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Cheverus rallies past SP in an Instant Classic

Sport: Basketball (boys)  Posted: January 26th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Cheverus rallies past SP in an Instant Classic
By Michael Hoffer
Special to MBR

SOUTH PORTLAND- For the vast majority of Friday night's showdown at historic Beal Gymnasium, the host South Portland Red Riots woke up the echoes and had the undefeated Cheverus Stags on the ropes.

When the dust had cleared, however, the Stags remained the lone unbeaten team in Western Class A after rallying for an absolutely palpitating 63-61 overtime victory.

Cheverus embarked on a furious fourth quarter rally, erased a 12-point deficit, tied the game with just over a minute to go in regulation, took the lead for good with 37 seconds remaining in overtime, then watched helplessly as two potential South Portland game-winning 3-point bids barely missed in the waning seconds, before holding on for a 63-61 victory in arguably the finest game of the year.

"This was the first scare I've had all season," said Cheverus senior captain Doug Alston, who tied the game with two free throws late in regulation, then added five points in OT. "(South Portland's) a very good team. In the first half, we didn't play the best we could. We came out with heart in the second half and came out with a 'W.' It shows we can overcome the challenge. We buckled down and got through it as a team."

"We had a few turnovers late in the game, but overall, I'm so impressed with and proud of my team," countered South Portland's first-year coach Phil Conley. "I couldn't have asked for anything more. They left it all on the line. I thought we hit shots, like they did. I thought it was a great high school basketball game. Cheverus is a very good team, but we are as well and I think we proved it tonight."

Cheverus came to South Portland with a 13-0 record and plenty of confidence after riding staunch defense and devastating 3-point shooting to relatively easy home wins over Westbrook and Deering earlier in the week.

The Red Riots, meanwhile, have impressed under Conley, and the up-and-coming team has hit its stride earlier than expected. South Portland's lone losses were close decisions at home to Deering and Scarborough. The Red Riots' biggest win to date was a victory over Thornton Academy.

Some still felt South Portland wasn't quiet at Cheverus' level, but the Red Riots dispelled all doubts with their performance in front of a raucous crowd.

The visitors took a quick 3-0 lead on a 3-ball from sophomore Indiana Faithfull. After the hosts tied the game on a bank shot from sophomore standout Keegan Hyland a foul shot from senior Nick Gaddar, the Stags went up 6-3 on a free throw from junior Peter Foley and a rebound layup by senior standout Mick DiStasio.

South Portland would get the next six points as senior Nick Wright made a layup, Hyland scored on a rebound layup and senior Will Furbush scored on a layup for a 9-6 lead. Alston got one point back with a foul shot, but the Red Riots closed the quarter with two free throws from sophomore Matt Lee and a layup by Gaddar for a 13-7 advantage.

Cheverus would get the first eight points of the second quarter.

Faithfull got things started with a second 3-ball. After junior Will White made two free throws, White canned a 3-ball to make it 15-13 Stags, but Cheverus wouldn't lead again in regulation.

Lee tied the game with a layup after a steal and Gaddar (taking a pretty pass from Lee) put his team on top with a layup. After Stags' junior Ian Barwise made a free throw, Wright scored on a layup after a steal. DiStasio scored on a layup to make it a 19-18 game, but Hyland hit a baseline jumper, Gaddar scored on a rebound layup and Furbush canned two foul shots for a 25-18 lead.

Cheverus junior Dan Foster stemmed the tide with a floater, but Hyland answered with two free throws. After Faithfull made a layup, Hyland scored on a transition layup to give South Portland a 29-22 advantage at halftime.

Many on hand expected the Stags to make a run in the third period, but the Red Riots didn't let up.

After junior Ian Schwartz made a layup for the visitors, Gaddar converted a left-handed layup. Faithfull answered by making one of two foul shots, but Hyland buried a 3-pointer at the other end (South Portland's first made 3 of the night) for a 34-25 lead. After DiStasio scored on a layup, Furbush canned a 3-ball and Wright made two free throws to give the hosts their biggest lead, 39-27.

DiStasio answered with a long jumper and Foster made a 3, but Hyland answered with a 3 at the other end, keeping the lead at 10, 42-32. After Alston answered with a 3-ball for the visitors, Lee made one of his own for a 45-35 advantage.

With just over a minute to go in the third, DiStasio made two free throws, but Hyland hit his third 3 of the quarter and South Portland led 48-37. Faithfull gave his team some momentum, however, making a bank shot as time expired (after Barwise tipped a rebound to him) to make it a nine-point game, 48-39, with eight minutes to go.

The Stags' heart, desire and skill would make a huge difference in the final stanza.

Alston opened the period with a layup. After Hyland made a floater for his final points of the night, Faithfull scored on a layup after a steal, DiStasio made a long jumper, then DiStasio canned a 3-ball with 3:37 to go, cutting the Red Riots' lead to just two, 50-48. Seconds later, Alston appeared to tie the game with a layup, but the officials ruled he traveled first.

With 3:03 left, Furbush took a pass from Gaddar and made a 3-pointer for a 53-48 lead, but 24 seconds later, Barwise converted an old-fashioned three-point play. Lee made a layup off an inbounds play with 2:02 to go for a 55-51 advantage, but Barwise tipped home the miss of DiStasio 3-point attempt with 1:48 left, and after a South Portland turnover, Alston made two free throws to tie the game at 55-55 (the first deadlock since 15-15) with just over a minute to play in regulation.

"We worked the ball around a lot more in the second half and got more open shots," Alston said. "As a captain, I felt it was my duty to help the team as much as I could and that's what I did."

With time winding down, Furbush had a shot from the wing to win it, but it was off. Hyland attempted to tip it home, but failed and Cheverus got the rebound with 1.3 seconds left. The Stags weren't able to get a good shot off, however, and it was on to overtime.

If South Portland had capitulated there, no one would have been surprised.

Instead, the Red Riots kept battling.

After the Stags went up 57-55 (for their first lead since 15-13) on two Alston free throws, Gaddar tied the game with a layup. With 1:46 to go in OT, Alston made two more free throws. Twenty seconds later, he hit another for a 60-57 advantage, but Gaddar made a layup to cut the deficit to one, then, with just 48.3 seconds to go, Furbush canned two free throws to put the Red Riots back on top, 61-60.

Cheverus then proved it had icewater in its veins.

With the game on the line, DiStasio fed Barwise with a gorgeous pass and the junior made a layup for a 62-61 lead with 37 seconds to go. South Portland dribbled into the Stags' zone and looked to answer, but instead called timeout to set up a potential game winning shot.

The Red Riots would execute the diagrammed play perfectly as Hyland dribbled into the lane, drew the defense, then fed Furbush on the wing, but Furbush's shot rattled in and out and Faithfull rebounded and was fouled with just 5.6 seconds to go.

Faithfull missed the first foul shot, but made the second, putting the hosts on the ropes.

"I wasn't going to miss the second one," Faithfull said. "It was fun. We all played with our hearts. The crowd was amazing. Everyone got into it. We got after it in the second half."

South Portland quickly raced the ball up court and got it to Gaddar as the clock neared zero. Gaddar unleashed a promising shot from just outside the 3-point arc, but it was barely long and as the horn sounded, Cheverus exulted while several Red Riots sagged to the floor in shock.

The Stags had survived and stayed undefeated with the stirring 63-61 win.

"(South Portland) outplayed us," Cheverus coach Bob Brown said. "They outhustled us. They outexecuted us in the first half. Give them all the credit. We made a few substitutions. We made played hard and solidly executed some offense that they didn't take us out of. We made plays. This is our fourth game in seven days. For those kids to have enough in them to win shows a lot."

"In overtime, the two looks were exactly what we wanted, but the shots were in and out," Conley lamented. "I can't fault the shots. That's what we drew up and what we wanted. We executed. We just didn't make it, but I think this game is good experience for us as we make our stretch run.

"(Cheverus) played very good defense. I thought offensively, we had looks all game. It was a great atmosphere. A packed gym. Our fans were supportive, which I appreciate."

Cheverus got 15 points from DiStasio, 14 from Faithfull and 13 from Alston. Barwise added eight. White and Foster both finished with five, Schwartz had two and Foley added one.

"We've got so many players who contribute in different ways," Faithfull said. "We never get down."

"The reason I think we won is that the bench came in and helped us," Brown added. "I'm talking about (senior Keelan) Donovan, Schwartz, White and Foster. All of those guys came in and even (senior Chris) Hendrix came in. Two of them started in the second half because my big guys sat since they weren't doing anything.

"I think we showed character. Especially having to play these games against good teams. I thought Alston played hard down the stretch. He stepped up and made the plays. He had courage to fail. He didn't fail. He made foul shots."
"DiStasio at the end made three or four big plays. That pass at the end was a very big play.

"I think (South Portland's) phenomenal. The place was packed and the crowd was going crazy. It was like the old days. The fans got their money's worth. South Portland is as dangerous a team as we've played. They're athletes. Hyland's a great player. Furbush is a great player. I think Conley's done a great job and has made them believe."

Hyland led all scorers with 21 points (although he had just two in the fourth quarter and OT). Gaddar had a sensational effort with 13 points. Furbush finished with 12. Lee had nine and Wright six.

South Portland (11-3 and fourth in the Western Class A Heal Points standings) doesn't have much time to lick its wounds. The Red Riots go to Portland Tuesday, then visit Cheverus Friday. The regular season slate ends with a game at Deering and a visit from Portland.

"Our guys continue to work hard everyday and continue to get better," Conley said. "I think we're right there. We'll have good practices and be ready for Portland Tuesday."

Cheverus (now 14-0, but still third to Thornton Academy and Deering in the Heals) hosts Thornton Academy in a compelling showdown Tuesday night. The Stags then welcome South Portland before finishing the regular year at Portland and Deering.

"We don't have any breathers the rest of the way," Alston said.

Either do those of us fortunate enough to follow these amazing athletes and teams.

Waynflete stuns Yarmouth...and it's not even close

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

Waynflete stuns Yarmouth...and it's not even close
By Michael Hoffer
Special to MBR

PORTLAND- The Yarmouth Clippers boys' basketball team traveled to Waynflete Thursday afternoon with the top ranking in the Western Class B Heal Points standings in tow.

The Clippers were also on an emotional high as senior standout Joe Dilworth (who missed a month with a broken hand) had been cleared to play.

It all should have added up to an easy win for Yarmouth against an unfamiliar Western Class C foe, but this is why they play the games.

The host Flyers made an emphatic statement, seizing control early in the second half, then pulling away for a surprisingly easy 69-54 victory.

Waynflete put forth an inspired effort from start to finish, amazed even its most ardent supporters and got the job done led by 25 points from senior star Lucas O'Neil.

"It was a complete team effort tonight," said O'Neil, who has emerged into one of the top players in the Western Maine Conference this winter. "We were confident. Anytime we step in a gym, we feel like we'll compete and get a win. A lot of players stepped up. I was proud of my teammates tonight."

"I'm happy for the kids," Waynflete coach Rich Henry added. "We've been working hard."

Yarmouth has arguably been the most compelling local story of the 2007-08 season. The Clippers, just two years removed from a 1-17 campaign, have enjoyed stirring wins over Falmouth, Greely, Freeport and Falmouth again (the latter three coming after Dilworth's injury) and they've done it behind a stirring style of play, led by the ballhandling and pinpoint passing of senior point guard Lucas Denning, the bruising inside play of senior Ben Groves, the sharpshooting of junior Johnny Murphy and consistent unheralded performances from an assortment of supporting players.

