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Portland junior Griffin Foley lines up one of his five 3-pointers during the Bulldogs’ 67-47 win at Deering Friday night. Foley had a game-high 18 points as Portland beat the Rams for the 11th straight time.
Chris Lambert photos.
More photos below.
P- 22 14 16 15- 67
D- 13 13 11 10- 47
P- Foley 6-1-18, Moss 5-4-15, Hardy 5-0-10, Yugu 4-0-9, Bellew 3-2-8, Lyall 2-1-5, Clarke 0-2-2
D- Butera 5-1-11, Onek 4-0-9, Sinclair 1-5-7, Salamone 3-0-6, Chikuta 2-0-4, Despacho 1-2-4, Dutton 2-0-4, Kaserman 0-1-1, Nguany 0-1-1
P (7) Foley 5, Moss, Yugu 1
D (1) Onek 1
PORTLAND—Portland’s boys’ basketball team continues to save it best for the Deering Rams.
Friday evening, in a 76-minute clinic, the defending Class AA state champion Bulldogs excelled at both ends of the floor, led for all but 52 seconds and continued to stymie their ancient rival.
While the Rams came out with an abundance of intensity in front of a partisan crowd, it didn’t take long for Portland to take the air out of their balloon, as junior Griffin Foley drained three 3-pointers to help spell a 22-13 lead after eight minutes.
Deering rose off the deck and cut the deficit to four midway through the second quarter, but the Bulldogs got a pair of late hoops from senior Clay Hardy to retake a double-digit lead, 36-26, at the break.
The Rams got the first basket of the second half, but nine turnovers in the third quarter prevented a serious push and strong play from junior Manny Yugu and sophomore reserves Trey Bellew and Pedro Fonseca helped Portland extend its lead to 52-37.
Deering wasn’t able to rally and down the stretch, the Bulldogs pulled away and went on to a 67-47 victory.
Foley led all scorers with 18 points, Portland forced 23 turnovers and improved to 15-1, beat the Rams for the 11th straight time and dropped Deering to 11-5 in the process.
“I love playing (Deering),” Foley said. “We know all those guys. We always want to beat them.”
Since enjoying a 19-3 victory in the first encounter Dec. 30, 1911, Portland has won the majority of meetings between the ancient city rivals.
The Bulldogs led the overall series, 146-78, entering play Friday (see sidebar, below) and had won the last 10 meetings, including a 63-44 home victory Jan. 17 in a contest which saw Foley produce 20 points and junior Terion Moss add 16, which was more than enough to counter Rams senior Raffaele Salamone’s 10 points and nine rebounds.
That win was part of a nearly flawless season to date for the defending champs.
Portland began its title defense with a 61-54 win at South Portland in a state game rematch, then downed visiting Bonny Eagle (71-45), Oxford Hills (73-52) and Lewiston (73-31). After stumbling at Edward Little (76-70), the Bulldogs won at Noble (87-41) and Bangor (71-32), handled visiting Scarborough (67-38) and prevailed at Sanford (72-41) and Gorham (58-44) before downing visiting Deering and rallying to edge host Cheverus, 47-43 and visiting Thornton Academy, 68-64. Most recently, Portland easily defeated visiting Windham (96-48) and host Massabesic (81-40).
The Rams opened with wins at Windham (62-41) and at home over Noble (79-33), then fell at home to Oxford Hills, 62-54. Deering bounced back and prevailed at Lewiston (66-58), Bangor (65-49, in a game played at the Augusta Civic Center) and Sanford (62-56), before downing visiting Gorham (57-45) and rolling at Cheverus, 67-48. The Rams’ win streak was snapped by visiting Thornton Academy, 56-53, but they responded with a 56-54 home win over South Portland before losing at Portland. After winning at Massabesic (79-50), Deering fell at Oxford Hills (66-53), then downed visiting Cheverus (57-44) and host Bonny Eagle (51-35).
Friday, the Rams were hoping to beat Portland for the first time since a 37-30 home triumph Feb. 7, 2013, but the Bulldogs got the job done once more.
Deering was sloppy early, committing four turnovers in the first two minutes and a half dozen in the first four.
Portland set the tone off the opening tip, as Yugu got the ball and raced in for a layup five seconds in.
