Portland (10-0) and Deering (10-1), ranked Nos. 1 and 2 in the Western Class A Heal point standings, will meet for the first time next Thursday at the Expo. They’ll play again Feb. 8 in a regular-season finale.
“We have a tough stretch of games,” said Portland Coach Joe Russo. “We play at Thornton Academy, which is playing better. Then we play Westbrook, which is having a strong season, and then Deering.”
The Bulldogs play three teams twice this season — Cheverus, Deering and South Portland — which matches their natural rivalries. In two of those doubles, the games are late in the season. Portland played the Red Riots for the first time in its 10th game.
“I would rather have my doubles one early and one late. The only one like that is Cheverus,” said Russo. “It’s been like that the last four years. We’ve made a proposal to change it for the next two-year schedule cycle.”
The last regular-season game against Deering could be for the No. 1 ranking heading into the regional tournament. But Portland could sew up the top spot by winning its next three games.
“The starters are playing well, and also the guys coming off the bench,” said Russo. “We’re getting good scoring balance.”
UNBEATEN FALMOUTH (11-0) will be led Friday night by assistant coach Jamie Hilton when it plays a home game against Cape Elizabeth (9-2).
Dave Halligan, the head coach, will attend the National Soccer Coaches Association of America convention in Indianapolis, where one of his players, J.P. White, will receive an All-American designation.
In addition to basketball, Halligan is the longtime successful soccer coach for the Yachtsmen.
Halligan has received national recognition from the organization in the past.
Hilton led the varsity in the past when Halligan received national coach of the year honors from the NSCAA. Hilton has been the Falmouth boys’ junior varsity coach for several years, grooming players for the varsity.
Hilton is a physical education instructor at the high school. Prior to joining Falmouth, Hilton was the Waynflete boys’ varsity coach.
Nothing will change from the way Halligan coaches.
“He’ll do a great job,” said Halligan. “We have a team approach in practice with Jamie and Paul Pekins, the other assistant coach, right there.”
DUSTIN COLE of Bonny Eagle is 12 points from 1,000 for his career heading into Friday night’s game at Kennebunk. Cole scored 28 points Tuesday night in a 61-47 victory against Windham and is averaging just over 27 points.
Bonny Eagle has had only two 1,000-point scorers in its 51 years.
Darby Kopp, class of 1995, was the first to do it, finishing with 1,076. James Cerino, class of 1998, is the all-time leading scorer with 1,330 points.
Cole will be the first Bonny Eagle player to pass 1,000 points in his junior season.
THROUGH THE first half of the season, Wells has the two top scorers in the Western Maine Conference.
Guard Jake Moody leads the conference with 27.0 points per game and Dylan Stevens follows at 23.0.
Bailey Train of Greely is third at 16.4 points. Rounding out the top five are Serge Nyirikamba of Waynflete at 16.1, followed by C.J. Martin of Poland at 15.3 points.
Michael McDevitt of Greely leads the conference in rebounding with 10.7 per game. Quincy Grace of Old Orchard Beach is second at 9.6, and is followed by Aaron Todd of York at 8.4.
Bright Amoako of Fryeburg Academy leads the conference in assists at 5.9 per game.
Joey Spinelli of Wells is the steals leader at 4.3 per game.
Chris Robicheaw of Cape Elizabeth and Train are the league’s top 3-point shooters with 24.
Staff Writer Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at: