Portland guard Elizabeth Donato summed up the difference in her team Wednesday night, compared to other nights during the Bulldogs’ at-times arduous regular season.

“We kept our heads where they needed to be,” she said. “We kept our composure.”

Donato was the very picture of it, hitting four free throws in the final 30 seconds to push ninth-seeded Portland past No. 8 Cheverus 67-63 in a Western Class A girls’ basketball prelim at Keegan Gymnasium.

The Bulldogs (9-10) advance to the quarterfinals against top-seeded McAuley (17-1) on Monday at the Portland Expo. The Lions beat the Bulldogs 60-30 on Jan. 23. After Wednesday night, Portland Coach Jay Lowery was undeterred.

“This has taken the whole season to get (the players) to comply with the program,” he said. “Now they understand they can play with anyone. This thing is wide open.”

The Stags (9-10) didn’t go quietly in their first playoff meeting with Portland. In the fourth quarter, Cheverus enjoyed a 13-6 run in a span of three minutes to cut the Bulldogs’ lead to three, 63-60, with 1:16 to play.

“They’re resilient, they didn’t give up,” Cheverus Coach Steve Huntington said about his players. “We kept cutting it, but we gave up too much inside. We needed a stop or a bucket and just couldn’t get it.”

Donato, who hit 6 of 7 free throws in the game, was fouled with 21.8 seconds left and made both ends of a 1-and-1 to make it 65-60. Cheverus’ Laura Holman (20 points) then collected a rebound, raced up court and launched a 3-pointer to make it 65-63 with 14.3 seconds left.

Portland came out of a timeout and got the ball to Donato (10 points, seven assists), who was fouled while dribbling near midcourt. Again she stepped to the line and hit both shots with 7.8 seconds left.

Emme Poulin and Brooke Dawson each scored 10 points for Cheverus.

Portland ran an effective inside game, with 5-foot-11 senior Gabrielle Wagabaza scoring 24 points and grabbing 14 rebounds in limited action. With Holman playing tight defense, Wagabaza rang up her third foul about a minute into the second quarter and sat out the final six minutes of the half. That put the baseline scoring onus on Sydney Frederick, who scored seven of her nine points in the quarter to help the Bulldogs secure a 32-24 lead at halftime.

“We just took it one quarter at a time,” said Portland’s Taylor Sargent (nine points), “and we got progressively better.”

Cold shooting hurt the Stags in the first quarter until Jill Libby (nine points, 10 rebounds) sparked the home crowd with a 3-pointer at the buzzer to pull the Stags within five, 14-9. With Wagabaza on the bench in the second, the Stags mounted a 10-6 run to pull within 21-19 with 3:29 left in the half. But Portland closed the half with an 11-5 run.

Wagabaza, who transferred from Cheverus after her sophomore year, returned to the game in the third and scored eight of the Bulldogs’ 15 points.

“I had to play a little more reserved than I like to, but I did it to myself,” Wagabaza said.

“It was tight the whole game. I was just looking to get it done.”

The teams went basket for basket in the third until Wagabaza hit a late turnaround jumper and Sargent hit a long 3 at the buzzer to push Portland’s lead back to eight, 47-39.

“That set the tone,” Sargent said, “and we picked it up for the rest of the game.”