The early trends have been positive on the winter sports front and while COVID continues to make life challenging, we’re certainly in a better place than a year ago.

With more than three weeks in the books, here’s a glimpse at where things stand:

Boys’ basketball

Portland’s Wani Donato defends Quinton Lindsay during the Bulldogs’ 45-40 victory earlier this season. Sean Patrick Ouellette / Portland Press Herald

Local boys’ basketball teams have had their share of ups and downs in the early going.

Portland, which won just three times in 19 games two years ago and just three times in 10 outings in last winter’s COVID-abbreviated campaign, started the 2021-22 season with a 42-40 home loss to Lewiston, then defeated host Bonny Eagle (45-41), Hampden Academy (63-42), Cheverus (44-41) and Deering (45-40) for its first four-game win streak since the start of the 2018-19 campaign. In snapping a four-game skid to the Rams, Wani Donato had 12 points and 16 rebounds, Spencer Cross scored the go-ahead basket early in the fourth period and the Bulldogs held on late in front of a raucous crowd.

“It feels good,” Donato said. “It’s a lot of fun to play in front of fans again. Their energy got us hyped up. We just slowed the game down and ran our offense. We play hard and work together. That’s why we’re 4-1.”

“It was just great to get the win,” Cross said. “We came out of halftime and we were a different team. We were ready to play. We played hard. It was a good battle. I knew it would be a hard game and I knew it would be close. I’m just glad we came out on top.”


“That was fun,” added longtime Bulldogs coach Joe Russo. “It was nice to see the crowd come out. It was a very competitive game, which I expected. We’re very similar. We run a similar defense, so that automatically keeps the score low. The difference was Wani Donato, we made some big free throws down the stretch and I think we’re just a little more cohesive on defense.”

Last Thursday, Portland fell to 4-2 after a 47-41 home loss to Edward Little, which got 38 points and 13 rebounds from standout big man John Shea. Pitia Donato had 18 points in defeat for the Bulldogs.

“It was an exciting game for a fan, but not as fun for the losing team,” Russo said. “It could have gone either way. Shea is very difficult to cover even though we knew exactly what he was going to do. He has great footwork, he knows how to get great position, he can score and he can lead his team. We prepared for him a couple different ways, but we didn’t execute what we needed to do to limit him.”

The Bulldogs were at Oxford Hills Tuesday and visit Windham Thursday, then host Cheverus Saturday and welcome reigning Class AA South champion Thornton Academy Tuesday of next week.

“I think that the league is wide open,” Russo said. “I still think Bangor and Oxford Hills are the two best teams.”

Cheverus, meanwhile, under new coach Richie Ashley, started with a 63-41 loss at Bangor, then stunned Deering at home in an overtime thriller, 73-72, before knocking off visiting Westbrook, 64-45. Against the Rams, Silvano Ismail had 22 points to lead the way for Cheverus, Seth Huntington added 18 points and Sammy Nzeyimana scored the winning basket. In the victory over the Blue Blazes, Ismail went off for 31 points. The Stags then fell to 2-3 after a 44-41 home loss to Portland and a 60-48 setback at Lewiston. Cheverus had multiple games postponed due to COVID, but was scheduled to return to action Saturday at Portland.


Deering got off to a strong start with a 64-55 home victory over Bonny Eagle, then lost at Cheverus in overtime (73-72), at Bangor (74-55) and Oxford Hills (66-53) and at home to Portland (45-40) to fall to 1-4. Remijo Wani scored 21 points in the win and he put on a show in the loss to the Bulldogs, scoring 26 points, but it wasn’t quite enough.

“Remijo is one of the top players in the state,” Rams coach Todd Wing said. “He does it all. He played well on offense and defense. His leadership will take us far.

“It was a fun game, a rock fight, as we expected. I’m glad it was so close. It was great to have the fans and the student sections back.”

Deering’s schedule gauntlet continued with games at Edward Little Tuesday and at Windham Saturday.

Waynflete split its first four outings, defeating host Sacopee Valley with ease (67-28), then falling at Cape Elizabeth (74-55) and at home to Old Orchard Beach in double-overtime (54-52) before beating host Seacoast Christian (72-17). Henry Hart had 14 points in the first victory and Connor Ford had a game-high 17 in the win over the Guardians. Against the Capers, Matt Adey led the Flyers with 20 points, but they fell behind early and couldn’t recover.

