Stretch run underway for city sports teams

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(Ed. Note: For the complete McAuley-Scarborough and Deering-Scarborough girls’ basketball, Deering-Scarborough, Portland-Thornton Academy and Waynflete-Yarmouth boys’ basketball and Portland-Cheverus girls’ hockey game stories, please visit theforecaster.net)

Believe it or not, but the winter sports regular season is coming down the stretch.

We’re less than three weeks from the first state championships being bestowed.

Local teams continue to impress, but still have a long way to go.

Here’s a glimpse:

Boys’ basketball

Cheverus hosted Portland in a boys’ basketball showdown Monday night (see theforecaster.net for game story).

The Stags took the court for the first time in a week Friday, when they dominated visiting Windham, 64-40, behind 16 points apiece from juniors Drew Ferrick and Michael Flaherty. Cheverus (9-2 and second to Deering in the latest Western Class A Heal Points standings) went to Massabesic Tuesday, hosts South Portland Friday and goes to Kennebunk Tuesday of next week.

The Bulldogs were coming off a 63-61 home loss to Thornton Academy Thursday, which dropped them to 8-3 (third in the standings). Portland  came out flat and found itself down by 10 points in the second period as Golden Trojans’ senior Justin Pollard lit it up. The Bulldogs rallied, took the lead entering the half and even clung to a slim advantage with three minutes to play, but with the game on the line in the waning moments, Thornton Academy made plays and hit shots, which Portland did not and the Golden Trojans held on. Sophomore Justin Zukowski led the Bulldogs with 17 points.

“We got exactly what we deserved,” said Portland coach Joe Russo. “We did not deserve to win that game and we didn’t. When you don’t play defense, rebound or shoot well, you don’t deserve to win. I’m not happy we lost, but I couldn’t expect to win with that performance.”

The Bulldogs were at Westbrook Tuesday, visit Deering Friday and welcome Noble Tuesday of next week.

Last Monday, Deering bounced back from its lone loss (at Cheverus, in a game where it turned the ball over 28 times) with a 55-44 triumph at Scarborough. The Rams only turned the ball over nine times and got 22 points from senior Jon Amabile and 15 from Labson Abwoch.

“This made a nice statement,” said Deering coach Dan LeGage. “We were coming off a loss where we didn’t play well. I was waiting to see how the kids would react.”

The Rams returned to action Friday and downed visiting Westbrook, 48-41, behind 19 points from Amabile. Deering (11-1 and first in Western A) was at Windham Tuesday, hosts Portland Friday and welcomes South Portland Tuesday of next week.

In Western C, Waynflete hosted Western B contender Yarmouth last Wednesday and dug an early hole with nine turnovers. The Flyers hung tough throughout, but ultimately went down to a 52-45 defeat, despite eight points each from junior Jack Cutler and sophomore Serge Nyirikamba.

“We really didn’t deal with their pressure well in the first half.,” said Waynflete coach Rich Henry. “I was really proud of how we battled back.”

The Flyers improved to 9-2 (and third in the Heals) after a 35-32 win at Traip Friday. Waynflete is at Wells Friday and visits Hyde Tuesday.

Girls’ basketball

The defending Class A state champion McAuley girls’ basketball team won its first 10 games this winter, but was facing some criticism for not winning as prolifically as some thought they should entering Friday’s showdown at unbeaten Scarborough.

There, the Lions went out and reminded everyone why they’re the team to beat, breaking open a close game with a 27-11 run over the middle quarters, forcing 22 Red Storm turnovers and going on to a 49-37 win behind 18 points and six rebounds from freshman Victoria Lux and 10 points, seven rebounds, five steals and three blocked shots from senior Alexa Coulombe.

“This win doesn’t mean everything, but it’s definitely a step forward for us,” said Coulombe. “We still have to keep working.”

“Everyone thought we’d lose, but we didn’t pay attention to that,” Lux said. “We stuck together and worked as a team. We’ve had some tough, close games, but we’re getting better as the year goes on.”

“The win means we beat a good team,” added McAuley’s first-year coach Billy Goodman. “We didn’t win anything tonight, but we beat a good team and we got confidence we can play these games. When things get tough, we don’t give up and keep fighting.”

McAuley (still second to Scarborough in the Western A Heals) hosted Sanford Tuesday, visits Gorham Friday and welcomes South Portland Tuesday of next week.

Deering let one slip away last Monday, falling at home to Scarborough, 53-47. Senior Ella Ramonas had 22 points, but the Rams were done in by 25 turnovers and too many fouls.

“We fouled them,” said Deering coach Mike Murphy. “We played defense with our hands, instead of our feet. Bad decisions both with the ball and defensively.”

