Showdown season upon us; Big games galore on the docket-Portland edition

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If there was ever a week to be a high school sports fan, this would be the week.

There have been or will be seismic battles on the hardwood and ice and those games will go a long way toward determining who will make the playoffs and how high teams will be seeded.

Here’s an overview of all the winter sports action:

Boys’ basketball

There was plenty of advance buzz about Thursday’s Portland at Deering boys’ basketball showdown (see theforecaster.net for game story), but both teams had a big test first on Tuesday.

The Rams matched the 2005-06 Class A state championship team for the program’s best start in 15 years when they improved to 9-0 with a 66-46 win at South Portland Friday. Deering broke open a close game by dominating the fourth quarter, 24-7, and prevailed behind 16 points from Ben Williams, 12 points and 13 rebounds from Anthony Lobor, 10 points and six rebounds from Raffaele Salamone and 25 forced turnovers.

“We picked up momentum and wore them out running up and down,” Salamone said. “We emphasized pushing the ball at halftime and we did that in the second half.”

“The objective is to run really fast and pressure and force turnovers,” Lobor said. “That’s how we win games. That’s how we play. We pushed it a little too fast and turned it off in the second quarter, but we recovered and finished strong.”

“You can’t ask for a better start at the halfway point with a team that hasn’t reached its ceiling,” added Deering coach Todd Wing. “This was a statement win.”

The Rams (ranked first in the Class AA North Heal Points standings) visited 9-0 Thornton Academy Tuesday and after hosting Portland in the first of two meetings this winter between the ancient rivals, they’ll be home against vastly improved Massabesic Saturday and will host dangerous Oxford Hills Monday.

“It’s a big week against quality teams,” Wing said. “It will separate the men from the boys.”

Portland, the two-time defending regional champion, won its first eight games this season, capped by a 73-38 victory at Scarborough last Tuesday (behind 20 points from Amir Moss), but Friday, the Bulldogs were shocked by visiting Gorham, 58-55, despite 19 points from Joe Esposito and 15 from Moss. Portland (8-1 and second in Class AA North) hosted Sanford Tuesday, goes to Deering Thursday, hosts Cheverus Saturday (start time has been changed to 2 p.m.) and Monday, the Bulldogs visit Thornton Academy.

Cheverus was 7-4 and fourth in Class AA North after a 50-42 home loss to Bonny Eagle and a 57-45 victory at Bonny Eagle. Austin Boudreau had 14 points in the setback. In the win over the Scots, which snapped a three-game skid, Jesse Matthews had 15 points and Jack Casale added 13. The Stags are idle until Saturday, when they go to Portland. Monday brings a trip to Lewiston.

In Class C South, Waynflete was 8-1 and sixth in the Heals after extending its win streak to six with recent victories at home over Freeport (63-54), at Fryeburg Academy (46-45) and at home over Greater Portland Christian School (79-30). The Flyers were paced by Abel Alemayo’s 19 points, Yai Deng’s 18 and Will Nelligan’s 14 in the win over the Falcons. Against the Raiders, Milo Belleau had 21 points, including the go-ahead basket late. In the win over the Lions, Nelligan’s 15 points led a balanced attack. Waynflete was at North Yarmouth Academy Tuesday, hosts powerhouse Falmouth in a key interclass showdown Friday (see theforecaster.net for game story) and welcomes Old Orchard Beach Monday.

Girls’ basketball

On the girls’ side, McAuley went into Tuesday’s battle at red-hot South Portland with a 9-0 record, a 26-game regular season win streak and the No. 2 ranking in Class AA South behind Gorham after downing host Marshwood (49-41) and visiting Windham (61-52). Against the Hawks, Jess Willerson led the way with 17 points, while Sarah Clement added 14. Willerson went off for 26 points, Brooke Howard added 11 and Emily Weisser had 10 in the victory over the Eagles. The Lions have a huge home showdown versus Gorham Thursday, welcome Portland Saturday and play host to Massabesic Monday.

