There’s definitely not a lack of high school sports activity as February gives way to March.

And that’s a very good thing.

The winter sports season is still scheduled to come to an end next Saturday, March 13.

Volleyball, which never had an indoor season this fall, has begun a shortened season which will go into April.

The spring sports season, which never got underway for as much as a single practice a year ago, is primed to begin on time and could come as close to normalcy as anything we’ve seen since March of 2020.

It’s a lot to take in and here’s an overview:

Boys’ basketball

Deering’s Max Chiukta goes up for a basket during Saturday’s 49-40 win over Scarborough. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Deering’s boys’ basketball team extended its win streak to four games last by sweeping Cheverus (67-51 at home and 61-51 on the road) and downing visiting Scarborough, 49-40. In the first victory over the Stags, Mpore Semuhoza scored 21 points and Mohammed Artan added 15. In the second win, Semuhoza scored 17 points, Nick Langella added 12 and Remijo Wani finished with 11. Against the Red Storm, the Rams committed 14 first half turnovers and trailed at the break, 15-14, before hitting their stride and pulling away behind 13 points from Semuhoza and 11 from Max Chikuta.

“We took better care of the ball, moved it around and we knew we had to be energized,” Chikuta said.

“The best thing about our group is energy,” said Semuhoza. “Second half, we came with energy and that’s why we won the game.”

“It’s a cumulative effect, like Deering teams of old,” added Deering coach Todd Wing. “We press, press, press and it pays dividends in the fourth quarter. We prefer that fast pace. You might give up some easy (baskets), but you know you’ll get some the other way.”

The Rams go to Falmouth Friday and host the Yachtsmen Saturday (see pressherald.com/forecaster-sports/ for game story), then close next week with a pair of games versus rival Portland.

“We’ve come a long way,” Wing said “The progress has been more than I thought it would be. We’ve been blessed with consistency the past three weeks. Guys trust each other and are establishing roles. We know what we’re good it now and we’re playing off that. Our goal is to enjoy the time we have together. We got a lot of shots up yesterday to rest legs. I said, ‘We won’t remember the score of tomorrow’s game later on in our lives, but we’ll remember being in the gym together.’ We’re still not out of the woods. You get a positive case and go into quarantine and it’s the end of your season. Fingers crossed, toes crossed, I just want the rest of the season for these kids.”

Cheverus fell to 0-6 after last week’s two losses to Deering. In the first game, Dylan Morrison scored 18 points. He had 16 in the second loss. The Stags hoped to get in the win column Wednesday at South Portland. Cheverus hosts the Red Riots Friday, then finishes with a pair of games versus Windham next week.

Portland didn’t play last week and took a 2-2 mark to Gorham Wednesday. The Bulldogs host the Rams Friday, then close with a pair of games against Deering next week.

Waynflete improved to 5-1 after extending its win streak to four games last week with victories at North Yarmouth Academy (53-37) and at home over Berwick Academy (48-43). Chris Saade scored 16 points in both games. The Flyers hosted Fryeburg Academy Tuesday, welcome NYA Wednesday (see pressherald.com/forecaster-sports/ for game story), go to Fryeburg Academy Friday, then close next week with a pair of games versus Old Orchard Beach.

Girls’ basketball

Cheverus freshman Emma Lizotte shoots over Deering senior Grayson Soldati during the Stags’ 55-31 win last week. Hoffer photo.

On the girls’ side, Cheverus and Portland continue to surge.

The Stags extended their win streak to five and improved to 5-1 after sweeping Deering last week, 55-31 at home and 53-29 at the Rams. In the first game, freshmen sensations Maddie Fitzpatrick (17 points) and Emma Lizotte (12 points) led the way.

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

“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.”

“Deering didn’t back down,” added Cheverus coach Billy Goodman, who got the win on his 52nd birthday. “They battled. They’ll be a team that everyone will circle on their schedule in the future.”

