February title push begins for Portland area teams
(Ed. Note: For the full Deering-South Portland boys' and Deering-McAuley girls' basketball game stories, please visit theforecaster.net)
The frenetic and fun month of February is upon us and all winter sports are about to take centerstage. Swimming has already begun its postseason, while track, skiing and wrestling start up this week and the basketball tournament begins a week from Friday.
Here's where local teams stand as the calendar turns:
Friday's news about the ineligibility of Cheverus standout Indiana Faithfull (please see story) certainly casts a new light on Western Class A boys' basketball and the postseason, which is right around the corner.
Deering and Portland hope to be in position to make a run, but both still have work to do in the final week.
As of Monday, the Rams were 10-6 and sixth in the latest Western Class A Heal Points standings after going 2-1 last week. Deering held off a furious late charge from Windham to win, 56-53 (behind 18 points from sophomore John Amabile and 10 from junior Jamie Ross), and triumphed, 78-52, at Marshwood (Amabile had 17 points and senior Eddie Tirabassi and junior Nick Colucci both had 15). The Rams also fell, 62-50, at South Portland, despite 18 from Amabile).
“We don’t play hard enough,” said Amabile, after the loss. “They were bigger and stronger than us tonight. When they got out to the big lead we lost some confidence. I tried to step it up and get something going for us. We started to get some stops and convert on the offensive end. But overall we didn’t play hard enough and need to focus more.”
“They got out to a big lead and that was the story,” added Deering coach Dan LeGage. “We talked about being able to rebound and stop them from penetrating with the dribble. But we weren’t able to do that for most of the night, especially early. When we did, we made some runs on offense and were able to get back in the game. They just killed us on the glass. They're big and strong and that’s what they do. We showed some guts coming back but we never got over that hump.”
The Rams went to Cheverus Tuesday and close the regular year at home Thursday night against rival Portland.
The Bulldogs enjoyed their third straight win last Tuesday, 64-35, at Sanford (senior Koang Thok had 27 points), then were upset at home by Scarborough (58-45, despite 13 points from senior Joe Zukowski) and fell on a last-second shot at Biddeford, 57-54, (Thok had 19 points in the setback) to fall to 9-7 (seventh in the Heals). Portland was home against South Portland Tuesday, then goes to Deering Thursday.
In Western C, the Waynflete Flyers are playing out the string. The Flyers fell to 5-9 Friday after a 56-49 home loss to Hyde. Senior standout John Malia had 29 points in defeat. Waynflete (12th in the Heals, only the top 10 teams qualify) played at Wells Tuesday and closes the season Friday at home versus Gould.
On the girls' side, Deering continues to peak as the postseason nears.
Last week, the Rams increased their win streak to 13 games with a 37-22 triumph at Windham and a hard-fought 42-33 home victory over rival McAuley. Against the Eagles, senior Claire Ramonas had 14 points. The win over the Lions didn't come as easily.
Deering led just 10-8 after one quarter and 18-17 at halftime. McAuley, behind a big third period from freshman Molly Mack, took a 25-23 lead in the third, but the Rams answered on a free throw from junior Kayla Burchill, a layup from Burchill and a Ramonas layup for a 28-25 advantage going to the fourth. There, the Lions got within one, 30-29, but Deering closed on a 12-4 run to survive.
"It's nice to be able to have a tournament-type game," said Deering coach Mike Murphy. "It's to both schools' advantage to have games like this going into the tournament. Neither team gave an inch. They're a very strong team with their size."
Ramonas had 19 points, Burchill added 12 and junior Aarika Viola had eight.
"It helped us to have a game like this," said Ramonas. "Us big girls knew they have two of the top shotblockers and that we had to go at them and get them in foul trouble. We kept going strong and the guards got us the ball. Kayla played good defense. Aarika was huge on offense."
Deering 14-2 and second in the Western A Heals goes to Portland Wednesday and closes the regular year at McAuley Friday.
"It was a little rocky in the beginning, but we've figured it out," Viola said. "We're playing really well now."
The Lions got 10 points from junior Rebecca Knight against the Rams.
"(Deering) played like champions," McAuley coach Wil Smith said. "They played like they always play. They play tough, physical defense. I thought we matched them defensively. They got physical with us. We shot fadeaways and they went to the basket hard. We have to get to where we go to the basket hard. We didn't execute our offense great tonight. Two of the top defensive teams around, that will happen."
The loss was sandwiched by wins at Massabesic (51-32, behind 13 points from sophomore Alexa Coulombe and 12 from senior Caitlin Cimino) and at home over Gorham (42-31, thanks to Coulombe's 13).
The Lions (11-5 and third in Western A) went to Cheverus Tuesday, then close at home versus Deering Friday. They can wind up anywhere from third to seventh in the final accounting.
The Stags of Cheverus are fourth in the latest Heals with a 12-4 mark. Last week, Cheverus fell, 35-27, to visiting Gorham in a game which saw the young Stags shoot and handle the ball poorly. Thursday, however, Cheverus bounced back with a 49-33 home win over Marshwood (sophomore Alexandra Palazzi-Leahy had 15 points and freshman Brooke Flaherty added 12). Saturday, the Stags rallied to win, 58-48, at Sanford (Palazzi-Leahy went off for 22 and Flaherty again added a dozen).
