Portland senior Manny Yugu (12) is congratulated by classmate Lino Ben after scoring two of his game-high 23 points in Friday’s 67-45 home win over Cheverus.
Mike Strout photos.
More photos below.
C- 10 9 11 15- 45
P- 13 20 17 17- 67
C- Duchaine 5-0-12, Shibles 3-3-9, Burke 2-0-6, Foster 2-2-6, Stovall 2-0-4, Oryem 0-3-3, Joyce 1-0-2, Sanborn 0-2-2, Ephron 0-1-1
P- Yugu 9-2-23, Bellew 4-2-11, Foley 3-2-8, Moss 3-1-8, Clarke 2-0-6, Fisher 2-0-4, Fonseca 2-0-4, Chadbourne 1-0-3
C (4) Burke, Duchaine 2
P (8) Yugu 3, Clarke 2, Bellew, Chadbourne, Moss 1
PORTLAND—Portland senior Manny Yugu is well known for doing a little of everything when he’s on the floor, but scoring isn’t usually his forte.
Friday evening, on the Bulldogs’ Senior Night at the Portland Exposition Building, it was a different story, as Yugu showed he can put the ball in the basket with abandon, leading his team to yet another victory in the process.
Yugu made a layup after a steal to open the scoring and after Portland clung to a 13-10 lead over visiting Cheverus after one quarter, the Bulldogs, playing seniors exclusively in the first 16 minutes, seized control, grabbing a 33-19 halftime advantage, thanks to a dazzling 20 points from Yugu.
Portland pushed its advantage to 50-30 after three quarters and went on to 67-45 triumph.
Yugu led all scorers with a career-high 23 points, the Bulldogs increased their win streak to four games, improved to 15-1 on the season and in the process, dropped the Stags to 6-9.
“Senior Night means so much, to see how we’ve come together year after year,” Yugu said. “Playing in front of family and friends means more than anything. This is a great program.”
While Cheverus has been up and down this season, Portland continues to chug along as the state’s premier team.
The Bulldogs started with victories over visiting Noble (101-43), host Windham (61-44), visiting Oxford Hills (66-50) and visiting Massabesic (86-43). After downing visiting Deering (53-34), Portland beat visiting Gorham (73-52), held on for a 78-70 victory at Edward Little, then rolled at Sanford (82-54). After downing visiting South Portland in a state game rematch, 62-53, the Bulldogs handled host Lewiston (80-48) and Cheverus (59-37). After Portland was upset, 69-66, at Scarborough, it responded with a 78-39 home win over Thornton Academy, a 77-47 home victory over Bangor and a 64-27 win at Bonny Eagle.
The Stags, meanwhile, opened with losses to visiting Windham (56-51) and at South Portland (69-59) and Edward Little (64-54). After downing host Bonny Eagle (47-42), visiting Lewiston (50-26) and visiting Bangor (62-54), Cheverus dropped close decisions at Thornton Academy (45-44) and Scarborough (55-50), then fell at Gorham, 65-53. The Stags edged visiting Deering, 53-52, then lost at Sanford (56-52) and at home to Portland (59-37). Cheverus then beat visiting Massabesic (48-40) and Noble (71-21),
Entering play Friday, Portland held a 94-90 all-time lead in the series, thanks to five straight wins, including a 22-point road victory Jan. 19, as junior Trey Bellew led the Bulldogs with 16 points and junior Simon Chadbourne added 14.
This time around, following a Senior Night ceremony for both teams and after a slow start, Portland controlled play most of the way.
A steal and layup from Yugu got things started 79 seconds in. After senior Will Shibles made a free throw for Cheverus, Yugu scored on a putback, but Shibles converted an old-fashioned three-point play (leaner, foul, free throw) to tie it.
With 3:37 to go in the opening stanza, Bulldogs senior standout Terion Moss scored his first point, from the foul line and on the ensuing inbounds pass, Yugu stole the ball and made another layup.
The Stags drew even when junior Owen Burke got a 3-pointer to rattle home and junior Akera Oryem added a free throw, but Portland senior Quinn Clarke made a 3-pointer from the corner for a 10-8 lead.
After Oryem tied the score with two foul shots, Clarke took a pass from senior Griffin Foley and at the horn got his 3-pointer to roll around the rim, hit the backboard and drop for a 13-10 advantage after eight minutes.
The Bulldogs never looked back and opened it up from there.
Yugu continued his strong play early in the second period, converting a three-point play 45 seconds in. Moss then scored his first field goal, a bank shot, but junior Patrick Foster hit a pullup jumper for the Stags, then took a pass from Shibles on the fastbreak and made a layup to cut the deficit to 18-14 with 3:41 to play in the half.
Portland wasn’t fazed and got the next seven points, as Foley set up senior Ben Fisher for a layup, Yugu made the first of two free throws and when he missed the second, Fisher got the rebound and put it home, which was followed by Moss setting up Yugu for a layup and a 25-14 lead.
A long 3 from Cheverus junior Matt Duchaine stemmed the tide, but Yugu countered by banking home a 3-pointer.
After Foster hit two foul shots for the visitors, Yugu capped his sensational half with a 3, then made a layup after a steal just before the horn to extend the lead to 33-19.
In the first half, Yugu not only outscored the Stags, 20-19, he also had five rebounds and four steals.
“(The seniors) agreed we were all going out to come out and play basketball,” Yugu said. “I joked with the guys I was going to shoot a lot and my shots went in, so I kept shooting.”
“(Manny’s) stats were impressive, but the way he was competing was really impressive,” said Portland coach Joe Russo. “Everything we work on, he was doing. It was a great half for him.”
Senior Tobias Ephron opened the third quarter with a free throw for Cheverus, but Foley scored on a putback, sank two free throws, then took a pass on the fastbreak from Yugu and made a layup for a 39-20 lead.
