South Portland’s Jaelen Jackson looks for room to get off a shot under the basket during the Red Riots’ 65-54 win at Deering last week. Ben McCanna / Pprtland Press Herald.

(Ed.Note: For the complete Cape Elizabeth-Deering, Scarborough-Gorham and South Portland-Deering boys’ basketball and Cape Elizabeth-Deering girls’ basketball game stories, see

The gyms and rinks are devoid of fans, and players and coaches are masked up and obsessed with social distancing, but the return of winter sports last week was hailed as a victory by everyone.

Challenges remain and there’s no guarantee that the season will be completed, but for now, a dose of normalcy is embraced and oh by the way, the play has been pretty good too.

Here’s a glimpse at the first week of the COVID-19-delayed/abbreviated winter sports season.

Boys’ basketball

South Portland’s Owen Maloney plays defense during last week’s win at Deering. Ben McCanna / Portland Press Herald

The first week of boys’ basketball saw teams playing home-and-away contests with nearby foes.


South Portland, coming off a 20-1 season a year ago, swept Deering last week, winning at home, 52-47, and in Portland, 65-54. In the first game, Owen Maloney scored 23 points and Jaelen Jackson added 11. In the second victory, Mayen Ayuel, who grew up in South Portland, moved to Texas after middle school, then returned to the Red Riots this year, led the way with 18 points, while Maloney added 15.

“We had it in our heads to stay ready,” Ayuel said. “Whenever the time came, we wanted to take advantage of it. Every game counts because of COVID. We know it could be our last. ”

“It’s really nice to be playing again,” said Maloney. “We’re definitely out there to win, but we’re trying to work for next year too.”

South Portland was home versus Portland Wednesday, then visits the Bulldogs Friday. Next week brings a pair of games versus Scarborough.

“It’ll be fun to play Portland,” Red Riots coach Kevin Millington said. “They’ve been our pseudo-nemesis. I like that we’re playing Portland, Deering, Falmouth and Cheverus. I really feel for the seniors, so I’m trying to get them some time. I also want to establish relationships. We have new kids I don’t know as well. We want to develop and see how the pieces fit together.”

Scarborough dropped its first two games to Gorham, 60-48 on the road and 62-53 at home. In the first meeting, Reid Deniso paced the Red Storm with 13 points. In the second contest, Rowan MacDonald had 16 points and Zander Haskell added 11.


“Gorham’s a very good team and playing them back-to-back with an inexperienced team is tough,” said Scarborough coach Phil Conley. “I thought my kids played hard for the full 32 minutes. We’re still learning how to play as a group. We don’t have a lot of kids back with a lot of varsity minutes. It’s going to take time, but I know we’re going to get better.”

The Red Storm welcomed defending Class AA South champion Thornton Academy Wednesday and play at the Golden Trojans Friday. Next week, Scarborough plays South Portland twice.

“Coming into the season (Gorham), TA and South Portland were picked 1, 2, 3 in the South, if not the state, but we’re up for the challenge,” Conley said. “We want to get guys experience. We want to get better, so we’ll be ready for the summer and then for next year. We have three seniors, so the other nine guys can get better. They work their tails off for me in practice and that’s all you can ask for.”

Cape Elizabeth split its first two games versus Waynflete, falling in Portland, 51-46, then giving new coach Jeff Mitchell his first victory, 44-40, at home. Nate Mullen had 22 points in the setback and 15 points in the victory. Tuesday, the Capers fell to 1-2 after a 48-41 home loss to Deering. After Cape Elizabeth let an 11-point first half lead slip away, Will Bowe’s 3-pointer tied the score late, but the Rams scored the final seven points. Bowe led the Capers with 14 points.

“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. 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.”

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.”

Girls’ basketball

The start of the girls’ season featured defending Class AA South champion South Portland twice edging Deering, 42-39 at home and 38-32 in Portland. In the first matchup, Maria Degifico and Cora Boothby-Akilo each scored 16 points. In the second victory, Hylah Owen led the way with 11 points, while Degifico added 10. Wednesday, the Red Riots traveled to Portland (see for game story) and likely for the first time in state annals, a mother coached against her daughter, as South Portland’s Lynne Hasson matched wits with her daughter Abby, the Bulldogs’ coach. The teams play again Friday in South Portland. The Red Riots play Scarborough twice next week.

Scarborough lost two games to Gorham to start its season, 51-14 on the road and 36-31 at home. Una Djuranovic had a team-high five points in the first contest. Kayla Conley paced the Red Storm in the second meeting with 12 points, while Sylvia Foley added 11. Scarborough was at Thornton Academy Wednesday, hosts the Golden Trojans Friday (see for game story) and twice faces South Portland next week.

Cape Elizabeth finally got on the court Tuesday at Deering and lost, 54-32, despite 11 points from Emily Supple and 10 from Alison Gerety.

“This was a year and a day since we’d played a game,” said longtime Cape Elizabeth coach Chris Casterella. “Deering is physical and they were all over us for 84 feet. That was quite eye-opening. We got (the deficit down) to 13, then we couldn’t get baskets. They got wide-open 3s and they shot well. We have 12 kids in the program. We can’t simulate games in practice. Going forward, we’ll do better handling pressure.”


Cape Elizabeth is back in action Friday at Freeport. The Capers meet Greely twice next week, Tuesday in Cumberland and Friday in Cape Elizabeth.

“Everyone is just happy to be out here,” Casterella said. “It gives the seniors a chance to play games that mean something. They’ve worked hard. For them, it’s a nice send-off. For the rest of us, we have to build for next year. It’s different, but I still get butterflies and I want to win. It’s about being out here. The girls play to win. Keeping the group together is a bright spot.”

Boys’ hockey

Cape Elizabeth’s boys’ hockey team opened with a dramatic 3-2 overtime win over Scarborough last week, as Alex Thayer ended it on a penalty shot. The Capers then improved to 2-0 Monday with a 2-1 home win over Thornton Academy. After hosting Kennebunk Thursday, Cape Elizabeth is home against Scarborough Saturday (see for game story) and plays at Biddeford Wednesday.

The South Portland/Waynflete/Freeport co-op squad split two games with Biddeford last week, blanking the visiting Tigers, 4-0, then falling at Biddeford, 1-0. After losing at Scarborough Monday, 2-1, the team was home versus Portland/Deering Thursday (see for game story).

Scarborough bounced back from its season-opening loss to Cape Elizabeth with a 2-1 win over South Portland/Freeport/Waynflete. The Red Storm travel to Kennebunk Monday.

Girls’ hockey

On the girls’ side, the Cape Elizabeth/South Portland/Waynflete co-op team, last year’s South Region champion, opened with home wins over Gorham (5-0) and Biddeford (4-1) and at Cheverus (3-2, in overtime). Koto Yamada scored two goals in the opener, Bella Schifano scored twice against the Tigers and Schifano scored twice, including the game-winner, versus the Stags. Cape/SP/Waynflete was at Greely Wednesday and welcomes Scarborough Saturday.

Scarborough blanked host Falmouth (8-0) and Portland/Deering (7-0) to open the season 2-0. Against the Yachtsmen, Ashley Farrington scored twice. Maya Sellinger had a hat trick in the second victory. The Red Storm hosted Cheverus Thursday and go to Cape/SP/Waynflete Saturday.

Michael Hoffer can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

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