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Vikings rally for first title

Sport: Basketball (Girls)  Posted: February 25th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Bangor Daily News

By Ernie Clark
Saturday, February 23, 2008 - Bangor Daily News

AUGUSTA, Maine — Three weeks ago the Oxford Hills girls basketball team was almost an afterthought in the Eastern Maine Class A tournament spectrum, the result of injuries that had sidelined multiple starters.

But those starters returned just in time for a postseason run never before seen in school history, as the Vikings of South Paris claimed their first regional title Friday with a 52-49 victory over four-time defending champ Cony of Augusta.

"When we had three starters out at one time, I felt like why does everything bad have to happen to us," said Oxford Hills senior guard Kari Pelletier. "But they came back, and now we’ve won the Eastern Maine title."

Fifth-ranked Oxford Hills (15-6) knocked off No. 4 Bangor, No. 1 Lawrence of Fairfield and No. 3 Cony to earn its crown, and a date in the state final at 3 p.m. next Saturday at Portland’s Cumberland County Civic Center.

Cony, which had won nine consecutive playoff games at the Augusta Civic Center since the Eastern A tourney was moved there from Bangor in 2006, ends its season with an 18-3 record.

Megan Joyce, who gained medical clearance to return to the Oxford Hills lineup on the day of its quarterfinal win over Bangor after suffering a pelvis injury 17 days earlier, led the Vikings with 15 points and eight rebounds.

The 6-foot sophomore center also gave Oxford Hills a 50-49 lead — the last of five lead changes within a 1 minute, 14 second span — on a post move with 43 seconds remaining.

Each team then missed the front end of a one-and-one from the free-throw line before Cony was forced to foul Pelletier with 5.9 seconds left.

Pelletier, who set a Eastern A tournament record with 31 free throws, calmly knocked down both ends of her one-and-one to give Oxford Hiils a three-point lead.

"I knew they were going in," said Pelletier, a 74 percent free-throw shooter during the regular season who shot 86 percent (31 of 36) from the line during the tournament.

Cony had one last chance, but a 3-point shot from the left wing by Courtney Dufour missed the mark as time expired.

Junior forward Melanie Cloutier added 13 points for Oxford Hills, while Pelletier scored 12 and sophomore forward Lindsay Fox — who missed time late in the season with a concussion — had eight, including two key fourth-quarter baskets as Oxford Hills rallied from a 45-40 deficit with three minutes remaining.

Oxford Hills entered the game with a fairly strong measure of confidence, the result of a regular-season win at Cony.

But when Cony scored 16 unanswered points in response to a 6-2 start by the Vikings, that confidence was tested.

"These girls knew they could beat them," said Oxford Hills coach Nate Pelletier. "They knew it wouldn’t be easy, and it wasn’t easy, but down the stretch it was just the girls stepping up and making big shots."

Oxford Hills rallied within 27-19 by intermission despite 10 second-quarter points by Cony guard Shelby Pelkey, as the Vikings focused their defensive attention on Rams’ star center Rachael Mack.

Pelkey added eight points in the third period, but Oxford Hills still stayed within 39-33 by the end of the quarter.

The Vikings twice pulled to within one point, the second time at 41-40 on a left-handed drive by Pelletier with 5:35 to play.

Then Pelkey turned playmaker, twice driving into the lane to set up two layups by Kayla Belanger to restore Cony to a five-point lead before Oxford Hills mounted its final comeback.

"There are many teams that have been down 10 to Cony and just given up because they don’t have the energy to battle back," said coach Pelletier. "I said to the girls, ‘you aren’t one of those teams, you guys can battle back ,’ and they showed it."

Pelkey finished with a game-high 24 points for Cony, while Mack had 12 points and seven rebounds and Belanger scored 10 points.

eclark@bangordailynews.net
990-8045

Calais claims regional Class C prize

Sport: Basketball (boys)  Posted: February 25th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Bangor Daily News

By Ernie Clark
Monday, February 25, 2008 - Bangor Daily News

BANGOR - It’s difficult enough to defeat the Calais boys basketball team when it’s playing just an average game.

But when the Blue Devils execute offensively like they did in Saturday night’s Eastern Maine Class C championship game —forget about it.

Senior forward Rod Tirrell scored 23 points and senior guard Sam Bell added 21 points and seven assists as top-ranked Calais shot 66 percent from the field to earn its third straight regional title with a 77-54 victory over No. 2 Lee Academy at the Bangor Auditorium.

"Our big-time players came to play tonight," said Calais coach Ed Leeman. "Sammy stepped up and led us, and then everybody else followed on his coattails. He made some tough shots for us, and then everybody started playing with confidence."

The win was the 63rd straight for Calais, which will take a 19-0 record this season to next Saturday night’s state final in Augusta against Winthrop in search of the program’s third consecutive gold ball.

Lee, which got 16 points each from Hakeem Rodriguez and Jarred Bingham and 11 from Luis Medina, finished with a 15-6 record.

These teams had had two highly competitive regular-season meetings with Calais rallying in the fourth quarter for a six-point win in its season opener and then edging the Pandas by seven in late January.

But in the meeting that mattered most, there was no late-game drama.

With Bell making 10 of 14 shots from the field, Tirrell 8 of 9 overall and 4 of 5 from 3-point land and junior forward Cal Shorey making all six of his field-goal attempts en route to a 13-point night, Calais made 33 of 50 shots — including 20 of 27 after intermission.

"Once we got behind, we had to go after them," said Lee coach Randy Harris. "We struggled enough guarding them in the 42-foot half-court, and in the full-court they attacked the middle, made good passes and got themselves good shots."

Bell was the catalyst, hitting two jumpers and a follow-up shot in the game’s first six minutes as Calais built a 13-4 lead.

"I was looking to get some shots early, and tonight I was able to make them and maybe that spread the defense for the other guys," he said.

Calais then scored 10 unanswered points to extend its lead to 23-5 midway through the second quarter. Freshman Cam Shorey beat the first-quarter buzzer with a tip-in and followed an inside move by Tirrell with a fast-break basket before junior point guard Jordan Leeman fed Sean Cavanaugh for a layup and Cal Shorey for a baseline jumper.

But Lee, which trailed 16-1 in its second regular-season meeting against Calais before mounting a vigorous comeback, was not without a rally this time either.

Medina hit a 3-pointer, Rodriguez made a fast-break layup and four free throws and Bingham hit an NBA-range 3-pointer during a 12-1 run that pulled the Pandas within 24-17.

But Tirrell countered with a 3-pointer, and Bell hit a pull-up jumper from the lane and then fed Cam Shorey for a layup as Calais scored seven straight points to close out the half with a 31-17 cushion.

After the break, the Blue Devils didn’t miss enough shots to give Lee a chance to come back again, and when the Pandas did muster the thought of a rally, Calais answered with a champion’s response.

Bell scored the Blue Devils’ first seven points of the second half to stretch the margin to 38-21, and while Bingham made three 3-pointers in the third quarter, Tirrell countered two of them with 3-pointers from the left corner and Bell answered the third with a drive through the lane as Calais took a 54-37 lead into the final eight minutes.

"The good part was when they hit 3s, we answered with 2s or 3s," said coach Leeman.

"We shot the ball well tonight, and when you can shoot the ball well, it makes up for a lot of deficiencies."

eccark@bangordailynews.net

990-8045

 

Gerrity is Maranacook's unsung hero in tournament run

Sport: Basketball (boys)  Posted: February 25th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

http://bangornews.com/news/t/highschoolsports.aspx?articleid=160729&zoneid=19

 

By Ernie Clark
Monday, February 25, 2008 - Bangor Daily News

Devin Gerrity wasn’t a prolific scorer during the regular season for the Maranacook of Readfield boys basketball team.

Seniors Ryan Martin, Will Bardaglio and Mike Poulin were counted on to handle that part of the game, while Gerrity was content to play nearer the basket and take scoring opportunities as they arose.

They arose often during Maranacook’s victorious run through the Eastern Maine Class B tournament, and the 6-foot-2 junior made the most of them.

Not only did Gerrity set an Eastern B tournament record with 11 3-pointers in three games, he shot an astounding 79 percent (11 of 14) from beyond the arc.

"He’s been our unsung hero lately," said Black Bears senior guard Ryan Martin. "Everyone knows about me, Mike and Will because this is our fourth year now. When they key on us, Devin’s open and when Devin’s feet are set he’s one of our best shooters."

Gerrity wasn’t nearly as prolific from long range during the regular season as he has been at the Bangor Auditorium.

He estimated he averaged just two 3-point shots per game during Maranacook’s 18-0 run to the No. 1 ranking in Eastern B, and he took just two long-range shots — making both — during the Black Bears’ 59-57 quarterfinal survival of No. 8 Rockland.

But in a semifinal free-for-all against Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln when the teams combined for 44 3-point tries and Maranacook made a tournament-record 12 of its 23 attempts, Gerrity found his own 3-point comfort zone.

"I’d have to say the second 3-pointer I made versus Mattanawcook was the first time I really started getting going," said Gerrity, who shot 5 of 6 from beyond the arc in Maranacook’s 89-70 victory over the Lynx.

Gerrity followed up that effort with an 18-point performance in Maranacook’s 84-72 win over Camden Hills of Rockport in Saturday’s regional final.

He went 4 of 6 from 3-point range against the Windjammers, including back-to-back shots from deep in the left corner during the third quarter that helped to quash any Camden Hills comeback hopes.

"We’ve been running a spread offense all year and that’s been my favorite spot," said Gerrity, "so I figured if I get it there I might as well shoot it."

For Maranacook coach Rob Schmidt, Gerrity’s 3-point proficiency is a welcome addition to an already potent offense.

"He’s a really good shooter when he gets his feet set," said Schmidt. "He’s technically a four man [forward] for us, but he has the green light to go outside for us and shoot the 3’s.

"When you play against good defensive teams, you have to find other ways to score. He’s not a real big four man, so he’s not going to post anybody up. But we have confidence in his shooting ability, so when he popped out there we gave him the ball and he really came through."

Bardaglio glad to be back

One player especially happy Maranacook is headed back to the Class B state championship game for the second time in three years is Black Bears’ guard Bardaglio.

The 6-foot-4 senior was a pivotal player in Maranacook’s run to its first-ever state championship in 2006, but his junior season was cut short by a bout of mononucleosis, which left him unable to play in the tournament as the top-seeded Black Bears suffered a stunning 58-50 quarterfinal loss to No. 8 Maine Central Institute of Pittsfield.

"It was tough watching from the bench last year, knowing I couldn’t do anything to help them except cheer," said Bardaglio, who scored 20 points in this year’s regional final against Camden Hills. "In the off-season I worked on my game because I didn’t want that to happen again, and I’ve been healthy this year, which is fortunate for me."

Last year’s loss has served as a constant reminder not just to Bardaglio but to the entire Maranacook team not to take any game for granted.

"That’s a big motivation for us," said Martin. "Last year I think we all just skipped to the state championship game. It happened our sophomore year so we figured we could just do it again last year, but that didn’t happen.

"This year we’ve taken a different approach, trying to take it one game at a time, and so far it’s working."

