Stretch run begins for winter teams

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(Ed. Note: For the complete Cheverus-South Portland and Portland-Deering boys’ basketball and Cheverus-South Portland and Waynflete-Lake Region girls’ basketball game stories, see theforecaster.net)

The championship month of February is right around the corner and local teams are starting to play with an urgency as they seek to improve their playoff standing.

Here’s a glimpse at the week gone by and what’s on tap:

Boys’ basketball

Portland’s boys’ basketball team is in the midst of a historic win streak and the defending champions appear to be rounding into title form again.

Last week, the Bulldogs improved to 12-0 with home victories over Bonny Eagle (62-33), Deering (65-62) and Marshwood (65-47). Against the Scots, Steve Alex went off for 24 points.

The 218th all-time meeting between Portland Deering then turned into an epic display of athleticism and heart. The lead changed hands 15 times and the game was tied on six occasions. Alex finally put the Bulldogs on top to stay with a layup with 2:40 to go. A layup from Amir Moss and a clutch putback from Joey Esposito allowed Portland to hold on and stay undefeated. Alex had 21 points to lead the way.

“It’s usually a dogfight with Deering,” Moss said. “We expected them to be in our faces a lot and to press a lot. We stuck together and worked as a team. There was lots of relief when it was over.”

“This was a high energy game,” Alex said. “A rivalry game. They’re a really good team. We had to be ready. We’re both intense teams.”

“We have a pretty good history with Deering,” added longtime Bulldogs’ coach Joe Russo. “We enjoy playing each other. It’s more fun to win those types of games. Rivalry games are fun because the fans get excited and the city gets excited.”

Saturday’s victory over Marshwood made it 34 straight wins over two seasons (a program benchmark per Portland High historian Peter Gribbin), as Moss had 13 points and Liam Densmore and Terion Moss both added 12.

The Bulldogs (12-0 and first in the Western Class A Heal Points standings) went to Scarborough Tuesday (see theforecaster.net for game story), visit Sanford in a makeup game Thursday and go to Windham Tuesday of next week.

Prior to playing Portland, Deering dominated visiting Gorham, 80-51, behind 22 points from Ben Williams and 18 apiece from Garang Majok and Malik White. The Rams were hindered against the Bulldogs, as Williams was in foul trouble, but a team-wide effort kept them in the game. Majok and Raffael Salamone both had 13 points, while Moses Oreste added 12, but Deering had 20 turnovers and fell just short.

“It was a fun game,” Rams coach Todd Wing said. “It’s Deering-Portland. I keep it short and sweet in these games. It’s a game that features guys they used to play with. The beauty of rivalries is that it brings out the best in both teams. Hats off to Portland. They played well. They’ll be right there at the end. We get them again and we’ll be ready. You get angry about some losses, but we lost by a possession to a very good team.”

The Rams (8-4 and fourth in Western A) went to Sanford Tuesday, welcome Scarborough Friday and play host to Biddeford Tuesday of next week.

Cheverus fell to 6-6 and ninth after losses at Westbrook (44-35) and South Portland (61-50). Against the Blue Blazes, Zordan Holman had 10 points. In the loss to the Red Riots, the Stags fell behind, 25-9, but roared back to take a third period lead, only to see South Portland use its size advantage to pull away down the stretch. Jack Casale did have 21 points (including five 3-pointers) in a losing effort.

“South Portland’s a really good team,” Costigan said. “They’re physical, they’re big.  They’re good enough to take us out of what we do. They can just bang the boards. We got in trouble without Zordan. He had foul trouble in both halves, but that’s part of the game.”

Cheverus was home against Biddeford Monday, plays host to Marshwood Friday and visits Scarborough Tuesday.

In Western C, defending regional champion Waynflete finally met its match last week, falling from the undefeated ranks with a 42-41 loss at Lake Region. Milo Belleau had 14 points in defeat. Thursday, the Flyers bounced back with a 76-49 home win over Poland to improve to 8-1 and fourth in the Heals. Belleau had 16 points, Will Nelligan had 14, Harry Baker-Connick 13 and Yai Deng added 11. Waynflete welcomes Traip Friday and goes to Old Orchard Beach Saturday and Wells Monday.

Girls’ basketball

On the girls’ side, the two Stevens Avenue teams, Deering and McAuley, both entered the week red-hot.

