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Portland senior Terion Moss floats over Deering seniors Ricky Despacho, left, and Junior Butera for two of his game-high 18 points in Thursday’s 53-34 home win, the Bulldogs’ 12th straight over the Rams.
Mike Strout photos.
More photos below.
D- 8 11 4 11- 34
P- 12 13 17 11- 53
D- Onek 5-3-15, Germain 3-0-6, Ntihinda 2-0-4, Delano 1-0-3, Despacho 1-0-2, Randall 1-0-2, Vail 1-0-2
P- Moss 6-3-18, Chadbourne 4-0-12, Foley 4-0-8, Bellew 2-1-5, Fonseca 2-0-4, Yugu 2-0-4, Ben 1-0-2
D (3) Onek 2, Delano 1
P (7) Chadbourne 4, Moss 3
PORTLAND—It might take some time, but ultimately the Portland boys’ basketball team is going to roar past everybody.
Rival Deering played the familiar victim’s role Thursday evening in a countable contest played against the backdrop of the Red Claws Christmas Showcase tournament at the Portland Exposition Building.
Unlike in many recent meetings, the Rams hung tough in the first half, only trailing by four points, 12-8, after one quarter and by six, 25-19, when junior standout Ben Onek sank a long 3-pointer just before the second period horn.
The Bulldogs then came out and ended all doubt in the third quarter, going on a 17-4 run, as senior standout Terion Moss got things started with a long 3, junior reserve sharpshooter Simon Chadbourne buried a 3 and senior Griffin Foley hit a couple key baskets to help open up a 42-23 advantage.
In the fourth period, Deering couldn’t make a run and Portland pulled away to prevail, 53-34.
The Bulldogs got 18 points from Moss and 12 from Chadbourne as they beat the Rams for the 12th straight time, handed them their first loss in four outings and in the process, improved to 5-0 on the season.
“It never gets old to beat Deering,” said Moss. “I think the first part of the game, we didn’t really make our shots. Then we played team basketball and we made shots.”
While the Portland program has had no peer the past four seasons, Deering hasn’t lagged far behind. The Rams just haven’t been able to solve their rivals.
Entering play Thursday, the Bulldogs led the overall series, 147-78, and had won 11 straight over Deering, including both encounters a year ago (see sidebar, below): 63-44 at home and 67-47 at the Rams.
Portland hasn’t missed a beat so far this winter, opening with impressive victories over visiting Noble (101-43), host Windham (61-44), visiting Oxford Hills (66-50) and visiting Massabesic (86-43).
Deering started with a 71-43 victory at Sanford, then downed visiting Lewiston (73-42) and Gorham (66-53).
Thursday, the Rams were hoping to beat the Bulldogs for the first time since a 37-30 home decision Feb. 7, 2013 and for the first time at the Expo since Feb. 3, 2006 (61-58), but Portland triumphed again.
Both teams started slowly before the Bulldogs opened a lead after one quarter.
Deering scored first, 30 seconds in, when sophomore Darryl Germain hit a jumper.
Portland finally broke the ice with 4:50 remaining in the frame on a floater from Foley, but Onek countered with a foul shot.
With 3:31 on the clock, Foley set up senior reserve Lino Ben for a layup and the Bulldogs’ first lead.
The Rams went back on top on a 3 from the corner from Onek, but with 2:57 remaining, a long 3 from Moss gave Portland the lead for good.
Moss added two free throws and Chadbourne drained a 3 before an Onek putback pulled Deering back within four, 12-8, after eight minutes.
It was a better start for the Rams than many recent meetings, but the Bulldogs gradually opened it up in the second period.
Chadbourne got things started with a long 3, but Deering senior Ricky Despacho drove for a layup and Onek sank two foul shots. After junior Trey Bellew converted an old-fashioned three-point play (putback, foul, free throw) for Portland, Onek set up junior Paul Ntihinda for a layup to cut the deficit to 18-14 with 5:05 to go in the half.
A putback from junior Pedro Fonseca pushed Portland’s lead back to six, but sophomore Michael Randall countered with a layup. When Chadbourne hit his third 3 and senior Manny Yugu made a layup after a steal from senior Quinn Clarke, it looked like the Bulldogs would take all the momentum to the half, but just before the horn, Onek drained a long 3 to make it 25-19.
In the first half, Onek led all scorers with 11 points and Chadbourne led Portland with nine.
In the third period, the Bulldogs finally pulled away.
A long 3 from Moss got things started. Fonseca then set up Bellew for a layup and after a steal, Moss made a layup for a 32-19 lead with 5:23 remaining in the frame, forcing Deering coach Todd Wing to call timeout.
It didn’t help, as after Onek scored on a putback, Chadbourne sank a 3 from the corner and Moss hit a jumper for a 37-21 advantage with 2:25 on the clock, necessitating another timeout.
That didn’t do much good either, as Foley made a layup after a steal and after Moss hit a foul shot and Germain countered with a runner, Moss, the football team’s quarterback, hit Foley, a wide receiver in the fall, for a touchdown pass and a layup to make it 42-23 Bulldogs heading for the final stanza.
