Cheverus senior Brooke Dawson knocks down a 3-pointer, one of the Stags’ 11 in the game, during a 49-26 home win over Maine Girls’ Academy in Friday night’s regular season finale.

Joe Carpine / photos.

More photos below.


Cheverus 49 Maine Girls’ Academy 26

MGA- 4 3 6 13- 26
C- 12 14 12 11- 49

MGA- M. Beaulieu 2-2-6, Olson 2-0-6, Joyce 2-0-4, Mazur 2-0-4, C. Beaulieu 1-0-2, Legassey 1-0-2, Mower 1-0-2

C- Briggs 5-0-15, Dawson 4-2-13, McElman 3-0-6, Poulin 2-0-4, Cavallaro 1-0-3, Huntington 1-0-3, Malmquist 1-0-3, L. Jordan 0-1-1, Kelly 0-1-1

MGA (2) Olson 2
C (11) Briggs 5, Dawson 3, Cavallaro, Huntington, Malmquist 1

MGA- 24
C- 16

Free throws
MGA: 2-11
C: 4-6

PORTLAND—Last month, they made history.

Friday evening, they said goodbye in style.

And next week, the sky will be the limit for the seniors of the Cheverus girls’ basketball team and their teammates.

The Stags welcomed Maine Girls’ Academy to Keegan Gymnasium in Friday evening’s regular season finale, which doubled as Senior Night, and five girls, with help from their underclassmen teammates, put on a show.

A 3-pointer from senior Kaylin Malmquist put Cheverus ahead to stay, classmate Brooke Dawson added five quick points and by the end of the first quarter, the Stags were in control, up, 12-4.

In the second period, the inside dominance of senior Brooke McElman and solid defense of classmate Ally Tillotson helped stretch the lead to 26-7 at the break.

Then, in the second half, senior Alayna Briggs put on a show, draining five 3-point shots and Cheverus was never seriously tested as it went on to a 49-26 victory.

After beating the Lions for the first time ever earlier in the season, the Stags managed to sweep them for the first time, as Briggs had 15 points and Dawson added 13. 

Cheverus ended the regular season 11-7, will be the No. 4 seed for the upcoming Class AA North playoffs and dropped MGA, which will be the No. 4 seed in AA South, to 7-11 in the process.

“The seniors are great leaders,” said Stags coach Steve Huntington. “They steadied the ship. Their leadership and integrity has meant a lot to the program. They’re really good kids and very talented as well.”

Final tuneup

MGA struggled early, but improved steadily. The Lions opened with a 58-29 loss at South Portland. After a 49-27 home win over Massabesic, losses to visiting Bonny Eagle (58-45), at Thornton Academy (53-29) and at home to Scarborough (45-32) followed. MGA got back in the win column, 50-38, over visiting Noble, then lost at home at Cheverus (56-32). After a key overtime home win over Marshwood (46-41), the Lions lost at home to South Portland (47-34). A 58-54 victory at Windham was followed by a 70-42 loss at Gorham. After downing host Portland, 47-41, MGA lost a gutwrencher at Massabesic, 47-45. The Lions’ signature win of the year followed, as they rallied from 16 points down to stun visiting Deering, 43-40. MGA then lost at Scarborough (54-40), eked out a 43-41 win at Sanford and dropped a 53-48 decision to Portland in its home finale Wednesday.

Cheverus opened with wins at Noble (53-38) and at home over Portland (63-32), then lost at home to Edward Little (37-34) and at Oxford Hills (52-44). The Stags returned to the win column, 61-39, over visiting Sanford, then outlasted visiting Deering in an overtime thriller, 56-53. After a first-ever win at Maine Girls’ Academy (56-32), Cheverus won at Bangor (52-30) and Bonny Eagle (59-56) and at home over Windham (50-35). The Stags’ six-game streak was dashed at Lewiston, 43-41. After holding on for a dramatic 50-43 overtime home victory over Thornton Academy. Cheverus fell at South Portland, 51-44. After getting back on track with a 71-44 home win over Massabesic, the Stags lost at home to South Portland, 64-40, at Scarborough (55-37) and Wednesday, at Gorham (63-50).

