Cheverus junior Lillie Singleton shoots over Deering senior Kaylee True-Magee early in the Stags’ 55-31 victory Tuesday. Michael Hoffer / For The Forecaster

BOX SCORE

Cheverus 55 Deering 31

D- 7 12 10 2- 31
C- 20 11 10 14- 55

D- Gayle 5-1-14, Magee-True 3-0-7, Greene 1-0-2, Ishimwe 1-0-2, Lia 1-0-2, McGowen 1-0-2, Soldati 1-0-2

C- Fitzpatrick 7-2-17, E. Lizotte 6-0-12, Foster 2-0-6, Storey 1-4-6, Singleton 2-0-5, Jordan 1-1-4, Kelly 1-0-2, J. Lizotte 1-0-2, J. Kratzer 0-1-1

3-pointers:
D (4) Gayle 3, Magee-True 1
C (5) Foster 2, Fitzpatrick, Jordan, Singleton 1

Turnovers:
D- 29
C- 18

FTs
D: 1-3
C: 8-11

PORTLAND—Billy Goodman would have been happy just to coach one fabulous freshman on his birthday.

But he’s fortunate enough to have two.

And that made for not just a fabulous 52nd birthday, but also a triumphant one, as the Stags dispatched rival Deering at Keegan Gymnasium Tuesday afternoon.

Cheverus raced to a 20-7 lead after one quarter, as much-heralded freshman sensation Maddie Fitzpatrick, and classmate Emma Lizotte, whose stock is rising by the day, each scored six points.

The Rams tried to stay close behind a sharp-shooting freshman of their own, Maya Gayle, who scored 13 first half points, but a late 6-0 run by Fitzpatrick helped the Stags open up a 31-19 halftime advantage.

Fitzpatrick only scored two second half points, but she got plenty of help from her teammates, especially Lizotte, who like Fitzpatrick, wound up with a double-double, and Cheverus went on to a 55-31 victory.

The Stags got 17 points from Fitzpatrick, 12 from Lizotte, won their fourth game in a row, improved to 4-1 and dropped Deering to 1-3 in the process.

“I walked into the huddle before the game and the girls sang, ‘Happy Birthday,'” said Goodman.
“They bought me cupcakes and a (birthday) hat. I’ve had some good wins on my birthday and this one was special.”

Greatness to come

Cheverus and Deering both boast some tremendous young players, suggesting that they’ll be in the title mix the next several seasons.

Both squads are focused on the here and now, however, and have enjoyed some success so far this winter.

The Rams started with a pair of losses to South Portland (42-39 away and 38-32 at home), then snapped a 22-game skid with last week’s 54-32 home victory over Cape Elizabeth.

The Stags, meanwhile, opened with a 60-53 home loss to Portland, then erased a 21-2 deficit and shocked the host Bulldogs, 45-41. Last week, Cheverus swept Falmouth, 73-41 on the road and 51-35 at home.

Last year, the Stags beat the Rams twice, 58-38 at Deering and 65-25 at home.

Tuesday, the Rams sought to turn the tables, but Cheverus made it three straight in the series, as Fitzpatrick did a little of everything as her reputation continues to grow, and she got plenty of help.

Deering opened the scoring on a bank shot from senior Kaylee True-Magee before Fitzpatrick scored her first points, at the free throw line, to tie it.

With 5:16 left in the first quarter, the Rams took their final lead, 4-2, on a driving layup from sophomore Nyabhana Lia.

The Stags then erupted on a 15-0 run to gain some separation.

Fitzpatrick set up senior Madison Storey for a tying layup, then with 4:05 on the clock, Fitzpatrick took a pass from junior Julia Kratzer and made a layup to put Cheverus ahead to stay.

Cheverus freshman Maddie Fitzpatrick finds herself hounded by Deering junior Ella McGowan (10) and sophomore Nyabhana Lia. Fitzpatrick had her way with the Rams most of the game, however.

Deering coach Mike Murphy called timeout to try and stem the tide, but it didn’t work, as Fitzpatrick made a layup, Fitzpatrick set up Lizotte for a layup, Lizotte made another layup, junior Hayley Jordan knocked down a 3-pointer and after a steal, Fitzpatrick fed junior Lillie Singleton for a layup and a 17-4 advantage with 1:34 still to go in the opening stanza.

Gayle first made her presence felt with a 3-pointer 15 seconds later to snap the run and a 3-minute, 57-second scoring drought, but Lizotte banked home a shot and after a steal, Jordan made a foul shot for a 20-7 lead heading to the second period.

There, Gayle did all she could to keep the Rams in the game, but Fitpzatrick took control again late in the half to keep Cheverus’ lead in double digits.

A pair of Storey foul shots opened the second quarter, but Gayle made a 3 and Gayle set up junior Molly Ishimwe for a layup to pull Deering within 10, 22-12.

