PORTLAND – Cheverus High opened the second half with three consecutive 3-pointers to gain breathing room and went on to a 49-41 victory over Portland in an SMAA boys’ basketball game Friday night at the Portland Expo.

The Stags (3-0), the defending Western Class A champions, showed good balance and composure. They led 23-21 at halftime, then outscored the Bulldogs (1-2) 15-8 in the third quarter.

Louie DiStasio, who scored a game-high 20 points, drilled a 3-pointer to open the second half, his fourth of the game. Drew Ferrick followed with two more 3-pointers to make it 32-21.

Portland kept playing hard but never seriously challenged.

The Stags had a decided height advtantage with 6-foot-6 Shawn Grover, 6-5 freshman Zordan Holman, a pair of 6-foot-4 players in DiStasio and Ferrick, and the 6-3 Olson. It proved too difficult for Portland to contend for an extended period.

The game — the first meeting of the season between highly rated teams — was physical.

“We knew it was going to be a physical game,” said DiStasio. “Both teams came out and gave it their all. This was a big game for us.”

DiStasio was decked in the second half after getting hit around the neck. He grabbed his throat after the play and went to the bench, and said it was the second straight game he had been hit in the throat.

“The Portland player was just trying to fight through a screen,” said DiStasio. “He apologized to me after the play.”

Cheverus Coach Bob Brown called the early-season showdown “a good test.”

“Portland took us out of what we wanted to do in the first half, but we came back and executed our offense in the second half,” said Brown.

The Stags moved the ball well and found the open shooter in the second half. Ferrick added 10 points for the Stags, all in the second half.

Nate Smart led Portland with 19 points.

With Grover in early foul trouble, Holman came off the bench and impressed Brown with his play. Also coming off the bench and drawing praise from Brown was guard Michael Flaherty, who spelled starting point guard James Kapothanasis.

“They really played well,” said Brown.

DiStasio found the range early from 3-point range.

“I’m surprised how well Louie shot the ball this early in the season,” said Brown.

Coming off a championship football season, DiStasio, a wide receiver, and Olson, the quarterback, haven’t had as much practice time as the other players.

DiStasio looked in mid-season form.

Staff Writer Tom Chard can be contacted at 791-6419 or at:

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Twitter: TomChardPPH