The Rams improved to 9-4 (fourth in Western A) with a 41-29 victory at Westbrook Friday. Ramonas had 12 points, junior Chelsea Saucier 10. Deering welcomed Windham Tuesday and goes to Portland Thursday.

Cheverus has stumbled of late, dropping three in a row. The most recent was a painful 61-58 double overtime setback at Windham Friday. Senior Alexandra Palazzi-Leahy had a team-high 17 points (including a 3 that forced the second overtime), junior Brooke Flaherty added 16 and promising sophomore Georgia Ford forced overtime with a late 3-pointer. The Stags (7-4 and seventh in Western A) hosted Massabesic Tuesday, welcomes South Portland Saturday and Kennebunk Tuesday of next week.

Portland is 1-11 and 16th after Friday’s 43-33 loss at Thornton Academy. Senior Nyaliep Deng led the team with 14 points. After hosting Westbrook Tuesday, the Bulldogs welcome Deering Thursday and go to Noble next Tuesday.

In Western C, Waynflete is 5-6 and ninth after falling last week at Yarmouth (49-33) and at home to Traip (44-25). Against the Clippers, junior Rhiannan Jackson had a team-high 10 points. The best news against the Rangers came with 1:07 to go in the first quarter, when junior standout Martha Veroneau returned to action, after missing several games with an ankle injury. Veroneau had four points. Twin sister Catherine Veroneau had a team-high seven. The Flyers return to action Friday at home against Western B contender Wells. They go to Hyde Tuesday.

Hockey

The biggest news on the ice last week came courtesy Portland senior Raechel Allen, on the of the state’s top girls’ players.

The Bulldogs, coming off a 9-1 loss at undefeated, top-ranked Falmouth, hosted Cheverus Saturday night, seeking to beat the Stags for the first time. 

Allen broke the ice six minutes, two seconds in, when she scored an unassisted backhanded goal. With 6:04 to play in the 15-minute first period, junior Drew Barry got in on the act, with an unassisted tally of her own. With five minutes to go in the first, Barry and Allen put on a show that resulted in another tally.

With the Stags on the power play, Barry got control of the puck in the defensive zone and kept it for a good minutes, skating around, eluding attackers. Eventually, Barry looked up ice and lo and behold, Allen was all by herself at the red line. Barry’s long pass was right on Allen’s tape and Allen skated in and scored to make it 3-0 Portland.

“You can’t let them get (the puck) so you might as well kill time,” Barry said. “They didn’t bring it. She was wide open.”

“They weren’t being aggressive,” said Allen. “The coaches were yelling, ‘Rae, move up! Drew, pass!'”

The Stags answered and made it 3-1 when junior Katie Roy scored, but with 1:20 left in the period, Allen made it a three-goal game and it wasn’t just any goal.

After junior Gabi Cardona (who originally attended Cheverus before transferring to Portland this year) started the play, sophomore Ali Briggs got the puck to Allen and she found the net for a 4-1 lead.

It was goal No. 100 of her high school career.

“It means a lot,” Allen said. “I’ve been playing for a long time, so to score that many is good, especially senior year.”

“(Raechel’s) an incredible player,” said Bulldogs coach Courtney Rideout. “On and off the ice, she brings so much to the team. When you think of Portland hockey, it’s Raechel Allen. I know it meant a lot to her. It meant a lot to her teammates. They were as excited as she was.”

Barry, senior Lindsey Sneider (Portland’s lone player from Deering), senior Kylie Dalbec and Allen once more struck for the Bulldogs to counter two Roy goals and Portland cruised, 8-3.

“Beating Cheverus is a big deal,” Allen said. “It was a good game. We passed well and played well.”

“We’ve had a couple losses so this is a big confidence-booster, especially going into the end of the regular season,” said Rideout. “It’s a good way to get back into the swing of it. They played well, passed well and did what they had to to come out with a win. We hope it gives us momentum.”

Cheverus fell to 6-7 (and fifth in the West).

“This could have been an 8-7 game either way,” Stags coach J.P. Lavoie said. “Both teams played really hard. They got breaks and we didn’t get. I thought our kids played the whole game and put a lot of effort into it. I’m proud of them for doing that.It was a really good game.”

The Stags were at St. Dom’s Monday and host Cape Elizabeth Thursday.

“The way it looks right now, it looks like us and them in a quarterfinal in a couple weeks,” Lavoie said. “We have them one more time too. Depending how things go, we feel like we’re going to be OK.”

The Bulldogs (7-6 and fourth in the West) welcomed Scarborough Monday and host Brunswick Thursday.

“We have tough games, but if we play hard like we did today, we’ll be fine,” Allen said.

“If we play like we did out there, we can beat any team in this league,” Barry said.

