BOX SCORE

Cheverus 51 Lewiston 18

L- 0 14 2 2- 18
C- 17 9 13 12- 51

L- Beaudoin 3-1-8, Morin 2-0-5, Way 0-3-3, Legare 1-0-2

C- Lizotte 5-4-14, Fitzpatrick 5-1-11, Bontatibus 3-2-10, Singleton 2-2-7, Kelly 1-3-6, Feeley 1-0-3

3-pointers:
L (2) Beaudoin, Morin 1
C (5) Bontatibus 2, Feeley, Kelly, Singleton 1

Turnovers:
L- 19
C- 18

FTs
L: 4-7
C: 12-17

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PORTLAND—Cheverus’ girls’ basketball team is whole again.

And that spells a whole lot of trouble for anyone unfortunate enough to cross the Stags’ path.

Friday evening at Keegan Gymnasium, hosting visiting Lewiston, Cheverus continued its recent run of stellar play and even better, it welcomed back sophomore standout Maddie Fitzpatrick, who missed 10 games with a thumb injury.

The Stags shot to a quick 7-0 lead, thanks in large part to five points from senior Emily Bontatibus, before Fitzpatrick entered the game with 4:20 to go in the first quarter and made an immediate impact, scoring eight points in just over two minutes to make it 17-0 after one quarter.

The Blue Devils, who gave Cheverus a mighty scare in the teams’ previous meeting, settled in in the second period and drew within 12 at halftime, 26-14, but the Stags scored the first nine points of the second half, highlighted by a rare four-point play from senior Maeve Kelly, and took a 39-16 lead to the fourth quarter, where Cheverus put the finishing touches on a 51-18 victory.

The Stags got 11 points from Fitzpatrick in her return, 10 points from Bontatibus and a double-double from sophomore star Emma Lizotte as they improved to 12-1 on the season and dropped Lewiston to 7-7 in the process.

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“I was really nervous, but excited,” said Fitzpatrick. “I wondered how I’d fit in. It was great to be with my teammates again. Everyone was really supportive and helped me get comfortable.”

“Maddie’s worked so hard for six weeks on the side in practice, staying in shape,” added Cheverus coach Billy Goodman. “She really wanted to get back.”

Welcome back

Cheverus opened by beating visiting Bangor (50-36), then won at Deering (62-20) in the game that Fitzpatrick was injured. The Stags followed with victories at Westbrook (64-21), at home over Portland (62-37) and at Lewiston (44-42) on Dec. 23, but due to a COVID pause, they wouldn’t play again until Jan. 11, when they defeated visiting Deering (60-47). Cheverus then won at Edward Little (62-20) and gave Goodman his 200th win with a 48-29 victory at Portland. Last Friday, Cheverus suffered its first setback, 45-40, at Scarborough, but the responded with aplomb, beating visiting, undefeated, reigning Class AA champion Oxford Hills (62-59) Saturday. Monday, the Stags edged visiting Windham, 42-41, on Kelly’s late 3, then Wednesday, Cheverus handled visiting Hampden Academy, 46-29.

Along the way, the Stags not only withstood Fitzpatrick’s’ injury, they reached a level they didn’t know existed.

“It’s been so much fun,” said Bontatibus. “After the Scarborough game, we re-evaluated ourselves and realized we needed to be looser. We started played loud music in practice and we’ve really come together.”

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“At this point, we have seven starters,” Goodman said. ‘They all have that mentality and play with confidence.”

Lewiston has been up-and-down this season, but had won three in a row entering Friday’s contest.

In the teams’ first meeting, Lizotte led the way with 18 points, while Kelly added 10.

This time around, victory was never in doubt for Cheverus.

Just 55 seconds in, Bontatibus put the Stags on top for good with a 3-pointer. She then added a pair of free throws.

With 4:20 remaining in the opening stanza, Lizotte was fouled and after making the first attempt, Fitzpatrick entered the game.

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Cheverus coach Billy Goodman talks to sophomore Maddie Fitzpatrick just before she returns to action. Hoffer photos.

Lizotte then made the second shot.

Fitzpatrick made an immediate impact, driving for a layup and finishing with her left hand.

“Making that first shot settled my nerves,” Fitzpatrick said.

Fitzpatrick then stole the ball and made another layup, Fitzpatrick set up senior Lillian Singleton for a layup, Singleton returned the favor by setting up Fitzpatrick for a layup and with 25 seconds to go, Fitzpatrick stole the ball and made yet another layup for a commanding 17-0 advantage.

