Cheverus does it again, this time to Deering

Sport: Basketball (boys)

Posted: January 23rd, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Cheverus does it again, this time to Deering
Special to MBR
By Michael Hoffer

PORTLAND- The scouting report on the Cheverus Stags is pretty simple. They love to press, get easy transition baskets and drain 3-pointers.

Stopping the Stags is much more difficult.

Wednesday night at Keegan Gym, it was the Deering Rams' turn to discover just how explosive Cheverus can be. Before they knew what hit them, the Rams trailed 16-5 and although they rallied valiantly in the second half, they didn't have enough and the Stags pulled away to stay perfect (13-0) with a 67-49 victory.

Junior Mick DiStasio had 18 points and classmate Ian Barwise added 16 (as both made multiple 3-pointers) to lead the onslaught.

"It's the second game in a row we've come out really sharp," Barwise said. "We're playing well. It's good to come out with intensity like that. We knew we were good, but we didn't know how good we were. Beating a team like this does a lot for our confidence. It's Deering-Cheverus. It's bound to be intense. It's nice playing intense games like this."

"We just dug ourselves too deep of a hole," Deering coach Dan LeGage said.

Cheverus entered the week behind Thornton Academy and Deering in the Western Class A Heal Points standings despite its unblemished record. Monday night, the Stags hosted Westbrook and shot to a 20-0 lead en route to an easy 68-45 win.

Deering came to Ocean Avenue Wednesday full of confidence after Saturday night's impressive home win over Portland and a romp at Massabesic Monday which made the Rams 10-2.

That confidence disappeared almost immediately and the Stags quickly seized control.

Just 46 seconds into the game, DiStasio buried a 3-pointer and Cheverus was on top to stay. With 6:21 to go in the first period, DiStasio scored on a layup to make it 5-0, which forced LeGage to call timeout. A layup by Deering senior Kyle Donovan got the Rams off the schneid, but Barwise answered with a 3-pointer.

Deering got back within three, 8-5, on a 3-ball from junior Khadar Abbas (who had a breakout game versus Portland), but the Rams would never get that close again.

Cheverus senior Alex Fraser and Barwise connected on back-to-back 3-pointers and junior Dan Foster added a layup for a 16-5 lead. Rams' junior Ronald Abwoch momentarily stemmed the tide with a roller, but Foster buried a 3-ball and the Stags had a 19-7 advantage after one period.

"That's been Cheverus' m.o. all year," said LeGage. "If you don't let them go on those runs, you have a chance. When their perimeter game's going and they're shooting that well, they're tough. We had guys on them. They just made them. They pride themselves on their shooting and pressure defense."

When DiStasio opened the second quarter with a 3-pointer, it appeared as Deering would be run out of the building. The Rams crawled back within 10, however, as sophomore Ed Tirabassi made a layup and Abwoch buried a 3-pointer. After Cheverus sophomore Indiana Faithfull made one of two free throws, DiStasio connected on a 3-pointer and Faithfull added a layup for a 28-12 advantage. After senior Nick Burkhardt converted an old-fashioned 3-point play for the visitors, Faithfull scored on a layup after a steal and Barwise nailed a 3-ball for the Stags' biggest lead, 33-15.

"I love to shoot them," Barwise said, of his long-distance bombs. "I don't really think about it. If they fall, they fall."

Thanks to seven straight points from Donovan, Deering crept back to within 11, 33-22, but Barwise made a layup and junior Ian Schwartz did the same to give Cheverus a commanding 37-22 lead at the half.

The visitors could have wilted, but instead, they embarked on a furious rally.

Abbas opened the second half with a layup. Abwoch added two free throws, then Donovan made a layup to get the deficit under 10, 37-28. Cheverus senior Doug Alston made two free throws, ending a 4 minute, 33 second drought and Faithfull buried a 3-ball, but Donovan hit one of two free throws, senior Tim Conley scored on a rebound putback and Conley converted a three-point play to make it a 42-34 contest with 2:27 to play in the third quarter.

"We had it under control, but we didn't play well," Cheverus coach Bob Brown said. ""We got disorganized. We stood around and didn't run our offense. We didn't do any of the things we should. Their pressure got to us and we didn't handle it well. We turned it over and didn't play solid halfcourt defense. The whole thing crumbled."

After Alston scored on a layup with 1:55 left, Tirabassi scored on a rebound layup and Donovan followed with an emphatic dunk after a pretty move to squeeze through a pair of defenders. With 36.7 seconds left, Donovan made the second of two free throws and the Rams were suddenly within five, 44-39, but Cheverus senior Keelan Donovan made two free throws with 11.7 seconds remaining to end Deering's 10-2 run and give the Stags a 46-39 advantage heading for the final stanza.

Just 15 seconds into the fourth, however, Abbas drained a 3-pointer and the Rams were only down 46-42, the closest they'd been since 8-5.

Cheverus would respond.

First, DiStasio made both ends of a one-and-one. Schwartz followed with a free throw, then Barwise made another 3 for a 52-44 lead.

Donovan answered with a rebound layup, but Barwise made a layup for the Stags and DiStasio followed with a free throw for a 55-44 advantage. With 3:56 to play, Abbas drained another 3 to make it 55-47, but the Rams would get no closer.

Cheverus closed the game on a 12-2 run, thanks to three layups, a 3-pointer and three foul shots from Alston, as it put the finishing touches on the 67-49 win.

"(Cheverus) had three big runs," LeGage said. "They had one at the beginning, then they had another run. We made our run in the third quarter. Then they had a run to put it away. They shot the ball well. When Barwise and DiStasio shoot like that it's tough."

"We came out a little slow in the second half," Barwise said. "We didn't take care of the ball as well as we should have. Other than little mistakes, we got through it and started playing well again."

While DiStasio and Barwise combined for 34 points, the Stags also got eight points apiece from Faithfull and Foster, seven from Alston, five from Donovan , three from Fraser and a pair from Schwartz.

Deering was led by Donovan's 17 points. Abbas finished with 11. Abwoch added seven. Conley finished with five points, Tirabassi four, Burkhardt three and senior Kristopher Stephenson two.

"I'm proud of the guys," LeGage said. "They could have easily cashed it in. They didn't. They hit shots. That's something we can build on. We get them again. Our guys know what it's like so there won't be that shock at the beginning, but until we're able to sustain that sort of third quarter effort for 32 minutes, we'll have the same results.

"Certainly, there were some things to build on. We can't get too high or too low. It's too early to push the panic button. If I thought we played a good game and still lost by 18, I'd be nervous. We played two good quarters and two bad quarters. Next time, we have to put four good quarters together."

Both teams still have several huge tests remaining as the regular season draws to a close.

Deering is home to face Biddeford Friday, goes to Marshwood and Portland next week, then closes the season with home games versus South Portland and Cheverus.

The Stags visit the red-hot Red Riots Friday night, then come home Tuesday for a monster showdown with Thornton Academy. Cheverus then has its home finale versus South Portland before finishing the regular year at Portland and Deering.

"It doesn't get any easier," Brown said.