Wednesday, December 11, 2013
With Cheverus High holding a three-point lead over Deering in the closing seconds of their Western Class A semifinal at the Cumberland County Civic Center, Stags senior Kylie Libby had an idea where the Rams were going to go with the ball.
She was guarding Deering's 6-foot-4 center, Marissa MacMillan, and figured the pass would eventually come her way.
When it did, Libby got her right hand on the ball, knocking it away to a teammate. Cheverus held on to win 33-31 and advance to its first regional title game.
"I was so nervous about that, but I figured I had to go for it,'' said Libby, who scored seven points (five in the third quarter to help the Stags rally from a four-point halftime deficit). "If she gets her hands on it, I'm going to have to foul her.''
Defense was huge for the Stags. Coach Richie Ashley pointed out guard Mikayla Mayberry's effort against Deering's Chelsea Saucier, who was held to four points.
"She played one of the best guards in the state and held her in check,'' said Ashley. "That's what we needed to do.''
DEERING'S WEAKNESS all year has been scoring. The Rams were the second-best defensive team in the SMAA, allowing just 33 points a game. But offensively?
"Everything's a grind for us offensively,'' said Coach Mike Murphy. "Sometimes we came out on top, sometimes we didn't.''
He said his players didn't look confident with the ball against the Stags. But, as he pointed out earlier, not many people expected the Rams to go 17-3.
"I love this group, I really do,'' he said. "It's just disappointing that we've got to finish this way. They really have come a long way. It's a tremendous group of kids and basketball wise they have come a long way. But skill-wise, offensively, we're limited.
"And in some tough games down the stretch, we showed it.''
BRIAN CLEMENT had just arrived at the Cumberland County Civic Center at about 5:30 p.m., a half-hour before the McAuley-Scarborough semifinal was to begin. He has two daughters, Allie and Sarah, who play for McAuley.
That's when he got the text: Sarah, a freshman, had left her basketball shoes at their Falmouth home.
So, he ran a couple blocks back to his car, grabbed one of Sarah's friends to help and raced to get the shoes. He hurried back, dropped the friend off at the door with the shoes, then went to park his car.
The shoes arrived just after the singing of the national anthem. Sarah scored five points in McAuley's win.
Clement just shook his head while talking about it. Later he sent an email: "No worries for tomorrow – she is sleeping with them on tonight.''Tweet
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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.