PORTLAND—A flu bug decimated the Deering girls’ basketball team this week and as a result, the Rams were far from full strength Wednesday evening when they faced the already daunting task of hosting preseason favorite Thornton Academy.
What ensued wasn’t much of a surprise.
The Golden Trojans scored the game’s first six points, opened up a 13-2 advantage after one period and led, 22-6, at halftime. In fact, Deering didn’t get into double figures until just over a minute remained in the third quarter. The undermanned Rams, who fought throughout, played much better down the stretch, but never got close and Thornton Academy went on to a 42-22 victory.
Deering got 10 points from sophomore Tasia Titherington, but it wasn’t enough as it dropped to 1-1 and the Golden Trojans, who placed senior standout Victoria Lux and junior star Ashley Howe in double figures, improved to 2-0 on the young campaign.
“We’ve had kids have the flu go right through them,” said Rams coach Mike Murphy. “They’re barely getting out of bed. What can you do? We just wanted to survive. I told them they had nothing to lose, to have fun, but to play with some intelligence. It’s asking a lot of some young kids to play up like that. This is what you get for a result.”
Deering and Thornton Academy were on the short list of preseason favorites and both survived close calls on Opening Night.
The Rams, who lost to McAuley in the quarterfinals last winter, eked out a 56-52 triumph at Bonny Eagle, giving Murphy his 100th victory with the program in the process.
The Golden Trojans, who were upset by Windham in last year’s quarterfinal round, rallied in the second half to edge four-time state champion McAuley, 37-34.
Deering has gotten the better of Thornton Academy over the past decade (see sidebar), for the most part, winning 11 of 13 meetings since the start of the 2003-04 campaign (including quarterfinal round victories in the 2010 and 2013 tournaments), but last year, in Saco, the Golden Trojans prevailed, 41-27.
Wednesday, it was clear when the Rams came out for pregame warmups that they were a shell of their normal selves and that it would be a long night.
Deering played without sophomore Amanda Brett, a top interior defender, junior forward Delaney Donovan, the team’s first player off the bench, and its two talented transfers from Portland High, junior Cierra Burnham and sophomore Abi Ramirez.
Thornton Academy went ahead to stay when senior Katie McCrum drove for a left-handed layup just 56 seconds in. Lux scored back-to-back layups to stretch the lead to six, which on this night, was insurmountable.
The Rams got on the board with 2:48 to play in the first quarter, as senior Mary Tadsse sank a baseline jumper, but Howe scored on a putback, Howe hit a 3 from the corner, then, as time expired, Howe took a pass from freshman Alex Hart and made a layup for a 13-2 advantage.
Little changed in the second period.
After Golden Trojans senior Abby Strickland made a free throw, Titherington made her first basket, on a leaner, but junior Barrett Campbell hit a 3 for the visitors. Titherington made a layup after a steal, but Lux converted an old-fashioned three-point play and as time wound down in the half, Lux made a jumper in the lane to make it 22-6 Thornton Academy at the break.
Deering had played hard in the first half and took pretty good care of the ball, but just couldn’t put it in the basket.
Lux (after taking a pass from Howe) made her final basket, a layup, 30 seconds into the second half. Strickland then converted a pass from McCrum for a layup. After Howe made a layup, she made a free throw for her final point. Strickland added a layup to push the lead to 31-6.
After Rams junior Lodia Ismail made two foul shots, Golden Trojans junior Hayden Campbell made a layup. Titherington answered with a pretty up-and-under layup, but that only pulled the hosts within 23, 33-10, after three quarters.
Deering did save its best for last, even if it didn’t make a serious run.
Titherington opened the fourth period with a 3, but Thornton Academy senior Giulia Corsetti answered with a long range bomb of her own, Hayden Campbell made a layup and Corsetti hit a left-handed layup to make the score 40-13.
After the Rams got a 3 from junior Kaytlin DiBiase, Titherington and Ismail each made one foul shot. Corsetti hit two free throws for the visitors to account for their final points before Rams junior Micary Verville hit a baseline jumper and Ismail made a layup after a steal to bring the curtain down on the Golden Trojans’ 42-22 triumph.
“This doesn’t even come close on the radar of disappointments,” Murphy said. “You live with it and you move on. Obviously, (Thornton’s) a very good team with a lot of weapons. They’ll be tough to beat.”
Deering was led by Titherington’s 10 points. Ismail added five points (and five rebounds). DiBiase had three points, while Tadsse and Verville each finished with two. Senior Courtney Brett (four rebounds) and junior Cassidy Coyne (three boards) also pitched in.
The Rams had 14 turnovers and made 4 of 8 free throws.
Lux led Thornton Academy’s effort with 11 points, 10 rebounds, three steals and two blocks in limited action. Howe had 10 points, Corsetti seven, Strickland (seven boards) five, Hayden Campbell four, Barrett Campbell three and McCrum (five rebounds, three assists) two.
The Golden Trojans committed 14 turnovers and hit 5 of 7 foul shots.
While Thornton Academy continues its season opening tour of the Portland schools when it goes to Cheverus Friday, Deering needs to get healthy and quickly as the schedule doesn’t ease up. The Rams go to Noble Friday, then host McAuley and go to Cheverus next week.
“We have big games next week,” Murphy said. “Not only do we have to get healthy, but we’re talking about kids who haven’t played together. The more we play, the better we’ll get.”
Deering junior Micary Verville drives to the basket.
Deering sophomore Tasia Titherington goes up-and-under for two of her team-high 10 points.
Deering senior Mary Tadsse races upcourt.
Deering junior Lodia Ismail shoots a free throw in the second half.
Deering junior Kaytlin DiBiase passes to a teammate.
Deering coach Mike Murphy tries in vain to turn around his team’s fortunes during a timeout.
@ TA 41 Deering 27
Deering 38 @ TA 35
Western A quarterfinals
Deering 33 TA 25
TA 54 @ Deering 52
Deering 53 @ TA 46
@ Deering 53 TA 39
Western A quarterfinals
Deering 44 TA 30
@ Deering 54 TA 25
Deering 66 @ TA 41
Deering 61 @ TA 22
@ Deering 58 TA 27
@ Deering 49 TA 38
Deering 60 @ TA 27
Deering senior Mary Tadsse has a shot blocked by Thornton Academy junior Ashley Howe during the Golden Trojans’ 42-22 victory Wednesday night.
Ben McCanna photos.
More photos below.
TA- 13 9 11 9- 42
D- 2 4 4 12- 22
TA- Lux 5-1-11, Howe 4-1-10, Corsetti 2-2-7, Strickland 2-1-5, H. Campbell 2-0-4, B. Campbell 1-0-3, McCrum 1-0-2
D- Titherington 4-1-10, Ismail 1-3-5, DiBiase 1-0-3, Tadsse 1-0-2, Verville 1-0-2
TA (3) B. Campbell, Corsetti, Howe 1
D (2) DiBiase, Titherington 1