Portland’s bench cheers during the Bulldogs’ 74-62 win at South Portland Tuesday night.
Mike Strout photos.
More photos below.
P- 26 17 16 15- 74
SP- 14 19 19 10- 62
P- Moss 11-1-26, Chadbourne 8-0-23, Foley 4-0-10, Fonseca 2-0-5, Ben 1-1-3, Yugu 1-1-3, Bellew 1-0-2, Fisher 1-0-2
SP- Malone 7-1-17, Lewis 7-2-16, Buckley 6-0-14, Hasson 4-2-11, Bijokta 2-0-4
P (13) Chadbourne 7, Moss 3, Foley 2, Fonseca 1
SP (5) Buckley, Malone 2, Hasson 1
SOUTH PORTLAND—To say that longtime Portland boys’ basketball coach Joe Russo had himself a day to remember Tuesday would be an epic understatement.
In the afternoon, Russo was named an inductee to the 2018 Maine Basketball Hall of Fame class.
Tuesday evening, Russo led his two-time defending Class AA state champion Portland Bulldogs into a battle against rival South Portland at Beal Gymnasium and as has so often been the case over the years, he and his charges exited victorious.
In a rematch of the past two Class AA state finals, the teams put on a dizzying show in the first period, as Portland scored the final 12 points to grab a 26-14 lead.
Back came South Portland to lead by a point, but the Bulldogs closed the half on a 15-4 run to take a 43-33 advantage to the break, thanks in large part to 21 points from senior standout Terion Moss and three 3-pointers from junior Simon Chadbourne.
In the third period, the Red Riots drew as close as six points, Portland pushed it back to double digits, then a 3-pointer from senior Riley Hasson pulled South Portland within seven, 59-52, heading for the fourth quarter.
There, the Bulldogs refused to buckle, riding yet another Chadbourne 3, as they pulled away for a 74-62 victory.
Moss led the way with 26 points, Chadbourne added 23 and Portland improved to 16-1 and dropped the Red Riots to 12-5 in the process.
“It was a good crowd and the kids were into it,” Russo said. “It’s fun playing (South Portland). They’re a good program. They give us a challenge. Fortunately for us, we’ve gotten the upper hand. That could change, but we don’t want it to.”
Portland and South Portland have played each other so much in recent years that there aren’t many secrets between the coaches and teams.
As a result, Tuesday’s meeting saw both teams hoping to win, but holding something in reserve if, for the third year in a row, they square off in the Class AA state final.
Based on what they’ve done so far, that’s a distinct possibility.
The Red Riots won their opener, 69-59, over visiting Cheverus, lost at defending Class A champion Greely (66-60), then got on a roll, downing visiting Scarborough (60-46), host Oxford Hills (53-49), host Sanford (82-42), visiting Massabesic (62-33), visiting Deering (64-50) and visiting Windham (72-63). After a 62-53 loss at Portland, South Portland won at Deering, 54-42. After a 76-64 loss at Thornton Academy, the Red Riots responded by beating visiting Noble (67-28) and winning at Falmouth (59-53) and Bonny Eagle (67-43). After a 66-62 overtime home loss to Edward Little, South Portland bounced back Friday with a 68-44 home win over Gorham.
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, 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, a 64-27 win at Bonny Eagle and Friday’s 67-45 home win over Cheverus.
The Bulldogs had won nine of the past 11 meetings (please see sidebar, below) to take a 124-102 all-time edge in the series which dates to the 1909-10 season.
Tuesday, in a thrill-a-minute, back-and-forth affair, Portland prevailed again.
South Portland senior Noah Malone set the tone with a 3-pointer 36 seconds in.
The Bulldogs answered back when first Moss, then senior Griffin Foley hit 3s and after Hasson banked home a shot in traffic, Moss buried an NBA-range 3-pointer for a 9-5 lead.
The fun was just beginning.
After Malone set up senior Connor Buckley for a fastbreak layup, Foley and Buckley traded 3s.
Senior Manny Yugu stole the ball and made a layup for Portland, but Red Riots junior Scott Lewis made a layup and Malone did the same to tie it, 14-14.
