WHO: Portland (18-2) vs. South Portland (17-3)
WHEN: 9:05 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Augusta Civic Center
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Portland, seeded first in the North, beat No. 5 Oxford Hills (56-36) and No. 2 Edward Little (66-53) in the playoffs. South Portland, seeded first in the South, beat No. 5 Scarborough (78-53) and No. 2 Thornton Academy (71-61 in OT).
KEY PLAYERS: Portland – Terion Moss, jr. G (17.6 points, 3.6 assists, 3.7 steals, 42 pct. on 3-pointers), Griffin Foley, jr. G/F (12.7 points, 43 pct. on 3s), Charlie Lyall, sr. C (7.6 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.1 blocks), Pedro Fonseca, so. G/F (7.2 points, 4.6 rebounds), Clay Hardy, sr. G/F (10.0 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.4 steals); South Portland – Ruay Bol, sr. F (10.3 points, 5.5 rebounds), Riley Hasson, jr. G/F (5.7 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 2.7 steals), Ansel Stilley, sr. F (7.6 points, 5.4 rebounds), Moses Oreste, sr. G (7.4 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.7 steals), Noah Malone, jr. G (10.7 points).
WHAT PORTLAND MUST DO TO WIN: The Bulldogs need to start fast. They split with South Portland and trailed by 16 early in their loss late in the regular season. Moss, the top point guard in Class AA, needs to avoid early fouls. When Lyall, Hardy and reserve Trey Ballew are clearing the defensive glass and getting the ball quickly into the hands of Moss, Foley is a premier fast-break finisher. But South Portland also wants to play fast. Portland, an improved shooting team compared to last season, could benefit from a half-court game. Fonseca and Hardy are versatile defenders who can match up with bigs and smalls. Reserves Manny Yugu (on-ball defense, energy), Ballew (rebounding) and Simon Chadbourne (3-point shooting) will need to contribute.
WHAT SOUTH PORTLAND MUST DO TO WIN: First, the Red Riots must quickly adapt to the Civic Center, a new venue. Then it will be up to converted forward Riley Hasson to continue to push the pace in the point guard role he inherited when Deandre White injured his elbow in a scrimmage. Hasson has played well in both playoff victories. White, a senior, is back in the lineup and can bring a calming influence. If Bol, Stilley and Oreste can be effective from inside 12 feet, it will open the court for the 3-point shooters. Malone, shut out in the regional final, has played well this season against Portland. Liam Coyne and Connor Buckley both provide intense defense and 3-point shooting off the bench.
– Steve Craig