There, Deering never made a serious run.
After Germain started the fourth period with a jumper, Foley banked home a leaner and Moss added a 3-pointer to make it 47-25.
Onek made a floater for the Rams, but Foley set up Moss for a layup and with 4:10 remaining, Fonseca made a layup for a 51-27 advantage.
Senior Caleb Delano countered with a 3 for Deering, but Yugu made a jumper.
Down the stretch, senior Blaize Vail scored on a putback and Nthinda made a jumper, but it was too little, too late and Portland went on to a 53-34 victory.
“It takes awhile for us to get going, but we’re a second half team and we usually get it together,” Chadbourne said. “It feels good to beat Deering. Normal. We don’t want to lose to them.”
“When we decide to play as a team, we can turn the game around quickly,” Russo said. “When we play team defense, we’re tough to score on.”
Moss paced the victory with 18 points. He also had five rebounds and three steals.
Chadbourne added 12 points (all on 3s) and had a pair of steals and two rebounds.
“I do whatever Coach tells me to do,” Chadbourne said. “If I need to get rebounds or play defense, I’ll do that. It felt good to help out. Making 3s is my specialty. Hitting that first shot makes me feel good the whole game and gives me more confidence.”
“Simon did really well,” Moss said. “He never misses in practice. He’s always in the gym.”
“Simon is an offensive weapon that we’re happy to have,” Russo added. “He’s working on the rest of his game. When he does that, he’ll be quite the player. His shooting is such an asset to us. Teams have to cover him and that helps out the rest of the guys. He’s doing exactly what we want.”
Foley finished with eight points, Bellew had five (to go with five blocked shots and three rebounds), Fonseca (three rebounds, three assists) and Yugu (five boards) four apiece and Ben two.
“I was really pleased with our bench tonight,” Russo said. “Lino came off and did a nice job. Quinn Clarke played awesome defense. Early in the game, I had four starters out. We have confidence in those guys. They work hard in practice every day.”
In addition to his offense, Fonseca helped slow Onek.
“We knew Onek got stronger, but Pedro played really good defense on him,” Moss said.
“We played great team defense,” Russo said. “We held a quality team to 34 points. They have one of the best players in the state. We worked on a couple different defenses on him. Pedro did a yeoman’s job on him. He gave up six or seven inches, but he played like he was 6-5 tonight on the defensive end.”
Portland overcame 13 turnovers, had nine steals and hit 4 of 5 free throws.
Deering was led by Onek, who had 15 points and 10 rebounds. Germain added six points, Nthinida four, Delano three and Despacho, Randall and Vail two apiece.
The Rams had a 26-24 edge on the glass, but committed 16 turnovers and made just 3 of 7 foul shots.
“That’s what they do, they put together a full, 32-minute game,” Wing said, of Portland. “That’s what we expected them to do. Our inexperience and lack of executing put us in a hole. I don’t believe in moral victories. Holding them to 53 points wasn’t terrible. We just didn’t talk enough on defense. We allowed their shooters to shoot uncontested. It’s pick your poison. Terion can penetrate and (Simon) is in the corner. The minute you let down, they make you pay. We didn’t play very well collectively. We have to do a better job. Teams will try to take Ben away. Guys have to make better decisions and stay in the offense.”
The teams meet for a second time in the regular season finale, Feb. 8, at Deering. Expect both squads to be dramatically improved by then.
The Rams look to bounce back Saturday when they face Bangor at the Augusta Civic Center. Deering is home Tuesday of next week against Bonny Eagle, then faces a pair of tough road tests, going to Oxford Hills and two-time defending Class AA South champion South Portland.
“This tells me we’re not there yet,” Wing said. “Four games in, we’ve been tested and we’ll build on this.”
Portland hopes to stay undefeated when it rings in the new year Tuesday at home versus Gorham. The Bulldogs then travel to Edward Little Jan. 5.
“I think things are going really well,” Moss said. “If we keep playing as a team, hopefully we can make it back to the state championship.”
“We hope we can just keep it going,” Russo said. “We aren’t as fluid as we need to be on offense. Our team chemistry has to be tweaked a little bit. We have tough games ahead of us. I like this group. The challenge will be to avoid being lackadaisical because we’re winning. It’s going to be fun to watch if we keep progressing.”
Portland junior Pedro Fonseca lines up a shot. Fonseca’s offense wasn’t the story. His defense on Deering senior standout Ben Onek helped the Bulldogs to the win.
Portland senior Griffin Foley scores over Deering senior Caleb Delano.
Deering junior Ben Onek scores two of his team-high 15 points.
Deering sophomore Darryl Germain shoots over Portland junior Simon Chadbourne.
Deering senior Ricky Despacho goes airborne over Portland senior Terion Moss.
Deering senior Caleb Delano shoots over Portland junior Trey Bellew, left, and senior Quinn Clarke.
Portland junior Simon Chadbourne dribbles as Deering sophomore Max Morrione defends. Chadbourne hit four 3-pointers in the victory.
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