Cape Elizabeth junior Will Bowe hits a shot late in the first half of Tuesday’s home game versus Deering. The Rams went on to a 48-41 victory. Michael Hoffer / The Forecaster.

BOX SCORE

Deering 48 Cape Elizabeth 41

D- 10 15 14 9- 48
CE- 15 10 9 7- 41

D- Augusto 6-0-15, Semuhoza 5-5-15, Wani 3-0-8, Langella 1-2-5, Artan 1-0-3, Al Taee 0-2-2

CE- Bowe 5-0-14, Mullen 3-1-9, Reeves 3-2-9, Thornton 3-0-6, Swift 1-0-3

3-pointers:
D (7) Augusto 3, Wani 2, Artan, Langella 1
CE (8) Bowe 4, Mullen 2, Reeves, Swift 1

Turnovers:
D- 11
CE- 16

Free throws
D: 9-16
CE: 3-6

CAPE ELIZABETH—Deering’s boys’ basketball team showed glimpses of greatness last week, but had yet to be rewarded with a victory.

That changed Tuesday evening when the Rams traveled to Cape Elizabeth for the first-ever countable meeting between the longtime powers.

Deering did it the hard way, digging an 11-point hole, but the Rams demonstrated what makes them so explosive and dangerous and rallied.

The Capers took leads of 5-0, 12-5 and 15-7 in the first quarter before junior Titayo Augusto made his first three pointer to pull Deering within five.

Cape Elizabeth then twice went up by 11 in the second period, as junior sharpshooter Will Bowe and sophomore Evan Reeves knocked down 3-pointers, but in less than three minutes, the Rams roared back to tie the score and the game went to the half deadlocked, 25-25.

Deering senior captain Mpore Semuhoza then began asserting himself in the third quarter and the Rams went ahead by as many as seven points before taking a 39-34 lead to the fourth.

In the final stanza, the Capers answered and tied the score, 41-41, on a Bowe 3-ball with 2:40 to play, but 22 seconds later, Augusto hit a clutch 3 to put Deering on top for good and the Rams went on to a 48-41 victory.

Augusto and Semuhoza each scored 15 points as the Rams improved to 1-2 and dropped Cape Elizabeth to 1-2 in the process.

“I’m happy for these guys,” said Deering coach Todd Wing. “They’ve worked hard. It’s an odd year, but winning always feels good.”

Interclass intrigue

Cape Elizabeth and Deering have long been among the best teams in the state, in contention seemingly every year, but the squads had never before met in a countable game, something made possible this season only by the geography-based, abbreviated schedule as a result of COVID-19.

The Capers, under new coach Jeff Mitchell, split their first two contests with Waynflete last week, falling at the Flyers, 51-46, then winning at home over Waynflete Saturday, 44-40.

The Rams dropped a pair of meetings with South Portland last week, 52-47, at the Red Riots and 65-54 at home.

Tuesday, each team had its moments, but Deering stepped it up when the game mattered and found a way to prevail.

Cape Elizabeth scored the game’s first five points, as senior Will Thornton, who excelled on the offensive glass all night, put home a miss and Bowe knocked down his first 3-pointer.

The Rams pulled even, as Augusto made a layup and junior Nick Langella knocked down a 3.

Thornton then scored on a putback, Bowe made a 3 and Reeves scored on a reverse layup for a 12-5 lead.

After Semuhoza scored his first points, from the foul line, senior Dylan Swift came off the bench and immediately knocked down a 3-pointer to make it 15-7.

In the final minute, Augusto made his first 3 and Deering only trailed by five, 15-10, after eight minutes.

The Capers threatened to run away with it in the second quarter, but the Rams embarked on a dizzying comeback.

In the first 55 seconds of the frame, Bowe and Reeves made 3s for a 21-10 lead.

Augusto answered with a bank shot, but Reeves’ putback extended the lead back to 11 points with 5:40 to go before halftime.

“I told the guys that one of the things we had to do was come out and set the tempo,” Mitchell said. “(Deering) wanted to run and we wanted to be more deliberate. We ran our offense in the first half, got some good looks, open 3s, and knocked down shots.”

And then, Deering flipped the switch.

Semuhoza fed Augusto for a fastbreak layup to get the rally started. Wani then sank consecutive corner 3s.

“Remijo Wani has taken great shots all year and they’re finally falling,” said Wing.

Then, after a Cape Elizabeth timeout, Augusto stole the ball at one end, then transitioned to offense and buried a 3 to tie it 23-23, with 2:54 to go in the half.

“We made some adjustments on the fly,” Wing said. “Cape’s a good team. I think we got a couple easy transition baskets. Athleticism is our strength.”