The Clippers entered the game after having nearly a week off following last Friday's 63-56 win at Falmouth (behind 30 points from Murphy).

The Flyers, meanwhile, had been competitive all year, but were still looking for a signature win. Waynflete had improved to 6-6 Tuesday after an improbable 54-53 come-from-behind win at Hyde. In that one, the Flyers blew a late lead and fell behind by three, but somehow survived when O'Neil was fouled with time winding down and was awarded five free throws after a technical. He made four of his foul shots and Waynflete snuck out of town with a 54-53 win and a dose of confidence, which paid huge dividends Thursday.

In the early going, it appeared as if Yarmouth would cruise to an expected, easy win.

After Waynflete took a 2-0 lead on a short jumper from sophomore John Malia, Murphy buried a jump shot and Clippers' senior Robb Arndt made a layup for a 4-2 lead.

The Flyers went up 5-4 on an old-fashioned three-point play by Malia, but Groves made a pair of layups, hit two free throws and Murphy buried a jump shot for a 12-5 advantage.

Waynflete wouldn't wilt, however.

A rebound tip by Malia ended Yarmouth's 8-0 run. After Dilworth made his first appearance for the Clippers, O'Neil made a spinning layup and senior Jared Entwistle scored on a jumper to cut the deficit to one, 12-11, after one quarter.

Waynflete retook the lead on a layup from junior Hassan Jeylani, then extended its run to 10-0 on a Jeylani jumper to go up 15-12. Murphy tied the score with a 3-pointer, but O'Neil answered with a jump shot and Jeylani scored on a rebound layup for a 19-15 lead.

The Clippers then ripped off seven quick points as Groves scored on a layup, senior Jack Champlin made two free throws and Murphy canned a 3-ball. The Flyers got a jumper from O'Neil, but Groves made a layup. O'Neil made another jumper and Entwistle hit a foul shot to tie the game at 24-24. After Groves scored on a layup after a spin move, Waynflete was able to grab the halftime lead as O'Neil scored on a layup after a steal, then hit a long jumper for a 28-26 advantage.

Many on hand expected Yarmouth to take control in the second half, but instead, the hosts would carry play.

The Clippers tied the game just 14 seconds into the third period on a rebound layup from sophomore Evan Henry. Nineteen seconds later, Yarmouth went up 30-28 when Henry hit a short jumper, but Entwistle answered with a layup for the Flyers. After Groves made a layup to give the Clippers their last lead, 32-30, Jeylani buried a 3 to put his team on top to stay. Malia added a layup to make it 35-32. After Denning made a foul shot, Entwistle answered with a layup. Groves made a free throw to make it a 37-34 game, but the hosts scored the next eight points, as Malia made a short jumper, O'Neil hit a layup and sophomore Bill Ngoal converted back-to-back layups (the second coming after a steal) for a 45-34 advantage. Champlin made a short jumper in the final minute to cut the deficit to nine, 45-36, entering the fourth quarter, but it was clear that Waynflete had Yarmouth on the ropes.

O'Neil started the final period by making the first of two free throws for a 46-36 lead. After missing the second, O'Neil got his own rebound and laid it in to make it 48-36. Denning answered with a three-point play, but Flyers' sophomore Cecil Gardner made a layup for a 50-39 lead. Champlin hit back-to-back shots to make it a seven point game, 50-43, but O'Neil stemmed the tide with a layup. After Groves made a bank shot to cut the deficit back to seven, 52-45, Jeylani calmly sank two free throws to push the lead back to nine.

Champlin answered with a jumper and Groves made a left-handed layup to make it a five-point game, 54-49, with 4 minutes to play, but Malia hit a layup after a steal and Ngoal made a layup for a 58-49 lead. After Denning got the Clippers back within seven, 58-51, with a jumper, Malia made two free throws for a 60-51 lead.

With 2:46 to play, Denning hit one of two free throws to make it a 60-52 game, but Yarmouth was running out of time. O'Neil made a layup and two free throws for a 64-52 lead. Ngoal made three free throws and O'Neil a pair to make it 69-52, then Champlin scored on a rebound layup with under a minute to go to account for the 69-54 final score.

"We felt good at halftime," O'Neil said. "We knew they'd make a run and to be ready.

We limited them to a lot of one-and-out possessions. This is a big 'W' for a young team."

"I tried to stress to the kids that they did the things we've been talking about doing," Henry added. "I asked them, 'How did it feel? Did it feel like you were playing otherworldly or did it feel like the things we were doing in practice?' To a man, they realized we did the things we talked about.

"We faced Yarmouth last year in the Old Orchard Beach tournament. It didn't count. We were somewhat familiar with them. We knew they were a good team, but we knew we needed to play smart and not be in awe."

While O'Neil led all scorers with his 25 points, he had plenty of company. Malia had 15 points. Jeylani added 11. Ngoal had nine, Entwistle event and Gardner two.

"It was a complete team effort tonight," O'Neil said. "We were confident. Anytime we step in a gym, we feel like we'll compete and get a win. A lot of players stepped up. I was proud of my teammates tonight."

"We tried to make some adjustments on how we were playing and how we blocked out," Henry added. "Pretty much, we knew we were doing what we wanted to do. We knew they'd make a run.

"We knew pressure was key. We wanted to make them play halfcourt defense against us. Once we were able to break their pressure, we were OK. Making free throws was big for a young team. When Lucas makes them, I expect that. When some the younger kids step up, it's a bonus."

For Yarmouth, Groves led the way with 21 points. Champlin had 12. Murphy finished with 10, but all of them came in the first half. Denning added seven and Arndt and Henry both had two. Dilworth did not attempt a shot from the field. He did miss a pair of foul shots. While he appeared a little rusty, he did play solid defense and grabbed a couple rebounds and steals. It shouldn't be long until he's back in game shape.

The Clippers (now 11-2 and still first in the Western B Heals) quickly hopped a bus home and coach Adam Smith was unavailable for comment. Yarmouth is home against Gray-New Gloucester Saturday night.

The Flyers (7-6 and now fifth in the Western C Heals) host Old Orchard Beach Saturday afternoon.

Thursday's victory will be a great building block.

"If anything, this puts more pressure on us, because know we know what we're capable of," Henry said. "I hope it's a steppingstone for them."

"We're definitely jelling," O'Neil added. "I'm anxious to see what we can do when get into the tournament."

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.

WIZ Words: Head'n Down The Homestretch (Plus WIZ Top 10 Team)

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

WIZ Words: Head'n Down The Homestretch (Plus WIZ Top 10 Team)
by The WIZ

Wow folks the season is flying by. Do you realize that there are only 3 weeks left in regular season play? Teams are beyond the halfway point and they are just now starting to head down the homestretch. In a way it is like the Kentucky Derby as they turn that last corner and you have a bunch of great horses that battle it out down the homestretch. In Maine H.S. basketball its all about making the post season tournament and then a brand new season starts. We know that the top 4 or 5 teams in each class East and West are in but these next 3 weeks there are huge games coming which will decide whos in and whos not in. This is going to get very exciting.

The Prelim games will be played on Tuesday 2/12 and Wednesday 2/13 and the Quarter-Finals will start on 2/15. We will have to keep an eye on the Heal Points the next 3 weeks to see who makes it and who doesnt make it.

In Eastern Class A there are 16 teams and 11 will make the post season play with 5 teams drawing a bye and 6 teams playing a prelim game.

In Class A West there are 16 teams and the same holds here as well with 11 teams playing in post season play. 5 teams get a bye and 6 teams will play a prelim game.

In Class B East there are a whopping 22 teams. 15 will make post season play with the top team drawing a bye and 14 teams playing a prelim game to qualify for the Quarter-Final games.

In Class B West there are 16 teams and 10 will go on to post season play with 6 teams drawing a bye and 4 teams playing a Prelim game.

In Class C East there are 18 teams with the top 11 teams making it with 5 teams drawing a bye and 6 teams playing a Prelim game.

In Class C West there are 23 teams. 14 teams will make the post season play with 2 teams drawing a bye and 14 teams will fight it out with a Prelim game to try and make the Quarter-Final games.

In Class D East there are 22 teams this year. 15 teams will make post season play with the # 1 top team drawing a bye and 14 teams will battle-it-out to qualify for the Quarter-Finals.

In Class D West there are 15 teams and the top 9 teams will continue on to post season play with the top 7 teams drawing a bye and # 8 and # 9 will play a prelim game to see who earns the right to move on to the Quarter-Finals.

Over the next 3 weeks there are so many huge games coming to many to list but as I already said this is going to get very exciting. As we head down the homestretch this is when teams really want to start putting it all together. Teams want to start to run on all cylinders as they battle it out for top seeds and get their teams fine-tuned for tourney time.

Undefeated teams this week drops from 9 teams to 8 teams with Deer Isle dropping off with their first loss to Lee Academy.

Undefeated Teams:


Big Games this week:

Monday 1/21:

Scarborough at Portland
Westbrook at Cheverus
Bangor at Lawrence
Maranacook at Lincoln
Mattanawcook at John Bapst
MDI at Presque Isle
Dexter at Orono
Ashland at Easton

Tuesday 1/22:

South Portland at Kennebunk
Thornton at Bonny Eagle
Richmond at Valley
Old Town at Mattanawcook
Rockland at Gardiner
Lee at Calais
Winthrop at Mountain Valley (make-up game)

Wednesday 1/23:

Deering at Cheverus (make-up game)
Hyde at Gould
Fort Kent at Caribou

Thursday 1/24:

Yarmouth at Waynflete
Narraguagus at Calais
Stearns at Dexter

Friday 1/25:

Biddeford at Deering
Cheverus at South Portland
Kennebunk at Thornton
Portland at Westbrook
Dirigo at Winthrop
Traip at Cape
Lewiston at Lawrence
Morse at Messalonskeer
Mt. Ararat at Hampden
Belfast at Rockland
Washinton Acad. at Woodland

Saturday 1/26:

Greely at Freeport
York at Traip
Calais at Hyde
Lee at Schenck

As we head into this weeks WIZ Top 10 Teams there are no changes as WIZ Top 10 teams did not lose a game. Amazing! But I guarantee there will be changes next week. Teams knocking on the door has a couple of changes with the red hot Cougars of Mt. Blue coming back in and making their bid to get back into The WIZ Top 10. The Cougars who lost their first two games of the season are now 9-1 since then with their only loss was to # 1 Bangor. Coach Bessy has the young team playing very well.

Also the Mattanawcook Lynx are on fire as they have won 4 straight including a big win over Lee Academy this past week. This week they are 13 teams listed as knocking on the door but there are about a dozen other teams that are right behind those teams that are right there also. Just too many to list but this whole thing will all play out in the next few weeks.
Action is going to get fast and furious. Who is going to step up and who is going to step out?

WIZ Top 10 Teams- Week # 7:

1.Bangor----12-0 Only one game this past week! Another Crusher! They crushed Lewiston 83-56! Two big games this week! First off to Lawrence! Bulldogs would love to pull off the upset! Then host the Red Hot Red Eddies of Edward Little! Wowzer! Eddies look for revenge! Can they get it!

2.Cheverus---11-0 Big game with Deering postponed! Beat a good Scarborough team 54-42! Stags 11-0! # 1 in the West! # 2 in the State! Next up a Monday night game! Host the Blazes of Westbrook! Then a Biggie! Host the Rams of Deering! A Wednesday Night Heavy Weight Match-Up! Then a Friday night Main Event! Across the bridge to South Portland! To take on the Red Hot! Red Riots! Big week for the Stags! Wow! Things are Heating-Up!