 

 

Gold Balls Are Waiting(Plus WIZ Top 10 Teams- Week # 12)

Sport: Basketball (boys)  Posted: February 24th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

http://www.mbrbasketball.com/images/wordsfromthewiztitle.gif

Gold Balls Are Waiting (Plus WIZ Top 10 Teams- Week # 12)
02/24/08

Wow! What a week folk's! Maine high school basketball went crazy from Bangor, to Augusta and all the way down to Portland. Regional Championships were decided in all four classes' boys and girls. 8 brand new shiny Gold Balls are waiting to be handed out and that will happen next weekend. The WIZ traveled up to Augusta last Monday to catch the boys Class C quarter-finals and he spent the rest of the week broadcasting games from Portland with MBR's head man Tom Nolette and Michael Hoffer from the Forecaster. MBR targeted the Portland area tournament as there is coverage in Bangor and Augusta but none in Portland. Days were very long and very tiring but well worth it as all the action was superb and broadcasting the games was a lot of fun. MBR just continues to get bigger and better as we got many thanks from people listening to the games.

In Eastern Class A the Bangor Rams remain undefeated as they swept right through the tournament beating Mt. Blue in the Semi's 44-21 and beating a very stubborn Edward Little Eddies team 61-54 to win the Eastern Maine Championship. Bangor will represent the East as they will play the Cheverus Stags for the Gold Ball this coming Saturday night 7:00pm at the CCCC.

In Western Maine Class A the Cheverus Stags got it done. The Stags beat Portland in the Semi-Finals 63-49 and then used a stifling defense to get by a very good Thornton Academy team 40-31 to claim the Western Maine crown. The Stags will face Bangor for the Class A State Championship this coming Saturday night.

In Eastern Class B the Maranacook Black Bears remain perfect at 21-0 as the Black Bears beat Mattanawcook in the Semi-Finals 89-70 and then in the big anticipated match-up with Camden the Black Bears take home the Eastern Maine trophy by beating the Windjammers by a final of 84-72. The Black Bears will represent the East and they will play for the Class B State Title this coming Friday night as they will face the Capers of Cape Elizabeth at the Mecca. Starting time will be around 9:00pm.

In Western Maine Class B it was the Cape Elizabeth Capers who come out on top. It's the first Western Maine Championship in twenty years for the Capers. Cape beat Greely in the Semi's 48-39 and the handled Freeport in the Western Maine Final 57-50. Cape moves on to the State game this coming Friday night in Bangor as they will face the undefeated Maranacook Black Bears.

In Eastern Class C the Calais Blue Devils make it three straight Eastern Maine Championships. The Blue Devils continue their winning streak which now stands at 63-0 over the past 3 years. The Blue Devils beat Dexter in the Quarter-Finals 59-32. Beat Houlton in the Semi's 65-51 and took down the Pandas of lee 77-54 to claim the Eastern Maine Crown. Calais will play Winthrop for all the Marbles this coming Saturday at the ACC.

In Western Class C the Winthrop Ramblers come out on top. The Ramblers beat Hyde in the Quarter-Finals 81-71. Beat Traip in the Semi-Finals 59-46 and the Ramblers beat a very tough Dirigo Cougars team in the Western Maine Final 51-45. The Ramblers improve to 20-1 and will take on the undefeated Calais Blue Devils in the State game this coming Saturday at the ACC.

In Eastern Class D the Central Aroostook Panthers come out on top as they defeated Machias in the Quarter-finals 82-52. Then went on and beat Ashland in the Semi's 75-61. Then in a Battle Royal the Panthers needed overtime to get by Woodland 67-59 to claim the Eastern Maine Title. The Panthers will face off against the Richmond Bobcats in the State Championship this coming Saturday at the ACC.

In Western Class D it's the Richmond Bobcats that take the Western Class D Title. The Bobcats beat Rangeley in the Semi's 68-45 and they had to use a big comeback to get by a very tough Valley team 61-57 to claim the Western Maine Title. The Bobcats move on to the State game and they will face the Panthers of Aroostook this coming Saturday at the ACC.

Broadcasting games:

MBR's broadcasting of games in the Portland area for the tournaments has become a huge hit as relatives of players and fans that live out of state are tuning in and listening to their favorite teams. Many people have stopped by to say thank you with many stories of relatives and fans listening to the games for many different reasons as to why they can't make the games in person. From what I understand many listened in this past Friday because of the weather as traveling conditions were not good. MBR keeps taking it to another level.

Undefeated teams remain at 4 this week:

Undefeated Teams:

Bangor---------21-0

Maranacook---21-0

Calais-----------19-0 (63 straight wins)

C. Aroostook---21-0

As we head into this weeks WIZ Top 10 Teams Bangor remains the top team as they have had that # 1 spot the whole year. Maranacook stays at # 2 and the rest gets shaken up a little bit as Cheverus with their big win jumps up to # 3. Cape with their big win jumps up to # 4. Calais takes Eastern C and moves up a notch to # 5. Thornton with their loss drops from # 3 to # 6. Edward Little gave Bangor a game and they move up 1 slot to # 7 this week. The Eddies are good but with 5 losses they can't go any higher. Camden Hills lose to Maranacook and they drop from # 5 to # 8. The South Portland Red Riots lose to Thornton and Thornton beat Cheverus and the Riots with 5 losses drops to #9. The Winthrop Ramblers take Dirigo and they take the # 10 spot this week as Dirigo drops out of the top 10. Only two teams remain knocking on the door they are Central Aroostook and Richmond. Which ever one wins the Gold will make The WIZ Top 10 next week.

WIZ Top 10 teams Week # 12:

1.Bangor--------21-0 The Rams take the East! They crushed Mt. Blue 44-21! Take care of Edward little 61-54! EM Champions! Congrats Roger and the gang! Gold Ball is waiting! Can they get it! We shall find out! This Saturday night! CCCC Baby!7:00pm! Cheverus Stags! WOW! The Place will be Rock'n!

2.Maranacook---21-0 Black Bears are on a Mission! They take the East! Beat Mattanawcook in the Semi's 89-70! Break a record for 3's made in a game! Beat Camden 84-72! The Beast of the East! Congrats to Ryan, Will and Mike! Plus the rest of the Black Bears! Undefeated Baby! They can taste it! Will they get it! Stay Tuned! This coming Friday Night! Bangor Auditorium! They get the Capers of Cape Elizabeth! Doesn't get any better than this!

3.Cheverus------18-3 Stags back in high gear! Brownie has'em firing On-All-Cylinders! Just in time! Stags take down Portland in the Semi's! 63-49! Beat Thornton in WM Final 40-31! Stifling Defense! WM Champions! Up next! The # 1 Bangor Rams! This coming Saturday Night! It's for The Gold! The Biggest Heavy Weight Match-up of the Year! Cumberland County Civic Center! 7:00pm! Stags will need to be firing On-All-Cylinders! Plus they'll need a Fuel Additive! High Octane Baby! Should be a Beauty!

4.Cape Elizabeth--19-2 Cape is peaking! Great team effort! They take down Greely in the Semi's! 48-39! Take down Freeport in the WMF! 57-50! WM Champions! Congrats Coach Ray! Longtime coming! Been 20 years! Can they Go-All-The-Way! Up Next!

21-0 Black Bears! Of Maranacook! Wowzer! This Friday Night! At the Mecca! The Gold is Waiting! Who will Get It! The Mecca will be Rock'n & Roll'n!

5.Calais---------19-0 The Streak continues! 63-0! Baby! Blue Devils win 3 more this week! Beat Dexter in the Quarters! 59-32! Take it to Houlton in the Semi's! 65-51! Smacks it to Lee in the EMF! 77-54! Eastern Maine Champs! 3 Years In-A-Row! Can they 3-Peat! Won't be easy! They get Sam-The-Man and the Winthrop Ramblers! This coming Saturday! ACC! Place will be packed!

6.Thornton------18-3 Great season for the Golden Trojans! They beat SP in the Semi's! 58-47! Come up short to Cheverus in the WMF 40-31! Trojans are done! But good still enough for # 6! Great year Coach Davies and the gang!

7.Edward Little---16-5 The Eddies Walloped the Bulldogs of Lawrence! 57-29! Semi's! Then lose a tough one! To # 1! Bangor! EMF! 61-54! 5 losses but a great team! They get the # 7 spot!

8.Camden Hills---20-2 Great season for the Windjammers! They beat Presque Isle in the Semi's! In OT! 61-60! Lose to # 2 Maranacook in the EMF! 84-72! Congrats to Coach Hart and the Windjammers! Good enough for # 8 Baby!

9.South Portland---15-5 What a year for the Red Riots! Congrats 1st year coach Conley! Riots come up short to Thornton in the Semi's 58-47! Still a great season! They get # 9! Hyland, Lee and the gang! Will be back next year!

10.Winthrop-------20-1 The Ramblers Rambled over Hyde! In the quarter-Final! 81-71! Rambled over Traip in the Semi-Final! 59-46! Rambled-It-Out over Dirigo in the WMF! 51-45! Wow! What a week! Ramblers Class C Western Maine Champs! Congrats to Sam Leclerc and the gang! Big game next! 63-0 Calais Blue Devils! And It's for the Gold! Can they stop the streak! We shall see! This coming Saturday at the ACC. Should be Wild!

Teams Knocking on the Door:

Central Aroostook---21-0 The Panthers stay undefeated! Crushed Machias in the Quarters! 82-52! Took care of Ashland in the Semi's! 75-61! Needed OT to get by Woodland! 67-59! EM Champions! Wowzer! A Win-Is-A-Win! They move on! They want the Gold! They get Richmond! ACC! This Saturday!

Richmond----------18-1 They did it! WM Class D Champs! Bobcats beat Rangeley! Sem's! 68-45! Big comeback! To take down Valley! WMF! 61-57! Bobcats want the whole thing! The can Smell it! They can Taste it! But will they get it! Find out! This Saturday! ACC Baby! For all the Marbles!

Til' Next Week: Good luck to all the teams in their quest for the Gold! It's been a great season!

The WIZ

Yarmouth bows out after furious rally

Sport: Basketball (boys)  Posted: February 24th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Yarmouth bows out after furious rally
By Michael Hoffer
Special to MBR
02/24/08

PORTLAND- All good things must end.

The 2007-08 Yarmouth boys' basketball team was a very, very good thing, but after a magical season chock full of dramatic wins, the Clippers couldn't pull another rabbit out of their hats Thursday evening at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

Facing a Freeport team it had beaten twice this year, including a 25-point rout on the Falcons' home floor just two weeks prior, Yarmouth got off to a slow start in the teams' Western Class B semifinal round contest and despite a valiant rally down the stretch, saw their season come to an end at 16-4 with a 67-60 defeat.

"The ride's been terrific with these guys," Clippers' coach Adam Smith said. "It's been a good season. We're sad about the loss, but not sad about any of the season."

One year after reaching the quarterfinals and winning 12 games, Yarmouth was expected to be a top contender for the first time in memory. The only question that remained was how the Clippers would deal with the pressure of expectations.

They passed with flying colors.

Yarmouth started the season with six straight victories, went 3-1 in the Maine Mall Holiday Classic just days after losing senior standout Joe Dilworth to a broken hand. Even without Dilworth, the Clippers kept the wins coming in the new year, enjoying stirring home victories over Greely and Freeport before finally falling at Cape Elizabeth. Yarmouth would also lose at Waynflete (upon Dilworth's return) and at home to the Capers, but its 15-3 record gave it the second seed for the tournament.

The Clippers had little trouble with No. 7 Lake Region in the quarterfinals at the Portland Expo, winning 64-41.