In Class AA North, Deering was second to Edward Little at the start of the week after improving to 7-2 with a 51-37 home win over Windham last Tuesday. Tasia Titherington led the way with 18 points. The Rams were home with defending regional champion Thornton Academy Tuesday, visit Noble Thursday, play at Gorham Saturday (see theforecaster.net for game story) and travel to Oxford Hills Monday.

Cheverus saw its skid reach three games with a 55-29 loss at South Portland last Tuesday, then improved to 7-5 and fourth in Class AA North after a 57-35 home win over Bonny Eagle Friday and a 60-57 overtime home victory over Scarborough Saturday. Against the Red Riots, Abby Cavallaro and Kaylin Malmquist both had eight points. In the win over the Scots, Cavallaro had 18 points and Emme Poulin added 10. Cavallaro had 21 more points, while Deirdre Sanborn added 18 against the Red Storm.

Portland fell to 0-9 and eighth in Class AA North with recent losses at Scarborough (55-33) and Gorham (58-30). Reagan Brown had a team-high nine points against the Red Storm and led the way with seven against the Rams. The Bulldogs sought their initial victory Tuesday at Sanford. After hosting South Portland Thursday, Portland visits McAuley Saturday and is home versus Thornton Academy Monday.

In Class C South, Waynflete lost at Freeport (43-42) and at home to Fryeburg Academy (47-24), then improved to 3-6 and 11th with a 64-21 home victory over Greater Portland Christian School. Against the Raiders, Annika Brooks had 10 points. In the win, Brooks was held to two points in the first half as she battled foul trouble, then she erupted for a double-double (14 points, 10 rebounds) in the third period alone. Brooks finished with 16 points and 12 boards and Lydia Giguere added 14 points and 10 steals as the Flyers forced 41 turnovers.

“I knew I had three fouls and I just picked up my game,” Brooks said. “I made sure I was strong on defense and did what had to be done.”

“A fast start was very important today,” Giguere said. “They have a lot of skill. We knew we had to bring our ‘A’ game or it would be very close.”

“We’re not going to shoot lights out, so we have to generate offense from our defense and hopefully get some easy looks at the basket,” added Waynflete first-year coach Mike Jefferds. “We want to be known as a strong defensive team. That’s something the girls have taken a lot of pride in. We work hard every day on defense and it’s starting to come together.”

Waynflete was at NYA Tuesday, plays at Falmouth Friday and goes to Old Orchard Beach Monday.

Boys’ hockey

Cheverus’ boys’ hockey team began 2016 on a high note and snapped a four-game slide with 3-0 victories over host Cape Elizabeth and visiting Bangor. Against the Capers, the game was 0-0 into the middle of the third period before Cam Dube, Jesse Cyr-Brophy and Sean Walsh all scored.

“It’s nice to get back in the win column again,” said Cyr-Brophy. “We should play better from now on.”

“Obviously the result was good,” said Stags coach Dan Lucas. “The best thing about this game was that we skated a whole game for a change. It’s been awhile.”

Against Bangor, Dube, Luke Trickey and Cyr-Brophy had the gaols as the Stags improved to 4-5 and third in the Class A South Heal Points standings. Cheverus is home against Portland/Deering in the “City Cup” Saturday night.

Portland/Deering was 2-6 and ninth in Class A South after Saturday’s 4-1 home win over Lawrence. Ben McCallum scored twice, while Mason Martell and Joe Pichette also lit the lamp. Portland/Deering goes to South Portland/Waynflete/Freeport Thursday and visits Cheverus Saturday.

The SP/Waynflete/Freeport co-op team improved to 3-5-1 and eighth in Class A South after a 4-4 home tie against Marshwood and a 6-4 win at Noble. SP/Waynflete/Freeport hosts Portland/Deering Thursday, welcomes Noble Saturday and plays host to Massabesic Monday.

Girls’ hockey

On the girls’ side, Cheverus, which also includes players from Kennebunk and Old Orchard Beach, lost its second game in a row Wednesday, 2-1, to visiting undefeated Scarborough. Jill Hannigan had the goal.