3.Maranacook--12-0 Black Bears Annihilate Mt. View 84-57! Crushed Medomak 77-43! Can anyone stop the Black Bears! Two games up this week! First off to Lincoln! Then home to play host to Winslow! Black Bears move to 14-0 Baby!

4.Winthrop---10-0 Ramblers big game with Mountain Valley Postponed! They had the week off! Two games up this week! And both are Huge! A Big Tuesday night in Rumford! As they take on the Falcons of Mountain Valley! Falcons want this game Bad! Then back home to take on the Cougars of Dirigo! Wowzer! We will find out how good the Ramblers really are this week!

5.Thornton---11-1 Golden Trojans two more wins! Crushed the Knights of Noble 65-31! Knocked down the Eagles of Windham 65-46! Big game up next! They head to Bonny Eagle! Scots are playing tough! Then back home to take on the Rams of Kennebunk! Can the Trojans move to 13-1! Will be interesting!

6.Camden----12-1 Windjammers back on track! Beat Gardiner 66-46! Took care of Mt. View 69-58! Only one game up this week! Play host to Waterville! Jammers move to 13-1!

7.Deering----9-2 Rams re-adjust without Parker Dodd! Big game with Cheverus postponed! Rams win a big one! They beat the Dogs of Portland! 59-50! Three games up this week! First off to Massabesic! Then the Big Make-Up! Off to Cheverus! Rams hope to pull the upset! Then host the scrappy Tigers of Biddeford! Big week for the Rams! Will they stay in the Top 10!

8.Calais-------10-0 The streak continues! 54-0! Wow! Blue Devils crushed Guagus! 85-53! Took care of the Shiretowners of Houlton 60-47! Big game up next! A Tuesday Night Main event! The Pandas of Lee Academy come to town! The streak is in jeopardy! Can the Devils continue! Then host Guagus! Then off to Hyde to face the Phoenix! Could be a very interesting week!

9.Edward Little--10-3 Red Eddies are Red Hot! They beat Brunswick 56-49! Took care of the Witches from Brewer! 55-42! One game up this week! Its Huge! A Friday Night Main Event! Eddies head to Bangor! Looking for Revenge! 3pt. loss in first match! Eddies havent lost since! 7 straight wins! Can the Eddies do it! Can they take down # 1!

10.South Portland--10-2! How about those Riots! They are real! Best season in years! They Annihilate Noble 85-45! Took care of a very good Bonny Eagle team 68-47! Off to Kennebunk up next! Then a real Biggie! A real Big Test! Another Friday Night Main Event! And its at South Portland! Beal Gym will be pack! The Undefeated Cheverus Stags come to town! This is gonna be a good one folks! Can the Riots take down the Stags! We shall find out!

Teams Knocking on the Door:

Cape Elizabeth----10-2
Presque Isle------11-2
Mtn. Valley-------10-1
Mt. Blue----------9-3
C. Aroostook------10-0

Til Next week: Fasten your seat belts folks! The ride is going to get Fast and Furious!


Portland stifles Scarborough

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

Portland stifles Scarborough
By Michael Hoffer
Special to MBR

PORTLAND- The Portland Bulldogs boys' basketball team's season was at a crossroads when it took the court Monday afternoon against the up-and-coming Scarborough Red Storm.

Less than 48 hours after a painful loss at Deering and now without senior standout Justin Powell for the rest of the year, the Bulldogs needed to make a positive statement, get back in the win column and earn some Heal Points.

Did they ever.

Portland broke open a close game with an 18-6 run in the second period, added 23 more points in the third and cruised to a 59-43 victory over the Red Storm, thanks in large part to a season-high 22 points from junior Ed Bogdanovich.

"We moved the ball well and hit our open shots," Bogdanovich said. "It's a big win coming off the Deering game. We knew we had to win it. We didn't underestimate them."

"I'm very proud of the kids," Portland coach Joe Russo added. "They played very well. For three quarters, I think the kids really did a nice job executing the offense, playing good team defense, things we've been looking for. It was fun to coach for three quarters."

The Bulldogs suffered their fourth loss of the season Saturday night at Deering. Portland hadn't lost four games in the regular season in six years. The Bulldogs (who also lost in OT at Thornton Academy and to Cheverus and Windham in close games), needed a victory over a team ranked higher than them in the Western Class A Heal Points standings.

Scarborough is such a team. The Red Storm entered Monday's contest with a mark of 8-4 (which included a win at South Portland). Scarborough gave Cheverus a scare in a 54-42 home loss Saturday and hoped to build on that and beat Portland for the first time ever.

In the first period, Scarborough had ample opportunity to take control, but the Red Storm failed to do so and that eventually cost them.

Five different players scored for both teams in the first period. Three times the game was tied. Portland led twice and Scarborough took three leads, including an 11-8 advantage on a 3-pointer from junior Ian Philbrick and a rebound putback by senior Chris Bernard, but Bogdanovich hit a jumper late in the quarter to make it an 11-10 game after one.

Bogdanovich put his team up 12-11 with a layup early in the second. A jumper from Red Storm senior Logan Oliver gave the visitors their last lead, 13-12. Portland sophomore Koang Thok (coming off a huge game at Deering) then drained a 3-pointer for a 15-13 lead, but Scarborough senior Andy Pogar tied the contest with a layup.

The Bulldogs then went on an 11-0 run to seize control.

A Bogdanovich jumper put the hosts ahead to stay. Sophomore Joe Zukowski followed with a leaner and Bogdanovich hit another jumper for a 21-15 lead. With 1:54 to go in the first half, Thok drained a 3-pointer. With 31 seconds left, senior Nick Hellen converted a layup for a 26-15 advantage.

The Red Storm ended the run and a 3 minute, 52 second scoring drought when senior Chris Hughes made a layup with 13 seconds to go, but Portland senior Jake Longstaff drained a leaner as time expired, sending the Bulldogs to the locker room with a 28-17 lead.

"We were in a good spot, but as soon as they started pressuring us in the second quarter, we didn't respond," Red Storm coach Matt Townsend lamented. "We turned the ball over and didn't execute."

Portland quickly dashed any Scarborough comeback hopes in the third quarter.

Longstaff got things going with a jumper. After Hughes answered with a jumper for the Red Storm, Longstaff made another jump shot for a 32-19 lead. After Philbrick made one foul shot, Bulldogs' senior Anthony Passmore did the same, Bogdanovich scored on a rebound putback and Hellen converted a layup for a 37-20 advantage, just 1 minute, 20 seconds into the second half.

With Powell no longer on the team, Hellen had to step up his play and did so big-time against the Red Storm.

"I was really pleased with Nick Hellen tonight," Russo said. "He stepped in in Powell's absence. I thought he was awesome tonight. He and Dewayne (senior Albertie) will get some time. They're disappointed that (Powell's) not able to play. We know what we brought to the team. There's compassion there, but they're getting over it.

Scarborough got a point back on a Pogar free throw, but Longstaff (sitting on the floor after a steal) fed Bogdanovich for a layup and a 39-21 lead. After Pogar made a bank shot for the visitors, Bogdanovich hit a jumper, then took another pretty pass from Longstaff and scored a layup to push the lead to 20 points, 43-23. The Bulldogs would still lead by 20, 51-31, thanks to a last-second Passmore layup, at the end of the quarter.

"We really turned it on in the third quarter," Bogdanovich said. "It was a pretty close game at halftime and we didn't want to come out flat."

In the fourth, Portland led by as many as 22 points, 55-33, before the Red Storm rallied to within 14, 55-41, with 2:53 to go on a bank shot from senior Abe Snow. But two Bogdanovich layups, sandwiched around a layup by Oliver accounted for the 59-43 final score.

"We feel that Scarborough is a good team," Russo said. "They have a lot of seniors, good players. They needed a big win. We need big wins. We didn't take them lightly. We knew they'd come to play. When they tried to make a run they couldn't. That took the wind out of their sails."

Bogdanovich led all scorers with his 22 points. He also dominated on the boards and had several blocked shots. Longstaff added a dozen points, Thok had eight, Hellen and Zukowski scored six apiece, Passmore had three and senior Mike Harmon two.

"We're all coming together now," Bogdanovich said. "We just need to play like we did in the second and third quarters."

For Scarborough, Philbrick led the scoring parade with 12 points. Hughes added eight and Pogar had seven.

"We broke down in the second half," Townsend said. "There were a few bright spots, but not many. The nine seniors have never beaten a city school and now they'll have to beat them in the playoffs. We still have a chance."

The Red Storm (now 8-5 and fifth in the Western A Heals) are home against Massabesic Friday. Scarborough is still seeking a confidence-building victory against a powerhouse team and will get one more shot at such a win, Feb. 8 in the season finale at Thornton Academy.

"I'm a little scared now," Townsend said. "We need a big win over Thornton Academy. If we win the games we're supposed to win and beat TA, we should stay in the top five and avoid a prelim."

The Bulldogs, meanwhile, now 9-4 and ninth in Western A, have a series of huge tests upcoming, beginning with a game at Westbrook Friday. Portland then has two games versus South Portland, sandwiched around home battles against Deering and Cheverus.

"We have Westbrook, Deering one more time, Cheverus one more time, South Portland twice," Russo said. "Every game is big. The teams we're playing are either with us or ahead of us in the standings."

Cheverus stays perfect after nearly perfect start

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

Cheverus stays perfect after nearly perfect start
By Michael Hoffer
Special to MBR

PORTLAND- It isn't often that a team can essentially have a win salted away before the first period comes to a close, but that's exactly what the Cheverus Stags accomplished Monday night at Keegan Gym.

The Stags stayed undefeated with a 68-45 victory over the Westbrook Blue Blazes, due mostly to a 20-0 run to start the contest.

Cheverus' smothering defense forced numerous turnovers which led to easy layups and when the Stags were forced to shoot from the outside, they buried those as well as they moved to 12-0 on the season.

"We came out strong," said Cheverus senior Mick DiStasio, who led all scorers with 20 points. "We were really intense. We've been winning, but we haven't been playing particularly well."

The Stags have vanquished all foes this year, but are now in the midst of a brutal regular season-ending stretch. Saturday, Cheverus held off upset-minded Scarborough 54-42.

Monday, the Stags welcomed a dangerous Westbrook squad which entered the contest 7-5.

The Blue Blazes never knew what hit them.

It took a minute and 36 seconds for the scoring parade to start as DiStasio got things going with a layup. With 4:40 left in the first period, Stags' sophomore Indiana Faithfull converted a layup. Twenty-six seconds later, senior Doug Alston did the same. With 3:52 to go, DiStasio had another layup. Nineteen seconds later, it was senior Alex Fraser's turn. With 2:11 left in the quarter, Alston scored on a finger roll. Junior Dan Foster then added a jump shot, Alston scored on a layup after a steal and when Fraser scored on a layup with 57.2 seconds to go in the first, the lead was a mindboggling 20-0.

"That's how we play," Cheverus coach Bob Brown said. "We want to play fast."

Westbrook finally got on the scoreboard with 40.8 seconds to go in the period when senior Kyle Sanborn made one of two free throws. Senior Stephen LeBel hit a bank shot with time winding down to make it a 20-3 Stags' lead after one.

"We felt that it would be a tough game with their size," DiStasio said. "We felt if we used our quickness, we could get to them and take over and we did."

While Cheverus scored almost exclusively on layups in the first period, it demonstrated that it could score from the perimeter in the second quarter.

