PORTLAND – Labson Abwoch scored 26 points to lead Deering to a 65-43 victory against Portland in an SMAA boys’ basketball game Friday night.

Abwoch, a 6-foot-6 sophomore center, also grabbed 12 rebounds and blocked five shots as the Rams improved to 9-4 and remained very much in contention for a berth in the Western Class A tournament.

“This was a huge win for us,” Deering Coach Dan LeGage said. “(Portland) had a win over South Portland and we didn’t.”

It also was a huge game for Abwoch, averaging 6.5 points going into Friday night’s game. His previous high was 13 two weeks ago during a 77-44 win against Massabesic.

“He’s been really playing hard and playing strong, and he’s been finishing,” LeGage said. “He just has to be more consistent.”

Abwoch, who sank all of his eight free throws, scored 20 during the second and third quarters on offensive rebounds and strong moves to the basket.

Jon Amabile, a junior guard who began the game averaging a team-high 16.2 points, scored 20 for Deering.

Matt Herrick led the Bulldogs (6-6) with 10 points.

The Rams took control during the second quarter when they outscored Portland 25-6 to move into a 37-17 halftime lead.

During that quarter, the Bulldogs seemed to lose their composure as they tried to run their offense against the Rams’ matchup zone defense.

“In the second quarter, our inexperience stood out and our players got away from our game plan,” Portland Coach Joe Russo said. “That was the difference right there.”

Deering opened the second quarter with a 7-0 run to take a 19-11 lead. The Bulldogs went nearly four minutes without a basket until Brian Kane scored inside with 4:42 left.

After Herrick hit a 3-pointer to make it 22-16 with 3:35 remaining, Deering finished the half with a 15-1 run to take a 20-point lead.

“Defensively, we were solid and we rebounded well,” LeGage said. “We made them make plays and we did a good job anticipating what they were going to do.”

The Bulldogs play unbeaten Cheverus tonight in a makeup game that has been postponed twice because of snow.

Russo was pleased with the play of the five players on the court at the end of the game, a group that included freshmen Justin Zukowski, Jayvon Pitts-Young and Matt Talbot.

“The guys on the floor at the end of the game should be proud of themselves,” he said. “They didn’t give up and they played hard until the end.”

Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at:

[email protected]