(Ed. Note: For the complete Deering-Portland and Waynflete-Falmouth boys’ basketball and McAuley-South Portland girls’ basketball game stories, with photos, see theforecaster.net)
February isn’t far off and that means it’s getting to be crunch time for winter athletes.
Each week, the games get bigger and the drama continues to flow in Forecaster Country.
Here’s a glimpse at where things stand and what’s to come:
The Deering and Portland boys’ basketball teams met in a highly-touted battle Thursday night, but that was only part of a memorable week.
Prior to the showdown, Portland bounced back from a loss to Gorham by handling visiting Sanford, 72-42, behind 24 points from Amir Moss and 10 from John Williams.
Deering first had to survive an overtime scare at Thornton Academy in a battle of unbeatens. The Rams pulled out a see-saw 58-54 decision thanks to 16 points from Andrew Lobor and 13 from Malik White.
To say people were excited about the Bulldogs and Rams meeting for the first of likely three times this winter would be an understatement. The Deering gym was packed to its 1,500 people capacity and a distinct tournament feel was in the air.
Portland then came out and spoiled the party.
The Bulldogs raced to an early lead behind four 3-pointers in the first quarter to go ahead, 18-8. Amir Moss, who has made a career out of his stymieing the Rams in big games, helped Portland open up a 36-22 lead at halftime, thanks to 13 points and 10 rebounds in the first 16 minutes.
Deering tried its best to rally in the second half, but Portland went ahead by as many as 18 points, 47-29, on a Moss layup midway through the third period. The Rams battled back within six on two occasions in the fourth quarter, but thanks to the offensive rebounding and free throw shooting acumen of Charlie Lyall, the Bulldogs put the game away and prevailed, 61-51.
Portland got a double-double (24 points, 13 rebounds) from Moss, 12 points from Foley and 11 points from Terion Moss as it beat Deering for the seventh straight time and improved to 143-78 in the all-time series, which dates to Dec. 30, 1911.
“(Deering’s) our biggest rival,” Amir Moss said. “It dates back a long time. They were undefeated and we were the underdog. It was big for bragging rights. Coach made sure we settled down and just played our game. We knew coming in it would be a good crowd and we’d have a lot of adversity. They were trying to keep us out of the paint, so when we hit 3s, it opened the lane. We got the ball in Terion’s hands. He’s a great point guard. He kept us under control.”
“We woke up and knew we couldn’t lose this,” Foley said. “We made shots and played defense and did everything right. Coach said that we were the underdog and he loves that. We do too. I was excited. It’s a big game. We got the crowd on our side and got momentum. They have a good press, but we figured out how to space the floor and get smart shots. We took our time. This gives us more momentum and more will to win.”
“We talked about how there was no pressure on us tonight,” added longtime Bulldogs coach Joe Russo, who won his 372nd game with the program and improved to 34-22 vs. Deering. “I’m happy both teams got to enjoy the atmosphere. Since both programs are doing well, the people came out. It feels great to win this game. It was nice to see the guys enjoy this game and what they earned.”
Portland (10-1 and second in the Class AA North Heal Points standings) went to Thornton Academy Monday (see theforecaster.net for game story), hosts Cheverus in a makeup game Wednesday (see theforecaster.net for game story), plays at Windham Friday, then welcomes Massabesic Tuesday of next week.
“The schedule will help us avoid a letdown,” Russo said. “We have Cheverus, TA and Massabesic. If we have a letdown, we’ll lose three in a row.”
Deering got 17 points from Lobor and double-doubles from Raffaele Salamone (10 points, 10 rebounds) and Ben Williams (10 points, 11 boards) against Portland, but suffered its first loss and fell to 10-1.
“I don’t think we executed enough at the start,” lamented Rams coach Todd Wing, who is now 0-7 against Portland. “It wasn’t good enough. Anytime we got momentum, it got broken up for one reason or another. Portland’s a good team. Good teams make shots. We wanted to win tonight, obviously, but in the big scheme of things, 18-0 isn’t what we wrote down in the preseason. We want to be there in the end.”
Deering (still first in Class AA North) hosted Oxford Hills Monday, welcomes Massabesic in a makeup game Wednesday, visits Cheverus Friday and welcomes Bonny Eagle Tuesday of next week.