Deering’s first points came on a jumper from Salamone, but Foley’s first 3-pointer put the Bulldogs ahead to stay.
Senior Charlie Lyall hit a bank shot off an inbounds set and Yugu made a layup after a steal to extend the advantage to 9-2 before Rams senior Jean Claude Butera stemmed it with a runner.
After Moss made two free throws, senior James Sinclair responded with one for the hosts.
Moss then made a layup after a steal before Sinclair hit a foul shot and Butera made a layup after a steal to cut the deficit to 13-8.
Foley stemmed the tide with a second 3-ball and after Butera made a floater, Foley sank another 3.
“I love big crowds,” Foley said. “I shot one (3-pointer) and made it and shot another one and made it and that’s when I started to feel good.”
With 42.5 seconds to go, Bellew hit a leaner while being fouled and added the free throw for an old-fashioned three-point play.
“I just tried to do what Coach wanted me to do,” Bellew said.
With 2.5 seconds left, junior Ricky Despacho converted a three-point play of his own to pull the Rams within 22-13 after one quarter.
Foley’s nine points led all scorers, while Butera had six for the hosts, who were hindered by eight turnovers.
In the second quarter, Deering drew closer, but Portland ultimately answered.
After Foley started the frame with a 3, Rams sophomore Ben Onek answered with a 3-ball of his own.
After Lyall made a free throw, senior Manny Chikuta sparked a 6-0 Rams’ run with a driving layup, then another layup where he switched hands before finishing. With 4:24 left in the half, Onek’s putback made it 26-22 and forced Bulldogs coach Joe Russo to call timeout.
Portland then responded like champions.
After Lyall made a left-handed hook shot, Moss drove for a layup, then Fonseca set up Moss for another layup and a 32-22 lead.
Deering had another surge, as senior Orey Dutton hit a baseline jumper and Salamone scored on a putback, but with 36.6 seconds to go, Fonseca set up Hardy for a layup and as time expired, Hardy scored on a putback to make it 36-26 Bulldogs at the half.
In the first half, Foley led all scorers with 12 points and Moss added eight. Butera led the Rams with six points.
In the third period, Portland gained some separation.
A jumper by Onek, which hit the rim before dropping, started the second half, but Moss knocked down a 3 and after a Foley steal, Yugu buried a 3 to make it 42-28.
The hosts got a driving layup from Onek, but Foley was fouled by Butera on a breakaway, the foul was ruled intentional and after Foley made one of two free throws, the Bulldogs kept the ball and on the ensuing inbounds set, Foley set up Hardy for a layup and a 15-point advantage.
A three-point play by Sinclair stemmed the tide, but Foley made a breakaway layup (off a long pass by Hardy).
After Salamone made a layup and Sinclair hit two foul shots to cut the deficit to 10, Portland closed the period on a 5-0 run, as Bellew made a free throw, Moss set up Bellew for a layup and Yugu intercepted a pass and went in for a dagger of a layup to make it 52-37 heading for the fourth quarter.
“That was an emotional lift, that steal,” Russo said. “That shows how we play. We play 94 feet. That was vintage this team.”
The game was never in doubt in the fourth quarter.
Layups from Bellew and Moss stretched the lead to 19 points before Deering got a free throw from Despacho and a putback from Dutton to make it 56-40.
After Hardy and Butera traded hoops, Moss sank a pair of free throws.
Butera got a point back at the line, but Foley’s final 3 gave Portland a 20-point lead.
Rams senior Machar Nguany made a free throw and Butera drove for a layup, but Hardy answered with a layup.
After senior Mason Kaserman made a foul shot for Deering’s final point, Bulldogs junior Quinn Clarke hit two free throws to bring the curtain down on the 67-47 victory.
“It’s fun to beat Deering,” Bellew said. “It’s a big rivalry. I think we get more fired up for them. We looked at it as a big game. I think the early lead helped us set the tone. We knew they could come back, but we went out and put them away.”
“(Deering) played with a lot more energy this game,” said Foley. “We kept the mindset to keep scoring and playing good defense and we knew we could wear them out in the third and fourth quarters. We take pride in our conditioning and it showed on the court.”
“We have respect for (Deering), so we’re always ready,” Russo added. “We had a little lull, but they stayed in that zone, so we took the air out of the ball a little bit and we went on a run.”