“Cape’s a great team and they’re tough to beat on their homecourt,” Waynflete coach Rich Henry said. “They play a nice extended 2-3 zone. Their length is formidable. For about a quarter-and-a-half, I think we played, but the rest of the time, we were intimidated and we played on our heels. Cape shoots the 3 really well. Even their big guy shoots the 3 and they have friendly rims on their homecourt. We have a handful of guys who were ready to play another game. Other kids need to realize what competing at this level is all about. I’m pleased with how we scrapped. We did some nice things getting the ball inside and drew a lot of fouls.”


The Flyers are back in action Saturday at Old Orchard Beach, then host North Yarmouth Academy Tuesday of next week.

Girls’ basketball

Waynflete’s Lucy Hart handles the ball during a recent loss to Cape Elizabeth. Ben McCanna / Portland Press Herald

On the girls’ side, Cheverus has lived up to billing as the preseason favorite, opening with a hard-fought 50-36 home win over Bangor, then defeating host Deering (62-20) and Westbrook (64-21), visiting Portland (62-37), and host Lewiston (44-42). Against the Rams, Maddie Fitzpatrick had 19 points, Emma Lizotte added 16 and Maeve Kelly sparked a game-turning 11-0 run with a pair of 3-pointers.

“We needed to get our defense together and play as a team,” Kelly said. “We were a little disorganized in the first half. I think what pulled us together was our defense and our energy.”

“This gives us confidence and experience playing in a tight game,” Stags coach Billy Goodman said. “The girls earned this. They were down and they came back.”

Fitzpatrick then had 17 points against Deering before hurting her wrist (she’s expected back at some point this season). In Cheverus’ close call at Lewiston, Lizotte had 18 points and Kelly 10. The Stags have had several games postponed by COVID, but hope to return to action Saturday at Portland.

Speaking of the Bulldogs, they opened with losses at Lewiston (55-44), at home to Bonny Eagle (41-26) and Hampden Academy (55-30), and at Cheverus (62-37), before breaking through by holding off visiting Deering, 47-44, behind nine points apiece from Eliza Stein and Balerio Yugu.


“It feels good,” said Bulldogs second-year coach Abby Hasson. “For a program that’s as storied as Portland, to go through droughts is really hard, so credit to the kids. They were ready to go. It wasn’t very pretty, but a win’s a win.”

Portland then fell to 1-5 after a 54-34 loss at Edward Little. Elizabeth Yugu paced the Bulldogs with 14 points. Portland is back in action Thursday at home versus Windham, then welcomes Cheverus Saturday and plays at Thornton Academy Tuesday of next week.

“We’re focused on onwards and upwards and getting better every day,” Hasson added. “I’ve got only two kids who played big minutes last year and everyone else didn’t. I’m reminding myself as much as I remind them that it’s a long season.”

Deering was 0-5 at press time, starting with losses at Bonny Eagle (35-25); at home to Cheverus (62-20), Bangor (65-20) and Oxford Hills; (52-33) and at Portland (47-44). Against the Bulldogs, the Rams got 15 points apiece from Maya Gayle and Ella McGowan and nearly erased a double-digit second half lead before falling just short.

“I’m very pleased with the grit and the effort,” said longtime Deering coach Mike Murphy. “It’s a group that hasn’t seen too many ‘Ws’ and you have to learn to win. We struggle to put the ball in the hole. Once you start seeing some success, you get some giddy-up in your step and defensively, you force turnovers and we took advantage of it.”

The Rams hosted Edward Little Tuesday and welcome Windham Saturday.


“It’s very challenging, but I’m seeing progress in small increments,” Murphy said. “I told the kids how proud I am that no one is quitting and that they show up and play hard for each other. That builds character. We’ve played some great teams so far. Cheverus, Oxford Hills and Bangor. We’ve seen the top and it’s a learning process. We just hope to get better.”

Waynflete won its opener, 30-25, over visiting Sacopee Valley, as Jesse Connors led the way with eight points. The Flyers then lost at home to Cape Elizabeth, 36-19, and at Old Orchard Beach (58-16), Seacoast Christian (35-32) and NYA (52-5).