The Rams, who started the season 2-2, extended their win streak to eight games with victories last week at Gorham (a 44-43 thriller) and at home against rival Portland (58-39). Tasia Titherington had 17 points at Gorham. In the win over the Bulldogs, Titherington had 16 points, Cierra Burnham added 14 and Lodia Ismail finished with 10. Deering (10-2 and third behind McAuley and Thornton Academy in the Western A Heals) was home with Sanford Tuesday, visits Scarborough Friday and plays at Biddeford Tuesday of next week.

The four-time defending state champion Lions extended their win streak to 11 last week after downing visiting Scarborough (48-21) and Sanford (58-28). Sarah Clement led McAuley with 12 points versus the Red Storm, while Jess Willerson added 10. In the win over the Spartans, Willerson had 17 points and Ayla Tartre finished with 14. The Lions (11-1 and second in Western A) were at Westbrook Monday (see theforecaster.net for game story), host Portland Friday and welcome Bonny Eagle Tuesday.

Portland was seventh at 7-5 after a 56-54 win at Bonny Eagle and a 58-39 loss at Deering last week. In the victory, Gabby Wagabaza had 17 points and Elizabeth Donato added 13. Wagabaza had 15 points in the loss. The Bulldogs were home against Scarborough Tuesday, play at McAuley Friday and host Windham Tuesday of next week.

Cheverus was 6-6 and 11th after a breathtaking 53-52 home win over Westbrook and a 61-45 loss at South Portland. Laura Holman and Anne Veroneau both had 11 points and Brooke Dawson hit a game-winning 3 at the horn in the victory. At the Red Riots, the Stags dug a deep early hole and despite a rally to make it 38-31, they never could catch up and lost, despite Holman’s 14 points, 10 rebounds and four steals and 11 points from Dawson.

“I was very proud our girls for fighting back after the poor start,” Huntington said. “We’re so close in many aspects, that’s why games like this are frustrating. We’ve shown we can not only compete with some of the top teams, but be a threat. It’s nearly impossible to play at the pace we want and not make mistakes. I’m OK with mistakes as long as it’s within the scope and structure of our philosophy, but the younger kids struggle with confidence after a mistake.”

Cheverus was home against Biddeford Monday, goes to Marshwood Friday and hosts Scarborough Tuesday.

In Western C, Waynflete was 10th at 6-4 after a 52-29 home loss to Lake Region and a 52-24 setback at Poland. Against the Lakers, the Flyers fell behind, 17-2, and never could rally, due in large part to 31 turnovers. Helen Gray-Bauer had a team-high seven points.

“I think it was really good for us,” Waynflete coach Brandon Salway said. “I told the team before the game that it would be good for us no matter what the result, because I felt we needed to toughen up. Today was a clear demonstration of that. I think we did some good things, but we have to get tougher. These games, although it’s hard to watch at times, go a long way in helping you get tougher and realize where you need to get to.”

In the loss to the Knights, Julianna Harwood had 13 points. The Flyers go to Traip Friday, welcome Old Orchard Beach Saturday and play host to Kents Hill Tuesday.

Hockey

On the ice, Cheverus’ boys were third at press time behind Falmouth and Scarborough in the Western Class A Heals with an 8-3-1 record after a 3-1 win at Thornton Academy, an 8-1 home win over Brunswick and a 5-2 home loss to St. Dom’s last week. James Hannigan scored twice against the Golden Trojans. In the win over the Dragons, Alex Libby and Luke Trickey each scored twice. Hannigan and James Kane scored in the loss. The Stags don’t play again until Lake Region pays a visit Jan. 31.

The Portland/Deering co-op squad was sixth at 4-7 after a 10-1 home loss to Kennebunk Thursday. Patrick Gassman had the lone goal in the defeat. Portland/Deering hosts Brunswick Thursday.

On the girls’ side, Cheverus is still clinging to playoff hopes. The Stags were 5-10 and seventh at the start of the week, but only six teams qualify. Last week, Cheverus beat visiting Brunswick, 8-1, then lost at home to St. Dom’s, 3-1. The Stags host Falmouth Saturday.

The Portland/Deering co-op squad was 1-11-1 and eighth after a 4-4 tie at Winslow and a 9-2 loss at Scarborough. Portland/Deering was at York Monday and hosts Brunswick Thursday.

Indoor track

Indoor track league action resumed Saturday in Gorham.

Cheverus and Portland joined Massabesic and Westbrook. The Stags were second to the Blue Blazes in both genders, while both Bulldogs teams came in fourth.