That set up the first playoff meeting between Yarmouth and No. 6 Freeport (an upset winner over No. 3 Mountain Valley in the quarterfina1s) since 1964 (a Falcons' win in the semifinals).

Regular season results suggested the Clippers would roll. On Jan. 8, Yarmouth edged the visiting Falcons 50-48 on a buzzer-beater from senior Ben Groves. In the regular season finale, Feb. 7, the Clippers went into Freeport on Senior Night and crushed the Falcons 73-48, as junior sharpshooter Johnny Murphy had five first quarter 3-pointers.

Freeport wasn't about to lose three times to its neighbor and rival.

The contest started auspiciously for Yarmouth when Dilworth made a layup, but that would be the only lead of the night for the Clippers.

A jumper from senior Tom Markelon, a jump shot from junior Jon Klages and a layup from senior Kyle Flash gave the Falcons a 6-2 lead. After sophomore Evan Henry hit a baseline jumper, Markelon made a layup and Klages hit a baseline jumper for a 10-4 advantage. Groves made a rebound layup with 1:11 to go in the first, but senior John Arris answered with a 3-pointer and Freeport took a 13-6 lead into the second period.

"It was very important to get off to a good start," Falcons' senior Reid Christian said. "Last time, Johnny Murphy went off in the first quarter. We knew containing Murphy and Dilworth was a key to the game. We know their team. Last time, we didn't play our game. Coach stressed coming out and playing our game."

Yarmouth got the first five points of the second quarter to pull within two. Murphy got the scoring started with a pair of free throws, then he canned a 3-pointer. The Falcons answered as junior Cody Bartlett made a leaner and Christian added two free throws. Murphy responded with another 3, but Christian made two more foul shots for a 19-14 lead. A steal and a layup by Murphy and a Dilworth runner got the Clippers within a point, 19-18, but Freeport closed the half on an 8-2 run.

First, Christian made a layup. He then hit a bank shot and Flash made back-to-back floaters for a 27-18 advantage. With 3.0 seconds to go, however, Dilworth made a layup and Yarmouth was down seven, 27-20, at the break.

The Falcons' lead would fluctuate between three and nine points in the third.

Henry got the scoring started with a layup. Murphy followed with a jumper and the Clippers were within three, 27-24. Freeport then got jumpers from Christian and senior Bejay Perkins and a layup from Markelon to push the advantage back to nine, 33-24. Yarmouth then ran off six straight as junior Andrew Totta hit a bank shot, Murphy made a layup, then Murphy buried a jumper, making it a 33-30 contest. A Klages 3 and two free throws from Flash gave the Falcons a little breathing room, but in the waning seconds, Groves scored on a second effort layup to make it a 38-32 game heading for the final stanza.

The fourth would feature a bevy of points as the Clippers tried desperately to rally.

When Freeport scored the first seven points of the fourth, however, the game looked over.

Markelon scored on a rebound layup, Perkins hit a free throw, Klages made a floater and Perkins made a pair of foul shots for a 45-32 advantage.

Then, finally, Yarmouth roared to life.

Groves made two free throws, Murphy added another and Henry hit a jump shot to make it 45-37. After Bartlett sank two foul shots for Freeport, Murphy buried a 3-ball and the Clippers were within seven, 47-40, with 4 minutes to go.

Christian answered with two free throws, but senior Lucas Denning converted a three-point play to make it 49-43. After Perkins scored on a layup, Murphy hit a runner, then scored on a layup after a steal to cut the deficit to four, 51-47, with 2:40 to play.

Yarmouth had a chance to get even closer, but Murphy missed a 3-pointer. After Markelon missed two foul shots, Murphy got another chance and this time his bomb was good, making it a 51-50 contest with 2:04 still to play.

Thanks to its foul shooting brilliance, the Falcons would hold on.

First, Markelon made two free throws. After Denning got the Clippers back within a point with a layup, Christian hit two free throws, then Flash did the same, making it 57-52 with 1:26 to go.

Two Murphy free throws got Yarmouth back within three, but Bartlett calmly hit two of his own with 1:05 remaining. When Christian made one of two foul shots, then hit two more with 27.9 seconds remaining, the lead was up to eight, 62-54.

"We knew they would keep working hard," Christian said, of the Clippers. "We kept battling. We hit the free throws and I feel very strongly that's what did it for us."

"We've struggled against pressure all year long," Freeport coach Craig Sickels added. "We did some different things in practice to get ready. The most important thing was our heads. They remained calm, cool and collected. I thought we did a nice job of spreading the floor. Jon Klages was huge bringing the ball up. We held our composure a lot better than we have in the past. We're a very good foul shooting team. That's a strength. Thank God we hit them."

With 23.2 seconds left, Denning provided a glimpse of hope with a 3-pointer, but Christian and Flash both made a pair of foul shots for a 66-57 lead with just 13.5 seconds showing. A 3-pointer from senior Robb Arndt accounted for the Clippers' final points and Perkins put the finishing touches on the 67-60 win with one foul shot in the waning seconds.

"It's very difficult to end a season this way," Smith said. "But if I'm looking at next year, I'd take ending my season this way every year if I could.

"They brought more intensity than we did. That's something we take pride in. We didn't overlook them. They got it done tonight, especially in the halfcourt defensive end. Hats off to them. They definitely took care of the foul line. I noticed their defensive intensity and the energy they brought to the game early tonight. It was difficult for us to match that. We got on our heels and not all our guys woke up at the same time.

"We expect to never give up. That's what we did tonight. We just fell short. They weren't going to let it happen. The better team won tonight. It might not have been the better team over the course of the season, but they were tonight. I thought we did a nice job of battling back and scrapping until the end."

Murphy wound up with 29 points. Denning had eight. Dilworth, Groves and Henry all had six. Arndt added three and Totta had two.

Freeport (which would go on to lose 57-50 to Cape Elizabeth in the Western B Final Saturday) got 19 points from Christian, 12 from Flash, 10 from Markelon, nine from Klages and eight from Perkins. Bartlett added six and Arris wound up with three.

The Falcons made 23 of 28 free throws in the fourth period.

"It feels great," Christian said. "Once again, free throws did it for us down the stretch. We played our best under pressure."

"The guys in the locker room believed," Sickels added. "Before the game, I said, 'Other than your families, not a lot of people believe in us.'

"We have a nice balanced scoring attack. Mentally, it was huge to get off to a good start. The game is so much about mental aspects. We survived a couple of their runs. That was huge for our psyche.

"Stopping Murphy was the key. We tried a couple different people on him. We basically played man the whole game and face-guarded him. We made him work for everything he had. I thought we did a nice job on Denning tonight. We played off of him. We had to keep them on the perimeter. The kids made a nice adjustment."

The Clippers meanwhile had to be content with a 16-4 record, knowing they woke up the echoes and restored basketball fever to Yarmouth.

"We enjoyed the atmosphere," Smith said. "It was a great experience to be here. I hope more Yarmouth teams can have the opportunity to play here.

"I just had a long conversation with them in the locker room. I love the locker room. It's a time for us to be together. Joe's been a starter for us for three years. He's been the backbone of the program. I can't say enough good things about him. The younger guys look up to him. It's been a privilege to coach him. When Lucas came back, it was a lift to the program. He carried us with a smile. He made other people better. Ben Groves is a team guy all the way. All he cared about was winning. He never cared about stats. Ever."

The Clippers will be decimated by graduation as Arndt, Denning, Dilworth, Groves, Joe Laverriere (among others) depart.

Of course, Henry, Murphy and Totta return and will look to finish the job next winter.

"If I can get a commitment from the returning guys to play in the offseason, they don't have a long way to go," Smith said. "That would be the difference. If they think they're going to start in November, we're back to square one."

Cheverus earns that elusive regional crown

Sport: Basketball (boys)  Posted: February 24th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Cheverus earns that elusive regional crown
By Michael Hoffer
Special to MBR
02/24/08

PORTLAND- Cheverus' boys' basketball team has been no stranger to the regional final this decade. Advancing to the next round, however, has been a problem.

Since winning the region in 2003, the Stags had lost to Portland in 2004, Deering in 2005 and Portland again last winter in the regional championship game.

Saturday evening, however, Cheverus took the next step, riding an amazing defensive effort to a 40-31 victory over the Thornton Academy Golden Trojans at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

Cheverus got just enough offense to move on.

"It's a relief," Stags' coach Bob Brown said. "Four weeks ago, we were all wondering what we were doing. It was a great turnaround. Credit the kids. They started playing like young men who are teammates."

Cheverus won its first 14 games this year, but a 51-39 home loss to Thornton Academy on Jan. 29 started a three-game slide. The Stags rediscovered their team commitment and beat host Deering in the regular season finale to earn the top seed for the tournament.

After downing No. 9 Windham by 10 in the quarterfinal round, Cheverus enjoyed a decisive win over rival and recent nemesis Portland in the semifinal round to set up a showdown with a Golden Trojans' team which had been one of the most pleasant surprises of the 2007-08 campaign.

The Golden Trojans lost only to South Portland and Scarborough during the regular season and barely survived a mighty upset in the quarterfinals when they edged No. 7 Westbrook on a late 3-pointer from senior Jeff Winnie. Thornton Academy then eliminated South Portland in the semifinals.

The teams met last season in the semifinals (a 53-39 Stags' victory).

It was apparent early on that points would be at a premium. Neither squad scored until the 5:27 mark of the first period when Golden Trojans' senior Dakota Greene made a layup. Cheverus answered on a layup from junior Mick DiStasio, but Greene made another layup for a 4-2 lead. After junior Will White hinted at a big game to come with a 3-pointer, senior Kory Martin made a floater to give Thornton Academy a 6-5 advantage.

A 3-point shot from junior Ian Barwise put Cheverus ahead 8-6 with 2:17 to go in the first. Martin made a free throw at the other end, but as time expired in the opening quarter, White scored on a rebound putback to put the Stags up 10-7.

Greene got the second quarter scoring started with a layup. DiStasio made one of two free throws, but senior Austin Gregory made a jump shot to tie the score at 11-11. After a layup from senior Doug Alston put Cheverus back on top, a jump hook from Martin tied the score again.

DiStasio again made one of two free throws and with 4:11 to play in the first half, Martin made a layup to give the Golden Trojans a 15-14 lead.

The Stags would never trail again.

A 3-pointer from Barwise gave them the lead for good. After junior John Trull made a free throw for Thornton Academy, DiStasio made a layup. With 40.8 seconds to go in the half, Martin made a bank shot, but with time winding down, Barwise buried a long shot from the corner for a 21-18 advantage.

Cheverus looked like it was finally going to take a healthy lead when DiStasio and sophomore Indiana Faithfull made back-to-back layups to start the second half, but Martin made a layup and Greene hit a foul shot, cutting the lead to four, 25-21. After Faithfull scored on a bank shot for the Stags, Golden Trojans' senior standout James Morse buried a 3-ball to make it 27-24. Alston made a runner to push the lead back to five, but Winnie made a layup with 2:05 to go in the quarter and neither team scored again, allowing Cheverus to take a 29-26 lead into the final stanza.

With 6:52 to play in the contest, Martin made a layup to get Thornton Academy back within a point, 29-28, but at the other end, Alston made a clutch jumper. With 4:31 remaining, Morse made one of two free throws, but Barwise answered with a layup to make it 33-29.

Neither team was able to score for almost two minutes.

Then, with 2:09 left, Martin scored on a baseline turnaround and suddenly it was a 33-31 game.

