There were moments in the Deering-Portland girls’ basketball game Friday night when the slick ballhandling, tumbling bodies and cheers from onlookers created the feel of a pickup game you’d find in any corner of the city.

But make no mistake. The Rams won with teamwork.

A patient, balanced offense in the second quarter created a 12-0 run that pushed Deering to its first lead and on to a 58-39 victory over city rival Portland in an SMAA game at Deering High.

“The kids play against their classmates from the middle school level and that always makes the city games interesting,” Deering Coach Mike Murphy said. “Our kids were a little over-amped at the start but in the second quarter we started taking care of the basketball. We started to make the extra pass that led to baskets.”

Guards Tasia Titherington (four 3-pointers among 16 points and three assists), Lodia Ismail (10 points) and Abby Ramirez (six assists) slashed through the lane or set up smooth-shooting Cierra Burnham (14) as the Rams (10-2) won their eighth straight.

Titherington, Ismail and Ramirez, Murphy said, “are point guards; they play with the ball as much as they can. But as the season progressed, they’ve gotten better playing off the ball. Now they’re a lot more trusting of each other with the ball.”

Portland was in control at the start, with Elizabeth Donato (8 points) directing an offense that featured 5-foot-11 center Gabrielle Wagabaza (15 points), 5-11 Sydney Frederick and 5-8 Kate Johnson, who each helped Portland build a 10-9 lead after one quarter. Amanda Brett’s put- back tied the game at 11 with 6:05 left in the half. Forty seconds later, Ismail gave Deering a 13-11 lead when she shook off a defender with a nifty spin move and drove for a layup.

“We were flustered early,” Burnham said. “We had to relax, regain our composure and realize it’s just like any other game. We got into a flow and it kept progressing. It felt really good.”

Deering pulled ahead 21-11 before Manuela Francis drove the baseline for a shot with 2:10 left to make it 21-13, sparking the Bulldogs (7-5) to an eight-point run that spanned the second quarter and the opening seconds of the third. Donato cashed in on two turnovers to regain the lead for Portland, 25-24. That’s when Deering got into synch, closing the period on a 19-3 run to take a 45-28 lead after three.

“Ball movement and being quick (were keys),” Titherington said. “We just kept moving the ball and they were getting tired. We knew we would have to work hard to get the win.”

The Bulldogs played with 10 players to Deering’s 12.

“Well, they’ve got two of ours over there,” Portland Coach Jay Lowery said, referring to the offseason transfer of Burnham and Ramirez. “They’ve got a lot of very athletic kids. We played with them in the first half with five kids. We obviously don’t have a lot of depth. We can play with them; we’re probably just not deep enough.”

Reserves came on in the fourth quarter.

“We’ve got to find ourselves as a defensive team,” Lowery said. “We can score as many points as any team (but) we’ve got to find a way to play defense, rebound and box out. We did it well in the first half but not in the second.”