In the second contest, Fitzpatrick scored 19 points and Lizotte added 10. The Stags host reigning Class AA South champion South Portland Wednesday, go to the Red Riots Friday, then close next week with a pair of games versus Windham.

Portland made it four straight wins, twice beating Falmouth last week (51-40 in Falmouth and 43-31 at home) to also improve to 5-1. In the first game, Gemima Motema scored 17 points and Eliza Stein added 12. In the second contest, Motema went off for 21 points.

“I’m super-proud of my team,” said Motema, who was named a semifinalist for the Miss Maine Basketball Award last week, as was teammate Amanda Kabantu. “We got the job done.”

“Gemima’s just a super-special kid,” Bulldogs first-year coach Abby Hasson said. “She scores at will. She does what she wants. She lets her game do her speaking for her. Gemima has added things to her repertoire. She doesn’t just drive anymore. She’s worked hard in the offseason shooting. She has a nice pull-up jumper. She’s really come alive, helping her teammates out. She has a great basketball I.Q. She sees the court so well. If I had her skills, I’d never stop playing.”

Portland welcomes Gorham Wednesday, plays at Gorham Friday, then closes with a pair of games next week versus Deering.

Deering fell to 1-4 after losses last week at Cheverus (55-31) and at home to the Stags (53-29). In the first game, Maya Gayle scored 14 points for the Rams.

“You can’t turn the ball over and give up easy layups and we did, so we wound up in a hole,” said Deering coach Mike Murphy. “We have to get used to their speed and length. You have to go down competing, rebounding, playing tougher defense.”

Ella McGowan scored 11 points in the Rams’ second loss to Cheverus. Deering goes to Falmouth Wednesday, hosts Falmouth Friday (see pressherald.com/forecaster-sports/ for game story), then closes with a pair of games against Portland next week.

Waynflete fell to 0-3 after a 53-24 home loss to NYA and a 41-25 setback at Berwick last week. Lucy Hart had a team-high nine points against the Panthers. The Flyers were at Fryeburg Academy Tuesday, host Fryeburg Academy Friday, go to NYA next Tuesday, then finish with a pair of games against Old Orchard Beach.

Boys’ hockey

The Portland/Deering co-op boys’ hockey team was 3-3 at press time after a 3-2 home loss to Windham/Westbrook and a 3-0 home win over Gorham last week. Portland/Deering goes to Falmouth Wednesday, visits Windham/Westbrook Friday, then closes next week with home games against Lake Region and Cheverus/Yarmouth.

Cheverus/Yarmouth was also 3-3 after a 6-2 home win over Brunswick and a 7-3 home loss to two-time Class B champion Greely. Against the Rangers, Jackson Header scored two goals and Truman Peters had the other, but it wasn’t enough.

“We went out and we executed out the game plan in the first 10 minutes, but they have some players who are game-breakers and if they get loose, they’re hard to defend,” said Dave St. Pierre, who is co-coaching Cheverus/Yarmouth this winter along with Marco Giancotti.

“We have not done a good job of scoring,” Giancotti said. “Competing against a team like that makes us better. We want to play great teams and know where our weaknesses are so we can improve.”

Cheverus/Yarmouth hosts Gorham Wednesday and welcomes Cape Elizabeth Saturday. The squad has one more home game against Falmouth before closing at Portland/Deering.

“It’s still a learning process for us, but we’re a much better team now than we were the first time (we played Greely) and we’re getting better all the time,” Giancotti said.

“We have to keep learning and growing and building our culture and set the stage for what we want to be next year,” St. Pierre said. “The boys have to learn to battle back and keep building.

The South Portland/Waynflete/Freeport co-op team fell to 1-4 Saturday with a 4-2 home loss to Thornton Academy. After going to Biddeford Tuesday, the squad hosts Cape Elizabeth Thursday (see pressherald.com/forecaster-sports/ for game story), then welcomes Kennebunk Saturday before closing next week against Kennebunk and Cape Elizabeth.