The Golden Trojans wouldn't score again.

With 1:24 to go, Barwise grabbed an offensive rebound and was fouled. He made both free throws for a 35-31 advantage. After a Stags' steal, White went to the line and made two foul shots with exactly a minute to play. After another Thornton Academy turnover, Faithfull made a pair of free throws and with 31.5 seconds left, White put the punctuation mark on the win with another foul shot, giving Cheverus the victory and the regional crown, 40-31.

"I felt pretty confident," said White, who missed much of the season with injury. "It's pretty easy to be confident with all the other guys around me. This shows we have what it takes. I was on the team last year when we lost. It was pretty devastating. This is a great feeling."

"It was a great game," Barwise added. "We knew it would be. They beat us the first time, but we came ready to play today. Everyone pitched in and helped. It helps to share the ball the way we do. When we share the ball, not many teams are better than us. We were pumped, ready to play. We played the whole game as hard as we could."

Brown was thrilled with his team's effort.

"The first time we played, we couldn't get into our offense and we turned the ball over," he said. "Tonight, I thought we played excellent defense and we didn't make a bunch of mistakes. The offense played together. Everything was team. We made extra passes. Because of that, we got decent shots."

Cheverus was led by 12 points from Barwise. DiStasio (who was named the Outstanding Player/Sportsman of the Western A tournament) and White both had eight. Alston and Faithfull wound up with six apiece.

"Faithfull had a great game," Brown said. "Will made major plays. He's great on defense. He came up with some big rebounds. Barwise hit some shots. He made clutch free throws. We only missed one free throw at the end."

The Golden Trojans got 13 points from Martin, seven from Greene and six from Morse. Winnie was held to just two.

"We tried to control penetration," White said. "That's what killed us last time. We did a good job."

To neutralize Winnie, Cheverus stayed away from its vaunted pressure defense.

"We pressed them once," Brown said. "When Winnie went by us and said, 'hello, hello, goodbye, goodbye,' and made a layup. He shouldn't have done it. We might have stayed in it."
Thornton Academy finished its finest season in many moons at 18-3.

The Stags earned a date with juggernaut defending state champion Bangor (21-0) in the Class A state final Saturday at 7 p.m., at the Civic Center.

The Rams are considered unbeatable in some circles, but Cheverus likes its chances.

"If we play together and we share the ball the way we can, not many teams can beat us," Barwise said. "We don't know much about them and they don't know much about us. It'll be a good game. We're all excited."

"They're 21-0 and only Edward Little has played with them," Brown added. "Edward Little is very athletic. Bangor is bigger and bigger. We'll come to play. Having it here as an advantage."

Lake Region does it again, beats Falmouth for regional crown

Sport: Basketball (Girls)  Posted: February 24th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

 By Michael Hoffer
Special to MBR

PORTLAND- The means weren't always that aesthetically pleasing, but the end once again was a beautiful and triumphant sight for the Lake Region girls' basketball team and its rabid followers.

Saturday afternoon at the Cumberland County Civic Center, the Lakers overcame a lackluster start, went on a 15-0 run which spanned the end of the second period and the start of the third, then held off the Falmouth Yachtsmen down the stretch to win a third consecutive Western Class B championship, 37-33.

"I just couldn't be prouder of my kids," Lake Region coach Paul True said. "Falmouth gave us a battle. Falmouth is a great team. We have a tremendous amount of respect for them and for coach (George) Conant. We knew it was going to be a battle. I thought our kids did a great job gritting it out.

Last winter, Falmouth went 16-2 and made it to its first-ever Western B Final, losing 42-25 to Lake Region.

This season, the Yachtsmen went 16-2 (their only losses came to the Lakers) and finished second in the region to guess who.

Falmouth held off an upset bid from No. 7 Gray-New Gloucester in the quarterfinals, then had to go to overtime to squeak past Greely 47-44 in the semifinals.

Lake Region (which lost only to Fryeburg and Greely this season) got a tussle from No. 9 Wells in its quarterfinal, then defeated No. 4 York in the semifinals.

The Lakers defeated the Yachtsmen twice during the regular season by scores of 51-45 in Naples Jan. 12 and 57-39 at Falmouth Feb. 8.

For most of the first half Saturday, the Yachtsmen appeared ready to take the next step and win their first regional championship.

Falmouth junior Andie Doyle got the scoring started with a jump shot. Junior Haley Jordan followed with a jumper of her own for a 4-0 advantage. With 3:54 to go in the first period, Lake Region finally got on the scoreboard when senior Renee Nicholas made a jumper. The Yachtsmen answered as Jordan found senior Morgan Furman for a layup. After sophomore Morgan McClean made a rebound layup for the Lakers, junior Kelsey Graffam hit a layup and sophomore Alison DerHagopian (the hero of the Greely win) added a runner for a 10-4 lead. Late in the final minute of the period, however, sophomore Chelsea Myers hit a long jumper for Lake Region, making it 10-6 after one.

Falmouth senior point guard Paige Wyman opened the second period with a three-point play, giving the Yachtsmen their biggest lead, 13-6. Sophomore Meghan Craffey answered with a layup for the Lakers, but junior Sara Bachman scored on a putback, making it 15-8. After Craffey hit a 3-ball, Furman gave Falmouth a 17-11 lead with two free throws. McClean answered with a layup, but Wyman countered with one of her own for a 19-13 advantage with 2:13 to go in the half.

Lake Region then seized control and grabbed the lead.

Senior Erica Webb got things started with a free throw. Nicholas followed with a rebound layup. Webb then made a layup and with seven seconds to go in the second period, Craffey hit another 3-pointer for a 21-19 lead at the break.

The Lakers scored the final eight points of the first half and would get the first seven of the second, but couldn't completely put the Yachtsmen away.

Just 27 seconds into the third period, sophomore Abby Hancock made a 3-pointer. Senior Krysti Leach followed with a jumper in the lane and Nicholas did the same for a 28-19 advantage.

"They have kids who can play good defense and they come to play," Conant said. "They won't lose, you have to take it from them. We gave in at the end of the second period. We said in the locker room we knew the first three minutes would be critical. That's the way it goes."

A 3-pointer from Doyle ended the 15-0 run and 7 minute, 34 second scoring drought, but Nicholas answered with a free throw. Graffam hit a leaner for Falmouth, but a Webb foul shot gave Lake Region a 30-24 lead heading for the fourth.

After Nicholas opened the fourth with a free throw, Wyman made a layup and Furman hit two foul shots to make it a 31-28 contest. With 5:51 to play, McClean made a layup for the Lakers, but with 4:18 showing, Furman made two more free throws to keep it a three-point game, 33-30.

Then, neither team would score for almost four minutes as the Yachtsmen had ample opportunities to catch up and go ahead.

Finally, with 24 seconds to go, Nicholas sank two foul shots for a 35-30 lead.

"She's a gamer," True said. "She, in my opinion, hasn't gotten a lot of attention or respect this year. In my opinion, you won't find a better defender. She's a great athlete and we want the ball in her hands down the stretch. Kids like Renee really give it everything they have. It's satisfying for me as a coach to see her knock down shots like that."

With 9.1 seconds to play, Furman sank a 3-ball and Falmouth still had life, down 35-33. Lake Region was able to get the ball inbounds to Nicholas, however, and she was fouled with 6.3 seconds to go. Nicholas, who would win the Mike DiRenzo Award as the regional tournament's top player/sportsman, calmly hit both free throws and the Lakers were able to celebrate their 37-33 victory and a third straight regional title.

"We knew that it was going to be a game of tempo," True said. "I thought Falmouth did a great job early on of slowing the game down to a snail's pace. They played zone. Early on, offensively we struggled. Megan Craffey came in and gave us some energy off the bench and allowed us to put pressure on defensively.

"All three tournament games for us were highly contested and could have gone either way. I think that really helped us. At the end of today's game, we did a good job attacking the basket. We took care of the ball at the end of the game."

The Yachtsmen gave their all and nearly pulled off the upset.

"We fell just a little bit short. Again," Conant lamented. "Lake Region's a great team. I respect them to no end. We only gave them one run. We did the things we needed to do at the start. You have to give the credit to Lake Region. They made us do things we didn't want to do and quicker than we wanted to do. When we did what we wanted to do, we were very successful. We allowed them to take us out of our game. They played great defense. Hats off to them."

Falmouth (18-3) got 11 points from Furman and seven from Wyman. Both standout seniors will be greatly missed next season.

"Eighteen wins isn't too shabby," Conant said. "My heart bleeds for Morgan and Paige. They've worked really hard, but that's the way it goes. We'll be back."

The Lakers (19-2) were led by Nicholas' 12 points. Craffey had eight and McClean finished with six.

Lake Region's recent run of dominance continues.

"The support we get from our community is fantastic and humbling," True said. "Our youth coaches, our middle school coaches, everybody's on the same page. They really should get the credit since they're the ones who prepare our kids.

"We had a lot of personnel changes this year. We could have easily been playing with three starters who didn't end up coming out. It's a tribute to our kids. Our league and the coaches in our league are competitive. It's a lot of fun."

Friday night at 7 p.m., at the Bangor Auditorium, the Lakers will meet undefeated, defending state champion Waterville with a Gold Ball at stake. Last year, Lake Region lost 52-51 to the Purple Panthers in a state final thriller. Two years ago, on the Bangor floor, the Lakers fell to Presque Isle in the final.

Lake Region is hoping that the third time will be the charm.

"This is certainly going to be our biggest challenge by far," True said. "Waterville's an outstanding ballclub. A lot of attention is put on (standout post player Morgan) Frame, but their perimeter players are very solid, very well coached. It's a tough task. We'll play physical. We'll have to make them work for every basket they get. We need to keep Frame off the backboard. We need to shoot the ball well. We'll play hard and hopefully create some turnovers. I'm hoping we'll come out loose. Other than the girls in our locker room, not very many people will give us a chance. It's a great experience for the kids. I'm so happy they'll be able to play in that atmosphere. We'll play hard. Win or lose, I'll be proud of them.

"These opportunities don't come around every day. Our kids have been a little bit spoiled with that. We need to take a step back and enjoy it for what it is."

Deering's defense takes the west

Sport: Basketball (Girls)  Posted: February 24th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

By Michael Hoffer
Special to MBR

PORTLAND- It was a weekend of dreams come true for the Deering Rams girls' basketball team at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

The preseason favorite Rams fulfilled their destiny and won a regional championship after a dominant defensive performance, combined with balanced scoring.

First, Deering smothered Westbrook 41-20 in the semifinals Friday (holding the Blue Blazes to a mere point in the third period). The Rams then meticulously took apart Noble 53-39 in the regional final Saturday to capture the Western Class A championship for the second time in five seasons.

The Rams will get a chance to win a second Gold Ball Saturday at 3 p.m., when they meet surprise Eastern A champion Oxford Hills in the state final at the Civic Center.

"We worry about Deering High and playing our brand of basketball," Rams' coach Mike D'Andrea said. "I don't think we need to worry about any opponent. It'll come down to who plays and who makes shots. We just have to find a way to score."

Deering only stumbled twice during the regular season (at Westbrook and at home against South Portland). The Rams avenged their loss to the Red Riots in the regular season finale, leapfrogging South Portland for the No. 1 seed for the tournament.

After a dominating performance in a quarterfina1 round win over No. 8 Massabesic at the Portland Expo, Deering took its show to the Civic Center Friday night for a semifinal round game with a Westbrook squad playing that deep in the tournament for the first time in a decade.