“I’m proud of the girls, but we have a long way to go,” Waynflete coach Andrew Leach said. “We’ll get there, but it’s going to take some time. We have a good batch of seniors, a talented group. Our sophomores are playing a lot. Not everybody is a basketball player year-round, but it’s a group of great athletes and high character kids. We just need to go in the right direction.”

The Flyers are back in action Monday at home versus Old Orchard Beach.

Boys’ hockey

On the ice, the Cheverus/Yarmouth co-op boys’ squad started with a painful overtime losses at two-time reigning Class B state champion Greely (3-2) and Scarborough (4-3), then edged host Brunswick in overtime (4-3) before taking the “City Cup” Saturday night, 8-1, over Portland/Deering. Matt Robichaud had the decisive goal against the Dragons. In the win over Portland/Deering, Kevin Connolly led the way with a hat trick.

“The chemistry on this team is really strong,” said Cheverus/Yarmouth coach Dave St. Pierre. “There’s good, supportive energy in the locker room. I think that chemistry will carry us a long way.”


Cheverus/Yarmouth hosts Edward Little Thursday (see for game story), visits Leavitt Saturday and plays host to Brunswick Tuesday of next week.

Portland/Deering lost its first five games, 5-3 at Lake Region, 7-1 at Edward Little, 5-0 at South Portland/Freeport/Waynflete, 4-3 at home to Mt. Ararat and 8-1 to Cheverus/Yarmouth. Portland/Deering hosts York Thursday and goes to Windham Friday.

The South Portland/Waynflete/Freeport co-op started with a 3-1 home win over Falmouth, as Dylan Hannan, Tobey Lappin and Jake Udomsay scored the goals.

“It’s a good win against a tough team,” SP/Waynflete/Freeport coach Joe Robinson said. “(Falmouth’s) talented, but we found a way to finish. I love this team. We’ve got talent, but we also have a good group of guys. They work hard, they’re fun and have fun with each other. I enjoy being with them.”

South Portland/Waynflete/Freeport then earned a key 4-1 win at reigning Class A champion Lewiston before improving to 3-0 with a 5-0 blanking of Portland/Deering. The squad is back in action Wednesday at St. Dom’s and hosts Marshwood Saturday.

Girls’ hockey

Cheverus’ Lucy Johnson tries to get the puck past Portland/Deering goalie Caitlin Huynh during the Stags’ 10-5 victory Saturday. Shawn Patrick Ouellette / Portland Press Herald

On the girls’ side, Cheverus suffered an early loss to Cape Elizabeth/Waynflete/South Portland and tied Edward Little but won its four other games to date, 6-1 at Scarborough, 3-1 at Falmouth, 6-1 at home over York and 10-5 over Portland/Deering in Saturday’s “City Cup.” Olivia Bradford and Charlotte Miller both scored twice against Portland/Deering. The Stags welcome Falmouth Wednesday (see for game story) and play host to Scarborough Saturday.


Portland/Deering fell to 0-7 with Saturday’s 10-5 loss to Cheverus. Jane Flynn had a hat trick in defeat. Portland/Deering goes to Brunswick Saturday.

The Cape Elizabeth/Waynflete/South Portland co-op team won its first five games, tied Scarborough, beat Gorham (5-1), then fell to 6-1-1 with a 7-0 loss at Lewiston Saturday. The squad plays at Biddeford Friday.

Indoor track

Cheverus boys’ indoor track team placed second at a season-opening meet at the University of Southern Maine. The Stags girls were fourth. Deering’s boys and girls came in third at their first meet, while Portland’s boys and girls were also third.

In the second meet of the season, Portland’s boys and girls defeated Falmouth and Biddeford, while both Cheverus squads were third and both Deering teams placed fourth.


Cheverus’ swim team swept Erskine Academy in its most recent outing, with the boys prevailing by a score of 45-11 and the girls winning, 51-35. Previously, Cheverus’ girls eked out a 73-72 win over Scarborough, while the boys lost to the Red Storm, 121-35.

Waynflete split with Westbrook, with the girls taking a 47-22 decision and the boys losing to the Blue Blazes, 44-22.

Portland/Deering swept Maine Central Institute, with the boys winning, 74-16, and the girls prevailing, 109-17.

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

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