“We have quite a stretch coming up,” Rideout added. “Making the playoffs would be a big step. This is my third year and we haven’t made the playoffs yet. It would be awesome.”

On the boys’ side, Cheverus beat Portland in a “City Cup” showdown Saturday, 3-2, on sophomore Sterling Weatherbie’s third period game winner. The Stags improved to 4-2 (1oth in Western A). They go to Scarborough Thursday, host South Portland Saturday and welcome Brunswick Monday.

The Bulldogs fell to 0-11 (15th in the Heals). Portland is idle until next Wednesday, when it goes to defending Class A champion Thornton Academy.

Indoor track

Cheverus and Deering met Noble and Windham in last weekend’s indoor track meet at USM. The Stags won the boys’ meet with the Rams second. The teams flip-flopped on the girls’ side, with Deering coming in first, Cheverus second.

Individual boys’ highlights included Richardo Delgado winning two events for the Rams, the junior 55 hurdles in 8.72 seconds and the junior high jump (5 feet, 8 inches), and Cheverus taking three relays: open 800 (1 minute, 35.58 seconds), open 3,200 (8:43.41) and the sprint medley (4:07.23).

On the girls’ side, the Stags got multiple wins from Milena Opielowski (junior high jump, 4-8; and junior 200, 28.92). Cheverus also took the open 3,200 (10:36.07) and the 1,600 sprint medley (4:38.69) relays. Deering was led by Veronica Mitchell, who was first in the senior long jump (14-4.5) and the senior 55 hurdles (9.39). The Rams were also tops in the open 800 relay (1:52.97).

McAuley and Portland took on Bonny Eagle, Thornton Academy and Westbrook. The Lions came in third in the girls’ meet, with the Bulldogs fourth. The Bulldogs were also fourth on the boys’ side. Thornton Academy’s boys and girls were first.

Individually, Portland’s Sarah Gale took the junior 800 (2:36.57). Eleni Anderson was first in the senior 55 (7.99) and senior 200 (28.38). McAuley’s Cristina Leake won the senior 400 (1:07.62). The Lions also took the sprint medley (5:08.03).

Next on the schedule is the SMAA championships Saturday, Feb. 4.

Swimming

With the swimming postseason looming (the Southwesterns are the first two weekends in February), local teams continued their regular seasons last week.

Cheverus swept visiting Scarborough, with the boys prevailing, 98-59, and girls winning, 93-71. McAuley beat host South Portland, 91-78. Portland lost at Massabesic, with the boys falling, 101-62, and the girls losing, 105.5-59.5. Waynflete’s girls defeated host Biddeford (101-62) and Hyde (127-37). The boys downed Hyde, 72-68, but lost to Biddeford, 83-72.

Scores for Deering’s meet with Westbrook weren’t available.

This Thursday, McAuley, along with Yarmouth, goes to Falmouth. Friday, Deering welcomes Portland and Gorham and Waynflete joins Cheverus at Cape Elizabeth,

Skiing

Several local Nordic ski teams took part in the Maranacook Wave freestyle race Saturday at Black Mountain.

Portland’s girls came in first, Waynflete was 13th and Deering 16th. Individually, Abby Popenoe paced the Bulldogs with a fourth-place showing (18 minutes, 5.5 seconds). Lizzy Landry was 10th (19:26.1), Sadie Sarvis 15th (20:17.8) and Laura Frank 19th (20:33.1). The Flyers were led by Jo Moore (34th, 22:21.5). Maddie Ostwald of the Rams was (36th, 22:26.2).

On the boys’ side, Waynflete’s Josiah Espy was first in 13:56.7. The Flyers came in ninth as a team (NYA was first). Portland finished 10th, Deering 15th and Cheverus 26th. The Rams Kuba Chandler was fourth (14:28.9). Bulldog Ben Allen placed fifth (15:00.5). The Stags were paced by Paul Dube (105th, 23:19.0).

Wrestling

Portland’s wrestling team is now 7-7 after going 3-2 last week. The Bulldogs lost to Wells (45-30) and Marshwood (64-7), then beat Biddeford (48-27), Kennebunk (38-25) and Scarborough (57-24). Portland hosts Biddeford Wednesday.

Deering is 0-11 after recent losses to Noble (73-6), Westbrook (49-27), Wells (49-18) and Windham (54-24). The Rams go to Mt. Ararat Saturday.

Freelance writer Ryan Robb contributed to this story.

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

Sidebar Elements


McAuley freshman Victoria Lux prepares to go up for two of her 18 points during Friday’s impressive 49-37 win at Scarborough. Lux led all scorers with 18 points.

Portland senior Raechel Allen races in to score one of her four goals during Saturday’s 8-3 win over Cheverus. Allen’s third goal was the 100th of her high school career.

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