Thursday, December 12, 2013
It was a great crowd at the Portland Expo for the first Western Class A boys' basketball quarterfinal, and No. 4 Portland looked comfortable on its home court, handing No. 5 Westbrook a 54-32 setback.
Matt Talbot and Nate Smart were the difference. The Bulldogs were a different team than the one that lost to the Blue Blazes by a point in the regular season. Talbot dominated inside, and Smart hit some 3s while helping Talbot inside.
After a slow start, Portland started going to the basket. The Bulldogs turned the game around with a 9-2 spurt in the second quarter.
The Expo was nearly full; only the corners of the side bleachers and the ends had seats available. That's one of the reasons why the quarterfinals are at the Expo, which is an intimate settting for tournament basketball.
PORTLAND COACH Joe Russo voiced his displeasure at a foul called on Matt Talbot late in the game. Talbot blocked a shot as a Westbrook player was going for a layup. The ball got wedged where the basket connects to the backboard.
Russo walked to the scorer's table, where Barry Fuller, a supervisor of referees for the Maine Basketball Commission, was sitting and said "That wasn't a foul." Russo had a point. It looked like a clean block by Talbot, who dominated inside.
Russo wasn't upset for long. His Bulldogs won 54-32 to advance to the semifinals Wednesday.
VarsityMaine The Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram put a priority on high school sports coverage, and this blog is a place for all our reporters to put news and notes from around the state.
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Maine High School Sports Bloggers
Paul Betit is an Augusta native and graduate of the University of Maine. He has covered Maine high school sports for more than 30 years and is entering his seventh season as a beat writer covering the Portland Pirates. In his spare time, Betit writes mystery-suspense novels. Occasionally, he tries to sink his second career hole-in-one.
Glenn Jordan came to Maine in 1994 to cover the nascent Portland Sea Dogs. After eight baseball seasons and three children – the last two within 18 minutes of each other – he became a part-time writer. Among the sports he covers are now are tennis, skiing, swimming and running. He has a degree in philosophy from Dartmouth, a decent forehand and a penchant for checkers.
Mike Lowe is a Massachusetts native who feels he's lived long enough in Maine (since 1982) to have roots here. He graduated from Boston University and has worked in New Hampshire and Maine, covering everything from the Little League World Series to the Summer Olympics. When he has free time – Ha! – he likes to read, collect comic books and watch the grass grow from his hammock.