Two nights after running a slow-down offense, Portland ran up and down the court. The Bulldogs left Deering, a team that also likes to run, in its wake.

Stephen Alex scored a game-high 27 points as Portland beat Deering 66-44 to snap a two-game losing streak in the regular-season finale Thursday night at Deering.

Portland (16-2) solidified its No. 1 ranking heading into the Western Class A tournament. The Bulldogs will play in the regional quarterfinals on Friday, Feb. 13 at the Portland Expo.

Deering (12-6) will host a preliminary round game Tuesday night. Deering Coach Todd Wing said he felt his team will be seeded fifth and play the 12th seed.

Thursday’s game was tied 8-8 after the first quarter, then the Bulldogs took control with a 21-9 run in the second. Alex scored on two breakaways to start the run, including a dunk on the second breakaway. Moses Oreste scored for Deering to make it 12-10, but the Bulldogs went on a 10-0 run.

Joe Esposito started with a drive to the hoop, then Liam Densmore hit a 3-pointer from the side. Tanner Foley added a 3 from the corner and Esposito scored while being fouled (he missed the foul shot).

Garang Majok, who led Deering with 16 points, scored back-to-back baskets to make it 22-14. Amir Moss scored for Portland to make it 24-14. The Rams scored the next three points before the Bulldogs scored the last five points of the second quarter to take a 12-point halftime lead.

Portland stretched its lead to 20 points in the third quarter.

“We brought the tempo up in the second quarter,” said Alex. “This was a statement game. This tells us where we’re at.”

Portland, the defending Class A state champion, now gets a chance to defend its title. It won’t be easy as the regional tournament is regarded as wide open, but at least the Bulldogs played the fast-paced style they’re accustomed to against Deering.

“This tempo is what we like to do,” said Russo. “It was an aggressive game. Deering is a good team. We knew where their shooters were. This is a good win for us as it reminded us of what we can do. We had a young team (only one starter back) when we started the season.

“Going 16-2 in the regular season was beyond my expectations.”

The Bulldogs went 22-0 last season and won their first 15 games this season to set a school record with 37 straight wins.

Alex showed his diversity, scoring on the break, inside and on short jumpers. Two of his first three baskets were dunks.

“Steve Alex might be the most versatile player in the league,” said Russo. “He’s definitely one of the top players.”

After a hectic opening quarter in which both teams committed several turnovers, the Bulldogs settled down. They still played quickly, but under control.

“We made sure we had control of the ball before we made our move,” said Russo.

Wing said his team played too much one-on-one.

“I think everyone tried to take it upon themselves,” he said. “Portland played well. They were the superior team. We’ve already put this behind us and are looking ahead to our preliminary round game and what could be a wide open tournament.”

Moss added 13 points for Portland. Ben Williams had 12 points for Deering.