After Duchaine answered with a layup, Duchaine buried a 3, but Bellew scored on a putback for the Bulldogs and after Burke sank a 3, Bellew banked home a hook shot, Moss scored on a putback and Foley made a layup after a steal.
Cheverus got a bank shot from sophomore Luke Stovall, but Moss buried a corner 3-pointer that made it 50-30 Portland heading for the fourth quarter.
There, the Bulldogs put the finishing touches on their victory.
After Duchaine made a layup, Yugu made a 3-pointer for his first points of the second half and his final points of the contest. Bellew added a free throw before Shibles countered with a leaner.
After a Bellew putback, Shibles made a free throw, then hit a leaner and Duchaine added a jump shot to cut the deficit to 18, but Chadbourne came into the game and hit a 3 to restore order.
After Cheverus junior Richard Joyce made a leaner, Bulldogs junior Pedro Fonseca took a feed from senior Lino Ben and made a layup. Freshman Nolan Sanborn made two free throws for the visitors, but Bellew sank a 3 and after a steal, Fonseca made a layup for Portland’s final points.
With 28.6 seconds to go, Stags sophomore Luke Stovall made a layup and that brought the curtain down on the Bulldogs’ 67-45 victory.
“We were trying to do too much, so we got into gaps and seams,” said Yugu. “That’s basically our offense. We’re working on execution. Even though we won tonight, it was clear we weren’t running our offense well. We have talent and we have chemistry.”
“It’s tough to see (the seniors) go, but they played well,” Russo said. “Sometimes when you play guys who don’t play a lot, the game gets tight, but these guys kept the lead and shared the ball. ‘Fish,’ Lino and Quinn made it a special night. I wanted them to play, but I wanted to take care of the scoreboard. They did and I stuck with them. It was a slow process tonight. Our press was more about containing tonight. They did a nice job with it.”
Yugu had a career game, scoring 23 points, while also producing seven rebounds and four steals.
“Manny killed us in the first half,” said Cheverus coach Ryan Soucie. “He made shots, he got to the paint and the free throw line. Good for him on his Senior Night.”
Bellew saw limited minutes, but still finished in double figures with 11 points. Foley had eight points, to go with four assists, four rebounds and two steals. Moss had a relative quiet game with eight points, but he contributed eight rebounds and four steals.
“It doesn’t matter if Terion scores or not,” Yugu said. “We want him to shoot and he wants the same thing for us.”
Clarke added six points, Fisher and Fonseca had four apiece and Chadbourne finished with three.
Portland had a 33-27 rebounding advantage, only committed 12 turnovers and made 7 of 13 free throws.
Cheverus was paced by 12 points from Duchaine. Shibles added nine, Burke and Foster had six apiece, Stovall four, Oryem three, Joyce and Sanborn two each and Ephron one.
The Stags made 11 of 17 free throws and turned the ball over 23 times.
“We’ve done a good job holding (Terion) in check, for what that’s worth, but they’re a lot more than him,” Soucie said. “We’re still young. We make mental errors time and time again. We talk about it, but they continue to happen. We’ll continue to emphasize them and try to clean them up.”
The regular season is scheduled to come to an end Thursday and each team has tests remaining.
Cheverus (ranked seventh in the Class AA North Heal Points standings) hosts Oxford Hills in a makeup game Monday, travels to Deering Tuesday, then closes the regular season at home versus South Portland Thursday.
“We still have goals and just because we lost tonight doesn’t mean we’ll stop focusing on that,” Soucie said. “We have a ton of Heal Points on the board. We’ve played well at home. We’re 5-2 at home and 1-7 on the road. We hope that pays off next week. We have at least two more weeks left and we hope a little bit more.”
Portland will be the top seed in the region again and meets two more big rivals to close out the schedule. After going to South Portland Tuesday, the Bulldogs finish at Deering Thursday.
“We’re ready for the spotlight,” Yugu said. “The pressure of a three-peat creeps in a little. We’re try to take it one game at a time.”
“I like our schedule,” Russo said. “The kids like it, the fans like it. We’re going to have to execute in the halfcourt better. We do a lot of good things 94 feet, but when it becomes a halfcourt game, we have to improve.”
Portland senior Quinn Clarke grabs a rebound in traffic.
Portland senior Griffin Foley shoots over Cheverus junior Matt Duchaine.
Cheverus junior Akera Oryem drives on Portland senior Terion Moss.
Cheverus senior Tobias Ephron shoots over Portland seniors Ben Fisher, left, and Terion Moss.
Cheverus senior Will Shibles floats and shoots over Portland junior Pedro Fonseca.
Portland senior Manny Yugu lines up a 3-pointer as Cheverus junior Matt Duchaine defends.
Portland 47 @ Cheverus 43
@ Portland 69 Cheverus 46
@ Portland 72 Cheverus 42
Portland 59 @ Cheverus 48
Portland 57 @ Cheverus 45
Cheverus 55 @ Portland 44
@ Portland 55 Cheverus 46
Portland 64 @ Cheverus 53
@ Cheverus 63 Portland 35
Cheverus 58 @ Portland 41
@ Cheverus 59 Portland 44
Cheverus 50 @ Portland 33
@ Cheverus 68 Portland 62
@ Portland 37 Cheverus 31
Western A semifinals
Cheverus 63 Portland 49
Cheverus 65 @ Portland 59
Portland 69 @ Cheverus 63
Western A Final
Portland 62 Cheverus 44
@ Cheverus 60 Portland 53
Cheverus 64 @ Portland 58
Western A semifinals
Portland 55 Cheverus 44
Cheverus 43 @ Portland 41
Cheverus 52 Portland 50 (OT) (@ SMCC)
Western A Final
Portland 68 Cheverus 52