PORTLAND — The showdown between recruits that brought coaches from Division I Binghamton University to Cheverus High never materialized Tuesday night.
With Kristin Ross of Gorham sidelined by an elbow injury until Friday, those coaches will have to wait to see Ross and Kylie Libby of Cheverus go head-to-head some other time.
What they might take back to New York is a reminder of how a veteran, athletic team can overwhelm a younger, less experienced one, as Cheverus did for a 57-34 victory in an SMAA girls’ basketball game.
Victoria Nappi had a game-high 16 points for the Stags (2-0), including nine in the first half to put the game out of reach. Jill Libby scored nine points and Jess Willerson had eight. Mikayla Mayberry led the Stags’ high-pressure defense and had a team-high seven rebounds.
Gorham (0-2), with six sophomores and a freshman, was led by sophomore Ashley Woodbury, who had 10 points, including three 3-pointers in the second half. Lexi Merrifield and Jessica Rexrode each had six points.
Ross was second in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots among SMAA players last season. Her absence was obvious.
“(Missing Ross) takes away a little bit of everything,” said Gorham Coach Laughn Berthiaume, whose Rams opened the season with a 56-23 loss to Scarborough.
“I think once we get her back we’ll be OK. We started out with two of the top teams in the league, and right away the new girls are learning the speed of the game. It’s a big adjustment.”
Cheverus held Gorham to 10 points in the first half, including two field goals, and those came in the first quarter.
Merrifield scored on a layup about a minute and a half into the game for a 2-0 lead. Forty seconds later, Mayberry scored on a putback of Brooke Flaherty’s shot to tie it. Libby (5 points) and Willerson (4) then led the Stags on a 17-3 run to close the period with a 19-5 lead.
“In practice we were concerned with clogging the middle, not letting people shoot in the paint,” said Libby, who had four points and six rebounds. “We got more chances than we would have if (Ross) had played because she’s such an awesome player.
“Offensively we were moving the ball well and got a lot of good looks.”
Nappi started heating up in the second quarter, hitting a pair of 3-pointers to help push Cheverus to a 32-10 halftime lead.
“When someone’s hot, we want to get them the ball,” Libby said.
“We saw (Nappi) was being really aggressive so we got it to her.”
Still, the Stags’ offense started with its pressure defense.
“We’re athletic and we go 11 deep,” said Cheverus Coach Richie Ashley. “And those 11 play really hard. To do that, you have to have an unselfish team. These girls don’t care who gets the glory, they just want Cheverus to get the win.”
The Stags finished with 16 assists, three by Mayberry.
“Mikayla Mayberry’s been playing unbelievably well for us,” Ashley said. “Victoria shot the ball well and we got some good contributions from everyone tonight, and we need that.
“When we get out and run the floor, we’re pretty good.”