The Blue Blazes handed Deering a 39-30 setback in early January. The teams had met twice prior in the postseason.

In 2002, the Blue Blazes beat the Rams 38-29 in the divisional round. Two years later, en route to the school's first and only state championship, Deering beat Westbrook 45-30 in the quarterfinals.

Those fans who braved the snow hoping to see a lot of points went home very disappointed as the teams combined for 26 total in the first half.

The Rams got the game's first hoop when junior Diana Manduca made a baseline jumper 18 seconds in. The Blue Blazes would tie things up on a rebound layup from senior Cynthia Wescott, but Deering senior sharpshooter Nicole Garland made a 3-pointer with 4:12 to go in the first for a 5-2 lead.

Westbrook would get the next six points to go on top. First, junior Emily Wight made two foul shots. Wescott then made a layup after an offensive rebound and added a jumper in the final minute for an 8-5 advantage. Rams' sophomore Claire Ramonas hit two free throws with 42.4 seconds to go, cutting the deficit to just one, 8-7, after one period.

The Blue Blazes took their biggest lead early in the second when Wescott scored on a rebound layup, then added a free throw, but with 2:31 to play in the half, Ramonas made a runner, ending a 9 minute, 41 second field goal drought. With 1:50 to go, Manduca tied the game with a jumper. A bank shot from senior Audrey Shutts put Westbrook back on top, 13-11, but with time winding down, Manduca made another jumper to make it a 13-13 game after 16 minutes of play.

Deering finally found its offense in the second half, while the Blue Blazes managed just seven points.

A free throw from Ramonas put the Rams ahead to stay 55 seconds into the third. Ramonas then took a pass from Garland and made a layup for a 16-13 lead. With 4:20 to go in the quarter, freshman Kayla Burchill made a layup for an 18-13 advantage. A free throw from senior Maria Romano provided Westbrook's only point of the period with 2:49 left. Manduca then made a three-point play and Burchill added a jumper for a 23-14 lead after three.

Any Blue Blazes' comeback hopes were quickly squashed in the fourth.

Just 20 seconds in, Burchill made a 3-pointer and 36 seconds later, Manduca hit one of her own for a commanding 29-14 lead.

"I knew we'd heat up," Manduca said. "I knew the shots would have to go down at some point."

Westbrook got two free throws from Wescott, but Manduca made two of her own and freshman Britni Mikulanecz added a runner to make it a 33-16 game.

A bank shot by Shutts with 4:53 to play ended the Blue Blazes 12 minute, 33 second field goal drought, but only got Westbrook back to within 15, 33-18. After Ramonas and Shutts traded hoops, the Rams put the finishing touches on their win with a free throw from junior Casey Everest, a 3-ball from junior Heather Dadiego and a layup from senior Stefanie Saavedra, accounting for the 41-20 final score.

"We scored," D'Andrea said. "The first time we played them, we didn't score. We defended really well the first game. This time we found a way to put the ball in the basket. Our biggest difference is that we had a healthy Claire Ramonas for four quarters. Without her presence in the post offensively and defensively we can be had. She was a big part of the game tonight."

Deering showed just how deep and potent it is, winning by 21 on a night that Garland only had three points.

"Nicole draws a lot of attention and that leaves lanes for us to drive and get open shots," said Manduca, who led the Rams with 12 points. "This isreally nice because I've lost in the semis the past two years. I'm really excited."

Burchill finished with nine points and Ramonas had seven. Nine different players scored for Deering.

"Westbrook plays outstanding team defense and they did again tonight," D'Andrea said. "We made a couple adjustments. One was get Claire Ramonas the basketball. Two was Kayla Burchill relaxed and played. We feel she's one of our big mismatches. She can play inside and out as a six footer. We stopped pressing and just played. Diana stepped up. Our defense has been strong all year. When we go to our bench, our defense gets better and we get even quicker. A couple substitutions kept us strong tonight. Our depth keeps our starters fresh, except Claire, she wasn't coming out. She plays good defense on everyone."

The Rams then watched Noble battle South Portland in the other semifinal.

When the Red Riots led the Knights 22-8 at halftime, D'Andrea declared the game over and left the building. He soon learned that Noble had embarked on a stirring rally, one which culminated with a buzzer-beating 40-38 victory.

Deering had little trouble with the Knights during the regular season (a 59-34 home victory Jan. 10)

The teams also met two years ago in the quarterfinals (a 35-32 Rams win).

This time, Deering wouldn't let Noble breathe and Ramonas completely took Knights' junior standout Sloane Sorrell out of picture while the Rams were building a nice lead.

As was the case against Westbrook, Deering got off to a slow start offensively. Neither team scored in the first three minutes of the game. The Rams then got Garland to the line and she made two free throws. Ramonas followed with a layup for a 4-0 advantage, but a bank shot, two foul shots and a rebound putback by senior Maggie Burns gave the Knights their first and only lead, 6-4.

Late in the first, Manduca made back-to-back 3's. Senior Kristal Saavedra followed a jumper and Manduca capped the 10-0 run with a jumper in the lane for a 14-6 advantage. After Noble senior Alyssa Stokes (the hero of the win over South Portland) answered with a 3-ball, Garland hit a leaner as time expired for a 16-9 lead.

Deering forced nine turnovers in the first period.

Ramonas and Burns traded free throws to begin the second. Manduca then hit a jumper for a 19-10 lead. After Burns made another foul shot, Garland buried a 3, Manduca hit a jump shot, junior Jordan Cuddy made a jumper, junior Jess Ruhlin hit a long jump and Everest scored on a layup to make the score 30-11. Junior Sarah Jalbert made a rebound layup and junior Taylor O'Neil hit a foul shot, while Ramonas countered with a layup, giving the Rams a 32-16 lead at the break.

'Andrea and his players only had to look back 24 hours to know the game was far from over.

"We were aware of Noble's comeback against South Portland," D'Andrea said. "If they could do it against that team, we knew they could do it against us."

Indeed, the Knights made a run.

After Garland took a pass from Burchill and made a layup, Sorrell came to life, scoring on a layup after a steal and hitting a leaner to make it 34-20. After Jalbert hit a jump shot, Sorrell scored on a rebound layup with 5:05 to go in the third, cutting the deficit to 10, 34-24. Garland momentarily restored order with another 3-pointer, but Sorrell made another layup and Stokes added one of her own to make it a 37-28 contest. Ramonas and Sorrell traded hoops and Garland gave the Rams a 41-30 lead after three with a pair of foul shots.

Deering slammed the door in the fourth.

Burchill got it started with a jumper. Senior Porscha Lewis added two free throws to get the advantage back to 15, 45-30. After Jalbert made a layup and Burns hit two foul shots, Ramonas made two free throws and Manduca and Garland both hit one of two for a 49-34 lead with 3:25 to go. Another layup from Sorrell was answered by a free throw from Kristal Saavedra and two from Manduca. After O'Neil made one foul shot and junior Erica Anderson added a pair for Noble, the Rams put the finishing touches on their 53-39 victory when Garland made a foul shot with 32.4 seconds to go.

"It feels so awesome," Garland said. "We've been waiting for this a long time. We've worked hard."

"This is amazing," Ramonas added. "We've been working since Day 1 to get to the state championship. It's an unreal feeling."

The Rams (now 19-2) were led by 16 points from Garland.

"When we played them last time, I had a lot of open looks," Garland said. "I was surprised to get open shots tonight. They went down."

Manduca finished with 15 points.

"I love this feeling," she said. "In the first half I came out and shot really well. That opened it up for Nicole and Jess and Porscha. When one of us goes off, they have to cover us and that opens it up for the other guards. We have eight or nine players who can go in and score. All our scorers are capable of having double-figure games. We knew they had a tough game against South Portland last night. We knew if we kept on them, we'd get them tired. They don't have as much depth as we do."

Ramonas had nine points, but more importantly neutralized Sorrell when Deering was building its lead.

"She's a very good player," Ramonas said. "I knew my job was to try and shut her down. She's their main offensive threat. We knew if I could shut her down, they'd be in trouble. We knew watching the South Portland game that they could come back from a big deficit. We were always positive even when they made a run and we were struggling."

'Andrea raved about his sophomore's performance.

"She's been a solid defender for us all year," he said. "She had a huge box out late in the game. This is a group that goes deep. We use people off the bench to the best of our ability. We keep the pressure on. Noble stayed in it and played hard. I give them a lot of credit."

The Knights wound up 16-5. They were paced by 12 points from Sorrell and 10 from Burns.

Deering now turns its attention to the state final against an upstart Vikings team still riding high after upset wins over top-ranked Lawrence and defending state champion Cony to capture the Eastern A crown.

"I know they're a good basketball team because they're in the state championship game," D'Andrea said. "You don't get there unless you're a solid basketball team. We know we have our work cut out for us. We'll work hard and be ready. We won't take anybody lightly. Hopefully we can come out and play strong and get off to a good start and be successful. It'll come down to who makes shots and who defends."

Rest assured, the Rams' players are eager to earn a legacy of their own.

"I'm excited that it's here," Manduca said. "We played them in the fall league, but it'll be completely different."

"I think we have a good advantage, especially down low with Claire and Kayla's height advantage," Garland said. "Their guards are quick and strong. We know we have to step it up on defense."

"We're very excited," Ramonas added. "We'll work hard in practice. We'll feel like we underachieved if we don't take the state championship."

Capers win the west

Sport: Basketball (boys)  Posted: February 24th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

By Michael Hoffer
Special to MBR

PORTLAND- After numerous close calls, the Cape Elizabeth boys' basketball team has finally returned to the state final.

It didn't come easily, but the Capers got off to a hot start and held off a furious Freeport rally down the stretch to win the Western B title with a 57-50 triumph Saturday afternoon at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

"Our mindset today was attacking," Cape Elizabeth coach Jim Ray said. "We weren't going to be careful or tentative. We had a good practice yesterday. We played hard and stayed focused on the job at hand. We shot and the first few shots went in."

The Capers won their final 13 regular season games, earned the top seed for the tournament, then downed No. 8 Wells (by a decisive margin) and No. 4 Greely (in a close contest) to reach their first regional final since 2002.

Freeport wound up 13-5 this year and earned the No. 6 seed. The Falcons upset No. 3 Mountain Valley in the quarterfinals, then avenged two regular season losses with an upset win over No. 2 Yarmouth in the semifinals.

The Falcons beat the Capers 53-51 at home Dec. 18 (on a buzzer-beater from junior Cody Bartlett) and lost 58-49 in Cape Elizabeth Jan. 29. This was the first playoff meeting between the schools in at least 44 years.

Cape Elizabeth started off red-hot.

Capers' senior Tommy Ray opened the scoring with a jumper 25 seconds in. After the Falcons drew even on a turnaround jumper from senior Tom Markelon, senior Ian Place put Cape Elizabeth back on top with a bank shot.

With 6:11 to go in the first, Freeport senior Reid Christian hit a 3-pointer giving the Falcons their only lead of the game, 5-4.

Forty seconds later, the Capers took the lead for good when sophomore Andrew Dickey made a layup. Dickey followed with a 3, junior Alex Bowe hit a turnaround and Dickey added two foul shots for a 13-5 advantage. After Falcons' senior Kyle Flash ended the 9-0 run with a jumper, Ray hit a leaner for a 15-7 lead. Freeport got within 15-11 by period's end, as Bartlett hit a jumper in the lane and Markelon followed with a jumper.

A Bartlett floater got the Falcons within two, 15-13, but senior Shaine Burks scored on a rebound putback. After Christian again drew Freeport within two, 17-15, with a rebound putback, Capers' senior Woody Tabery scored on a layup after an offensive rebound for a 19-15 lead. Markelon answered with a leaner, but Bowe drained a 3-ball for a 22-17 lead. Bartlett hit a jumper for the Falcons, but Ray hit a 3-pointer and Bowe made two free throws to make it 27-19. After Christian made a layup, Bowe made a layup and Burks followed with one of his own for a 31-21 lead. After Bartlett made a free throw, Bowe hit another jumper and it looked as if Cape Elizabeth would take a double-digit lead into the break, but after a turnover, the Capers watched helplessly as Freeport junior Jon Klages buried an NBA-distance 3-pointer as time expired, making it a 33-25 contest.

"When Klages hit that shot at halftime, we thought there would be a huge momentum change," Bowe said. "We fought through it and still pulled out the win."

"I wasn't happy at halftime," coach Ray added. "We didn't execute down the stretch. We turned it over and Klages hit that 3 for momentum going in. We went in to the half and moved on. We knew Freeport wasn't going to go away."

Cape Elizabeth would extend its lead to as many as 14 in the early portion of the third.

A 3-ball from Dickey and a Bowe floater gave the Capers a 38-25 lead. After Klages made a free throw, Dickey hit two free throws to give Cape Elizabeth its biggest advantage, 40-26.

The Falcons then proceeded to make things very interesting.

Christian made two free throws and Bartlett sank a short jumper to make it a 10-point game, 40-30. After Bowe responded with two foul shots, Bartlett hit a leaner and a layup to pull Freeport within eight, 42-34. A pair of Bowe hoops, sandwiched around a Klages jumper, put the Capers up by 10, 46-36, heading for the fourth.

Klages again made it an eight-point game with a baseline jumper to start the final stanza. After Tabery made a free throw, Klages hit a leaner and the lead was down to seven, 47-40. After Burks made a jump shot (Cape Elizabeth's final field goal), Klages sank a 3-pointer to make it 49-43. With 5:24 to play, Markelon sank two free throws and the Falcons were within four, 49-45.

Ray answered with two free throws, but a Klages jump hook again made it a four-point contest, 51-47, with 5:02 remaining. Bowe responded by coolly hitting two foul shots. Klages and Perkins then missed 3's and Bartlett was off on a jumper. With 2:07left, Dickey made one of two free throws to make it 54-47. With 1:22 remaining, Christian made a 3-pointer to pull Freeport within four for the final time, 54-50.

The Falcons wouldn't score again and Burks made one foul shot, then later added two more to account for the 57-50 final score.

"They're a really good team," Tommy Ray said, of Freeport. "Give them a lot of credit. We respect them immensely. They played their hearts out, but luckily we came out on top. We knew that if they got a lead, they knew how to handle the ball. We wanted to come out of the gates quick. We did and we held the lead the whole game. It feels good to win."

"They gave us a run at the end," coach Ray added. "There were some nerves, but we made just enough at the foul line."

The Falcons lamented their close call.

"We came up one win short," Freeport coach Craig Sickels said. "Two things were key. One was they came out shooting very, very well from the perimeter. They shot lights-out in the first half. The other key was our inability to get to the foul line. To get there, you have to get fouled. We just didn't get to the foul line. The kids never gave up. We got it back to four. We just didn't have enough. We got in early foul trouble and that hampered our style a little bit and some of the things we wanted to do.

"We had to play some good defense and I think defensively we didn't match up real well. We tried to change the pace. We were successful and got back to four, but you can only sustain that for so long."

The Falcons (15-6) were led by 15 points from Klages. Bartlett added 13. Christian had 12 in his swan song. Markelon added six.

"The kids truly are a group," Sickels said. "We had no black sheep. No one with a chip on their shoulder. The team chemistry helped us accomplish a lot.

"The kids were great. I told them in the locker room in 21 years of coaching, I've never been more proud of any group of guys. This team here wasn't expected to do very much. We started out fast, then we struggled. To come in seeded 6 and beat 3, beat 2 and give 1 a battle, I'm really proud of the guys."

Cape Elizabeth (now 19-2) got 21 points from Bowe, 13 from Dickey and nine apiece from Burks and Ray.

"We got off to a quick start, but they battled back," Dickey said. "We hung tough and made our free throws."

Dickey was given the Pierre "Pete" Harnois Award as the top player/sportsman.

"It's still kind of sinking in," he said. "I was in complete shock. I thought it would go to either Tommy Ray or Reid Christian."

The Capers lost four consecutive Western B Finals from 1999 through 2002, but finally got over the hump.

"We're in shock, but it'll kick in," Bowe said.

Making the win sweeter still was that Jim and Tommy Ray will get to share the state final experience.

"It's awesome." Tommy Ray said. "I've been thinking about this since I first put that Saturday morning basketball T-shirt on. I've always come and watched my dad's teams play. They never got that chance to go to states. I'm glad we can do it together."

"Very special," added coach Ray. "With my son and his friends coming all the way through, seeing the pictures and watching the videos. Seeing all that stuff and having an opportunity to play in a state championship game, I couldn't be more thrilled for him.

"It's really a tribute to everybody that since I've been coaching here that's come through our program and put all the time and effort and sacrifice and hard work and come close and fall short. I always wondered what it would feel like as a coach to have a team win. I'm calm. To me, this is as much for all those kids who came up short."

Cape Elizabeth will battle undefeated Eastern B champion Maranacook in the state final Friday night at 8:45 p.m., at the Bangor Auditorium.

Going to that historic venue to battle a top-notch team just two years removed from a state title causes excitement and wariness.

"It won't be easy," Tommy Ray said. "They have a lot of good scorers. We'll have to play hard and try to find a way to come out on top."

"We played them in the preseason," Bowe said. "We lost by a few points. No one is as sharp as they are now at the start of the season."

"It'll be fun," Dickey said.

"We're happy to play in the game," coach Ray added. "Maranacook's a very good team with talented players. We'll go to work. It'll be a great experience for the kids."

Cheverus slays its nemesis, moves on to regional final

Sport: Basketball (boys)  Posted: February 21st, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Cheverus slays its nemesis, moves on to regional final
By Michael Hoffer
Special to MBR
02/21/08

PORTLAND- The Cheverus Stags weren't only facing a powerful foe Wednesday night when they took the Cumberland County Civic Center court for a Western Class A boys' semifinal.

The Stags were also facing history, unpleasant history, as that powerful foe, the Portland Bulldogs, had knocked them out of the playoffs in three of the past four years.

This time, however, Cheverus was ready and the Stags more or less dominated from the get go and went on a surprisingly easy and emphatic 63-49 victory, ending Portland's season at 14-6 and setting up a regional final showdown with Thornton Academy Saturday night.

"We got to them right off and forced them to up tempo their pace," Stags' coach Bob Brown said. "Everybody played very, very well."

Cheverus and Portland were pegged as the teams to beat at the start of the year. The Stags appeared to have the top seed for the playoffs all sewn up when they won their first 14 contests, but Cheverus then dropped three straight, to Thornton Academy, South Portland and Portland. A win at Deering in the regular season finale gave the Stags a 15-3 record and allowed them to leapfrog Thornton Academy for the top seed.

Portland, meanwhile, took an opposite road. The Bulldogs started 3-3, then won nine of 10, before finishing 13-5, good for the No. 4 seed.

Portland rallied past Deering in its quarterfinal Friday night, while Cheverus cruised to a big lead, then held off Windham in its first playoff test.

Cheverusand Portland split during the regular year (a 68-62 win for the Stags at Cheverus on Dec. 21 and a 37-31 triumph for Portland at the Expo Feb. 5).

The Bulldogs eliminated Cheverus from the playoffs in 2004 (68-52 in the regional final), 2006 (55-44 in the semifinals), and last winter (62-44 in the regional final).

This time, the Stags were determined to come out and make a statement.

Junior Mick DiStasio (who struggled mightily on the same floor against Portland in last year's loss) hinted at a huge night to come when he made a scoop shot layup just 22 seconds in to put the Stags on top. Junior Peter Foley followed with a layup for a 4-0 lead. Portland got on the board when senior Jake Longstaff made a little left-handed shot in the lane, but the Stags then erupted for eight straight. DiStasio got it started with a layup after a steal. Sophomore Indiana Faithfull then converted a three-point play. After DiStasio made one of two free throws, Foley scored on a tip in for a 12-2 lead. Longstaff finally ended the run with a 3-pointer, but Cheverus junior Ian Barwise countered with a 3-ball of his own for a 15-5 advantage with 1:57 to go in the first.

The Stags wouldn't score again until midway through the second quarter.

The Bulldogs began to crawl back into it when senior Mike Harmon made a leaner, then took a pass from senior Anthony Passmore and made a layup to cut the deficit to six, 15-9, after one.

Harmon began the second with a 3-pointer, Longstaff followed with another left-handed shot and with 4:30 to play in the half, two free throws from junior Ed Bogdanovich gave Portland its first lead, 16-15.

Ten seconds later, Faithfull answered with a short jumper, ending a 5 minute, 37 second drought, but a Bogdanovich jump shot put the Bulldogs back on top, 18-17. Faithfull answered with another jumper, but two free throws from sophomore Wally Stover gave Portland its final lead, 20-19.

Cheverus then erupted for 10 in a row.

Barwise tied it with a free throw, then put the Stags ahead to stay with a layup. DiStasio then made back-to-back hoops for a 26-20 lead, then capped the surge with a 3-ball. With time winding down in the half, however, the Bulldogs gained a little momentum back when sophomore Koang Thok made two free throws and Harmon added two more, making it a 29-24 game.

Entering the third, it was a question of which team would come out an impose its will. Many expected Portland to rally, but instead, Cheverus answered the bell and seized control.

After Bogdanovich opened the second half scoring with two free throws, Faithfull made a floater, senior Doug Alston hit a layup and Faithfull buried a long jump shot for a 35-26 lead. Harmon answered with a floater, but Barwise made a long jump shot and Foley scored on a layup to make it 39-28. Bogdanovich scored on a rebound layup at the other end, but with 2:31 to play in the third, DiStasio canned a 3-ball for a 42-30 advantage.

Portland wouldn't go away, however. After senior Dewayne Albertie made a layup, sophomore Joe Zukowski ended the period with a 3-pointer and it was still a close contest, 42-35, entering the fourth.

When Alston and DiStasio opened the final stanza with consecutive 3-pointers for a 48-35 lead, all hope looked lost for the Bulldogs, but Passmore answered with a 3 and a foul was called on the Stags, so Portland retained possession and wound up with another three points when Zukowski hit a bomb, making it 48-41.

That's as close as the Bulldogs would get.

DiStasio made a 3 with 4:38 to play. After Zukowski scored on a runner, Faithfull took a pass from DiStasio and made a layup, DiStasio hit a free throw, Foley made two foul shots, then hit a layup, senior Chris Hendrix canned two free throws and senior Keelan Donovan capped the decisive 11-0 run with a layup for a 62-43 advantage with 1:35 to go.

Portland got a jumper from Stover and two free throws apiece from Zukowski and junior Joe Violette down the stretch and Hendrix added one more free throw for Cheverus to account for the 63-49 final score.