For the second time this year, Foley led Portland in scoring against Deering with 18 points (15 came on 3-pointers). He also had six steals and three rebounds.
“Griff is a great student-athlete,” Russo said. “He likes it when the lights are bright. He shines when the going gets tough. He’s done that for us the last couple years. He shot great tonight. It was a bad decision by the coaching staff not to go to him more in the second half. We had so much confidence in the other players, but he deserved to get more (play) calls.”
Moss added 15 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals. Hardy had 10 points, Yugu nine (to go with seven boards and five steals), Bellew eight, Lyall five (as well as six rebounds and two blocked shots) and Clarke two. Fonseca didn’t score but had five rebounds and four assists.
“(Pedro and Trey are) only sophomores, but they’re incredible,” Foley said. “It impresses me that they can come off the bench and do what they do.”
“The two sophomores have been great,” Russo said. “I’m happy with those two guys. They’re growing. Trey made a few mistakes, but he goes right back in and does something good.”
The Bulldogs enjoyed a 34-29 rebounding advantage.
“This time of the year, rebounding is paramount,” Russo said. “Manny and Pedro and Clay have been rebounding son-of-a-guns. Manny had seven rebounds from the guard spot and Pedro had five.”
Portland made 10 of 15 free throws and overcame 13 turnovers by forcing 23.
Deering was paced by 11 points from Butera. Onek had nine points, Sinclair seven (to go with eight boards), Salamone six (to go with six rebounds and two blocks), Chikuta, Despacho and Dutton four apiece and Kaserman and Nguany one each.
The Rams hit 10 of 17 foul shots.
“Turnovers hurt us at crucial times,” Deering coach Todd Wing said. “It’s a game of momentum swings. We didn’t capitalize on those swings. Portland was on every loose ball and rebound. We didn’t match their intensity.
“To be quite honest, (the losing streak against the Bulldogs) doesn’t play into our heads at all. We focus on one possession, one game at a time. A play in the third quarter has nothing to do with last year.”
It’s almost tournament time and both squads hope to finish strong and cement as high a seed as possible.
Deering (now third in the Class AA North Heal Points standings) has its home finale Tuesday against Scarborough, then finishes the regular season at South Portland Thursday.
“We’re still in a good spot,” Wing said. “We’ll be tested by Scarborough and South Portland and hopefully we’ll grow as a team.”
Portland (which is closing in on locking up the top seed in Class AA North) welcomes South Portland Monday, then closes at home versus Cheverus Wednesday.
“I don’t think we’re there yet,” Bellew said. “We still need to execute at both ends.”
“Having big games at the end is good preparation for the tournament,” Foley said. “We like to think we haven’t reached our potential yet, but if we keep practicing hard, we can get there. We want to do the best we can. We don’t need to go in number one. We just want to win in the playoffs.”
“We’re getting better every game,” Russo added. “I think it’s good to finish against our rivals. We play Monday and Wednesday, so we won’t have much time to prepare. It’s out of my hands, but we’ll show up and play.”
Portland senior Charlie Lyall stifles Deering senior Raffaele Salamone.
Deering senior Jean Claude Butera takes a charge on Portland junior Manny Yugu.
Deering senior Manny Chikuta weaves through Portland juniors Griffin Foley, left, and Manny Yugu.
Portland junior Terion Moss blows past Deering sophomore Ben Onek and makes a layup.
Portland sophomore Pedro Fonseca drives past Deering senior Orey Dutton.
Portland junior Terion Moss makes a layup as Deering senior Jean Claude Butera defends.
Deering’s student section makes its presence felt.
Portland’s student section cheers the Bulldogs on to victory.
@ Portland 63 Deering 44
Portland 39 @ Deering 35
@ Portland 46 Deering 22
Portland 60 @ Deering 57
@ Portland 71 Deering 47
@ Deering 59 Portland 50
@ Portland 53 Deering 47
Western A quarterfinals
Portland 48 Deering 41
@ Portland 63 Deering 55
Portland 64 @ Deering 49
Portland 63 @ Deering 58
Deering 61 @ Portland 58
Western A Final
Deering 70 Portland 64
@ Portland 54 Deering 46
Portland 55 @ Deering 52
Western A semifinals
Deering 57 Portland 54
Portland 85 @ Deering 46
@ Portland 65 Deering 38