Cheverus took a 7-4 record and the No. 4 ranking in Class AA North into Monday’s game at Lewiston. The Stags have a makeup game at Portland Wednesday, then, after hosting Deering Friday, Cheverus welcomes Thornton Academy Tuesday of next week.
In Class C South, Waynflete has cemented its status as one of the most dangerous teams around with a 63-43 win at North Yarmouth Academy last Tuesday, followed by a shocking 44-43 home victory over Class A South power Falmouth Friday. Milo Belleau had 13 points, Yai Deng 12 and Abel Alemayo and Will Nelligan 10 apiece as the Flyers beat the Panthers for the 14th straight time.
Against the Yachtsmen, Waynflete led, 16-10, after one quarter, then couldn’t do much offensively as Falmouth rallied to tie, 30-30, heading for the fourth period. There, the Yachtsmen seemed to have the game wrapped up when they led, 43-38, in the waning seconds, but first, Belleau was fouled while shooting a 3 and sank all three free throws, then, after a Falmouth missed free throw, Belleau banked home a 3 from an impossible angle at the horn and the Flyers had an unthinkably wonderful win, their first ever over the Yachtsmen.
“We drew up a play with the two seconds we had,” said Belleau, who had a team-high 19 points. “We ran the same play we run all the time and got the look we wanted. I saw the ball headed left and headed to the perfect corner of the box. I didn’t call bank. I’ve had great moments in soccer, but this might beat them all.
“This was a perfect way to end the game. You don’t get many opportunities against these types of teams. We feel like we have to prove ourselves when we do have these situations. Everybody knew how big a game this was for Heal Points and to get us moving into playoffs.”
“I was thinking of my moral victory speech and what I would say to the guys because I was proud of how we played, but it just came down to a bounce of the ball and a bank shot 3,” said Waynflete coach Rich Henry. “We’ve had that out of bounds play for a couple years. Milo’s been a superior player for us. We just hoped to get the ball in his hands and see what happened.”
After hosting Old Orchard Beach Monday, Waynflete (sixth in Class C South) visits Lake Region Thursday, travels to Poland Saturday and visits Traip Academy Tuesday of next week.
McAuley’s girls’ basketball powerhouse had a tough week. The Lions lost at South Portland (57-45), their first loss to the Red Riots since Feb. 1, 2008, which snapped an 11-game win streak in the series, then fell at home to undefeated Gorham, 53-48, McAuley’s first home loss since a 37-34 setback to Deering Feb. 11, 2011, snapping a 39-game streak. It marked the program’s first successive losses since Jan. 11-14, 2010.
Against the Red Riots, freshman Catherine Reid had 12 points to lead the way, Emily Weisser finished with 11 and Jess Willerson added 10.
“South Portland played great,” said McAuley coach Billy Goodman. “They have a lot of great players who stepped up tonight. We’ve managed to win games, but we’ve been struggling for awhile. Offensively and defensively, we’re not playing good basketball.”
Against the Rams, the Lions played much better, but still fell short despite 21 points from Willerson.
McAuley (9-2 and third in Class AA South) was home with Massabesic Monday (see theforecaster.net for game story), has a showdown at rival Deering Friday, hosts Portland in a makeup game Saturday and welcomes Scarborough Tuesday of next week.
Deering had a three-game win streak snapped last Tuesday with a 40-34 overtime home loss to Thornton Academy. The Rams rallied to force OT, but fell short despite 12 points from Amanda Brett. Deering bounced back Thursday to win at Noble, 47-32, behind 15 points from Tasia Titherington. After Saturday’s all-Rams showdown at Gorham was postponed, Deering (8-3 and second to Edward Little in Class AA North) went to Oxford Hills Monday, hosts McAuley Friday and visits Bonny Eagle Tuesday of next week.
Cheverus won its third game in a row, 65-47, at Sanford Friday to improve to 7-5. Emme Poulin led the way with 18 points and Brooke Dawson added 13 After hosting Lewiston Monday, the Stags (fifth in Class AA North) go to Windham for a makeup game Wednesday, play at Thornton Academy Friday and visit Massabesic Tuesday of next week.
Portland fell to 0-11 and eighth in Class AA North after losses at Sanford (59-42)and at home against South Portland (60-29). The Bulldogs were down, 46-4, at halftime to the Red Riots, but played a much stronger second half. Portland’s top scorer in that game was Shayla Eubanks, who had seven points. The Bulldogs hoped to get in the win column Monday against visiting Thornton Academy. After hosting Windham Thursday, Portland goes to McAuley for a makeup game Saturday and visits Windham Tuesday of next week.