Girls’ hockey

Cheverus’ girls’ team was 2-3 after a 4-1 home loss to Lewiston and an 8-0 win at Falmouth. Lucia Pompeo had the goal in the loss. After hosting Gorham Saturday, the Stags meet Cape Elizabeth/Waynflete/South Portland next Wednesday before closing at home against St. Dom’s.

Portland/Deering beat Greely (8-1), then fell to 3-3) after a 5-1 home loss to Cape/Waynflete/SP. In the victory, Lucy Howe scored four times and Caroline Lerch had three goals. Lerch had the lone goal in the setback. Portland/Deering welcomes Scarborough Thursday and hosts Falmouth Saturday before finishing next week with home games against Gorham and Yarmouth/Freeport.

The Cape/Waynflete/SP squad, the reigning South Region champion, improved to 7-0 after 5-1 wins last week over Portland/Deering and Biddeford. The team hosts Falmouth, then closes with games against Cheverus and Scarborough.

Skiing

Waynflete’s girls came in first at a Nordic skate meet last week in Fryeburg. The Flyers were led individually by Julia Werner, who was fourth in 18 minutes, 29.8 seconds. The boys’ team came in third and featured seventh-place individual Bryan Stark-Chessa (16:15.4).

Cheverus’ boys’ and girls’ Alpine teams were third behind Falmouth and Marshwood at a league giant slalom meet last week. Liam Allen was seventh for the boys’ team, with a two-run combined time of 1 minute, 8.76 seconds. The girls’ top finisher was Maddy Marcisso (eighth, 1:12.02).

Wrestling

The Maine Principals’ Association officially canceled the high school wrestling season last week. Wrestlers can continue to work with their coaches in conditioning practices until March 12, but they cannot wrestle with teammates during practices.

“(The MPA’s Wrestling Committe was) unanimous that it was time,” said Mike Bisson, the MPA’s assistant executive director. “The kids were losing interest and losing hope. There was that balance. We were trying to give it every chance that it might happen, and then it just didn’t.”

One reason why the MPA wrestling committee had clung to hope that Maine’s guidelines might change was that the National Federation of State High School Associations announced Feb. 2 it would stop grouping sports by COVID risk levels.

“We were hoping as things got better after the post-holiday surge, that (the state) might revisit the guidelines, and that just didn’t happen,” Bisson said, adding that the MPA has received no indication changes to the Community Sports Guidelines were imminent.

Also, time was running short to be able to squeeze in a wrestling season without disrupting spring sports.

“I just wonder if in this particular scenario, maybe more could have been done for the students and the student-athletes,” said Portland/South Portland coach Tony Napolitano. “We’ve done so well here in Maine in protecting people and (COVID) numbers are dropping fairly quickly and dramatically. I know in other states, they wrestled and had state championships. I know what we talked about with our kids is, hey, wrestlers are built for adversity, and as hard as it is now, you’re going to get stronger and move forward and we’re not going to place blame. That’s the message we have to the kids. I just wish it had turned out differently.”

Volleyball

Monday marked the first day for formal, indoor – stressing the word indoor – practices for Maine’s high school volleyball teams.

Volleyball teams can play a maximum of 10 matches between March 5-April 9, with a possible postseason among teams from the same geographic area or conference to end April 16.

Key COVID-19 rules and protocols include: no spectators, face masks being worn by all participants at all times, and arriving ready to play and staying out of locker rooms.

The normal indoor season was called off Sept. 1. At that time, Maine’s athletic, education and health leaders were being especially cautious about athletic participation impacting academics and deemed indoor volleyball too have an elevated risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Spring sports

The Maine Principals’ Association has not officially set start dates for spring sports but, according to Executive Director Mike Burnham, is targeting traditional opening days: March 22 for baseball and softball throwing practices; March 29 for full team practices in all spring sports.

Burnham said Monday all spring sports committees have met and designed their recommendations for play. Those will be reviewed by the MPA Sports Medicine Committee, March 3, before being sent forward to the MPA Management Committee and then state health agencies.

Press Herald staff writer Steve Craig contributed to this story.

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

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