Deering 57 Westbrook 30

W- 2 9 12 7- 30
D- 17 7 18 15- 57

W- Cromarty 5-3-13, Young 3-1-7, Cole 3-0-6, Troiano 1-0-2, Kabangu 0-1-1, LaBrie 0-1-1

D- Santiago 8-0-19, Gayle 3-4-11, McGowan 4-2-11, Lia 3-1-7, Y. Sibo 3-0-6, Ishimwe 1-0-2, A. Sibo 0-1-1

W (0)
D (5) Santiago 3, Gayle, McGowan 1

W- 28
D- 12

Free throws
W: 6-9
D: 8-16


PORTLAND—Deering’s girls’ basketball team came into Friday night’s home game versus Westbrook eager for a victory.

So the Rams went out and took care of business quickly.

And rolled to that long-awaited first win.

Four quick points from senior Yipsi Sibo got things started and Deering forced seven Blue Blazes turnovers in opening up a 17-2 advantage after one quarter.

Westbrook settled down in the second period, but the Rams only gave two points back from their lead and were up, 24-11, at the break, thanks in large part to 10 points from sophomore Natalie Santiago.

A Santiago layup stretched the lead to 23 points in the third quarter and the Blue Blazes never got closer than 18 points the rest of the way as Deering went on to a 57-30 victory.


Santiago led all scorers with 19 points as the Rams won their first game after seven losses and in the process, dropped Westbrook to 4-4.

“The team is starting to grow,” said Deering coach Mike Murphy. “We are starting to see multiple efforts on the same possession be it on offense or defense and it’s fueling a positive approach to our play.”

A work in progress

Deering is a largely inexperienced team, but one that has promise and that promise is starting to become reality.

The Rams started by losing at Bonny Eagle (35-25), at home to Cheverus (62-20), at home to Bangor (65-20) and at home to Oxford Hills (52-33). Deering then took host Portland to the wire before falling, 47-44. The Rams then lose at home against Edward Little (50-33), at home to Windham (44-32) and at Cheverus (60-47).

Westbrook, which is coached by one-time Deering superstar Diana Manduca (Class of 2009), started with home losses to Fryeburg Academy (50-37) and Cheverus (64-21). The Blue Blazes then downed host Cape Elizabeth (53-27) and Kennebunk (42-40), before edging visiting Marshwood (45-43). A 48-21 home loss to Yarmouth ended the 2021 calendar year and Westbrook began 2022 with a 61-52 win at Biddeford.


The teams hadn’t met in a countable game since a 49-35 Deering home victory Dec. 23, 2014.

Friday, the Rams put it all together and led from start to finish.

Deering sophomore Maya Gayle goes up for a shot during the Rams’ 57-30 home win over Westbrook Friday. Hoffer photos.

Just over a minute in, Sibo put home a missed shot and Deering had a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.

The next time down, Sibo scored again. Senior Ella McGowan then drained a 3-pointer, sophomore Maya Gayle added a free throw and with 3:28 to go in the opening stanza, Santiago scored her first points on a baseline jumper for a 10-0 advantage.

With 2:42 on the clock, the Blue Blazes got on the board when junior Leah Cromarty converted a leaner, but Rams junior Naybhana Lia made a free throw, Santiago set up McGowan for a layup, McGowan added a foul shot and Santiago hit a 3 to make it 17-2 after one period.

Westbrook hoped to answer in the second quarter, as junior Madison Cole hit a jump shot and junior Natalie LaBrie added a free throw, but Santiago answered with a driving layup, then Santiago buried a 3 to make it 22-5.


After Cromarty hit two free throws, she added a layup, but Gayle countered with two foul shots.

A late layup from Blue Blazes freshman Kylie Young cut the deficit to 24-11 at the half.

In the first 16 minutes, Deering forced 14 turnovers and got 10 points from Santiago to open it up.

The Rams then ended any lingering doubt in the third quarter.

Deering sophomore Natalie Santiago, who had a game-high 19 points, handles the ball while Westbrook freshman Kylie Young defends.

Santiago started the second half scoring with a stop-and-go layup. Gayle then hit a 3 and after a McGowan steal, Gayle made a layup before a Gayle steal led to another Gayle layup for a commanding 34-11 advantage with 6:21 still to go in the third.

A leaner from Young ended the 10-0 run, but Santiago drove for a layup.


After Cromarty hit a runner in the lane, she hit a short jumper, but after a Santiago steal, Santiago set up Lia for a layup to make the score 38-17.

Cromarty answered with an old-fashioned three-point play (bank shot, foul, free throw), but senior Molly Ishimwe’s layup allowed the Rams to double up the Blue Blazes, 40-20.

After a free throw from Young, Santiago banked home a runner before a bank shot from Cole pulled Westbrook within 42-23 heading to the final stanza.

Where Deering made its first victory official.

Sibo began the fourth quarter with a layup and after a jumper from Cole, McGowan made a layup and Santiago banked home a 3 to make it 49-25.

After a layup from Blue Blazes sophomore Hannah Troiano, McGown made a free throw, McGowan took a pass from Santiago and made a layup, then Lia drove for a layup for a 54-27 advantage.


A free throw from freshman Ketsia Kabangu and a runner from Young accounted for Westbrook’s final points.

A foul shot from freshman Ariana Sibo and a runner from Lia then brought down the curtain on Deering’s 57-30 victory.

Santiago led the Rams with 19 points, four rebounds and three assists.

“Natalie is starting to play with confidence on the offensive side of the game,” Murphy said. “She’s our best on-ball defender and has a great feel for the game. She has been steadily improving over the past few weeks.”

Gayle (six steals, five rebounds and three blocked shots) and McGowan (five rebounds, three steals and two assists) also finished in double figures with 11 points apiece. Lia added seven points (as well as five rebounds, four assists and two steals), Yipsi Sibo had six (as well as a game-high 11 rebounds), Ishimwe had two and Ariana Sibo one.

Deering enjoyed a 42-34 advantage in rebounds, made 8 of 16 free throws and only turned the ball over 12 times.


For Westbrook, Cromarty led the way with 13 points and eight rebounds, Young had seven points, Cole six (to go with six rebounds), Troiano two (to go with five rebounds) and Kabangu and LaBrie one apiece.

The Blue Blazes committed 28 turnovers and hit 6 of 9 foul shots.

Next up

Westbrook looks to bounce back Monday at home versus Falmouth.

The Rams travel to Lewiston Monday.

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

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