Fizpatrick countered with a 3-ball to snap a 3:20 drought, but Gayle made a long jumper, then sank a 3 to cut the Rams’ deficit to just eight, 25-17.

“We missed a bunch of shots, but give Deering credit,” Goodman said. “I felt we rushed our shots a little bit. We didn’t square up. We were moving the ball great, then we got a good lead and got a little goofy. I have to help us avoid these lulls. We get momentum, then for some reason, we stop.”

Fitzpatrick then flipped the switch, scoring six points in two minutes, on a runner off the glass, a layup after a steal and a putback.

“We need to be patient with the ball,” said Fitzpatrick. “When we’re patient, we’re better as a team and we get better shots.”

Gayle scored on a putback late, but the Stags managed to take a 12-point advantage, 31-19, to intermission.

Fitzpatrick not only scored 15 first half points, but also had six steals, six rebounds and three assists.

Cheverus freshman Emma Lizotte shoots over Deering senior Grayson Soldati for two of her 12 points.

Cheverus held its own in the third quarter, as Lizotte opened the second half by making a layup on the fastbreak (off a pass from Fitzpatrick), then hit a jumper.

After junior Ella McGowan made a layup for the Rams, Kratzer answered with a foul shot and after True-Magee made a layup, junior Lillie Singleton sank a 3 for Cheverus to make the score, 39-23.

Deering refused to fold, as senior Grayson Soldati made a layup and after Storey sank two foul shots, True-Magee drained a 3 and Gayle made a free throw to cut the deficit to 41-29 heading for the fourth quarter.

There, the Stags closed on a 14-2 run to end all doubt.

A putback from senior Jillian Lizotte was followed by a layup from her sister (set up by Fitzpatrick), then Fitzpatrick got a jumper to rattle home for her final points before junior Maeve Kelly scored on a putback for a 20-point advantage.

The Rams’ final points came from freshman Ailyah Greene, on a jumper, but senior Grace Foster answered with a pair of 3s and Cheverus closed out its 55-31 victory.

“We knew it was Coach’s birthday and we wanted to win it for him,” Fitzpatrick said.

“Deering was strong with the ball, so we just had to remember to box out and get rebounds,” Emma Lizotte said.

“Deering didn’t back down,” Goodman added. “They battled. They’ll be a team that everyone will circle on their schedule in the future.”

Fitzpatrick dazzled with 17 points, 13 rebounds, six assists and six steals.

“Maddie’s a really good teammate,” said Emma Lizotte. “She always cheers for other people. We see how hard she works.”

Emma Lizotte also had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds, as well as three blocked shots.

“It’s been really fun to be back playing,” Lizotte said. “I love playing varsity basketball and being able to produce for the team.”

“Emma brings so much to our team in the post and on defense,” Fitzpatrick said. “She’s so tall and so long. You get beat on defense and she gets back there. Offense too, with rebounds.”

“Emma Lizotte has done great,” Goodman added. “She came alive in the Portland game that we won. She deserves to be out there, so I’m playing her. She’s very coachable. She works extremely hard. She’s relentless out there. She’s a very nice kid, but on the court, she’s tough.”

Foster and Storey (six steals) wound up with six points apiece, Singleton (six boards) had five, Jordan (three assists) four, Kelly and Jillian Lizotte (six boards) two apiece and Kratzer one (to go with six rebounds, three assists and two steals).

The Stags enjoyed a 50-31 rebounding advantage, made 8-of-11 foul shots and overcame 18 turnovers.

Deering’s top scorer was Gayle, who had 14 points, but just one after halftime. Gayle also had six rebounds and three steals.

“Maya can shoot it,” Murphy said. “She’s athletic.”

Magee-True added seven points, five rebounds and four steals and Greene, Ishimwe, Lia (five rebounds), McGowan (four assists) and Soldati all finished with two points.

The Rams took just three foul shots and made one and committed 29 turnovers.

“Cheverus is a very good squad,” Murphy said. “We struggled out front with (Cheverus’) length. You can’t turn the ball over and give up easy layups and we did, so we wound up in a hole. We have to get used to their speed and length. You have to go down competing, rebounding, playing tougher defense. We let up rebounds when kids didn’t jump way too many times.”

Run it back

The teams play again Thursday at Deering.

The Rams then finish with home-and-away games versus Falmouth and Portland.

“We’re dealing with youth and inexperience, but we’re making progress,” said Murphy. “I’m going to coach them hard. That’s the only way we’ll get better. Playing teams like this helps.”

The Stags play South Portland home and away next week, then finish with two games versus Windham.

“If we keep the pressure on defensively, we’ll be fine,” Fitzpatrick said. “We have to keep wanting to stay ahead.”

“We have to work on (eliminating) turnovers and making easy shots,” Emma Lizotte said. “We have to keep playing our game and work hard and stay enthusiastic.”

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

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