PORTLAND – Kayla Burchill scored eight of her 24 points in a 16-2 first-half run Saturday, and Deering went on to beat Cheverus 56-44 in an SMAA girls’ basketball game.

The Stags (9-2) took a 15-10 lead against the visiting Rams (11-0) behind three fast-break buckets from Britni Mikulanecz and four points from Morgan Cahill.

But Ella Ramonas sank a free throw off one of Deering’s eight first-half offensive rebounds, and Chelsea Saucier fed Marissa MacMillan for a buzzer-beater to cut the deficit to 15-13 after one quarter.

Ramonas opened the second with another free throw, and Burchill hit both ends of a 1-and-1 to give Deering a lead.

Cheverus had trouble getting the ball inside against the 2-3 zone of the taller Rams, but Mikulanecz (13 points) knocked down a jumper from the left corner to put the Stags back on top at 17-16.

That turned out to be their last lead. Cahill went to the bench with her third foul, and Burchill converted two from the line after back-to-back offensive rebounds.

Ramonas (seven assists) fed Burchill underneath to make it 20-17, Aarika Viola likewise found MacMillan (14 points) in the paint, and two Ramonas free throws and a Burchill post-up stretched the lead to 26-17.

“We knew they were going to play hard,” said Burchill, “but we just had to prove we could handle the pressure. Everyone on the team stepped up, and we started to get some momentum.”

A pair of Mikulanecz free throws ended the run, and Alexandra Palazzi-Leahy (16 points) drove for a basket just before the buzzer to make it 26-21 at the break. A 3-pointer by Palazzi-Leahy after a Saucier basket cut the lead to 28-24 early in the third.

But that was as close as the Stags would get. Deering continued to use its height advantage, with two baskets inside from Viola and two more free throws from Burchill.

Burchill, who converted her first eight attempts from the line and finished 11 for 12, followed with a drive through the paint for a 36-24 lead.

“It was a great effort from all the kids,” said Deering Coach Mike Murphy. “That’s a very good team, and we knew they would come out on fire, but I’m proud of how we reacted. I thought we handled their defensive pressure very well.”

Cahill scored four of her 13 points and Palazzi-Leahy added a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 36-31 late in the third, but MacMillan and Burchill combined to score the next nine points, including a 3-pointer from Burchill.

“That’s why she got a scholarship to a Division I school,” Cheverus Coach Richie Ashley said of Burchill. “They played big inside, got some extra rebounds, and they handled our defensive pressure very well. We couldn’t get inside. We’ll just have to continue working on getting better.”