PORTLAND – Amy Vachon, the first-year basketball coach at McAuley High, kept telling her players this was only one game and it wasn’t going to win any type of championship.

But what a game it was.

McAuley frittered away a big early lead, came back to tie the game in the final seconds of regulation, then pulled away in overtime to beat neighboring rival Deering in a game between Western Class A unbeatens Thursday night.

Senior guard Rebecca Knight lived up to her Division I prospect label, scoring 26 points, five in overtime, to lift the Lions over the Rams 47-43 before a crowd of about 1,200.

Freshman Allie Clement forced overtime with a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 11 seconds left in regulation.

“That’s the best she’s played against us in the last few years,” said Deering Coach Mike Murphy of Knight, who is heading to UMaine. “She gave them senior leadership and was really the difference maker.”

The teams meet again at McAuley in the season finale. So for the next week, the Lions (14-0) have the edge over the Rams (13-1).

“This was a pretty dramatic game,” said Clement. “The next one is going to be a tough one.”

The Lions rushed to a 13-1 lead after one period but Deering came back behind a zone defense that frustrated McAuley. Knight was the only scorer for the Lions over the next two periods to help McAuley into a 29-25 lead entering the fourth.

Down 31-27 after Alexa Coulombe’s 10-foot shot with 3:16 left, Deering scored the next seven points, keyed by Chelsea Saucier. She found Marissa MacMillan for a back-door layup with a no-look pass, then scored from Ella Ramonas with 2:32 left to make it 31-31.

Kayla Burchill hit a foul shot for Deering’s first lead, 32-31. Saucier then hit two foul shots and it was 34-31 with 51 seconds left.

With the Lions trailing 36-33, Vachon called a timeout with 20.4 seconds left and set up a shot for the freshman, Clement. Shooting behind a double-screen by Knight and Coulombe, she took a pass from Hannah Cooke and hit the 3-pointer.

“I was pretty nervous,” said Clement. “I didn’t think it was going in until I heard the screams.”

Vachon never hesitated calling the play for Clement. “I told her after the game she wasn’t a freshman anymore,” said Vachon. “To hit one at that point of the game, after not hitting any, is just phenomenal.”

In overtime, Burchill, who scored 22 points (hitting 13 of 14 foul shots), gave Deering a quick lead. But Knight followed with a three-point play to regain the lead for McAuley, and after a Deering turnover, Coulombe stepped out and casually hit a 3-pointer and it was 42-38.

“It was a time we needed a basket,” said Coulombe. “I got open, my teammates got me the ball, I put it up and hoped it went in.”

Deering didn’t recover. But the Rams know there are still a lot of games to be played.

“It’s not the end of the world,” said Murphy. “We play (today). There’s no time to dwell on this.”

Knight, meanwhile, was so engrossed in covering Burchill, she didn’t realize she had scored 26 points.

“I wanted that challenge,” she said of guarding Burchill. “I wanted to stop the best player. I wanted to do it for the team.”

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:

[email protected]