“We lost to Gorham, but I think we did some really good things there,” Huntington said. 

Cheverus entered the game having won one of the previous 26 meetings with MGA/McAuley, but that victory came on Jan. 5.

The rematch was scheduled to occur Thursday, but poor weather moved the game back a day, where the Stags produced their first ever sweep over the Lions.

Cheverus honored its seniors before the game and the fivesome of Briggs, Dawson, Malmquist, McElman and Tillotson gave the Stags a quick lead.

Cheverus’ first two baskets were 3-pointers, as Malmquist, then Dawson buried shots from behind the arc for a 6-0 lead.

Dawson added two free throws before MGA finally got on the board with 3:12 to go in the frame on a layup from senior Maddy Beaulieu.

Junior Emme Poulin made a layup to extend the Stags’ lead and with time winding down, Poulin hit a leaner, but with 0.3 seconds showing, Lions junior Madison Legassey banked home a long shot to pull the visitors within 12-4.

In the first quarter, MGA turned the ball over eight times.

In the second period, Cheverus pulled away.

A putback from McElman started the frame and she had a second moments later before McElman hit a baseline jumper and Dawson canned a 3 for a commanding 21-4 lead.

With 1:56 to go before halftime, junior Jill Joyce made a layup for the Lions, snapping a 6 minute, 4 second drought and Beaulieu added a foul shot, but after grabbing an offensive rebound, junior Abby Cavallaro stepped back and hit a 3 and in the final minute, Cavallaro set up Dawson for a layup and a 26-7 halftime advantage.

Dawson led all first half scorers with 10 points, McElman added six (to go with six rebounds) and the Stags forced 15 turnovers to help open it up.

In the third quarter, Cheverus didn’t let up.

Briggs started the second half with a 3 and after Joyce hit a jumper in the lane and sophomore Carly Beaulieu drove and hit a runner, Briggs hit another 3 and Dawson did the same to extend the lead to 35-11 with 3:19 to go in the period.

Out of a timeout, Briggs made another 3 before sophomore Zoe Mazur hit a layup for the Lions to make it a 38-13 game after three periods.

“I just focused on my form and my arc,” said Briggs. “We changed our offense a little bit, driving into the middle to kick out for 3s, and that’s helped everyone out.”

In the fourth period, MGA freshman Hope Olson made a 3 and Mazur hit a layup before Briggs countered a 3.

After a runner from Lions freshman Serena Mower, Briggs made her final 3 for 44-20 lead. 

Maddy Beaulieu hit a bank shot and made a free throw, then Olson sank a 3 for MGA’s final points.

In the final moments, with reserves from both teams on the floor, Cheverus got a free throw from freshman Lauren Jordan, a 3 from freshman Emily Huntington and a foul shot from sophomore Meg Kelly, which brought the curtain down on a 49-26 victory.

“It’s sad that it was our last home game,” Briggs. “We’re such a close team. We’ve had our ups and downs, but we’ve managed them. We had such a great game tonight. It was really important to get the lead and everyone contributed.”

“We made our shots,” Steve Huntington said. “Our spacing was better tonight. We’ve found our groove. We had a rough go with the schedule for awhile and some sickness, but now we’re getting healthy.”

The Stags were led by Briggs, who made five 3-pointers for 15 points (and also had four rebounds and two steals), and Dawson, who had 13 points (to go with three rebounds and two blocked shots).

McElman stuffed the stat sheet with six points, eight rebounds, four assists, three blocks and three steals.

Poulin added four points, Cavallaro (four steals), Huntington and Malmquist had three apiece and Jordan and Kelly had one each. Tillotson didn’t score, but had three rebounds and three steals.

Cheverus made 11 3s, hit 4 of 6 foul shots and overcame 16 turnovers.