Senior Chris Hendrix got things started with a layup. After the Blue Blazes answered on a jumper from Sanborn, Stags' junior Ian Barwise made a foul shot. Westbrook sophomore Dominic Borilli made two foul shots, but Cheverus junior Ian Schwartz canned a jumper and DiStasio followed with the first of his 3-pointers for a 28-7 advantage.

DiStasio (14 second quarter points) would hit three more 3-balls in the period and Barwise canned another, helping the Stags lead 46-20 at the break.

"This year, everyone is playing as a team," DiStasio said. "We're quick. We're faster than most starting lineups. We have more depth. Our intensity and depth will help us hopefully take it to the Gold Ball."

Westbrook got as close as 21 points, 50-29, when sophomore Nick Jobin made two free throws with 2:30 to play in the third period, but Alston made two foul shots and senior Peter Foley scored on a rebound putback, pushing the lead back to 25, 54-29. It was 54-30 at period's end.

In the fourth, Westbrook cut the deficit to 20 points, 54-34, but the Stags never let the visitors enjoy anything resembling a run and put the finishing touches on their emphatic 68-45 triumph.

"Once you get a lead like that, it's tough to maintain," Brown said. "I thought we played very well in the first half. In the second half, they played better and we played worse."

DiStasio led with 20 points, but Cheverus actually had 11 different players merit inclusion in the scoring column. Alston finished with 10. Foley and Faithfull had eight apiece. Schwartz wound up with six. Barwise and Fraser had four, while Foster, Hendrix and junior Will White all had two points.

"I think we really don't drop off a lot when we go to the bench," Brown said. "The bench comes out there and speeds it up even more. They create havoc. We play pretty well together. We're playing better each game."

Westbrook (7-6 and seventh in the latest Western Class A Heal Points standings) was paced by 14 points from Sanborn and 10 from Borilli. The Blue Blazes return to action Friday when Portland comes calling.

The Stags (third in the Heals, behind Thornton Academy and Deering) host Deering Wednesday and go to South Portland Friday. Cheverus also has Deering again, South Portland again, Portland once more and also hosts Thornton Academy in a huge showdown Jan. 29.

"These next few games, we really need to step it up," DiStasio said. "Tonight, we showed if we play like a team, we can do good things.

"These next games will be a lot of fun. They won't be easy. We'll have to play our 'A' game every time we go out there. We have a big target on our backs and everyone wants to get us."

Deering pulls together, beats Portland 59-50

Sport: Basketball (boys)  Posted: January 20th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Deering pulls together, beats Portland 59-50
By Michael Hoffer
Special to MBR

PORTLAND- The Deering Rams boys' basketball team has demonstrated an impressive knack of overcoming adversity this season, but what the Rams accomplished Saturday night on their home floor was their finest hour to date.

The squad is already without injured junior Regan Flaherty for the season. Saturday, senior Tim Conley was in street clothes and this past week, junior Parker Dodd left the team.

Instead of using the absences as an excuse, Deering put forth a tremendous effort against rival Portland, leading almost the whole way and cruising to a 59-50 victory behind 20 points from junior sharpshooter Ronald Abwoch and 17 apiece from senior standout Tim Donovan and junior star-in-the-making Khadar Abbas.

"It feels good," Abbas said. "We worked hard as a team. We never stopped playing hard. This is the best game we've had. We played hard all game and never let down."

"We're lucky to steal one early, the first time we played them," added Rams' coach Dan LeGage.

Deering entered the season a question mark. Donovan's availability was uncertain and the Rams had a dramatically different roster from a year ago, meaning a lot of players had to get used to new roles.

Donovan got clearance to play and Deering won its first six games before a thrilling one-point, overtime loss at Thornton Academy. After a home win over Noble, the Rams were shocked at Bonny Eagle. Deering bounced back with a win over Kennebunk, giving it an 8-2 mark prior to Saturday's showdown.

Portland, meanwhile, was viewed as the favorite entering the winter, but the Bulldogs have struggled to hit their stride. Senior Justin Powell was in the lineup only sporadically and Saturday it was revealed that he is no longer on the team. Portland opened the season with an overtime loss at Thornton Academy. The Bulldogs also stumbled at Cheverus and Windham, but had won five straight before meeting their match.

Prior to tipoff, with his family on hand, late Deering statistician Ernie Harmon was honored as a chair was dedicated in his memory.

Deering junior Andrea Rogers delivered a rousing version of the National Anthem and it was showtime.

The visitors took a quick 2-0 lead when senior Anthony Passmore scored on a layup off the opening tip. Donovan put his team up 3-2 with an old-fashioned three-point play, but the Bulldogs answered when senior Mike Harmon made a pair of free throws.

Portland would never lead again.

With 6:10 to go in the first, Abbas hit a long jumper ad Deering was up to stay, 5-4. Abwoch followed with two free throws and a layup after a steal, then Donovan converted a reverse layup for an 11-4 advantage.

The Bulldogs got back to 11-8 on a layup from junior Ed Bogdanovich and two free throws from emerging sophomore star Koang Thok, but Donovan answered with a 3-pointer to make it 14-8.

Thok hit a 3-pointer at the other end, but Donovan converted an old-fashioned three-point play for a 17-11 lead. Portland senior Dewayne Albertie got one back with a foul shot, but Abwoch buried a jumper. In the final minute, Bulldogs' sophomore Walter Stover hit a 3-ball, ending a frenetic period which saw Deering lead 19-15.

The second quarter was vastly different.

Forty-five seconds in, Abwoch hit a long jumper for a 21-15 lead. Bogdanovich and Abwoch then traded hoops, giving the Rams a 23-17 edge. Portland then came to life, pulling within two on a 3-ball from Thok and a free throw from Bogdanovich. With 1:48 to play before halftime, Deering got its first points in nearly three minutes as senior Chris Smith made a free throw.

That would be it for first half scoring and the Rams went to the locker room clinging to a 24-21 lead.

While Portland imposed its will in the second period, Deering seized command in the third.

Just 11 seconds into the period, senior Guilluame Ramonas scored on a reverse layup. Stover answered with a 3-ball, but Donovan hit a jumper (his first points since the first quarter), Abbas made a layup and Abwoch did the same for a 32-24 advantage.

Stover momentarily stemmed the tide with another 3-pointer, but Abbas made back-to-back 3's for a 38-27 lead.

"I was confident," Abbas said. "I was keeping my composure. I was wide open. I just had to stay calm."

Sophomore Joe Zukowski hit a jumper in the lane for Portland, but Abbas scored on a rebound putback to restore the Rams' advantage to 11, 40-29. Passmore made one of two free throws for the Bulldogs, but Abwoch made a free throw, then hit a jumper to make it 43-30.

Thok got five points back with a pair of foul shots and a 3-ball, cutting the deficit to eight, 43-35, but with time winding down in the quarter, Abwoch was fouled while attempting a 3 and was awarded three foul shots. He sank them all and Deering led 46-35 heading for the fourth.

"We ran a little play at the end of the quarter and that drew a foul," LeGage said. "Ronald's coming along. He was in a different role tonight. He handled the ball more than we asked him to in the past. He's matured to be able to handle that. The other guys fed off that."

"We had a tremendous second quarter and we tried to build on that, but they came out and played a much better third quarter," Portland coach Joe Russo said. "We thought we could press them, but they hit those 3s. That's it in a nutshell. The dagger was right at the end of the third quarter when we fouled on the 3-pointer."

Harmon opened the fourth with a layup making it 46-37, but the Bulldogs would get no closer. Another Abbas 3-pointer pushed the lead to 12. After Harmon made two free throws, Ramonas scored on a layup. Senior Jake Longstaff made two free throws for Portland, but Abbas scored on a rebound putback and Donovan made a layup for a 55-41 lead.

"We talked about not letting (the Bulldogs) get their engine going," LeGage said. "They're very talented. When they get it cranked up, they're tough to stop. We talked about not letting up consecutive baskets. We played a mix of a zone and man to keep them off balance, but they still made shots and never gave up."

Albertie hit a layup at the other end for the visitors, but Donovan answered with one of his own. After Thok made a layup for Portland, Abwoch made two free throws for Deering's final points. Thok accounted for the 59-50 final score with a floater and 3-pointer in the waning seconds.

"We hit some shots," LeGage said. "The guys played good defense and rebounded. Guys like Ramonas, (sophomore Ed) Tirabassi and Chris Smith played well on the boards. When they missed, we were aggressive on the glass. We controlled it more in the third quarter. We handled their pressure and found some guys who were open. Abbas hit some shots. Ronald hit shots and Kyle did his role. We made them miss and boxed out."

In addition to the 54 combined points from Abbas, Abwoch and Donovan, Deering got four points from Ramonas and one from Smith.

"Ramonas doesn't play a lot, but he was ready," LeGage said. "I have to give him credit. He's been quiet and works hard. He was ready and produced.

"I think we have a good senior group. They're good kids first. They're all top-notch students. They've been brought up the right way. They know what needs to be done. Kyle, Chris and Timmy are the last links to the championship team. They know what they need to say to the underclassmen. They're patient and encouraging."

Portland was led by a breakout 20 points from Thok. Stover finished with nine. Harmon had six. Bogdanovich added five. Albertie and Passmore both had three and Longstaff and Zukowski had two apiece.

"We worked hard, but when you dig from behind all game, you have to get a rhythm going," Russo said. "When you miss shots, it's hard to get a rhythm.

"Deering played well. They shot really well. They had to shoot against our zone and they hit them.

"We didn't shoot well from the foul line and we had too many turnovers. Turnovers don't help. Maybe now, we'll figure out how to buckle down."

The Bulldogs (now 8-4 and eighth in the latest Western Class A Heal Points standings) are back in action Monday when they host dangerous Scarborough (4 p.m. tip time at the Expo). Portland is at Westbrook Friday, then closes the regular season with two games versus South Portland, sandwiched around showdowns at home versus Cheverus and Deering.

"Scarborough's no picnic and Westbrook's no picnic," Russo said. "We get these guys again. It's good that everyone's playing well. We have to decide if we're going to do it or we're not."

The Rams (9-2 and second in Western A) also return to the court Monday when they go to Massabesic. Deering has another huge test upcoming Wednesday, when it goes to Cheverus.

"I hope we can keep it up," Abbas said. "We have some big games coming up. We want a high seed for the playoffs."

It's a work in progress," LeGage added. "This is a good one, but we have to come back Monday and keep taking steps forward. It doesn't get any easier for us. All the teams are so balanced in the league. It's so wide open. South Portland, Cheverus and TA are leading the way. We're in the same boat as Portland. It'll be interesting."

In case you're wondering the Deering-Portland rematch is Feb. 1 at the Expo.

"Hopefully we can beat them again next time," said Abbas.

"We're happy with the win, but we know that Portland will be ready next time," LeGage added.

Red Hot Red Riots Over Bonny Eagle Scots 68-47

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

Red Hot Red Riots Over Bonny Eagle Scots 68-47
By The WIZ

This was a very interesting game at Beal Gymnasium in South Portland tonight. Everyone knows that Bonny Eagle is short-handed with injuries but the Scots have been playing very well. Coach Rick Simonds has his Scots scrapping and playing very good basketball but the Red Riots of South Portland were too much tonight.

In the 1st qurarter the Scots played right with the Riots. The first few minutes it was the Keegan Hyland/ John Onesti show has Hyland scores 9 straight points and Onesti scores 6 straight points as the Riots lead 9-6 with 3:20 to play in the first period. Jon Onesti was very impressive tonight as he scored 9 of his game high 24pts. in the first period to keep the Scots close but the Riots held a 2pt. lead after one period 16-14.

