Portland’s bench exults during the Bulldogs’ 55-32 win over Deering Thursday night at the Expo. Portland led almost all the way en route to its 14th consecutive win over the Rams.
Brianna Soukup / Portland Press Herald photos.
More photos below.
D- 5 13 6 8- 32
P- 16 17 5 17- 55
D- Onek 4-2-11, Germain 3-1-8, Randall 1-4-6, Biacho 1-0-3, Anda 1-0-2, Semuhoza 0-2-2
P- Chadbourne 4-2-12, Alado 4-0-10, Fonseca 3-3-9, Bellew 2-3-7, Gaddas 2-2-7, Mahan 2-0-6, Thea 1-2-4
D (3) Biacho, Germain, Onek 1
P (7) Alado, Chadbourne, Mahan 2, Gaddas 1
PORTLAND—The stage was set Thursday evening at the Portland Exposition Building for Deering’s boys’ basketball team to finally break through against rival/nemesis Portland.
But in the matter of a few minutes and after a 16-0 Bulldogs’ run, the Rams’ hopes of ending their long skid in the series went by the wayside.
Deering scored the first two points in the teams’ countable showdown at the Red Claws Christmas Showcase, but Portland, bolstered by the energy of senior Lewis Gaddas and sharpshooting of senior Jeremiah Alado, built a 16-2 advantage to crush the Rams’ hopes.
The Bulldogs turned a 16-5 lead after one quarter into a 33-18 halftime advantage, as Alado, Gaddas and junior Simon Chadbourne all had seven points.
Portland, which blew a big halftime lead in a loss at Bangor in its most recent outing, started the second half sluggishly, going nearly five minutes without scoring, but Deering managed just two points of its own in that span and never drew closer than a dozen as the Bulldogs went on to a 55-32 victory.
Portland, which got 12 points from Chadbourne and 10 from Alado, didn’t just beat the Rams for the 14th successive time, it improved to 5-1 on the season and in the process, dropped Deering to 4-1.
“I thought we played a very strong half, two good quarters,” said longtime Bulldogs coach Joe Russo. “We did that against Bangor too, but we didn’t finish strong. Tonight, the same thing happened, but we got loose balls and second chances. The good thing is we won. Deering is a very good team and they’ll be worth a lot of Heal Points. And we can still get better.”
Since Deering put the scissors away after cutting down the nets and winning the 2012 Class A state title, Portland has dominated the rivalry and has been the state’s flagship program.
Last year, the Bulldogs twice handled their rival, 53-34 at the Expo and 83-62 on Stevens Avenue.
Deering came into this season optimistic and early returns have been very positive, as the Rams defeated visiting South Portland (53-40), visiting Sanford (62-57), host Lewiston (80-57) and host Gorham (61-58).
Portland, which graduated standouts Griffin Foley (now at St. Joseph’s College) and reigning Mister Maine Basketball Terion Moss (now playing at the University of Maine), won its first four games: 80-48 at Noble, 59-46 over visiting Windham, 56-53 (in overtime) at Oxford Hills and 69-41 at Massabesic. Friday, the Bulldogs let a 15-point halftime lead slip away and lost at Bangor, 64-58.
Thursday, in front of a big crowd, the Rams were hoping to beat the Bulldogs for the first time since a 37-30 home victory Feb. 7, 2013 and for the first time at the Expo since Feb. 3, 2006 (61-58), but Portland went out and made it 14 straight in the rivalry and avoided successive losses for the 75th straight game.
It took nearly two minutes for the scoring ice to be broken as Deering junior Mike Randall did the honors with two free throws, but that proved to be the visitors’ highwater mark.
With 4:41 to play in the opening stanza, Alado made a layup after a steal to tie it and with 3:49 left, two Gaddas free throws put the Bulldogs ahead to stay.
Gaddas followed with a leaner, Alado drove for a layup, Chadbourne set up senior Trey Bellew for a layup and three-point play (as Bellew was fouled on the shot and hit the free throw), Alado sank a 3 and after a Gaddas block at one end, Chadbourne set up senior Pedro Fonseca for a layup and a commanding 16-2 advantage.
With 26.9 seconds on the clock, junior Darryl Germain sank a 3-point to end Deering’s 5-minute, 37-second drought and Portland’s 16-0 run, but that only pulled the Rams within 11, 16-5, after eight minutes.
“We couldn’t score,” said Deering coach Todd Wing. “They pressured us and rushed us and we fell right into it. They got us out of our rhythm.”
The Bulldogs didn’t let up when the second quarter began, as Chadbourne sank a 3-pointer from the corner, Chadbourne hit a fadeaway jumper and Fonseca scored on a putback for a 23-5 lead.
Randall scored on a bank shot, but Chadbourne answered by driving for a layup.
Junior Loki Anda made a leaner, but Gaddas banked home a 3 for a 28-9 advantage.
Junior Manny Biacho made a 3 for the Rams, but junior Stillman Mahan hit a 3-ball for the hosts.