The Bulldogs then went on a 12-0 run to end the frame.
It started with a driving, lefthanded layup from Moss.
Moss added a jumper and Chadbourne and junior Pedro Fonseca added 3s.
With 8.5 seconds left, Moss drove for another layup and a 26-14 advantage after eight minutes.
The Red Riots roared back in the second period before Portland opened it back up again.
A driving layup by Buckley nine seconds in snapped the 12-0 run.
After a steal, Hasson was fouled and hit two free throws, Lewis scored on a putback and a layup from Malone cut the deficit to 26-22.
Moss answered with a jumper, but a bank shot from Lewis, two Lewis foul shots and a long 3 from Malone with 3:14 on the clock put South Portland ahead, 29-28.
The lead lasted all of 21 seconds, as Chadbourne countered with a 3.
After Lewis tied the score on a putback, a 3 from Chadbourne with 2:07 to go gave the Bulldogs the lead for good.
After a great move, Moss banked home a shot and after Lewis made a layup for the hosts, Foley set up junior Trey Bellew for a layup. Then, after Bellew blocked a shot, he set up Moss for a layup and as time expired, Moss buried a long 3 to extend the lead to 43-33 at the break.
Moss led all scorers with 21 first half points, while the Red Riots were paced by a dozen points from Lewis and 10 from Malone.
The third period was similar to the second, as South Portland tried to catch Portland, but the defending champions wouldn’t buckle.
A 3 from Chadbourne started the second half, but Lewis fed Malone for a layup, Hasson fed Malone on the fastbreak for a layup and with 6:09 to go, Malone drove for another layup to make it 46-39, but Chadbourne countered with an NBA-range 3.
Malone fed junior Tyree Bijokta for a layup and Buckley banked home a shot to cut the deficit to six, but Moss set up Chadbourne for a fastbreak layup and with 3:36 on the clock, Chadbourne hit a 3 from the corner to make it 54-43.
Lewis countered with a layup, but Yugu set up Foley for a layup to restore the 11-point advantage.
After Hasson drove for a layup, Yugu made a free throw. Bijokta hit a leaner before Yugu set up senior Ben Fisher for a layup. Then, as time expired, a Hasson 3 pulled the Red Riots within seven, 59-52.
South Portland wasn’t able to continue its momentum in the final stanza, however, as the Bulldogs ended all doubt.
Thirty-three seconds in, Moss made a layup while being fouled, then added the free throw for the old-fashioned three-point play for his first points of the second half.
Foley added a left-handed bank shot and after Malone made a foul shot, Chadbourne buried a dagger of a 3 for a 67-53 lead with 5:30 left.
Buckley countered with a 3, but Moss hit a leaner. After Lewis made a layup, Fonseca answered with one of his own for a 71-58 advantage with 2:04 on the clock.
After Hasson hit a leaner and Buckley drove for a layup for the Red Riots’ final points, senior Lino Ben converted a three-point play (an alley-oop layup from Yugu, foul and free throw) to bring the curtain down on Portland’s 74-62 victory.
“Coach made some adjustments and the bench helped a lot,” Chadbourne said. “When they got close, we pulled away. When we play South Portland, it’s exciting.”
“The kids played very well tonight,” Russo said. “South Portland played a pretty game tonight too. They crawled back. This time of year, even though we’re number one, we have to keep getting better.”
Moss had another transcendent game, scoring 26 points while adding nine rebounds and four assists.
Chadbourne finished with 23 points, highlighted by seven 3-pointers, which left him one shy of legend Robert Pillsbury for the program record in a single game. He also had four rebounds.
“Coach put me in the game and I hoped that they’d give me the ball so I can hit my shots,” said Chadbourne. “I try to keep shooting because that’s what they tell me to do.”
“Simon shot super tonight, but it was within the framework of our offense,” said Russo. “It was nice to see his teammates find him. He buried most of them. I need him at the other end of the court as well. Tonight, he showed he could rebound and play defense and that keeps him on the court.”