"I can't explain how good this feels," said Alston. "The last two years they knocked us out, but we finally got it done. Everyone played as hard as we could."

"We played as a team," added DiStasio. "In the past games when we struggled, we didn't share the ball. Tonight, we passed it around. When we're unselfish, we can be scary. We played well tonight.

"Portland got us the last two years and we knew we needed to get them. This is big. Hopefully we'll keep this momentum going through."

Coach Brown was pleased to beat the Bulldogs in the tournament for a change.

"(Portland coach Joe Russo) and I go back and forth," he said. "He's put a hurting on us and on me in the past. That team might have been the hottest team coming in. They're very good. I'm very pleased. We found out in losing three straight that this is still a team game. I thought we played tough throughout the game and dictated more of the tempo than anything else."

Portland's season of growth came to an end, but the Bulldogs had much to be proud of and the rest of the league better have enjoyed this winter, because they'll be back with a vengeance in 2008-09.

"All good things must come to an end," Russo said. "I was more concerned about the law of averages. They live and die by the 3 and tonight they lived. They played very well as a team. They had a nice rhythm and flow. We made some nice runs, but turnovers killed us. That limited our shot production. Our defense played well. We knew they'd come out tough. We weren't ready, but we settled down. We never got in a rhythm. We didn't execute.

"We were picked in the preseason to be one of the best teams, but I told the kids tonight we had a remarkable year. They had to deal with stuff you don't normally have to deal with. This wasn't an all-star team. We had newcomers who had to learn the offense. I have three excellent sophomores. I told the boys it's no fun losing. What we accomplished this year was remarkable. They gave me everything I asked. I've got a lot of respect for these kids. I put them through a lot this year and they stuck with me."

Portland was paced by 11 points from Harmon and 10 from Zukowski. Bogdanovich added eight and Longstaff had seven.

Cheverus was led by DiStasio, who led all scorers with 22 points. Faithfull (13 points), Foley (10) and Barwise (eight) also had big scoring games.

The Stags will meet at Thornton Academy squad which barely survived Westbrook in the quarterfinals, then eliminated South Portland in impressive fashion in the semifinals.

Cheverus lost 51-39 at home to the Golden Trojans Jan. 29.

The Stags will be ready and wary as they seek to win their first regional final in four tries and reach the state game for the first time since losing in overtime to Bangor in 2003.

"We're more hungry than you know," Alston said. "We want to go all the way."

"They're a good team," DiStasio said, of Thornton Academy. "Strong guard play and inside presence. They beat us the first time when we weren't playing as a team. Now we are. Hopefully that will carry us through."

"They have an outstanding point guard in (senior Jeff) Winnie," Brown added. "They have one of the best big men running the floor in (senior Kory) Martin. Everyone thinks (junior James) Morse is their best player and I just mentioned two guys that I think are tremendous. They have all-conference guys. All good teams have to have a close call and they had their close call and showed character. They've been well coached. They beat us the first time. Winnie gave us trouble. He created and caused us problems. We'll come to play."

TA ends South Portland's dream run

Sport: Basketball (boys)  Posted: February 21st, 2008 by Tom Nolette

TA ends South Portland's dream run
By Michael Hoffer
Special to MBR
02/21/08

PORTLAND- Something had to give Wednesday night when two teams basking in a magical season did battle in the Western Class A semifinals at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

Despite an auspicious beginning, that something was the South Portland Red Riots, who didn't have an answer for the experienced, talented and hungry Thornton Academy Golden Trojans.

South Portland failed to take advantage of Thornton Academy foul trouble and an early six-point lead and eventually was worn down as the Golden Trojans advanced with a 58-47 victory, ending the Red Riots' season at 15-5.

"I couldn't be happier with the way my kids played this year.," South Portland first-year coach Phil Conley said. "I'm so proud of what we accomplished. My senior leadership, I couldn't ask for a better group of guys, and my sophomores really developed throughout the year. We're a family and we're hurting right now, but we did some really good things."

After losing standout Coleman Findlay to graduation and going through a highly-publicized coaching change, few expected South Portland to be a serious contender this winter.

Instead, the Red Riots won their first five games and wound up going 14-4 overall after closing the regular season with stirring wins at Cheverus and Deering and at home over Portland.

That mark gave South Portland the No. 3 seed in Western Class A and the Red Riots opened the playoffs Saturday night with a 66-48 victory over No. 11 Biddeford at the Portland Expo, as sophomore standout Keegan Hyland went off for 30 points.

That victory sent South Portland to the Cumberland County Civic Center for a semifinal showdown with a second-ranked Golden Trojans team the Red Riots defeated 52-49 at home Jan. 12. Thornton Academy had advanced after rallying past No. 7 Westbrook in the quarterfina1 round.

The teams had plenty of playoff history.

In 2005, South Portland beat the Golden Trojans 60-45 in the preliminary round. The teams also met in 1970 (a 81-57 Red Riots' win in the semifinals), 1972 (a 64-56 win for Thornton Academy in the semifinals) and 1992 (a 75-54 triumph for South Portland in the semis).

The adjustment to the often shooter-unfriendly Civic Center didn't affect Hyland or his teammates in the early going.

Hyland opened the scoring with a jumper in the lane. Junior James Morse answered with a jumper for the Golden Trojans, but senior captain Nick Gaddar followed with a free throw. After Thornton Academy senior Kory Martin made a bank shot for a 4-3 lead, sophomore Matt Lee hit a leaner to put the Red Riots back on top. Martin answered with a short jumper, but Furbush made a jumper and followed with a 3-pointer. With 3:39 to play in the first, Lee made another jumper and it was 12-6 South Portland.

The Red Riots then went cold and Thornton Academy (despite being in foul trouble) pulled within two before Hyland got free for a baseline jumper and sank it, giving South Portland a 14-10 advantage after one.

The Golden Trojans imposed their will during the second.

A layup from senior Dakota Greene and a driving layup by Morse tied the game at 14-14. Furbush responded with a pair of free throws, but Morse hit a bank shot to tie the contest again. With 5:26 to go in the first half, Furbush made a jumper to give the Red Riots their last lead, 18-16.

Thornton Academy got the next eight points as Morse hit a jumper, Greene made a driving layup and a jumper and junior Michael Guerin caught a touchdown pass and made a layup for a 24-18 advantage.

"We jumped out and they had foul trouble, but we went cold for a few minutes," Conley lamented. "Thornton Academy plays really good defense. We just didn't make shots."

With 1:02 to go, Hyland fed Wright for a layup to make it 24-20. Then, with 38.6 seconds left, Hyland appeared to have scored a basket while being fouled, but the officials ruled he was fouled before the shot and he was awarded a one-and-one instead. He missed the front end and the Golden Trojans took their 24-20 lead into the break.

Thornton Academy got off to a great start in the third when senior Jeff Winnie made a 3-pointer. After Lee scored on a driving layup, Martin rebounded his own shot and put it home for a 29-22 lead. Wright answered with a rebound putback and Gaddar made a layup to make it 29-26, but Martin scored on a turnaround. After Hyland made a driving layup, Greene made a layup, then made a free throw for a 34-28 lead. Furbush buried a 3-pointer to get South Portland back within three, 34-31, but after the Golden Trojans improbably saved possession, Greene canned a 3-ball from the side for a 37-31 advantage.

"Not much you can do about things like that," Conley said. "Good teams sometimes have things like that happen. We had them this year."

By the end of the third, Thornton Academy led 45-34 thanks to a late steal and layup from Morse.

Furbush opened the fourth with a layup, but Winnie answered with a leaner. Hyland then made a layup and two free throws after a steal to make it a 47-40 game, but Martin answered with another layup.

"Martin hurt us tonight inside," Conley said. "We've been small all year. Nick Wright's done a tremendous job for us all year. We play with who we have. My guys gave everything they have."

With 3:20 to play, Lee hit a turnaround jumper in traffic, but at the other end, Greene scored on a layup off an inbounds play. With 2:30 remaining, Greene made a free throw to push the lead to 10, 52-42. After Wright answered with a layup for South Portland, Morse made two foul shots and Winnie followed with one more to essentially ice it.

Mackie then made a 3-pointer and Morse hit three free throws to account for the 58-47 final score.

"I tip my cap to Thornton Academy," Conley said. "They made big shots. We threw everything we had at them."

The Golden Trojans were paced by 20 points from Greene, 15 from Morse and 10 apiece from Martin and Winnie. Thornton Academy (now 18-2) will face top-ranked Cheverus (17-3) in the Western A Final Saturday night at 9 p.m.

The Red Riots got 14 points from Furbush and 10 from Hyland. Wright wound up with nine and Lee had eight.

South Portland loses Furbush, Gaddar and Wright, but will return a strong group next winter.

"I'll miss my seniors," Conley said. "My sophomores will work hard over the summer to get back to the Civic Center. We know what it's like now. We'll be back."

Western Class D girls' basketball teams at a glance

Sport: Basketball (Girls)  Posted: February 18th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

http://pressherald.mainetoday.com/story.php?id=170241&ac=PHspt
 

NO. 1 BUCKFIELD

Coaches: Troy Eastman and Dan Jack

Record: 18-0

Key players: F/G Alyssa Henderson (Sr.), F/C Kasey Farrington (Sr.), C Abby Jones (Jr.), PG Emily Eastman (Jr.), G Ashley Hammond (Soph.), F/G Tristen Newton (Jr.), F Lindsey Henderson (Jr.), G Amy Reuter (Sr.)

Outlook: The Bucks are one of just two undefeated girls teams in the state. Eastman is their floor general, and Buckfield will try to run the floor as well as use its size down low. "We want to push the ball, even though we have a big team," Jack said. "We're a pretty good sized team. We're not monsterous, but we have size right across the board." Centers Jones and Farrington will rotate. Jones is Buckfield's tallest player, listed at 5-foot-11. Hammond is the team's most dangerous 3-point threat.


NO. 2 VALLEY

Coach: Gordon Hartwell

Record: 12-5

Players to watch: G Morgan Staples (Sr., 13 ppg), G Jocelyn Laweryson (Fr., 9 ppg), G Cindy Schultz (Fr., 9 ppg), F Jessica Brown (Jr., 5 ppg, 6 rpg), F Alyssa Vitalone (Jr., 5 ppg, 8 rpg), G Katelyn Atwood (Jr., 5 ppg), C Bridgett Fortin (Fr.)

Outlook: Just 4-14 last season, the Cavaliers jumped forward with the return of Staples after a year at Bangor Christian and the increased contributions of several young players. Valley defeated first-round opponent Rangeley by scores of 47-27 and 31-22 this season, but Hartwell isn't putting much stock in that. "Scores in regular-season games mean nothing, because I really don't think there's a lot separating everyone after Buckfield," he said.


NO. 3 VINALHAVEN

Coach: Torri Pratt

Record: 13-5

Key players: G Claire Carter (Sr.), G Kayla Conway, G/F Chelsey Moyer, G/F Amelia Davidson, Alex Young

Outlook: The Vikings flirted with the No. 1 ranking in Western D this season, thanks to a seven-game winning streak. They rely on a man-to-man defense, which gave some teams fits this season.


NO. 4 RICHMOND

Coach: Molly Bishop

Record: 12-6

Key players: G Megan DeRaps (soph.), F Stephanie O'Brien (Sr.), G Amy Russell (Sr.), G Melanie Schanck (Sr.), G Megan Christie (Soph.).

