Delaney Haines had an injury-plagued senior season, but she came back in time to lead the Rams on a surprising run to the Class AA North Final.

Finn Scott and Waynflete’s boys’ team enjoyed another strong season, reaching the Class C South semifinals.

The 2018-19 basketball season will be remembered for competitive teams who got better as the year went on.

Deering’s girls’ squad enjoyed an unorthodox run to the Class AA North Final. The Rams, who played without injured senior standout Delaney Haines for much of the year, started 1-13, then got Haines back and wound up 4-14 before becoming one of the least likely regional finalists in state annals.

Deering was the lone city girls’ team to advance that far, as Cheverus lost in the quarterfinals and Portland, after ending Edward Little’s title reign in the quarterfinals, lost in the semifinals. Waynflete didn’t qualify for the playoffs for the first time this century.

On the boys’ side, all four city teams made it the postseason.

In Class AA North, Cheverus lost to Oxford Hills in the quarterfinals, while Deering and Portland squared off in that round and produced a game, won by the Bulldogs, that no one on hand will ever forget. Portland then lost to eventual state champion Bangor in the semifinals.

In Class C South, Waynflete went 14-2 against a difficult regular season schedule and made it to the semifinals in Augusta.

Here’s one last look at the best memories from this basketball season:

Michael’s Top Five Stories

5) Portland girls return to semifinals

Portland’s girls’ team had its ups and downs this winter, again having to fight through injury, but the Bulldogs peaked late with a victory at Scarborough, which allowed them to host a quarterfinal round game against defending state champion Edward Little. Portland won that one, 48-43, behind Amanda Kabantu’s 22 points. The Bulldogs couldn’t solve Oxford Hills in the semifinals, however, and their season ended with a 47-36 loss

4) Waynflete boys excel for 17 games

Waynflete’s boys’ team opened the season with a victory over defending Class B South champion Wells and that was just the beginning of another strong campaign. The Flyers played a Class B-heavy schedule and along the way, knocked off eventual Class B South champion Cape Elizabeth and contenders Freeport and Yarmouth. Waynflete’s 14-2 record gave it the No. 2 seed in Class C South and the Flyers easily dispatched No. 7 Old Orchard Beach in the quarterfinals. Waynflete then finally met its match against No. 3 Hall-Dale in a painful 65-58 semifinal round setback.

3) Deering boys end Portland hex

Deering’s boys had lost 14 straight games to Portland, including a 55-32 setback Dec. 27, but the Rams finally shook off that albatross in the regular season finale Feb. 7. Deering never trailed in front of a raucous home crowd, raced to a 16-3 lead after one quarter, then cruised to a 64-40 victory, its first over the Bulldogs since Feb. 7, 2013. Max Morrione had 21 points, Ben Onek added 20 and Darryl Germain finished with 15. After the win, the Rams learned they would host Portland again in the quarterfinals. The rematch wouldn’t go quite as well.

2) Deering girls steal show

Deering’s girls lost senior standout Delaney Haines just after Christmas and the Rams won just once in their first 14 outings, losing 12 games in a row in one stretch. But once Haines returned, other players embraced supporting roles and the Rams won three of their final four regular season contests to gain some confidence. As the No. 7 seed in Class AA North, Deering made an immediate statement by upsetting No. 2 Windham, 41-26, in the quarterfinals. Then, in the semifinals at the Cross Insurance Arena, the Rams doubled up No. 3 Bangor, 34-17, and just like that, found themselves in the regional final. Deering didn’t have any answers for eventual state champion Oxford Hills in that game, losing, 51-29, but what a run it was.

1) A finish for the ages

Portland’s boys’ team was reeling entering the playoffs, closing the regular season with losses in four of its final five contests, including the aforementioned 24-point setback at Deering. The teams would meet again in the Class AA North quarterfinals in what would prove to be an instant classic. In front of a nearly full house, in one of the most dramatic contests between the ancient rivals, the host Rams raced to an early lead and threatened to run away, but the Bulldogs rallied and the teams went back-and-forth in the fourth period. Darryl Germain’s basket with 50 seconds left gave Deering a 50-48 lead, but Portland had the ball last and it would come to Stillman Mahan, who hit an improbable 3-pointer with 2.6 seconds left. The officials didn’t recognize the Rams’ plea for a timeout and the Bulldogs got to celebrate their breathtaking 51-50 victory, ending Deering’s season in sudden agony.

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