There have been numerous games postponed in recent weeks, but the winter sports season continues to chug along with the promise of the postseason drawing ever closer.

Even with a lighter slate, the results have been memorable and that figures to continue as the regular season dwindles.

Here’s a look back at the week that was:

Boys’ basketball

Portland’s Spencer Cross plays defense during the Bulldogs’ home win over Oxford Hills Friday. Brianna Soukup / Portland Press Herald

Portland’s boys’ basketball team continued its resurgence last week with impressive home victories over Thornton Academy (45-36) and Oxford Hills (52-43) to improve to 6-2 on the year. Against the Golden Trojans, Jeissy Khamis had 16 points, including a pair of clutch 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, and the Bulldogs forced 19 turnovers.

“My first shot was an air-ball, so I knew I just needed to keep (taking) those shots,” Khamis said.

“This was a tremendous win for us because TA is a quality team,” said longtime Portland coach Joe Russo. “Just to regroup the way we did with the time off and then we’ve got to face a team as good as they are and I thought the kids played one heck of a defensive game because TA can light it up.”

Advertisement

In the win over the Vikings, Wani Donato led the way with a dozen points, Brady Toher added nine and the Bulldogs forced 24 turnovers.

“Our defense and our hustle has been working for us,” Toher said. “We really locked down on defense. Our intensity is at another level. Our offense still needs some work, but our defense is really good.”

“We had to stay calm at the end,” Donato said. “We work on defense a lot in practice.”

“This means that we’re doing some good things and keeping it very simple,” added Russo. “We’re working hard, playing 94 feet and having fun. When we do that, it puts pressure on the other team. The teams we’re beating are good, but it’s hard to perform when someone is in your face for 32 minutes. That’s how we have to play.”

Portland hosted Cheverus Tuesday, welcome Falmouth Friday (see theforecaster.net/sports for game story), play host to Windham in a makeup game Monday, then visit Lewiston Tuesday of next week.

“It won’t get any easier,” Russo added. “I think these guys can keep getting better, so I stay on them. I don’t want to cheat them out of what they deserve. I’m giving everything I can give to help them succeed. We still need to close out games better.”

Advertisement

Deering’s Remijo Wani goes up for a basket as Cheverus’ Giovanni St. Onge defends during the Stags’ road win last week. Brianna Soukup / Portland Press Herald

Cheverus ended a two-and-a-half week COVID hiatus last Tuesday with a 64-55 win at Deering. Seth Huntington led the way with 26 points, including two critical 3-pointers late after the Rams cut a 17-point deficit to just one.

“It’s amazing to play a game again,” Huntington said. “We started off great, moving the ball, playing great defense. Second half, we kind of laid an egg, but we didn’t stop. We kept fighting and finished the game strong.”

“We had a really good first half,” Stags first-year coach Richie Ashley said. “We had a sluggish third quarter, then they cut it to one and we answered the bell and hit some shots.”

Cheverus then fell to 3-3 Saturday after an 82-41 loss at reigning Class AA champion Edward Little. Leo McNabb led the Stags with 11 points. Cheverus was at Portland Tuesday, plays at Oxford Hills Friday and visits Windham Monday before hosting Hampden Academy in a makeup game next Tuesday.

“We have to continue to work hard,” Ashley said. “We have a tough stretch coming up. We have to make up five games. We’re just trying to get better every day. Our mantra is caring more about the name on the front than the name on the back. We started it in the summer and we’ll keep doing it.”

Deering dropped to 2-6 with a 64-55 home loss to Cheverus. The Rams got 15 points from Evan Lagassey and a double-double (12 points, 12 rebounds) from Titayo Augusto, but a late rally fell short.

Advertisement

“We’re up and down,” Deering coach Todd Wing said. “That’s kind of what we do and that’s the difference between winning and losing. The comeback started on the defensive end. We dug down defensively and got ourselves some easy looks and that got us back in the game.”

Deering hosted Lewiston Monday, welcomes undefeated South Portland Friday and plays host to Edward Little Monday of next week.

“We’re in a different realm than we’ve been in,” Wing said. “We’re determined to get better and we will get better. No doubt about it.”