The story of this game was in the 2nd period as the Riots Will Furbush scored 11 of his 20pts. in the 2nd and Hyland added 5, Matt Lee a 3 Nick Wright two deuces as the Riots outscored the Scots 25-8 to take a halftime lead of 19pts. 41-22.

In the 3rd and 4th periods teams played pretty even as both teams put up 14 points apiece in the 3rd and the Riots out scored the Scots 13-11 in the final period as the Riots come away with the win 68-47.

Bonny Eagles John Onesti was everywhere tonight. This kid can play. He is a rebounding machine, plays a very tough defense and he can put the ball in the hoop. Also Nate Doehler is a tremendous athlete who can play the game of basketball.

The Riots Hyland and Furbush really Lit-It-Up tonight. Furbush had 20 and Hyland had 18 points. Furbush had 18 of his 20 in the first half and Hyland had 14 of his 18 points in the first half. South Portlands Nick Wright is looking better every game. The very athletic senior had 13pts and sophomore Matt Lee also playing very well had 6pts. to help in the cause.

With the win the Riots improve to 10-2 and the Bonny Eagle Scots now stand at 6-6.

Scoring in tonights game were:

Bonny Eagle:


South Portland:



Yarmouth magic continues with win at Falmouth

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

Yarmouth magic continues with win at Falmouth
By Michael Hoffer
Special to MBR

FALMOUTH- Just when it looked as if the improbable, dreamlike run of the Yarmouth boys' basketball team had slowed a bit, the Clippers pulled yet another tremendous, inspirational win out of their hats.

Friday evening, Yarmouth not only improved to 11-1 with a 63-56 victory at Falmouth, but the Clippers made history in the process, sweeping a season series from the Yachtsmen for the first time in memory.

One week after its lone loss of the year (at Cape Elizabeth), Yarmouth took the lead in the second quarter and held on for dear life down the stretch, thanks to tenacious defense, opportunistic offense and the brilliance of junior sharpshooter Johnny Murphy, who led all scorers with 30 points.

"These guys do something every night to make me question what's next," Clippers' coach Adam Smith said. "I'm so thrilled to watch their maturity, growth and continued effort even though we're down a couple bodies. These guys just keep coming. They don't back down and they don't let anything frustrate them. I'm so fortunate to be able to watch this take place. It's been a great atmosphere for us."

Back on Dec. 14, Yarmouth made the key plays late to hold on for a 42-36 home win over Falmouth, the Clippers' first victory over the Yachtsmen in Yarmouth in many moons. That was just part of the team's amazing start. Despite losing senior standout Joe Dilworth to a broken hand, the Clippers found a way to eke out dramatic home wins over Greely and Freeport en route to a 9-0 start. Yarmouth finally came back to earth last Friday at Cape Elizabeth, but rebounded with a home win over Poland Tuesday, then made a major statement Friday night at a Falmouth team which had won seven games in a row.

The game started relatively slowly, but Yachtsmen sophomore star Stefano Mancini finally got things going by hitting back-to-back jump shots for a 4-0 lead. With 5:06 to go in the first, Yarmouth got on the board courtesy of a Murphy jumper.

He would make many, many more.

Clippers' senior Ben Groves tied the game with a layup and Murphy followed with a jumper for a 6-4 lead. Falmouth answered when sophomore Sam Horning and senior Michael Doyle converted layups, but Yarmouth sophomore Evan Henry answered with a layup to make it 8-8. After Yachtsmen senior captain Kevin Smith made a pair of foul shots, the Clippers retook the lead when Murphy canned a 3-pointer, which rolled around the rim before finally dropping. Falmouth sophomore Jahrel Registe answered with a rebound layup and it was 12-11 Yachtsmen after one.

A Groves layup after a steal put Yarmouth back on top early in the second period, but Horning countered with a layup. After Clippers' senior Joe Laverriere made a layup, Doyle hit a foul shot, then made a layup to give his team a 17-15 lead. Yarmouth tied the game on a layup from senior Jack Champlin, but with 4:21 to play in the half, Smith made a layup to give Falmouth a 19-17 advantage.

It would prove to be the Yachtsmen's final lead.

Twenty seconds later, Murphy canned a 3-ball, then he hit a jump shot for a 22-19 lead. As the pace picked up, Horning made a layup, Murphy answered with a jump shot and Doyle made a layup, but Henry and Laverriere did the same for a 28-23 Clippers' lead with 1:38 left in the half. Falmouth got back within a point behind a bank shot from Smith and a layup from Doyle, but Murphy's jumper with 4.2 seconds to go before halftime sent the Clippers into the break with a 30-27 advantage.

In the first half, Yarmouth scored 18 points on 11 Yachtsmen turnovers. Falmouth, conversely, scored layups on nine of its 12 field goals.

The Clippers slowly extended their lead in the third period. After Smith got the Yachtsmen within a point with a layup early in the third, Yarmouth senior point guard extraordinaire Lucas Denning made two free throws. Horning answered with a layup, but Groves hit a runner and Murphy converted a layup to make it 36-31. Doyle answered with a layup for Falmouth, but Champlin made a floater, Murphy scored on a fast break layup, hit a floater, then Groves made a layup with 1:44 left in the period for a seemingly commanding 44-33 lead.

With 1:30 to go in the third, Falmouth junior Jack Wyman made a 3-pointer, but Groves answered with a rebound putback at the other end. With 19.3 seconds left, Yachtsmen senior Rudy Babikian made a 3-pointer and the hosts were only down seven, 46-39, heading for the fourth.

In the final stanza, Mancini got things going with a jump shot (his first points in 25 minutes and 59 seconds). Mancini was getting good looks, but was just missing shots he normally buries.

Murphy pushed the lead back to seven, 48-41, on a layup after a steal, but Smith scored on a layup and Wyman hit another 3-ball with 5:55 to play, cutting Yarmouth's lead to a precarious 48-46.

The Clippers answered the bell.

Murphy scored on a jumper. After a couple defensive stops, Henry made a layup and the lead was back up to six, 52-46. After Smith canned a jumper for Falmouth, Murphy scored on a layup after a steal with 2:45 left, and the Clippers were up 54-48. Smith got one of two free throws at the other end, but a huge sequence followed on Yarmouth's ensuing possession.

The Clippers broke the press and found senior Robb Arndt alone in the right corner. Arndt, who hadn't scored until the point, calmly buried a 3-pointer for a 57-49 lead.

"He's a senior," Falmouth coach Dave Halligan said, of Arndt. "He stepped up and made a big shot. That's usually what happens."

The Yachtsmen came right back and got a 3-ball from Smith, but Yarmouth came up huge at the other end. Arndt got free for another 3-point bid, but it rattled off the rim. Henry was in the right place at the right time, however, corralled the rebound and fed Denning, who was fouled. He made both free throws with 1:27 left and the lead was back to seven, 59-52.

With 1:06 to play, Murphy was fouled and made free throw. Smith answered with a layup with 41.7 seconds to go, but with 33.9 seconds showing, Denning calmly buried two more foul shots for a 62-54 lead. Doyle got a layup 15 seconds later, but Murphy made one of two free throws with 13.8 seconds remaining and Yarmouth was able to celebrate its exhilarating 63-56 win.

"(Yarmouth's) an aggressive, veteran team," Halligan said. "I think the difference was that it was a good veteran team against a growing younger team. We made mistakes. The mistakes we made, I think we can sort out in practice."

The Clippers got it done by playing their style most of the night.

"We love to press and run," Smith said. "The game was pretty high scoring. Neither team ran a lot in the second half. It was pretty physical halfcourt defense and offense. We wanted to shut down their outside game. Smith kept them in it. He played well. Defensively, I thought we defended their guards well."

Murphy led all scorers with 30 points, a career high for a countable game (he had 35 points against Marshwood in the recent Maine Mall Holiday Tournament).

"He took a couple shots I was hoping he wouldn't take, but he has the green light and he takes advantage," Smith said, of his top scorer. "He wants the ball at crunch time."

"This is a great win," Murphy added. "As the season has gone on, I've gotten better at forgetting shots I missed."

Yarmouth also got eight points from both Groves and Henry, six from Denning, four apiece from Champlin and Laverriere, and the enormous three from Arndt.

The Yachtsmen were paced by 18 points from Smith, who made a series of huge shots in the final period. Doyle added 13 and Horning finished with eight.

Manicini, who almost single-handedly rallied Falmouth past Freeport in a recent epic, finished 0-for-9 from 3-point range and had six points.

"Their shooter was on and our shooter wasn't," Halligan lamented. "They did a good job defensively on him. He missed shots, but he's a shooter. I don't get upset if he misses a shot, only if he takes bad one. If he made a couple of those it would have been a different ballgame."

Wyman also had a half-dozen points, Babikian had three and Registe finished with two.

Falmouth (now 8-4 and sixth in the Western Class B Heal Points standings) has a week off for midterm exams, then is home against St. Dom's next Friday. The Yachtsmen still have tough tests remaining with Greely and Cape Elizabeth and are hoping to finish strong.

"We want to be in the top six and go straight to the Expo for the tournament," Halligan said.

Yarmouth improved to 11-1 and is first in Western B, a place the Clippers truly didn't expect to be.

"I didn't dream we'd be this good," Murphy said. "It's a great surprise."

They could be even better by the time the tournament rolls around.

"This is just another step," Smith said. "We have six more games. We hope to get Joe back soon. He's more anxious than I am. I want to fit him into the puzzle."

"When he comes back, I'm so excited to see what happens," Murphy added. (Tonight) shows that we're all in it together and that we have each other's backs.

"We all work hard on defense and that picks everyone up and gets everyone excited. We're all good friends off the court. A tight group."

The Clippers (who go to Waynflete Thursday) are also very, very good and their magical ride continues, with no end in sight.

WIZ Words: Halfway There Halfway Where (Plus WIZ Top 10 Team)

Sport: Basketball (boys)  Posted: January 13th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

WIZ Words: Halfway There Halfway Where (Plus WIZ Top 10 Team)
By The WIZ

Wow folks we have hit the halfway point of the H.S. basketball season. Some teams are beyond it and some are just reaching it. Well we are halfway there but halfway to where?
We are halfway through the regular season games that will seed top teams for the season ending tournament. You know that big State Tournament that the MPA runs every year to determine a State Champion in all four classes. As we head into the second half of the season there are two teams Bangor and Cheverus that have been playing at a level above the rest but a lot of teams are just finding their stride and are starting to play some great basketball. Will they be able to catch the top teams at the end? We shall found out in a few short weeks.

In big games this past week involving top teams. Bangor and Cheverus won all three of their games. Thornton beat Scarborough and Westbrook but they suffered a loss to the Red Hot Red Riots of South Portland 52-49. South Portland is playing very well as of late. The Riots started the season at 5-0 then dropped two close games one to Deering then one to Scarborough. Both of those games were lost late in the game in which the game could have gone either way. The Riots bounced back this week winning 3 games over Westbrook, Windham and the huge win over # 3 Thornton. When the heal points come out this week South Portland will make a big jump in the standings and they make their first appearance in many years in The WIZ Top 10 this week. The Deering Rams lost to Bonny Eagle 57-54. The loss of point guard Parker Dodd is going to hurt the Rams tremendously. The Rams and Coach Dan Legage are going to have to make some adjustments and someone is going to have to step up if they are going to remain a top team in Western Class A.

In Eastern Class A the Eddies of Edward Little have won 5 straight since their 3pt. loss over # 1 Bangor 56-53. They had three wins this week and two over Mt. Ararat and Cony were huge and the Eddies will jump back into The WIZ Top 10 this week. There are many other dangerous teams in the East. Mt. Blue, Messalonskee. Lawrence, Cony, Lewiston, Mt. Ararat, Hampden, Skowhegan and Brunswick all can win on any night. Wow! Its going to be crazy in the 2nd half in the East!

