Apon added two goals. The Bulldogs (eighth in Western A) were home with Lake Region Monday and go to South Portland Thursday.
Deering tied visiting Hall-Dale, 3-3, last Monday. The Rams held a 4-2 lead and a two-man advantage entering the third period of Thursday's home game against South Portland, but the Red Riots scored four straight goals to win, 6-4, dropping them to 3-2-2 (and sixth in the standings).
"We had the 5-on-3 to start the period," said first-year Deering coach Jack Lowry. "I think it's just our inexperience and our inability to put teams away. We just didn't execute. Hats off to South Portland. We're developing. We've had our bumps in the road. Our big test will be to see how we bounce back Monday. It's back to the drawing board."
The Rams went to Gray-New Gloucester Monday, play at Windham Saturday and host Edward Little Monday of next week.
Cheverus was a 7-0 home winner over Windham Thursday (senior John Cella had a hat trick), but lost a tough 4-3 decision at South Portland Saturday to fall to 5-4 (and 10th in Western A). The Stags visit Bonny Eagle Monday of next week.
On the girls' side, Cheverus remains unbeaten. Barely. The Stags, the top-ranked team in the West Region, eked out a 2-1 home win over Scarborough last Thursday (senior Sage Witham and junior Anna McDonough had goals, while senior goalie Saundrine Lanouette was superb in the cage with 22 saves), then blanked host York, 3-0, Saturday to improve to 14-0. Cheverus hosts Portland Saturday.
The Bulldogs are now 5-6-1 and seventh in the West after losses last week to Scarborough (10-2), York (9-4) and Leavitt (7-1). Portland was home with Deering Monday, plays at Cheverus Saturday and hosts Biddeford Monday.
Deering took a 1-9-2 mark (and the No. 8 spot) into its game with Portland. The Rams are home with Cape Elizabeth Monday.
The Deering boys' indoor track team, which saw its 10-year regular season win streak end last week. The Rams bounced back Saturday by finishing first in a meet which also included Biddeford and Gorham. The Rams girls were also first. Cheverus' boys came in second to Scarborough and downed Thornton Academy in its meet. The Stags girls' squad placed third. McAuley was second and Portland came in third in a girls' meet, which also included Bonny Eagle and Westbrook. The Bulldogs boys' team was third.
In the pool, Cheverus went head-to-head with Cape Elizabeth. The boys lost 115-63, while the girls fell 103-80 to the defending Class A champs. Deering swept a meet with Class B power Falmouth. The boys were 122-52 winners, while the girls eked out a 94-84 decision. McAuley lost, 47-18, to Thornton Academy and 36-18 to Yarmouth.
On the mat, Deering was busy last week, losing, 48-16, to Windham, 57-21, to Noble, 45-27, to Marshwood and, 42-33, to Dexter. The Rams go to Bonny Eagle Wednesday.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com