Waynflete’s Matt Adey, left, and Ed Cox play defense during a loss at Poland last week. Daryn Slover / Sun Journal

Waynflete played its first game in over three weeks last Tuesday, defeating visiting North Yarmouth Academy, 52-38, then fell to 3-4 with losses to visiting Yarmouth (57-25) and host Poland (67-56). In the victory, Nico Kirby led the way with 13 points, Henry Hart added 12 points and five steals, and Sam Ribiero also scored a dozen points. Against the Clippers, the Flyers fell behind, 20-0, after one quarter and could never catch up. Hart had a team-high nine points.

“I wish the game would have been closer, but sometimes you play a team that’s better than you, and Yarmouth’s a very good team,” Waynflete coach Rich Henry said. “We have a habit of starting on our heels, and if you start on your heels against a well-coached, aggressive team, you can get in a hole very quickly and then it snowballs.”

Kirby scored 11 points, while Hart and Matt Adey each added nine in the loss to the Knights.

Advertisement

“I am very proud of the way those guys played,” Henry said. “To travel as far as we did, play a really good team on the road with a lot of really good players, I am proud.”

The Flyers hope to get back on track at NYA Wednesday (see theforecaster.net/sports for game story). Waynflete then goes to Fryeburg Academy Thursday, travels to Old Orchard Beach Saturday and visits Traip Academy Monday.

“These young men are a delight to work with,” Henry said. “We’re just appreciative of the opportunity to play and be together. There’s a lot to still work on and I’m hoping, given the youth of the team, once we get into February, we’ll be better. We’re getting a lot of minutes out of some sophomores and that always bodes well. We’re getting great leadership from Henry and the guys’ attitudes are very good.”

With the basketball tournament set to begin Feb. 12 and COVID showing no signs of relenting, there are concerns, but last week, Maine Principals’ Association director Mike Burnham said that the postseason will go on as scheduled.

“I think we are moving forward, cautiously optimistic,” Burnham said. “The overall philosophy is for all of our winter activities to have a postseason.”

Those plans include for the tournament to look pretty close to normal from a fan environment perspective as well. The Augusta Civic Center, Cross Insurance Center in Bangor or the Portland Exposition Building, all of which host regional tournament games, are planning to operate at full capacity. Masks will be required for spectators in Augusta and Bangor, while those at the Expo above the age of 5 will be required to mask inside as well as show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test.

Advertisement

Girls’ basketball

On the girls’ side, undefeated Cheverus sat idle for 18 days, then defeated visiting Deering (60-47) and host Edward Little (62-20) last week to improve to 7-0. In the win over the Rams, Emma Lizotte had a double-double (28 points, 14 rebounds) and Lillie Singleton added 19 points. Against the Red Eddies, Maeve Kelly had a game-high 15 points, Lizotte added a dozen and Emily Bontatibus finished with 10. The Stags went to Portland Tuesday (see theforecaster.net/sports for game story), play at Scarborough Friday, then host reigning Class AA champion Oxford Hills Saturday and welcome Windham Tuesday of next week.

Deering’s Maya Gayle goes up for a shot during the Rams’ 57-30 win over Westbrook Friday. Michael Hoffer / The Forecaster

Deering got in the win column for the first time Friday, 57-30, over visiting Westbrook. The Rams, who lost their first eight games, including a 60-47 setback at Cheverus (Maya Gayle had 23 points and Ella McGowan added 12 in defeat), raced to a 17-2 first quarter lead and never looked back. Natalie Santiago led the way with 19 points and Gayle and McGowan each added 11.

“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. Natalie is starting to play with confidence on the offensive side of the game. 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.”

The Rams went to Lewiston Monday, visit South Portland Friday and go to Edward Little Tuesday of next week.

Portland fell to 1-8 after losses last week at Thornton Academy (61-44) and Oxford Hills (61-27). In the loss to the Golden Trojans, Elizabeth Yugu scored 24 points. Yugu also had a team-high 13 points against the Vikings. The Bulldogs were at Windham Monday, hosted Cheverus Tuesday, go to Falmouth Friday and welcome Lewiston Tuesday of next week.