In Class B East Maranacook stays perfect at 10-0 as they won their big game over Camden Hills 76-67 and the Black Bears will make a bit of a jump in the WIZ Top 10. Maranacook and Camden still remain the top two teams in the East.

In Class B West it is crazy in this league anyone of about 5 teams could be on top at the end of the season. The Yarmouth Clippers suffered their first loss to a Red Hot Cape Elizabeth Capers 71-50. Greely suffered a lost to the Freeport Falcons 58-51. Mountain Valley bounced back this week with a big win over Dirigo 47-35. The Falcons are now 8-1 on the season. And keep an eye on Falmouth to make a surge.

In Class C East Calais is the cream-of-the-crop and they won both of their big games this past week beating Washington Academy 79-58 and beating Hyde 57-42 to extend their winning streak to 52 straight wins. They just might run-the-table.

In Class C West Winthrop won three more games to improve their unblemished record to 10-0. Boothbay won 3 games this past week and they have won 6 straight since their loss to Winthrop. And is anyone paying attention to Traip? The Rangers are quietly at 8-0 and they have a couple of big games coming up. They have Greely this week and they have Cape the following week.

In Class D East where it is always crazy and always will be the Panthers of Central Aroostook won all 3 of their games this week and they remain perfect at 10-0 but come tourney time this field is wide open. Along with CA there is DIS, Easton, Woodland, Ft. Fairfield and Ashland who will all be gunning it out.

In Class D East the Richmond Bobcats are still winning even with out Marc Zaharchuk as the Bobcats are a perfect 10-0. Teams that could possibly upset the mix would be Valley Forest Hills or Rangeley.

Undefeated teams this week drop from 13 teams to 9 teams with Thornton, Camden Hills, Yarmouth and Dirigo falling out.

Undefeated teams:


Big Games this week:

Tuesday 1/15:

Gorham at Portland
Greely at Traip
Richmond at Rangeley
Edward Little at Brunswick
Hampden at Skowhegan
Gardiner at Camden Hills
Mattanawcook at Ellsworth
MDI at Bapst
Houlton at Stearns
Orono at Schenck
DIS at Lee

Wednesday 1/16:

Presque Isle at Fort Kent

Thursday 1/17:

Deering at Cheverus
Traip at Wells
Houlton at Schenck
Lee at Mattanawcook

Friday 1/18:

Bonny Eagle at South Portland
Cape at York
Yarmouth at Falmouth
Dirigo at Wiscasset
Waynflete at Greely
Winthrop at Mountain Valley
Forest Hills at Rangeley
Valley at Buckfield
Bangor at Lewiston
Hampden at Cony
Lawrence at Morse
Messalonskee at Brunswick
Maranacook at Medomak
Old Town at MDI
C.Aroostook at Ashland

Saturday 1/19:

Cheverus at Scarborough
Portland at Deering
Windham at Thornton
NYA at Freeport
Presque Isle at John Bapst
Calais at Houlton
Stearns at Fort Kent

As we move to this weeks WIZ Top 10 Teams there are quite a few changes. Thornton with a loss to South Portland drops from # 3 to # 5. Deering with the loss to Bonny Eagle drops from # 4 to # 7. Camden with the loss to Maranacook drops from # 5 to # 6. The Maranacook win brings them up to # 3. Winthrop moves up to # 4. The Yarmouth loss to Cape drops them out for now and Greely losing their second game also drops out for now. The Eddies of Edward Little with their big wins over Mt. Ararat and Cony jump back in the Top 10 at # 9 and the Red Hot Red Riots of South Portland make the Top 10 for the first time since the 1999-2000 season at # 10.

WIZ Top 10 Teams- Week # 6:

1.Bangor------11-0 The Rams are showing their weight! Theyre Ramming everyone! Cloppered Mt. Blue 65-35! Crushed Hampden 64-36! Annihilate Nokomis 92-48! Roger The Dodger has to be pleased! One game up this week! The Rams head to Lewiston! The Blue Devils would love to win this! But it wont happen! Rams move to 11-0!

2.Cheverus----10-0 Three more wins! And they werent close! Beat Marshwood 65-35! Showed the Redskins of Sanford how good they really are! 75-16! Wow! All bench too! Handled the Rams of Gorham 59-35! Is Brownie Happy! He has to be! Big game up next! The Deering Rams pay a visit! Then off to Scarborough! Stags go to 12-0!

3.Maranacook---10-0 They win the Big One! They Jammed the Jammers of Camden! 76-67! Crushed Rockland 79-62! Got a scare from Belfast! 50-44! Good teams find away to win! Two games up this week! Host to Mt. View! Then off to Medomak!

4.Winthrop----10-0 Just Rambling along this week! Beat Wiscasset 59-50! Crushed Madison 61-40! Annihilate Carrabec! 85-37! Sam I am! Having a great season! One game on tap this week! And it is Huge! They head to Mountain Valley! A Friday Night Main Event! Should be a great one folks! Who do you like! Ill take Winthrop!

5.Thornton-----9-1 Handled the Red Storm of Scarborough 58-44! Took care of the Blazes of Westbrook 73-52! Lost a tough one to South Portland 52-49! Golden Trojans are still very good though! They head to Noble up next! For an easy one! Then play host to the Eagles of Windham! This could be very interesting!

6.Camden Hills--10-1 The Jammers lose one! # 3 The Black Bears of Maranacook getem 76-57! Might be a good loss though! Rebound and beat Erskine 73-59! And crushed MCI 65-39! Two games up this week for the Windjammers! Host the Tigers of Gardiner! Then off to Mt. View!

7.Deering------8-2 Rams crushed the Knights of Noble! 82-37! They lose Dodd! They lose to Bonny Eagle! 57-54! Squeak one out over Kennebunk 54-49! They drop to # 7! Can the Rams stay in the Top 10! I dont think so! Two games up this week! And Both are Huge! First its off to Cheverus! Then host the Bulldogs of Portland! Tough week for Deering!

8.Calais--------8-0 52 Straight Wins for the Blue Devils! Wow! How long will it go! Two big games this past week! They win both! Beat WA! 79-58! Beat the Phoenix of Hyde 57-42! Off to Narraguagus up next! Then off to Houlton for a Biggie! Can they keep the streak going! I think so!

9.Edward Little---8-3! Eddies are on fire! 5 Straight wins! They crushed Leavitt! 80-43! Beat a very good Mt. Ararat team 59-48! Then beat an excellent Cony Rams team 61-48! Eddies back in the Top 10! Right where they belong! Two games up this week! Off to Brunswick! To try and Tame the Dragons! Then host the Witches of Brewer! Brwer will need a little witchcraft to beat the Eddies!

10.South Portland---8-2! Red Riots! Red Hot! 3 big wins this week! Beat Westbrook 57-50! Beat Windham 57-54! Knock off # 3 Thornton! 52-49! Welcome Riots! Its been a long time! But the Red Riots are real! And well deserved! Two game up for the Hot Riots! Off to Noble up first! Then host the very dangerous Scots of Bonny Eagle! Could be interesting! But I like the Riots in this one!

Teams Knocking on the Door:

Presque Isle--9-2
Mtn. Valley---8-1

Til Next Week: Halfway There! Halfway Where! Its gonna be very interesting folks!


Capers come back, crush Clippers

Sport: Basketball (boys)  Posted: January 12th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Capers come back, crush Clippers
By Michael Hoffer
Special to MBR

CAPE ELIZABETH- When the starkissed Yarmouth Clippers boys' basketball team began Friday night's Western Class B showdown at Cape Elizabeth on an 11-0 run, it had to feel confident that win No. 10 in its dreamlike season was right around the corner.

Instead, the Clippers soon found themselves in a nightmare.

Cape Elizabeth roared back with a vengeance, seized the lead for good in the third period, then closed the game on an emphatic 28-8 run to win a foul-plagued game, 71-50.

It was Yarmouth's first loss against nine wins, while the Capers improved to 8-2 on the year.

"We gave it all we had right off," Clippers' coach Adam Smith said. "We just ran out of gas, patience, scorers and rebounders. We were a MASH unit out there tonight."

"It's definitely our biggest win so far," said Cape Elizabeth senior captain Tom Ray, son of Capers' coach Jim Ray. "I'm proud of the guys. We started off slow, but we never give up. That's something my dad always teaches us."

While Yarmouth has been stealing headlines this winter by winning games over tough league foes in heartstopping fashion, Cape Elizabeth has quietly put together a solid campaign of its own.

The Capers entered Friday night with just a pair of losses and those setbacks (at home versus Greely and at Freeport on a buzzer-beater) could have gone either way.

The Clippers (still playing without senior standout Joe Dilworth, out with a broken hand) entered the game on a high after Tuesday's stirring 50-48 home victory over Freeport. That win wasn't secured until senior Ben Groves hit a reverse layup with 0.9 seconds showing on the clock.

Friday's game, which started late since both the freshman and JV games went to overtime (the Clippers won both), was all Yarmouth in the early going. Cape Elizabeth turned the ball over on its first four possessions and the Clippers capitalized.

Yarmouth senior point guard Lucas Denning got things going with a 3-pointer. Junior sharpshooter Johnny Murphy followed with a jump shot, then buried a 3-pointer of his own. When Murphy canned another 3, the lead was 11-0 with 4:47 to play in the first period.

"(The Clippers) really get after it," Coach Ray said. "I built that up in practice. I said when I took a timeout, 'I don't know if I psyched you out because everything we talked about in practice, you forgot about.' I just let them work through it and they did. They played tough."

The hosts slowly climbed back into the game.

With 3:51 to go in the first, the Capers got in the scoring column when junior Alex Bowe hit a jump shot. After Yarmouth answered at the other end on a jumper from senior Robb Arndt, Cape Elizabeth senior Woody Tabery hit a foul shot and Bowe converted a rebound layup. A long jumper from Arndt put the Clippers up 15-5, but Ray made a free throw and sophomore Andrew Dickey scored on a rebound putback to make it 15-8 after one.

Cape Elizabeth sophomore Conor Moloney started the second quarter with a fastbreak layup, but Yarmouth senior Joe Laverriere answered with two free throws. A rebound layup and a free throw from Bowe pulled the Capers within four, 17-13, but Laverriere countered with a rebound layup to push the lead back to six, 19-13.

After Bowe hit a 3-ball, Laverriere made another layup, but Dickey responded with a 3-pointer and Ray hit a baseline jumper to tie the game at 21.

The Clippers took the lead back on a Murphy jump shot and a layup from Groves, but Capers' junior Johnny Messina answered with an old-fashioned three-point play. After Murphy canned another jump shot, Bowe drained a 3 to make it 27-27.

In the final minute, however, Yarmouth got a baseline jumper from Murphy (14 first half points) and a pair of free throws from Arndt, sandwiched around one foul shot by Ray, making it 31-28 Clippers at halftime.

"I think we knew at halftime that we had them, only being down three," Tom Ray said. "We practiced the run and jump. We were ready for it. We just came out a little rattled. First time really playing in front of a big crowd this year. We settled down and got the job done."

The third quarter began with Yarmouth pushing its lead back to six points, 34-28, on two Laverriere free throws and another by Murphy. Bowe answered with a long jump shot. Groves then made a free throw for a 35-30 lead, but moments after Laverriere fouled out, Dickey scored consecutive baskets to get the Capers within one, 35-34.