Cheverus was home with McAuley Tuesday and closes at home with South Portland Friday. Like McAuley, the Stags could finish anywhere from third to seventh in the final standings.
Portland took a 4-11 record (and the No. 12 spot in the region) to South Portland Monday night. The Bulldogs needed a win there, as well as home victories over Deering Wednesday and Bonny Eagle Thursday to reach the playoffs. Last week, Portland won 44-37 at Sanford (junior Nicollete Kapothanasis had 16 points and senior Mariah Callender added 12) and lost 56-43 at Scarborough (senior Jill Russell led the team with 11 points) and 58-45 at home to Biddeford (despite 16 from Kapothanasis).
In Western C, Waynflete is looking for another high seed in the tournament. Friday, the Flyers improved to 11-3 with a 57-37 home win over Hyde. Senior Morgan Woodhouse had 26 points and 12 rebounds. She drew within 22 points of the 1,000 mark for her career. Junior Lydia Stegemann added 11 points.
Waynflete was fourth as of Monday in the Heals, but could wind up just about anywhere when the regular season ends. The Flyers looked to help their cause Tuesday when they hosted Western B Wells. Friday, Waynflete wraps up the regular year at home versus Greater Portland Christian School.
On the ice, Cheverus, Deering and Portland are all still in the thick of the playoff hunt.
The Bulldogs are sixth in the latest Western A Heals after winning, 4-1, at Yarmouth (junior Eddie Apon had a hat trick) and, 4-3, (in overtime) over visiting Kennebunk (on sophomore Sam Perdomo's game winner) to improve to 7-6. Portland's captured five of its last six. It went to Scarborough Wednesday and hosts Noble Saturday.
The Rams are 6-4-3 and are in the seventh spot after going 2-1 last week, falling, 4-1, to visiting Edward Little, before triumphing 4-0 at Marshwood and 4-3 at Fryeburg/Lake Region. Connor Petropoulos scored twice against the Hawks and had the game-winner at Fryeburg. Deering hosts Windham Thursday and goes to Bonny Eagle Saturday.
The Stags are 8-5, but currently reside in 11th place in Western A. Last week, Cheverus went 3-1, winning, 4-2, at Bonny Eagle (Sean Oddy scored twice), 12-1 at Sanford and, 6-0, over visiting Bonny Eagle before losing 4-0 to visiting Falmouth Saturday. The Stags host Brunswick Thursday and welcome Gorham Saturday.
The girls' hockey regular season is complete and one local team is looking very strong in its quest for playoff glory.
The Cheverus Stags downed St. Dom's (4-1), Cape Elizabeth (6-0) and Gorham (5-0) to cap an 18-0 regular season which saw the Stags outscore the opposition 112-10. Cheverus earned the top seed for the West Region playoffs and will host a yet-to-be-determined foe in the semifinals Friday or Saturday. The regional final is at the Portland Ice Arena on Wednesday of next week. The state final is Saturday, Feb. 13 in Lewiston.
Portland, which ended the season on a 10-game winless skid, wound up 5-11-2 after losses last week to Biddeford (7-4), Scarborough (9-3), Yarmouth (8-6) and a 3-3 tie at Cape Elizabeth. The Bulldogs were seventh in the final standings.
Deering wound up 4-12-2 and eighth in the region after a 5-1 win over Cape Elizabeth and losses to York and Scarborough last week.
The indoor track regular season ended Saturday as the city squads squared off against each other, as well as South Portland.
In the boys' meet, Deering capped yet another stellar regular season by scoring 118 points to down South Portland (69), Cheverus (66) and Portland (39).
The Rams were also first on the girls' side with 147 points, defeating Cheverus (96), South Portland (93), Portland (50) and McAuley (35).
The SMAA championship meet is Saturday at the Portland Expo. The boys are scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. The girls start at 3:30 p.m.
The state championships are Monday, Feb. 15. Class A competes at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham. The Class B meet is at Bates College in Lewiston.
While Cheverus, Deering and McAuley's swim teams took part at the Southwesterns last weekend (please see story), Portland wrapped up its regular season by hosting Biddeford and Sanford. The Bulldogs boys defeated the Redskins, 139-82, and downed the Tigers, 139-90, while the girls fell, 144-52 to Sanford and 85-52 to Biddeford. Portland competes in the south division Southwesterns Friday (boys) and Saturday (girls).
The swimming state championships are Feb. 13 (Class B boys in Orono), 15 (A boys at Bowdoin College in Brunswick and B girls in Orono) and 16 (A girls at Bowdoin).
On the slopes, Cheverus competed against Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth, Freeport and Gorham in a recent slalom. The Stags were fifth among the boys and third on the girls' side. Emily Machesney was runner-up individually in the girls' meet, with a two-run combined time of 1 minute, 31.60 seconds.
On the Nordic side, Waynflete took part in Saturday's Sassi Memorial 5K freestyle at Black Mountain. The Flyers were 15th in the boys' competition (Nate Niles was ninth individually, 13 minutes, 3.4 seconds) and 16th on the girls' side.
Waynflete will compete in the Western Maine Nordic championships this week. The skate race is Wednesday at Pineland. The classic race is Saturday at Starks Hill.
The state championships for skiing are the week of Feb. 15.
Deering High will host the Western A wrestling regionals Saturday beginning at 9 a.m. Cheverus, Deering and Portland will all take part. The state championship meet is Saturday, Feb. 13 at Noble High School.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com