Waynflete fell to 1-7 after losses last week to visiting Old Orchard Beach (57-16), at Yarmouth (50-7) and at home to Poland (43-20). In the loss to the Seagulls, Maeve Mechtenberg had six points. Lucy Hart had a team-high 15 points versus the Knights. The Flyers welcome NYA Wednesday, Fryeburg Academy Thursday and Traip Academy Tuesday of next week.

Advertisement

Boys’ hockey

On the ice, while Cheverus/Yarmouth coach Dave St. Pierre recently hit a career milestone with his 100th victory, the team improved to 4-3 Saturday by outlasting visiting St. Dom’s, 6-5. Ben Moll scored three times, including the game-winner, and freshman goalie John Wallace earned his first varsity victory. Cheverus/Yarmouth goes to Gorham Thursday. Cheverus/Yarmouth’s Matt Robichaud was named December’s co-Forward of the Month, along with Brunswick’s Nick Marro, in Class B South.

Portland/Deering has been idle since New Year’s Day and was scheduled to return to action Monday at home versus St. Dom’s. Portland/Deering (0-5) goes to Falmouth Thursday and visits Cape Elizabeth Saturday.

The South Portland/Waynflete/Freeport co-op team improved to 6-1 after a 6-2 victory over Cape Elizabeth last week. Cullen Adams had a hat trick and Tobey Lappin added a pair of goals. The squad hosts Scarborough Thursday and goes to Biddeford Saturday.

Girls’ hockey

On the girls’ side, Cheverus continues to surge, making it four straight victories and improving to 7-1-1 Saturday with a 2-0 win at Edward Little. After traveling to reigning state champion Lewiston Monday, the Stags host Scarborough Friday, welcome Biddeford Saturday and go to York Tuesday of next week.

Portland/Deering, which got its first win in its most recent outing Jan. 8, had games against York, Gorham and Biddeford postponed. Portland/Deering (1-9) is scheduled to host Mt. Ararat Thursday.

Speaking of postponements, the Cape Elizabeth/Waynflete/South Portland co-op team hasn’t taken the ice for a countable game since Jan. 1. Last week, games versus Edward Little, York and Falmouth were postponed. Cape/Waynflete/South Portland (6-1-1) is scheduled to go to St. Dom’s Wednesday and host Scarborough Saturday.

Advertisement

Wrestling

Cheverus’ Marshall Fowler takes down Windham/Gray-New Gloucester/Westbrook’s Owen McDuffie during a 160-pound division match Saturday. Ben McCanna / Portland Press Herald

Cheverus was the site Saturday of the Zeb Leavitt Memorial Invitational, which honored the memory and the legacy of Leavitt, a 2018 Cheverus graduate and Class A heavyweight state champion who died in a car accident in December 2020. Seabastian Merrill won the 195-pound title, while Marshall Fowler won the 160-pound division and remained undefeated on the season.

“I never got to go to school with Zeb Leavitt, but from all the upperclassmen (in previous years), from everyone I’ve talked to, he was like the most loving, caring, best friend you could ever have,” Fowler said. “I got to talk to him twice and he was amazing to me. So I think it’s fantastic that we were able to have this and honor him.”

“Zeb’s character, compassion, and work ethic are the foundation that our team culture is built on,” said Cheverus coach Jason Barriault. “He grew this program through increasing participation and setting our team goals to be as important as his individual goals of winning state titles. He is the main reason that we went from a few kids wrestling attached to Deering to a competitive program year in and year out. I think of Zeb every time a Cheverus athlete takes the mat and I want him to stay a part of Cheverus wrestling in the years to come through this tournament.”

Indoor track

Cheverus’ boys’ team defeated Falmouth and Westbrook in a meet last week. The Stags girls were second to the Blue Blazes.

Portland’s boys team came in second and the girls were third against Noble, Bonny Eagle and Massabesic.

Deering’s boys and girls were each second to Gorham in a meet which also included Marshwood and Sanford.

Skiing

Deering’s girls were first in a six-team Nordic ski meet last week. The Rams featured individual champion Megan Cunningham, who completed the course in 15 minutes, 11.7 seconds. Portland came in second, Waynflete third and Cheverus fifth.

Press Herald staff writer Steve Craig, Morning Sentinel staff writer Drew Bonifant and Sun Journal staff writer Adam Robinson contributed to this story.

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

Comments are not available on this story.