Foley added 10 points (and three assists), Fonseca had five (to go with four rebounds and three assists), Ben and Yugu (five assists, five rebounds, two steals) three each and Bellew and Fisher two apiece.
Portland hit just 3 of 11 free throws, but made 13 3-pointers and only turned the ball over 12 times.
South Portland put four players in double figures, as Malone had 17 points (and 10 rebounds), Lewis 16 (as well as eight boards and four blocked shots), Buckley 14 (to go with three steals) and Hasson 11 (as well as 11 rebounds, six assists and three steals). Bijokta added four points.
The Red Riots had a 33-31 rebounding advantage, turned the ball over 11 times and made 5 of 11 foul shots.
“(Portland’s) really good, but when they’re making 3s, they become nearly impossible to beat,” said South Portland coach Kevin Millington. ” It’s tough to beat them when they put up over 70 points. They have a lot of weapons and they all hit 3s. I feel like we really battled. I like to think that’s as tough as they’ll play. I was happy with our effort, but we came up short. We were down at the start of the fourth and it was a tough quarter. We just couldn’t get enough stops.”
Each squad has one final regular season test on the road.
South Portland is battling Scarborough for the top seed in Class AA South and a win at Cheverus in the finale Thursday would help.
“It’s still close,” Millington said. “We’ll get some points from Cheverus if we beat them, then we’ll need some help. Even though we’ve had tough losses, I feel like we’re playing well. Riley, Noah and Connor know what the Civic Center floor is like. We like playing there. We’ve only lost once there in double-overtime. We’re as good as anyone in the South and we can compete with anyone in the North. It’ll be a grind. We have to play well.”
Portland will be the top seed in Class AA North yet again. The Bulldogs finish at Deering Thursday.
“We’ll pay attention to Deering next,” Chadbourne said. “They’re a rival. Coach will get us ready for it. Hopefully we get that one, then it’s on to playoffs. I think we’re improving and we can keep improving.”
“It’s nice playing rivalry games like this,” Russo said. “We’ll come right at Deering Thursday.”
Portland senior Manny Yugu steals the ball and runs up the court as South Portland junior Tyree Bijokta gives chase.
Portland senior Terion Moss, who had a game-high 26 points, goes up over South Portland senior Connor Buckley (1) and junior Scott Lewis.
South Portland senior Noah Malone beats Portland junior Trey Bellew on a drive to the basket.
Portland junior Pedro Fonseca fights South Portland senior Connor Buckley for possession.
South Portland junior Scott Lewis shoots over Portland junior Simon Chadbourne.
South Portland senior Riley Hasson defends Portland junior Pedro Fonseca.
@ Portland 62 South Portland 53
@ Portland 45 South Portland 43
@ South Portland 20 Portland 16 (OT)
Portland 79 @ South Portland 49
@ Portland 64 South Portland 42
@ Portland 63 South Portland 47
@ South Portland 52 Portland 42
Western A semifinals
South Portland 49 Portland 41
Portland 61 @ South Portland 57
@ Portland 52 South Portland 48
Western A quarterfinals
South Portland 39 Portland 37
@ Portland 80 South Portland 71 (3 OT)
Portland 59 @ South Portland 54
Western A quarterfinals
Portland 69 South Portland 45
Portland 56 @ South Portland 49
@ Portland 49 South Portland 48
@ South Portland 57 Portland 49
South Portland 56 @ Portland 51
Western A quarterfinals
Portland 72 South Portland 49
@ Portland 65 South Portland 50
@ South Portland 67 Portland 57
Portland 79 @ South Portland 76
@ Portland 53 South Portland 51
Portland 75 @ South Portland 63
@ Portland 87 Portland 60
@ Portland 71 South Portland 53
Portland 78 @ South Portland 58
Western A quarterfinals
Portland 58 South Portland 51
Portland 98 @ South Portland 44
@ Portland 66 South Portland 29
Portland 62 @ South Portland 36
@ Portland 59 South Portland 40
@ Portland 65 South Portland 61
Portland 67 @ South Portland 52