“We’ll take something positive from how we played,” said Stags first-year coach Kent Hulst. “We don’t like to lose, but we competed.”

Cheverus (9-4 and third in the South Region) is back in action Saturday when it hosts Portland/Deering in the “City Cup.” The Stags are at Biddeford Monday.

Portland/Deering fell to 3-9 and seventh in the South Region after losses at Brunswick (8-3) and at home against Falmouth (8-0). Portland/Deering visits York Thursday, plays at Cheverus Saturday and goes to Gorham/Bonny Eagle Monday.

The Cape Elizabeth/Waynflete/South Portland co-op team was 4-8 and fourth in the South Region after Thursday’s 4-1 home win over Gorham/Bonny Eagle. Cape Elizabeth/Waynflete/SP hosts Biddeford Thursday, plays at Edward Little/Leavitt Saturday and visits Falmouth Monday.

Indoor track

The SMAA league indoor track schedule resumes Saturday at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham when Deering and Portland compete against each other and Gorham and Westbrook at 8:30 a.m., Cheverus battles Marshwood, Noble and Windham at 11:15 a.m. and McAuley competes against Biddeford and Thornton Academy at 4:45 p.m.

Swimming

Deering’s girls’ swim team dropped a close 90-86 decision to Falmouth last week, while the boys were beaten by the Yachtsmen, 108-52. Deering is at Portland Friday.

Speaking of the Bulldogs, their boys won at Bonny Eagle, 111-33, while the girls lost to the Scots, 82-69.

McAuley lost at South Portland, 115-57.

Cheverus hosts South Portland and Waynflete welcomes Bonny Eagle Friday.

Skiing

Skiers from Deering, Portland and Waynflete took part in a season-opening Nordic skate race last week.

In the girls’ race, won by Gould Academy, Deering came in third, while Waynflete was fifth. The Rams produced the individual runner-up (Ewka Varney, 15 minutes, 3.9 seconds) and third-place finisher (Leinani Farnsworth, 15:15.1). The Flyers were paced by Marijke Rowse (13th, 16:59.3).

In the boys’ competition, which Gould Academy also won, Portland was third and Waynflete finished sixth. The Bulldogs were paced by Brad Ravenelle, who was the top individual in 12:33.7. The Flyers’ top finisher was Wilson Moore (20th, 15:40.0). Deering didn’t score as a team, but Caleb Niles had the fifth-fastest individual time (13:29.0).

Deering, Portland and Waynflete then took part in the Leavitt Hornet Classic in Turner Saturday.

The Rams girls were sixth out of 20 scoring teams, while the Flyers placed 13th. Individually, Varney was 10th (17:13.2) and Farnsworth came in 16th (17:38.6). Rowse placed 41st (19:50.2).

In the boys’ race, the Bulldogs came in ninth out of 19 scoring teams. Ravenelle was fourth individually (13:03.1). Moore led the Flyers with a ninth-place showing (14:14.4).

Wrestling

Portland’s wrestling team enjoyed a 46-21 win over Cheverus and improved to 6-6 on the year in the process, then placed 16th out of 21 scoring squads at the Spartan Invitational in Sanford. The Bulldogs are back at Sanford Wednesday and compete in the Kennebunk Duels Saturday.

Deering fell to 3-8 after a 72-6 loss to powerhouse Noble. The Rams join Marshwood at Wells Wednesday, then compete in the Southern Maine Invitational at Gardiner Monday.

Cheverus’ 46-21 loss to Portland dropped the Stags to 0-10.

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Sidebar Elements


Waynflete’s Yai Deng snares a rebound during the Flyers’ home win over Freeport last week. Waynflete carried a six-game win streak into Tuesday’s game at North Yarmouth Academy.

Deering’s Anthony Lobor goes up for a basket during the Rams’ 66-46 win at South Portland Friday, their ninth successive victory this winter.

Cheverus freshman Sophia Pompeo battles for the puck during last week’s 2-1 loss to undefeated Scarborough.

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Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.