In Class C South, Waynflete made it two wins in a row last Tuesday with a 64-23 victory at NYA (Annika Brooks led the way with 23 points, Lydia Giguere added 19 and Anne Veroneau had 10). The Flyers then met their match Friday at Falmouth, losing 41-23, to fall to 4-7 and 14th. Brooks had a team-high eight points in the loss. Waynflete was at Old Orchard Beach Monday, hosts Lake Region Thursday and welcomes Poland Saturday.
Cheverus’ boys’ hockey team had Saturday’s “City Cup” showdown with Portland/Deering postponed due to bad weather and moved to Thursday (see theforecaster.net for game story). The Stags (4-5 and third in Class A South) host defending Class A champion Scarborough Saturday.
Portland/Deering downed South Portland/Waynflete/Freeport, 3-0, last Thursday to improve to 3-6 and eighth in Class A South. Portland/Deering goes to Thornton Academy Wednesday, has a makeup game versus Cheverus Thursday and plays at Cony Saturday.
The SP/Waynflete/Freeport co-op team lost at home to Portland/Deering, 3-0, last Thursday to fall to 3-6-1 and ninth in Class A South. After welcoming Massabesic Monday, SP/Waynflete/Freeport is at Camden Hills Saturday.
On the girls’ side, Cheverus was scheduled to host Portland/Deering in the “City Cup” Saturday, but that game was postponed by bad weather to Thursday. The Stags (9-4 and third in the South Region) went to Biddeford Monday and visit Cape Elizabeth/Waynflete/SP Saturday.
Portland/Deering lost at York, 4-3, in overtime Thursday to fall to 3-10 (seventh in Class A South). After playing at Gorham/Bonny Eagle Monday, Portland/Deering goes to Cheverus for a makeup game Thursday and travels to Biddeford Saturday.
The Cape Elizabeth/Waynflete/South Portland co-op team was 4-9 and fifth in the South Region after a 4-2 home loss to Biddeford. Cape Elizabeth/Waynflete/SP went to Falmouth Monday and hosts Cheverus Saturday.
Saturday’s’ SMAA action was postponed to Monday by bad weather. Cheverus took on Marshwood, Noble, Thornton and Windham, Deering and Portland competed against Biddeford, Gorham and Westbrook and McAuley ran, jumped and threw against Bonny Eagle, Massabesic, Scarborough and South Portland.
This Saturday, in the regular season finale, Portland takes on Bonny Eagle, Marshwood and Thornton Academy, Deering and McAuley meet Scarborough and Windham and Cheverus goes up against Massabesic and Westbrook.
The SMAA championship meet is Feb. 6.
Cheverus’ boys’ swim team beat South Portland Friday, 88-73, while the girls prevailed, 110-58. The Stags girls host McAuley Friday.
Deering, McAuley and Portland joined Thornton Academy for a four-team meet. In the boys’ competition, the scores were Golden Trojans 133, Bulldogs 106 and Rams 44. In the girls’ meet, the scores were Deering 385, Thornton Academy 350, McAuley 283 and Portland 148. Deering is at Greely Friday while Portland goes to Massabesic.
Cheverus’ Alpine ski team took part in a recent SMAA slalom meet at Shawnee Peak. The girls didn’t score as a team, but Elizabeth Fossett placed sixth with a two-run combined time of 2 minutes, 24.53 seconds. The boys’ top finisher was Matthew McCarthy (23rd, 2:47.08).
Portland’s wrestling team fell to 6-7 after a 60-18 loss to Sanford.
Deering fell to 4-10 after a 57-18 loss to Wells and a 63-6 loss to Marshwood.
Cheverus fell to 0-10 after losing to Portland, 46-21, in its most recent match.
The Bulldogs, Rams and Stags all competed at the Southern Maine Invitational in Gardiner Monday.
Waynflete senior Milo Belleau is mobbed by his teammates after banking in a 3-pointer at the buzzer to shock Falmouth, 44-43, Friday night.
Deering junior Raffaele Salamone and Portland junior Charlie Lyall battle for a rebound during the Bulldogs’ 61-51 victory last week.
McAuley’s Eva Mazur dives for a loose ball during the Lions’ 57-45 loss at South Portland last week.