With 1:22 left, after another Augusto steal, Semuhoza made a layup to give the Rams their first lead, but Bowe knocked down a jumper with 50.5 seconds to go to snap the 13-0 run and a 4-minute, 50-second scoring drought, sending the contest to halftime deadlocked, 25-25.

Augusto had 12 first half points, while Bowe led the Capers with 11.

Cape Elizabeth went on top for the final time 13 seconds into the second half when senior Nate Mullen drove in traffic and made a layup, but Rams senior Mohamed Artan countered with a 3 before Semuhoza drove for a layup and a 30-27 advantage.

With 4:36 to go in the third, Mullen tied the score with a 3, but 23 seconds later, Semuhoza put Deering back in the lead with a jumper. Semuhoza added two free throws and after Reeves hit two foul shots for the Capers, Wani scored on a floater and Semuhoza made a layup after a steal while being fouled and added the free throw to complete the old-fashioned three-point play to make it 39-32 Rams.

A bank shot from Thornton then pulled Cape Elizabeth within five heading for the fourth quarter.

There, the Capers made their run, but ultimately, Deering did what it took to emerge victorious.

After Rams junior Adbulla Al Taee opened the final stanza with a free throw, Mullen hit a 3.

Al Taee added another foul shot and after Mullen countered with one free throw and Swift had a 3-pointer go in and out, Bowe got free up top and buried a game-tying 3 with 2:40 on the clock, making the score 41-41.

“Cape does such a great job getting Bowe open looks,” said Wing. “With a shortened season, we haven’t gone over a lot of screen coverages, but we stress communication a lot.”

Unfazed, the Rams saved their best for last.

Deering missed a shot, but before Cape Elizabeth could rebound and look to retake the lead, Langella tipped the ball out to Augusto, who drained a 3 from the left wing and the Rams had the lead for good, 44-41.

“I just grabbed the ball and shot it,” said Augusto. “It felt good when I shot it.”

“Tatayo has been shooting great lately,” Wing said. “He’s put on a show. His form looks so good right now. I trust when he shoots it that it’s going in.”

With 1:36 to go, Mullen went to the free throw line for two technical foul attempts, but he missed them both.

Swift then missed a potential game-tying 3.

With 1:17 left, Semuhoza scored on a leaner for some breathing room and after Bowe missed a 3, Artan got the rebound.

Then, with 28.6 seconds to go, Langella iced the win with a pair of free throws and Deering celebrated its 48-41 victory.

“It feels good to get a win,” Augusto said. “We came up short against South Portland, but we came to practice and worked hard and said today’s the day. We just had to play defense and that motivated the team.”

Augusto finished with 15 points, hit the game’s biggest shot and also had three steals and dished out three assists.

Semuhoza also scored 15 points and had five rebounds, two assists and two steals.

Wani added eight points (and two steals), Langella had five (to go with five rebounds), Artan three (and six rebounds) and Al Taee two.

The Rams only turned the ball over 11 times and made 9-of-16 free throws.

Cape Elizabeth was paced by Bowe, who hit four 3-pointers and finished with 14 points and five rebounds.

Mullen (four rebounds, three assists) and Reeves (10 rebounds, four assists) added nine points apiece, while Thornton finished with six points and nine rebounds (eight of which came on the offensive end) and Swift tallied three.

The Capers outrebounded the Rams, 29-24, but turned the ball over 16 times and made just 3-of-6 free throws.

“Deering’s ball pressure is what changed the game,” Mitchell said. “Part of that’s on me to find a better solution. That’s where it turned. We had one day to prep. We saw their games against South Portland, so we knew what we were up against. I thought we overall did a good job executing our offense and mostly our defense. Will Thornton did a fantastic job on (Semuhoza). There were a couple times the ball just didn’t bounce our way.”

Back to normal

Cape Elizabeth is home versus Freeport Friday, then meets Greely twice next week, Tuesday at home and Friday in Cumberland.

“These guys are teaching me a lot every day,” Mitchell said. “I learn as much from them as they do from me. It’s going great. I love going to battle with these guys. They’re smart, they listen and they execute. We just need to work on some little things. Obviously, we’re looking to win games, but I think we’re looking at rate of change. How quickly are we getting better at the things we need to get better at.”

Deering will play Cheverus twice next week, Tuesday at home and Thursday away, then welcomes Scarborough Saturday, Feb. 27.

“The team’s very good,” Augusto said. “We want to win games and work on team chemistry. It feels good to play.”

“We have a busy week  next week and we just want to play,” Wing said. “We’re happy to get (games) in.”

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

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