Twice more Cape Elizabeth would get within one (37-36 and 39-38) before finally taking the lead.

That happened with 3 minutes to play in the quarter when Dickey converted a three-point play for a 41-39 advantage.

The Capers wouldn't trail again.

With just under a minute to go, Messina hit a bank shot, making it 43-39. Murphy answered with a 3-pointer, then the pivotal moment in the game arrived.

With 1.1 seconds remaining, Ray was fouled by Murphy, who responded in frustration by bouncing the ball high off the floor. He was whistled for a technical foul and Ray calmly sank all four free throws for a 47-42 lead after three.

"When something like that happens it's a momentum changer," Jim Ray said.

Things promptly deteriorated in the fourth. For most of the quarter (most of the game really), it appeared as if the officials were being paid by the foul as play was stopped constantly.

The closest Yarmouth would get was five points (51-46 was the final time that happened). The Capers began pulling away and went up by 11, 59-48, when Ray hit a driving layup with 4:37 to go.

The Clippers only got two points the rest of the way and Cape Elizabeth capped its stirring comeback with a 28-8 run and a 71-50 victory.

"We went to the hole," Tom Ray said. "Everyone stepped up tonight and played big. We moved the ball well for the most part. We got the ball to our cutters and hit our foul shots at the end."

Ray led the Capers with 19 points. Bowe added 17 and Dickey had 14. Messina and Tabery both had seven points, while junior Conor Lawler contributed four points, Maloney had two and senior Ian Place had one.

"Woody had a huge game off the bench," Coach Ray said. "Conor Lawler had a huge game too and did some nice things. I thought we rebounded very well. My guys did a nice job."

The Clippers were paced by 23 points from Murphy. Laverriere had eight in his limited time on the court. Arndt and Denning both had six points. Groves had three points, while senior Jack Champlin and senior Peter Erickson both had two.

Yarmouth is back in action Tuesday when it hosts Poland. The Clippers then have their next huge test when they go to Falmouth next Friday. It's been a long, long, long time since Yarmouth swept the Yachtsmen, so emotions figure to be at a fever pitch for that one.

Look for the Clippers to bounce back.

"I could feel it slipping away a game or two ago," Smith said. "We won together and now we lost together. We'll continue to have a good season. Even if we lose a few more games before Joe gets back, we'll continue to work hard and stay together."

Cape Elizabeth hosts Wells Tuesday and goes to York next Friday. The Capers will now be the focus of everyone's attention.

"This gives us a lot of confidence, but we have to keep playing hard," Tom Ray said. "We can't have a letdown. The league's so balanced this year. We have to play hard all the time."

If you want to mark your calendar, Yarmouth will host Cape Elizabeth on Feb. 5.

"They'll be jacked up when we go to their place," Coach Ray said.

Big win for SP, tough loss for TA

Sport: Basketball (boys)  Posted: January 12th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Big win for SP, tough loss for TA
By Michael Hoffer
Special to MBR

SOUTH PORTLAND- As Saturday afternoon's Western Class A showdown at Beal Gymnasium entered the fourth period, the visiting Thornton Academy Golden Trojans had to feel pretty good about their chances.

After all, Thornton Academy had already downed Portland and Deering in overtime and was 9-0 overall.

Host South Portland, meanwhile, had lost two similar games in the past 10 days and had yet to beat a top-notch opponent.

That all changed eight minutes later, as the Red Riots earned a statement victory, knocking the Golden Trojans from the ranks of the unbeaten with a 52-49 decision.

South Portland took the lead for good on a jumper from sophomore standout Keegan Hyland 45 seconds into the fourth and held on for dear life down the stretch, improving to 8-2 in the process.

"This is a big win for our program," Red Riots' first-year coach Phil Conley said. "Thornton Academy is well coached and is very good. We had to play our best to beat them."

"We play hard for four quarters all year long," countered Thornton Academy coach Bob Davies. "It was no different tonight. We just wound up on the wrong side of the scoreboard.

"(South Portland's) a great basketball team. They shoot well and play hardnosed defense like we do. They hustle. It was a fun game to be involved in. We just came up a little short."

South Portland won its first five games this winter, then suffered home losses to Deering and Scarborough in contests that came down to the wire. The Red Riots bounced back with close wins at Windham and at home over Westbrook earlier this week and entered Saturday's game confident against a Golden Trojans team that had done everything right to date.

Hyland opened the scoring with a jump shot just 35 seconds into the contest. Thornton Academy answered on a layup by senior bruiser Kory Martin. The teams would tie again at 4-4, 9-9 and 11-11 before the visitors got a layup from senior Jeff Winnie and a jumper from senior Dakota Greene to lead 15-11 after one quarter.

South Portland went up 16-15 when senior Nick Wright hit a layup and sophomore Matt Lee buried a 3-pointer, but Winnie answered with a layup after a steal. After Hyland put the Red Riots back on top with a 3-ball, Thornton Academy junior James Morse tied the score with two foul shots.

With 4:37 left in the half, Wright hit a jumper in the lane for a 21-19 lead.

Both teams then went ice-cold.

Neither squad would score again until Golden Trojans' junior John Trull hit a 3-pointer with 55.8 seconds left. That gave the visitors a 22-21 lead at the half.

The action picked up in the third quarter.

South Portland senior Will Furbush, who didn't score in the first half, hit a 3-pointer to get things started. Martin answered with a pair of layups for a 26-24 lead, but a long jumper from Hyland, a leaner in traffic by Lee and a bank shot from Hyland gave the Red Riots a 30-26 advantage.

Back came Thornton Academy.

The visitors tied the game on a pair of layups by Greene. A Wright left-handed layup put South Portland back on top 32-30, but Morse drained a jumper to tie the score again. A baseline jumper put the Red Riots back in the lead, but Winnie answered with a 3-ball to give the Golden Trojans a 35-34 advantage. That proved to be their last lead.

A rebound putback by Lee and a 3-pointer from Hyland made it 39-35. Martin made a layup in the waning seconds and the Red Riots had a 39-37 lead entering the final quarter.

That's where South Portland made its stand and earned a signature win.

Greene promptly tied the score with a rebound layup 28 seconds into the fourth, but Hyland answered with his jump shot which put the hosts ahead to stay. Thirty seconds later Hyland made a leaner while being fouled, then added the free throw for a 44-39 advantage. With 5:19 to play, Hyland added another free throw and it was 45-39.

Thornton Academy cut the deficit to two points, 45-43, after senior Austin Gregory made a layup and Morse buried two foul shots, but Furbush answered with a long jumper.

After Winnie made a foul shot and Greene hit a layup to make it a one-point game, 47-46, with 3:14 to go, neither team was able to score for almost a minute-and-a-half.

Finally, with 1:51 to play, Furbush was fouled after a steal and made both free throws. With 1:05 remaning, senior Nick Gaddar hit a layup after a steal. After Morse missed a 3-pointer, Furbush added another foul shot and it appeared as if the hosts were in good shape, up 52-46 with 51.5 seconds to go.

The Golden Trojans made one final push.

With 28.6 seconds showing, Winnie calmly drained a 3-ball to make it 52-49.

That's how the game would wind up, but there was plenty of drama remaining.

With 17.4 seconds to go, Gaddar was fouled, but missed the front end of a one-and-one. Thornton Academy looked to tie the game at the other end, but Greene's 3-point bid was off the mark and Wright came up with the loose ball and was fouled with just 0.6 seconds to go. He missed the front end of his one-and-one, but time ran out and South Portland was able to celebrate its win.

"This is huge," Wright said. "This shows we're a top contender in Western Class A and that we're going for a championship.

"The Deering game was the first game against really tough competition. Against Scarborough, we lost our composure. Today, we pulled together.

"We have a will to prove ourselves. We know we have a lot of talent."

Hyland led all scorers with 22 points. Wright finished with 10. Furbush had eight, Lee seven and Gaddar added five.

"These kids have had three tremendous games this week against three very good teams," Conley said. "Hyland and Furbush hit big shots. Wright, (sophomore Connor) Hasson and Gaddar played big for us underneath. Lee did a tremendous job with rebounds and shots.

"I think you learn from experience and we've been in some tough games. They're all down to the wire. We're fortunate to have three seniors on the floor that settle everyone down. Playing tough competition got us ready for a game like this.

"There are no easy games in the SMAA. You have to bring your 'A' game every game. It's great for the league. I can't be any happier for my guys to get a reward at the end for their hard work."

The Golden Trojans were paced by 12 from Martin, 11 from Winnie, 10 from Greene and eight from Morse. Trull finished with six points and Gregory added two.

Thornton Academy will look to bounce back Friday when it hosts Noble. The Golden Trojans still have a huge showdown looming at Cheverus on Jan. 29.

Rest assured, we haven't heard that last of Thornton Academy.

"I'm not disappointed in how the kids played," Davies said. "We'll continue."

South Portland goes to Noble Tuesday, then hosts Bonny Eagle Friday. The Red Riots will enjoy this win for a very short time, then will return to work.

"We'll celebrate it tonight," Wright said. "We know we have to come back next week. We don't take any game for granted."

"It won't get any easier," Conley added. "In our stretch run we play Cheverus a couple times, Portland twice, Deering again. Those are all quality teams."

SP Red Riots Beat Windham 57-54 In a Thiller

Sport: Basketball (boys)  Posted: January 10th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

SP Red Riots Beat Windham 57-54 In a Thiller
By The WIZ

It was a great game at Beal Gymnasium in South Portland tonight. Both teams playing a very tough man-to-man defense and this game was close throughout. Windhams biggest lead was 5pts. and South Portlands biggest lead was 5pts. The game was a good old fashion barnburner which went right down to the wire and the South Portland Red Riots were able to hold off a charging Windham Eagles in the last seconds to get the big victory 57-54.

In the 1st quarter the scoring started off slow with neither team scoring in the first two minutes but then the Eagles Ryan MacQuestion nails a deuce and he follows that up with another deuce and the Eagles are up 4-0 but the Riots Connor Hasson hits a free throw then he cans a deuce to cut the lead to 1pt. 4-3. The Eagles Travis Guerrette hits a free throw and that is followed by Garrett Clemmer 3 and the Eagles lead is 5pts. 8-3 but the Riots Keegan Hyland hits a deuce and that is followed by a Will Furbush 3 and this game is all tied up after one period 8-8.

In the 2nd quarter the Eagles Jon Sangillo hits a 2 but the Riots with a Hyland 2, a Furbush 2+1 and Nick Gaddar cans a deuce as the Riots complete a 7-2 run to take a 5pt. lead 15-10 with 4:53 left in the 2nd period. The Eagles Sangillo hits a 2, Riots Hyland a 2 and the Eagles Clemmer hits a deuce and he follows that with a big 3 and we are all tied up at the half 17-17.

In the 3rd period the Riots Hyland Heats-It-Up! He hits 5 deuces teammate Matt Lee hits a 3 plus 5-5 from the foul line and Gaddar has a big 3 but the Eagles match that. Travis Guerrette has 2 deuces plus a 3, MacQuestion cans a 3, Nick Taylor has 3 deuces, Andy Brix has a deuce and Brandon Guerrette has a free throw and this game is all tied after 3 periods at 38-38

In the 4th period both teams try to Crank-It-Up the Riots would get the lead up to 3pts. but the Eagles would answer every time. The Eagles Nick Taylor goes down hard with an ankle injury midway through and is help off the court. But the Eagles will not fold a Nate Dixon 2 with 2:25 to go and the Riots lead is just 1pt. 54-53. Back and forth, up and down no one scores until .23 seconds are left the Riots Nick Gaddar hits two free throws. That is followed by Gaddar 1 free throw and the Riots are up 57-54. The Eagles Garrett Clemmer throws up a 3 that goes in and out with .4 seconds left that would have tied it. The Riots Hasson misses two free throws but Nick Wright gets the rebound and he is fouled with 1.4 seconds left, he misses both and a full court shot attempt by Andy Brix hits the beam at mid-court as the Riots hold on to get the big win tonight by a final of 57-54 in a good all fashion Barnburner.