Outlook: Richmond opens with Forest Hills and the two teams met Jan. 5, with the Bobcats winning 56-47. However, the Tigers finished that game with just three players on the floor after three fouled out. Seniors O'Brien, Russell and Schanck will have to lead the way as much of the backcourt is inexperienced in the tournament.


NO. 5 FOREST HILLS

Coach: Mike LeBlanc

Record: 12-5

Key players: F Crystal Allen (Jr. 11 ppg), F Jessica Worcestar (Jr., 11 ppg), PG Elise Begin (Jr., 9.9 ppg)

Outlook: Forest Hills only has seven players, including an eighth-grader, on its roster, so staying out of foul trouble will be paramount. "We have a tough, uphill climb," LeBlanc said. Allen and Worcestar pace the offense, while Begin directs the offense.


NO. 6 GREATER PORTLAND CHRISTIAN

Coach: Glenn Strout,

Record: 10-6
Key players: G Megan Waugh (Sr.), G Bethany Green (Jr.), G Danielle Woodward (Soph.), G/F Jackie Schaab (Sr.), PG Cheri Keenan (Jr.)

Outlook: The Lions closed the season winning six of their last seven games, with their only defeat coming to Kents Hill in the regular-season finale. The Lions lost Green (thigh) and Keenan (ankle) to injuries in that game, and will need them healthy in order to stick around in Augusta.


NO. 7 RANGELEY

Coach: Heidi Deery

Record: 7-11

Players to watch: F-C Krista Jamison (Sr., 14 ppg, 10 rpg), G Alli Hammond (Fr., 8 ppg, 4 spg), G Sam Olivieri (Jr., 5 ppg, 6 apg, 4 spg), G Ali Godaire (Sr., 5 ppg, 5 apg, 5 spg), F Chantel Carrier (8th, 8 rpg), F Emily Carrier (8th, 6 rpg)

Outlook: The Lakers have three freshmen and five eighth-graders on their 11-player roster, so Rangeley staying competitive is a tribute to the job Deery did this season. Jamison was one of the top players in the East-West Conference this season, and the Lakers, while inconsistent, have played well against some quality teams like Forest Hills and Buckfield.


NO. 9 SEACOAST CHRISTIAN

Coach: Charlie Johnson

Record: 7-9

Key players: C Emily Hennessey (Sr.), G Shaina Richey (Jr.), F Jaylyn Acres (Jr.), F Amberlee Bennett (Jr.)

Outlook: The Guardians enter the quarterfinals after sinking No. 8 North Haven in a prelim game played in Vinalhaven. Richey and Acres lead the offense, although the team doesn' possess a lot of size.   

Winthrop's Foster flexing his muscles

Sport: Basketball (boys)  Posted: February 18th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

http://kennebecjournal.mainetoday.com/sports/stories/4779202.html
By GARY HAWKINS Staff Writer

Winthrop High School senior Larry Foster's quiet demeanor on the basketball court is a little deceiving.

"He's pretty quiet, but when he gets around a lot of the guys, he's pretty funny," teammate Sam Leclerc said. "In practice, he makes a lot of jokes. He gets the team laughing a lot."

Foster used to flex his muscles last season in front of his teammates. The joke then was he didn't have many to flex. That's changed this season, and Western Maine tournament fans who haven't seen Foster since last season will notice a big difference when they watch him today at the Augusta Civic Center.

"I've gained about 40 pounds," the 6-foot-3 Foster said. "The added strength has altered my shot a lot, but it's helped me a lot in the post and helped my driving."

Foster, who transferred from Hall-Dale after his sophomore year, came off the bench last season and was used primarily as a 3-point shooter. He changed a few games for the Ramblers, but this year he's taken on many more responsibilities."His biggest improvement has been just his strength," Winthrop coach Dennis Dacus said. "He's been lifting very hard."

Foster has done a lot of that lifting with Leclerc, with whom he also played this summer on the MBR AAU team. Foster said the intensity of those practices under coach Carl Parker helped to channel his work ethic. That, along with his added strength, makes Foster an indispensable starter for the 17-1 Ramblers.

"He's just made a big difference in the paint for us this year," Leclerc said.

Foster still weighs just 180 pounds so the added weight hasn't affected his leaping ability. In fact, it's probably helped him. "He's one of the best high jumpers in the state," Dacus said.

Last spring, Foster recorded a personal best high jump of 6-3 and finished second in the Class C state meet. He should add to those numbers this spring.

First there's the basketball tournament, though, and Foster could pose a problem for first-round opponent Hyde.

"He's a matchup problem," Dacus said. "If you put a smaller guy on him, you can post him up. If you put a bigger guy on him, he can shoot from the outside and he can drive."

Foster averages 11 points and six rebounds a game for the Ramblers and like the rest of his teammates, he can get up and down the c ourt quickly. And he still has the ability to knock down a big 3-pointer.

"He's got pretty good mechanics," Leclerc said. "He's got a good high release and a good follow-through."

Foster plans to attend Bridgton Academy next season and hopes to play basketball there although he realizes it's somewhat of a longshot right now.

"If I really want to play, I'm going to have to work hard this summer," he said.

Gary Hawkins -- 621-5638

ghawkins@centralmaine.com

The secret's out:Richmond sophomore does it all

Sport: Basketball (Girls)  Posted: February 18th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

http://kennebecjournal.mainetoday.com/sports/stories/4779306.html

Megan DeRaps is no longer under wraps.

Richmond girls basketball coach Molly Bishop tried to screen her secret for as long as she could. But, sadly for Bishop, good playmakers and producers are tough to hide. Eventually, with enough double-doubles, you become part of someone else's game plan.

"Toward the beginning of the year not too many people knew about me," said DeRaps, who plays a little of everything for the Bobcats, the No. 4 seed in the Western D tournament. "(Bishop) knew I had a good shot, knew I was capable of doing well. As the season progressed, I showed that and then was no longer a secret."

Added Bishop: "I would've liked to keep her to myself."

Meet Megan DeRaps.

She's a sophomore guard-forward-center who also competes on Richmond's track team. She says basketball is her life and plays the game every day, no matter the season. She loves the outdoors, riding her family's four-wheeler and porous defenses.

"I'm always active," she said. "I'm very active."

She's also a big reason the Bobcats earned a trip to the Augusta Civic Center in the Western D quarterfinals. Richmond (12-6) plays fifth-seeded Forest Hills at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday.

DeRaps received most of her minutes last season on the junior varsity squad, but Bishop knew the versatile 5-foot-8 player could shoot the ball.

"She played a little bit for me last year," she said, "but she wasn't ready to take the next step. I've been patiently waiting."

The wait ended in a preseason game against Oak Hill, in which DeRaps scored 18 points. She continued her scoring into the season, putting up big numbers against good teams, including Buckfield, Valley and Rangeley.

In a late-season loss to Buckfield (18-0), a team the Bobcats could face in the semifinals, DeRaps went for a double-double, scoring 11 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.

"She's just smooth," Bishop said. "You know when she shoots that the ball is going in. You never have to worry about it at all."

DeRaps has benefited from playing with a core of seniors, including guards Melanie Schanck, Stephanie O'Brien and Amy Russell. The trio helped alleviate some of the pressure that accompanied DeRaps' transition to becoming a starter this season.

"She's coming into her own now," Bishop said.

"I've never actually been the playmaker on a team but Coach Bishop has asked me to step up and become that," DeRaps added. "It's been a fun experience. I've been trying to do my best to keep up with my teammates. Next year, the seniors will be gone and the other Megan (Christie) and I will have to step up."

Bill Stewart -- 623-3811, ext. 515

bstewart@centralmaine.com

Four straight for Hussey; Noble second in Class A wrestling championship

Sport:   Posted: February 17th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

http://www.fosters.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080217/GJSPORTS_01/134918031/-1/FOSSPORTS03

By BROOKS PAYETTE

AUGUSTA — Jon Hussey cemented himself in Marshwood High School wrestling history Saturday night at the Class A championships held at Cony High School in Augusta.

Pitted in the 160-pound finals against Tyler Russell of Morse, Hussey dominated and won by technical fall, 21-6. The victory marked his fourth Class A title — a school record — all of which have come at different weight classes.

Hussey finished his Maine career a perfect 184-0, an accomplishment Marshwood coach Matt Rix said he will never see again.

"We have had some three timers, but never four," said Rix, who team finished sixth with 59.5 points. "After Jon won (his first three years), there was no question in my mind it was going to happen. There is nobody in the state that is close to Jon."

Hussey, who has previous titles at 125, 135 and 152, took advantage of the rare occasion.

"Coming in there was a lot of pressure that weighted me down, but it feels good to even have the opportunity to win a fourth straight state title," he said.

Hussey took control of his match early. He got Russell into a spladle that Russell barely escaped and held a 11-3 edge after the first round. In the second, it was over.

"The game plan was to not wrestle on the mat and keep on my feet," said Hussey. "I hit a duck under three times in a row. It was the most effective move of the match."

Hussey won his opening-round match, pinning James Grant of Skowhegan in just 16 seconds. In the semifinals, Hussey pinned Caleb Flanders of Oxford Hills in 4:59.

He now has his eye on his first New England title on Feb. 29 and March 1 in Lowell, Mass.

"I'm settling for nothing less (than a title)," said Hussey.

Noble High School also produced a pair of state champions, but fell short of its goal to return to the top of Class A.

The Knights finished second to champion Massabesic, 151.5 to 147.5.

The Knights held the lead twice in the final round only to see Massabesic's Joey Eon and Josh Eon take it away with match victories. It was the Mustangs second straight after Noble held the previous eight titles.

Despite suffering defeat, Noble coach Kip DeVoll was not disappointed with the Knights' performance.

"We came in here with the idea of taking (Massabesic) to the limit, which we did," said DeVoll. "We needed a few more breaks. Their guys wrestled very well and so did ours. I couldn't have asked for any more."

Championship wins by Mark Richardson (135) and Peter Bronder (145) gave Noble a slight lead, but each time, the Eons changed that.

First, Joey Eon gave the Mustangs a two-point lead, pinning Noble's Steve Desrochers at 140.

After Bronder's 12-6 decision over Paul Rivard of Sanford, Josh Eon (171) pinned T.J. Lavallee of Cony in just 1:14 to secure the championship.

"(Noble) just kept coming at us," said Massabesic coach Rick DeRosier. "I have a lot of respect for Noble. They didn't give up one bit."

Massabesic led 140.5 to 137.5 heading into the finals before Noble's Ken Hagen (119) and Jake Longley (125) dropped their championship matches.

A surprise pin victory (5:39) from Noble's Mark Richardson over defending champion Peter Gilman of Massabesic — Richardson lost to Gilman in the Southwestern meet — leapfrogged Noble into first place.

"That was a big upset," said DeVoll.

Richardson said he just wanted to prove people wrong.

"I went out there with nothing to lose," said Richardson. "(Winning) was unbelievable."

Richardson said he was happy with the team performance in a meet it had less competitors than the champions.

"We came in with three guys less than (Massabesic)," he said. "We gave it our all."

Other top four finishers for the Knight included Bryan Anderson (3rd, 130), Joseph Badger (3rd, 112) and Trevor Savage (3rd, 285).

Marshwood wrestlers earning top-four spots included Jake Rasque (3rd, 103), Matt Jenkins (4th, 112) and James Demetracopoulos (4th, 145).
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