MGA, which was without injured junior Emily Weisser and sophomore Catherine Reid, was paced by Beaulieu, who had six points and 14 rebounds (including seven on the offensive glass). 

“I don’t know if I’ve ever coached a girl who works as hard as (Maddy) does,” said MGA coach Billy Goodman. “I’m very lucky to get to coach her.”

Olson added six points, Joyce (eight rebounds and two blocks) and Mazur (five rebounds and a steal) had four apiece and Carly Beaulieu, Legassey and Mower had two each.

The Lions had a 36-33 rebounding advantage, but turned the ball over 24 times and sank just 2 of 11 free throws.

“Not having Catherine tonight hurt us, but we never quit,” said Goodman. “We played 32 minutes and don’t look at the score.”

Nothing came easily this year, but MGA did manage to win seven games.

“We had no returning starters and no returning varsity players, so to do what we’ve done makes me very proud,” Goodman said. “We had no expectations and won seven games in a tough division. We had five comeback victories where we were losing by eight or more points. It’s been fun.”

The big stage

MGA will be the No. 4 seed for the Class AA South playoffs and will battle No. 5 Sanford (9-9) in the quarterfinals Wednesday at the Portland Exposition Building.

On Feb. 3, the Lions eked out a 43-41 win at the Spartans. The teams have squared off six previous times in the playoffs, but the last encounter was a decade ago, when McAuley prevailed, 63-52, in the Western Class A Final.

“We’re very happy to be in the tournament,” Goodman said. “To finish fourth is incredible. Sanford is a good team and they’re well-coached. We have nothing to lose. We have heart, we’ll bring it for 32 minutes and we’ll see what happens.”

Cheverus will be fourth in Class AA North and will meet No. 5 Bangor (8-10) in the quarterfinals Wednesday at the Augusta Civic Center. On Jan. 6, the Stags won, 52-30, in Bangor. The teams have no playoff history. 

“I’m hoping we’ll do great and I believe we will,” Briggs said. “We just need to have confidence and believe in each other. I’m so excited.”

“We beat them the first time around, but they’ve been playing better,” Huntington said. “We’ll get after it. The girls are excited and we’re looking forward to it.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

MGA sophomore Jill Joyce shoots over Cheverus senior Ally Tillotson.

Cheverus seniors Brooke McElman (23) and Alayna Briggs defend MGA senior Maddy Beaulieu.

Cheverus junior Emme Poulin goes up for a layup over MGA freshman Serena Mower.

Cheverus junior Abby Cavallaro drives on MGA junior Madison Legassey.

MGA senior Maddy Beaulieu snares one of her 14 rebounds as Cheverus senior Brooke McElman looks on.

Cheverus senior Ally Tillotson lines up a shot.

Previous MGA (McAuley)-Cheverus results

Cheverus 56 @ MGA 32 

McAuley 56 @ Cheverus 44 
@ McAuley 43 Cheverus 25

McAuley 57 @ Cheverus 46
@ McAuley 55 Cheverus 42

@ McAuley 47 Cheverus 39
McAuley 56 @ Cheverus 35

McAuley 51 @ Cheverus 30
Western A Final
McAuley 47 Cheverus 36

@ McAuley 57 Cheverus 40

McAuley 45 @ Cheverus 42
@ McAuley 58 Cheverus 39

@ McAuley 46 Cheverus 39
McAuley 50 @ Cheverus 42

@ McAuley 48 Cheverus 33
Western A preliminary
@ McAuley 33 Cheverus 27

McAuley 47 @ Cheverus 41

McAuley 59 @ Cheverus 41
@ McAuley 57 Cheverus 32

@ McAuley 77 Cheverus 33
McAuley 67 @ Cheverus 51

@ McAuley 73 Cheverus 37
McAuley 73 @ Cheverus 50

McAuley 70 @ Cheverus 24
@ McAuley 85 Cheverus 31

@ McAuley 88 Cheverus 30

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