Deering High had already seen a 12-point, fourth-quarter lead slip away when Darryl Germain stepped to the free-throw line with 33 seconds left.

The Rams’ sophomore guard steadied himself and made both free throws, and then again with 4.8 seconds left to provide the winning margin in a 62-60 victory. In between his free throw trips, Deering’s Ben Onek had fouled out with 27 points and 14 rebounds, making the need to avoid overtime even more important.

“Practice, we work hard every day, we work on free throws and we made them,” Germain said.

Deering (8-9) had lost seven straight from Jan. 5-26 and was coming off a loss at Massabesic when Onek was out with the flu.

“We kept the energy toward the end and Darryl came in and hit those clutch free throws to save us and we just worked hard as a team,” said Onek. “We stuck together and we had each others’ backs.”

Germain finished with 12 points in a 32-minute effort. Blaze Vail (13 points, 11 rebounds) was pivotal in helping Deering build its lead with his offensive rebounding and ability to get open down low out of a spread offense for layups.

“Blaze has given us a little bit of a spark,” said Deering Coach Todd Wing. “We’ve shuffled a lot of lineups throughout the year and Blaze, with the minutes he was getting, they were productive. He’s been inserted in the starting lineup the last four games and he’s had four straight double-doubles.”

Cheverus (6-11) rallied behind Tobias Ephron, who scored nine of his team-high 20 points in the fourth quarter, and Will Shibles (11 points) taking the ball to the rim. Ephron’s 3-point play with 39 seconds to play tied the game at 58 and Onek picked up his fourth foul. After Germain made his first two free throws, Ephron, a former point guard, repeated the play and drew a fifth foul on the 6-foot-5 Onek.

Ephron made his first free throw but missed the second. Patrick Foster (14 points and a key late 3-pointer) snared the offensive rebound. After a Cheverus 3-pointer rimmed out, Ephron’s putback attempt off the glass barely crawled off the front rim.

“It just felt like it was (Ephron’s) game, unfortunately it didn’t pan out for him, but take nothing away from that kid,” said Cheverus Coach Ryan Soucie. “I am very proud of him. That’s what he has the potential to play like. That’s the best game I’ve seen him play.”

After Germain hit his final free throws, Cheverus nearly forced overtime. Deering smartly fouled Shibles before he could attempt a tying 3-point attempt. Shibles made the first free throw, and missed the second on purpose. Luke Stovall dug the rebound off the floor and out of traffic but his necessarily hurried shot missed.

Cheverus finishes its regular season hosting South Portland and Deering will host Portland, both on Thursday. Both coaches expect that regardless of Thursday’s outcomes, Deering will be sixth in AA North and Cheverus will be seventh and both will be on the road for regional quarterfinal games. Entering Tuesday night their probable playoff opponents, No. 2 Oxford Hills and No. 3 Edward Little, were separated by less than a tenth of a point in the Heal standings.

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or:

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