After Randall set up senior standout Ben Onek for his first points, a layup, Germain converted a leaner to cut the deficit to 15, but Fonseca made a bank shot before a pair of Randall free throws cut Portland’s lead to 33-18 at halftime.
In the first half, the Bulldogs’ balanced attack (six different players scored) and their smothering defense was the difference.
Portland struggled for almost the entire third period, but Deering couldn’t take advantage.
Fifty-eight seconds in, Germain drove for a layup, but the Rams couldn’t chip away any further and with 3:01 on the clock, Bellew made two free throws to end a 5:33 drought and restore the 15-point lead.
After Germain made a foul shot, Onek hit a leaner to cut Deering’s deficit to 12, but Alado calmly responded with a 3 and while Onek made one free throw, the Bulldogs took a 38-24 advantage to the final stanza.
Where they ended all doubt.
Chadbourne got things stared by setting up junior Ethan Thea for a layup. Fonseca added a free throw, but Onek countered with a 3, then he made a free throw with 3:49 to go, pulling the Rams within 41-28.
Gaddas fed Bellew for a layup, Fonseca hit two free throws and with 2:25 remaining, Chadbourne made two more foul shots to extend the lead to 47-28.
Onek answered with a layup, but Chadbourne made a 3, Thea sank two foul shots and a long 3 from Mahan ended Portland’s scoring.
With 17.1 seconds on the clock. sophomore Mpora Semuhoza made two free throws to account for the 55-32 final score.
“It’s a rivalry game and we didn’t want to let them beat us,” Fonseca said. “A fast start and the lead gave us a chance to slow things down. This gives us more confidence. We lost (to Bangor) and we learned we have to keep the pedal on the gas. I feel good about the team. We had Terion for four years and now he’s gone, but we’ve done a good job of adapting.”
“All week, we had competitive practices and Coach told us what we could do and what we couldn’t do,” Gaddas said. “We brought a lot of emotion. It was a good start, but last game, we had the same start and it didn’t go well in the second half. This game, we knew we had to keep fighting. We see each other every day and we compete, so it’s fun playing against your friends. We don’t want to lose to them.”
Chadbourne paced a balanced attack with 12 points. He also had three assists, three rebounds and three steals.
Alado had 10 points and five boards and helped spearhead the Bulldogs’ frustration of Onek.
“We played team defense,” Fonseca said. “We forced (Onek) to his weakest side, his right, and we helped and played team defense.”
“The game plan on Onek was to play good team defense because he likes to penetrate to the basket,” Gaddas said. “We tried to step in and take charges.”
“I tried to put someone athletic on (Onek),” added Russo. “Jeremiah is a good defensive player and so is Pedro. If he went down low, Trey was there. We have guys who can defend. We worked on some defensive stuff and some of their tendencies. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.”
Fonseca ran the offense and had nine points and five rebounds.
“Pedro did a good job running the team in the first half,” said Russo. “He hasn’t played that role for four years. When he can play four quarters, I think we’ll be OK.”
Bellew added seven points (four assists and three blocks) and Gaddas had seven (as well as seven boards and three steals).
“Lewis brings the fire to the team,” Fonseca said. “He speaks up and gets us hyped.”
“Lewis had a great game for us,” Russo said. “He did little things for us and he keyed our movement.”
Mahan finished with six points and Thea added four.
“Everybody chipped in and contributed,” Russo said. “It’s a different team this year. We have seniors, but not much experience. Trey and Pedro were role players and it’s nice seeing them develop. They’re hungry and working hard to develop.”
Portland won the battle of the glass, 35-26, only turned the ball over 11 times and made 12 of 16 free throws.
For Deering, Onek wound up with 11 points, but it wasn’t easy. Onek also had six rebounds.
Germain added eight points, Randall had six (to go with eight rebounds), Biacho three and Anda (six rebounds) and Semuhoza two apiece.
The Rams committed 16 turnovers and made just 9 of 16 foul shots.
Deering is at Bonny Eagle Wednesday, then returns home Friday of next week to meet Oxford Hills.
“One game doesn’t determine the season,” Wing said. “Tonight was coaching. I’ve just got to coach better.”
Portland is back in action Wednesday at Gorham, then the Bulldogs host defending Class AA champion Edward Little Friday of next week.
“Like Coach says, it’s not a race, it’s a marathon,” Gaddas said. “We want to get better each game. We have new players. Once we get them going, we’ll be strong going into playoffs.”
“We’ll enjoy the win because it helps with Heal Points, but we know we’ll see (Deering) again,” said Russo. “We have to work on playing better in the second half.”
Portland junior Ethan Thea goes up for a shot as Deering juniors Gabe M’Bambi (25) and Jess Kamalandua defend.
Portland senior Pedro Fonseca drives on Deering senior Ben Onek.
Portland senior Jeremiah Alado drives on Deering junior Mike Randall, left, and senior Franco Lindos.
Portland senior Pedro Fonseca shoots over Deering junior Darryl Germain.
Portland senior Pedro Fonseca and Deering senior Ben Onek go all out for a loose ball.
Deering coach Todd Wing looks on in dismay during his team’s 14th consecutive loss to Portland.
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