Individually, in the boys’ meet, Cheverus got wins from Bobby Slattery in the junior long jump (16 feet, 9.5 inches), Jake Dixon in the senior 55 (6.9 seconds) and the senior 400 (51.92), Jacob Schott in the senior high jump (6-0) and senior long jump (19-9) and Nick White in the senior shot put (51-11). Portland first-place finishers included Alex Frank in the junior 55 (7.13) and junior high jump (5-2) and Pavel Bobe in the senior 200 (24.28).

In the girls’ meet, Cheverus winners included Katelyn Gendron in the junior long jump (15-5.5) and junior triple jump (32-7.5), Abby Goodrich in the senior 55 (7.75) and the senior shot put (32-3.25), Sarah Mount in the senior 200 (27.82), Milena Opielowski in the senior long jump (16-4.75), and its senior 4×200 relay team (1 minute, 56.16 seconds). Portland’s Madison Bolduc won the senior triple jump (34-0.5) and Maggie Hosmer took the junior 800 (2:34.62).

Deering’s boys and girls were both second to Scarborough in a meet which also included Marshwood and Windham.

In the boys’ meet, the Rams got wins from Paolo DeMarco in the senior 55 (6.91), Yahye Hussein in the senior 800 (2:07.93) and open mile (4:41.07), Iid Sheikh-Yusef in the open two-mile (10:06.02) and their open 3,200 relay team (10:02.97). Girls’ winners included Caitlin Lally in the junior 400 (1:01.88), Neilab Habibzai in the senior shot put (28-10.25), Katie Farrell in the senior 400 (1:05.23), and the senior 4×200 relay team (1:56.42).

McAuley was fourth behind Thornton Academy, Noble and Bonny Eagle. The Lions were second in both the open 4×800 (12:01.41) and open 1,600 sprint medley (5:33.51) relays.

Saturday, Cheverus and Deering battle each other, along with Biddeford and Bonny Eagle, McAuley competes against Gorham, Marshwood and Massabesic and Portland faces Noble and Scarborough.

Swimming

In the pool, Cheverus and Deering split a close meet last Friday. The Stags won the boys’ competition by a score of 81-67, while the Rams girls prevailed, 90-78. Cheverus hosts Portland Friday, while Deering plays host to Cape Elizabeth.

McAuley lost, 123-57, to South Portland last weekend. Friday, the Lions go to Scarborough.

Portland’s boys lost, 94-70, to Windham, while the girls fell, 85-71. The Bulldogs are at Cheverus Friday.

Waynflete is back in action Thursday at Biddeford.

Skiing

Deering, Portland and Waynflete’s Nordic ski team took part in a classical race last Wednesday at Starks Hill.

The Rams were first, the Flyers second and the Bulldogs seventh in the girls’ competition. Individually, Deering’s Ewka Varney (21 minutes, 34.1 seconds), Leinani Farnsworth (21:37.1) and Morgan Aponte-Clark (21:41.3) were second, third and fourth, respectively. Portland’s top finisher was Bea Hesselbart (sixth, 22:20.4). Waynflete was paced by Marijke Rowse (seventh, 23:41.8).

In the boys’ meet, Waynflete was second to Fryeburg Academy, while Portland came in fifth. The Flyers got a third-place individual finish from Willson Moore (17:58.5). The Bulldogs were led by Luca Serio (10th, 20:21.0). Deering didn’t score as a team, but Caleb Niles (19:33.2) and Peter Jordan (19:39.9) had the 11th- and 12th-fastest times, respectively.

On the Alpine side, in a Southwestern Maine Activities Association giant slalom meet last week at Shawnee Peak, Cheverus didn’t score as a team, but Schuyler Black was second individually on the boys’ side (1 minute, 4.95 seconds) and Hanna Sonnesson finished fourth among the girls (1:13.28).

Wrestling

Portland’s wrestling team improved to 6-9 with a couple close wins last Wednesday, 42-36 over rival Deering and 40-36 over Scarborough. The Bulldogs joined Bonny Eagle and Sanford at Deering Monday and visit Oxford Hills Wednesday.

Deering fell to 0-10 with its 42-36 loss to Portland. After hosting Bonny Eagle, Portland and Sanford Monday, the Rams wrestle at Wells Wednesday.

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

Sidebar Elements


Deering junior Ben Williams splits Portland junior Amir Moss (4) and freshman Terion Moss during the Bulldogs’ thrilling 65-62 win last week.

Waynflete senior Helen Gray-Bauer makes a move past a defender during the Flyers’ 52-29 home loss to Lake Region last week.

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