In her first three-plus minutes of action, Fitzpatrick had eight points and two steals, while Bontatibus added five points.

Lewiston, which turned the ball over seven times in the first period and didn’t score a single point, got on the board with 6:46 remaining before halftime, as sophomore Natalie Beaudoin knocked down a 3. Singleton countered with two free throws before senior Ashlyn Jean made a 3 to pull the Blue Devils within 19-6.

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Bontatibus prevented a run by answering with a 3-ball.

Lewiston got an old-fashioned three-point play (layup, foul and free throw) from Beaudoin, but senior Hayley Jordan set up Lizotte for a layup and her first field goal.

After junior Masya Way made a free throw for the visitors, Way made two more foul shots. Late in the half, Kelly hit two free throws for the Stags, but Beaudoin banked home a shot to cut the deficit to 26-14 at the half.

Cheverus sophomore Maddie Fitzpatrick looks to pass as Lewiston junior Masya Way defends.

Cheverus ended any lingering doubt to start the second half, as Kelly set up Lizotte for a layup, Fitzpatrick went coast-to-coast for a layup, then with 4:15 to go in the third period, Kelly managed to drain a 3-pointer while being fouled, then added the free throw for the four-point play.

Lizotte added a free throw before Morin scored on a runner to end the run.

Jordan then set up Lizotte for a layup and a Bontatibus bank shot, set up by Singleton, made it 39-16 Stags after three.

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Lizotte started the fourth quarter with a putback before Fitzpatrick scored her final point from the free throw line. Singleton then hit a 3, Lizotte made a free throw, then Fitzpatrick found Lizotte for a layup and a 48-16 advantage.

With 4:20 to go, sophomore Ellie Legare made a jumper for the Blue Devils’ final points.

A minute later, Goodman pulled the starters.

With 49 seconds on the clock, a 3-ball from Cheverus freshman Rachel Feeley brought the curtain down on a 51-18 victory.

“I’m not surprised we’ve done this well,” said Fitzpatrick. “I’ve watched the growth and development happen and I knew that we’re really good. It’s amazing how well we’ve connected.”

“Since day one in November, we spend more on defense every day than anything,” Goodman said. “To see us play like this tonight against a good offensive team, our hard work has paid off. The girls that have been playing have done an amazing job finding a way to win. The seniors all do something to help the team.”

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Lizotte stuffed the stat sheet with 14 points, 10 rebounds, four blocked shots and three assists.

Fitzpatrick, who was limited more by foul trouble than fatigue in her return, tallied 11 points, eight rebounds, three steals and two assists.

“I felt good, but I was a little tired by the end,” said Fitzpatrick.

“It’s wonderful to have Maddie back,” said Bontatibus. “We built depth without her, but having her back, we’re that much better.”

“(Maddie) did great getting us points, she also got some steals and moves well on defense,” Goodman added. “Just having her help us out was great.”

Bontatibus also wound up in double figures with 10 points. She also had four rebounds.

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“I’m a passer and a rebounder,” Bontatibus said. “I love taking the right shots, but if I see someone open, I love passing. I take pride in my defense.”

“Emily’s defense has been really good,” Goodman said. “She makes open shots. She’s a good passer. She does a lot of things to help the team win. She’s an unsung hero for us. I’m really happy for her.”

Singleton had seven points, Kelly six and Feeley three.

The Stags out-rebounded the Blue Devils, 46-33, overcame 18 turnovers and made 12-of-17 free throws.

Lewiston got eight points from Beaudoin (who also had seven rebounds and three steals), five from Morin, three from Way (seven rebounds) and two from Legare.

The Blue Devils committed 19 turnovers and went 4-of-7 from the free throw line.

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February beckons

Lewiston returns to action Tuesday when Bangor pays a visit.

Cheverus has another challenging week upcoming. The Stags play at Oxford Hills Monday, go to Hampden Academy Wednesday, then host Massabesic next Friday and Edward Little next Saturday.

“Monday’s a big game,” said Bontatibus. “That will show us how far we can go.”

“If we stick together and keep doing what we’ve been doing in practices and games, we can go far,” Fitzpatrick said.

“We have a bunch of games coming up and it will help us get in a rhythm with having all our players back,” Goodman added. “We have zero playoff experience with this group. We’re going to work on situations that might happen. We just have get experience.”

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

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