South Portlands Sophomore Matt Lee had a big game tonight as he hit a big 3 plus he went 11-11 from the foul line which was a big key to the Riots victory.

With the win the Red Riots improve their record to 7-2. With the loss the Eagles fall to 4-5.

Scoring in this game were:

South Portland:



T. Guerrette----10
N. Taylor--------6
J. Taylor--------3
B. Guerrette-----1


Yarmouth's magic continues!

Sport: Basketball (boys)  Posted: January 9th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Yarmouth's magic continues!
By Michael Hoffer
Special to MBR

YARMOUTH- Perhaps it's karmic payback for all the seasons in the wilderness, but the Yarmouth Clippers boys' basketball team has loved every minute of the 2007-08 campaign and its storybook season continued tonight with a finish that trumped everything we've seen to date.

The Clippers rallied from an eight-point fourth quarter deficit, then won the game in Hollywood fashion when senior Ben Groves converted a reverse layup at the buzzer to hand Freeport it's second gutwrenching defeat in five days, 50-48.

Yarmouth was behind most of the way and was frustrated with its inability to hit shots, but the Clippers turned up the defensive pressure in the final stanza and found a way to win yet again, improving to 9-0 in the process.

"It's a confidence boost," said Groves, moments after being mobbed by a good chunk of the Yarmouth student body. "Even if we don't hit shots, if we keep our intensity up, we can be in any game. Last year we learned how to play at this level. This year we've learned how to win at this level."

"I'm very proud of the boys and how they stayed in the game," added Clippers' coach Adam Smith. "The guys felt a lot of emotion. Freeport is a big rival to us."

Last winter, in the regular season finale, Freeport squeaked out a dramatic come-from-behind overtime win at Yarmouth. Both teams have excelled in 2007-08. While the Clippers (looking for rare back-to-back winning seasons) have remained undefeated, even without standout senior Joe Dilworth (who is out with a broken hand), the Falcons got off to a 5-0 start before blowing a 13-point lead and falling at Falmouth in double-overtime last Thursday. Freeport bounced back Saturday with a win over visiting Poland and controlled most of the action Tuesday night.

Just 2 minutes, 27 seconds into the contest, the Falcons led 7-0, thanks to two baskets from junior Tom Markelon and a basket and a free throw from senior Reid Christian. Yarmouth got on the scoreboard when senior point guard Lucas Denning got a 3-point shot to rattle around the cylinder and finally fall. Senior Robb Arndt followed with a jumper, but Markelon buried a 3-pointer and senior Bejay Perkins made a free throw to make it 11-5 Freeport. Groves responded with a layup, but with 2.8 seconds left in the period, Christian hit a 3-pointer and the Falcons had a 14-7 lead after one.

The hosts then came to life, thanks in large part to junior Andrew Totta, who had three baskets in just under two minutes. Totta and Freeport senior Kyle Flash traded baskets to start the quarter, but Yarmouth then went on a 9-0 run. Totta made back-to-back jumpers, Denning hit another 3-ball and sophomore Evan Henry converted a layup to give the Clippers their first lead, 18-16, with 3:08 to go in the half.

Markelon got the lead right back for the Falcons with a 3-pointer and junior Cody Bartlett added a layup for a 21-18 lead. After Groves converted an old-fashioned three-point play to tie the score, Freeport junior standout Jon Klages (quiet until that point) returned the favor. The Clippers would take the lead into the half, however, as senior Joe Laverriere (who was huge off the bench) hit a layup and Denning made two foul shots for a 25-24 advantage.

The third period was a story of Yarmouth fouls. The Clippers were whistled for nine of the first 10 fouls of the quarter and the visitors took and extended the lead.

A Henry layup to start the second half gave Yarmouth its biggest lead, 27-24, but Klages made a layup, Markelon hit two free throws, then buried a jumper. Groves momentarily restored order with a layup, but Klages scored a layup after a rebound for a 32-29 advantage.

With 2:47 to go in the period, Clippers' coach Adam Smith had enough of the foul disparity and something about it to the officials. He was promptly forced to sit down after being whistled for a technical foul. Christian (who earned the foul that set Smith off) made both technical shots and both free throws for a 36-29 lead. Sixteen seconds later, Klages made two more free throws and Freeport appeared to be in control, up 38-29.

Yarmouth battled back late in the third, getting two free throws from Laverriere and a long jumper from junior Johnny Murphy (his first points of the game). A Markelon foul shot with 2.4 seconds left gave the Falcons a 39-33 lead entering the final quarter.

With 7:08 left, Klages hit two free throws and Freeport was up 41-33. Then, thanks to its stellar defense, Yarmouth rallied.

While the Falcons were turning the ball over seven times in eight possessions, the Clippers drew close.

Two free throws from Arndt got the rally started. Laverriere followed with a layup, Murphy hit a jump shot after a steal and Henry converted one of two free throws after a Laverriere steal with 5:24 to play, pulling Yarmouth within two points, 42-40.

The Clippers would eventually tie the score, but not before Denning missed two 3-point shots and Murphy was off on another bid. With 3:56 to go, Murphy did the honors, tying the score on a layup after another steal.

Freeport raced right down and regained the lead on a Christian bank shot, but Arndt hit a long jumper (which appeared to be a 3-pointer, but was ruled inside the line), making it 44-44.

With 2:35 showing on the clock, Bartlett made a layup and was fouled, but missed the free throw, making it 46-44 Falcons. Murphy then heated up, making a baseline jumper, then, after Bartlett gave the Falcons the lead back with a leaner, Murphy buried what appeared to be a 3-pointer for a Yarmouth's first lead since 27-26, but it also was ruled a two-point shot and the game was tied at 48.

Nearly two minutes still remained, but Freeport just couldn't keep control of the ball. The Falcons were whistled for a 10-second violation right after Murphy's 3-pointer. The Clippers couldn't take the lead, however, as Murphy missed a baseline jump shot.

With 21.7 seconds left, the Falcons turned the ball over again on a traveling violation and the hosts set up the game winner.

Denning (who earned the game winning foul shots against Greely in a nearly identical situation last week) dribbled down the clock, then broke for the basket with about five seconds to play. The Freeport defense cut him off, however, and he was forced to dish the ball to Groves near the hoop. Groves wasn't able to go up for a shot, so he eluded a defender and came around the other side before going up for a reverse layup.

The ball rolled around the cylinder and finally dropped through the net.

0.9 seconds showed when the ball fell through, but time quickly ran out and bedlam ensued. Yarmouth had won yet another thriller, 50-48.

"We'd been playing a 1-3-1 matchup and we stayed in that, but we put extra pressure on Murphy," Freeport coach Craig Sickels said. "It was a good play by Groves to come up underneath."

"Usually we spread it out on the last play," Denning said. "I looked for Big Ben and he was open."

"It just wound up falling," Groves added. "I can't really explain it. It wasn't drawn up. I knew the clock was winding down and I had to get a shot off. If I missed, I knew we'd battle back in overtime. There wasn't much pressure."

The Clippers are now 9-0. Some how, some way.

"I've been waiting for the time when we missed Joe a lot and we hadn't really faced that yet, but tonight we did," Smith said. "We had a difficult time having anything drop for us.

"The crowd kept us in it. Defensively, we stayed in it by working and working. Everytime I turned around they were hitting foul shots and we were struggling at the other end.

"We drew it up for Lucas to have the ball in his hands. They played great defense on him. The other option was to go to Ben. He capitalized on the opportunity. That's what a good team does."

Murphy (thanks to eight fourth quarter points) led the Clippers with 10 points.

"He struggled tonight, but he'll make it more often than not," Smith said. "Defensively he was key. He made some big steals."

Groves had nine points (including the two most memorable), Denning eight, Arndt, Laverriere and Totta six apiece, and Henry added five.

Freeport was left distraught, searching for answers after another painful defeat.

"The kids are taking it hard," Sickels said. "I told them not to take it too hard, it's only one game. We played them tougher than anyone has even though we had 28 turnovers. With the turnovers and the lack of composure, we were still there. We need to get over the hump. We'll get there.

"Two close games now have come down to the fourth quarter and how we responded to pressure. We've been struggling at the end. It almost looked like no one wanted to make a mistake. We stopped attacking. We threw the ball away. It's the same thing we did at Falmouth. We played not to lose instead of playing to win.

"We struggled with their pressure. They play tough defense. That sets a tone. They're aggressive. They were more composed at the end of the game."

The Falcons (6-2) were led by 15 points from Markelon. Christian and Klages both had a dozen. Bartlett finished with six, Flash had two and Perkins one.

Yarmouth (first in the Western B Heal Points standings) is back in action Friday at Cape Elizabeth, another tough test, which likely spells another palpitating finish.

"It doesn't get any easier for us," Smith said. "It'll be a struggle, but we'll pull together and try to stay in the game and have an opportunity in the fourth quarter."

"We'll keep working hard and hustling," Denning added. "It's a tough schedule."

As for Freeport (fourth in Western B), the Falcons were supposed to be at Greely Thursday, but that game has been moved to Saturday at 6 p.m.

"Greely will be the same," Sickels said. "We'll have pressure. That's something we have to work on."

The Clippers-Falcons rematch is Feb. 7 in Freeport

Red Riots Take Down Blue Blazes 57-50

Sport: Basketball (boys)  Posted: January 8th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Red Riots Take Down Blue Blazes 57-50
By The WIZ

A very interesting game at Westbrook High School tonight. Both South Portland and Westbrook came into this game with identical records each at 5-3. The game was played very deliberate by both teams no run & gun in this one. The game was close most of the way with the South Portland Red Riots pulling away late to get the big win by a final of 57-50.

In the 1st quarter the Blazes opened right up to a 5-0 lead as Dom Borelli cans a 3 followed by a Kyle Sanborn deuce and that was the biggest lead of the night for the Blazes. The Blazes Christian Hamilton kept them in the game most of the night as he hit 3 of his 5 three pointers in the first period but the Riots Will Furbush hits one of his five 3s on the night plus a deuce and Keegan Hyland has two free throws plus a deuce and this game is even after 1 period 18-18.

In the 2nd period both teams battled back and forth with several lead changes but the lead in never more than 2 points either way as Furbush and Hamilton each bury another 3 and the Riots lead it by 1pt. at the half 33-32.

In the 3rd period Will Furbush is at it again as he hits two more 3s and with 1:45 left in the 3rd Hyland hits a deuce and the Riots have their biggest lead yet 6pts. 44-38. neither team scores for the rest of the period.

In the 4th the Blazes Hamilton cans a 3 and Sanborn gets 1 free throw followed by a Josh Harriman 2 and this game is all tied up 44-44 with 5:58 to play. Hyland a 2, Furbush 2 and a Furbush 3 and the Riots are up by 7pts. 51-44 with 3:56 to go. The Blazes try in vein to comeback but the closet they get is 6pts. as the Riots holdem off and get the big win tonight by a final score of 57-50.
With the Win the Riots improve to 6-2 and the Blazes fall to 5-3.

Scoring in tonights game were:



South Portland:


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