Deering 77 Westbrook 73

D- 22 21 12 22- 77
W- 21 20 12 20- 73

D- Chikuta 8-1-21, Wani 3-11-18, Willings 5-1-13, Legassey 3-1-9, Augusto 4-0-8, Fuller 1-1-3, Langella 1-0-3 Lindsay 1-0-2

W- Hethcoat 13-2-36, Dunphe 7-2-17, Eugley 3-1-7, Pierce 2-1-5, Doolittle 1-1-3, Seavey 1-0-3, Joao 1-0-2

D (10) Chikuta 4, Legassey, Willings 2, Langella, Wani 1
W (10) Hethcoat 8, Dunphe, Seavey 1

D- 16
W- 15

D: 15-28
W: 7-11


WESTBROOK—Maybe 4 p.m. starts aren’t so bad.

In fact, sometimes an unorthodox start time can produce an unforgettable game.

That was the case Thursday afternoon when Deering’s boys’ basketball team made the short jaunt over to Westbrook to take on the Blue Blazes in the teams’ first meeting in over seven years.

And based on the show the squads produced, it’s safe to say they should meet more often.

The first half was a dizzying display of up-and-down action, with little separation.

Westbrook senior sharpshooter Tyler Hethcoat put on a memorable show, scoring all 21 of his team’s first quarter points, but the Rams managed to hold a one-point lead at the end of the period.


The second quarter saw Deering momentarily go up by seven, the Blue Blazes rally to go on top, then the Rams take a 43-41 halftime advantage thanks to a late hoop from senior Max Chikuta.

Deering then ramped up its defense in the third period, forcing nine turnovers, but Westbrook refused to buckle and the spread remained two points, 55-53, heading to the final stanza.

There, the Rams went on an 8-0 run to go up, 65-57, but the Blue Blazes rallied and when Hethcoat made a layup after a steal with 43.4 seconds to go, the game was tied one final time, 71-71.

But Deering refused to leave without a victory, as it raced right back up the floor and senior Titayo Augusto set up classmate Alex Willings for a layup which gave the Rams the lead for good.

Then, after an Augusto steal, junior Remijo Wani made two free throws for a little breathing room before adding two more and despite a last-second Hethcoat layup, Deering survived with a palpitating 77-73 victory.

The Rams got 21 points from Chikuta, 18 from Wani and 15 from Willings to help counter-act Hethcoat’s 36-point tour de force as they improved to 6-9 on the season while dropping Westbrook to 5-8 in the process.


“I told the guys that we haven’t played (Westbrook) in a number of years, but historically you can throw out the records when we play,” said Deering coach Todd Wing. “It’s always a dogfight and we got just that. It was hectic, but it was fun.”

Finding answers

Deering has struggled winning games much of the year and the Rams’ record has been misleading, but close losses have been turning into victories of late.

Deering opened 64-55 home win over Bonny Eagle, then lost at Cheverus (73-72, in overtime), at Bangor (74-55), at Oxford Hills (66-53), at home to Portland (45-40) and at reigning Class AA champion Edward Little (83-55) before getting back on track with a 61-59 win at Windham. Losses to visiting Cheverus (64-55), Lewiston (67-62) and South Portland (66-52) followed before the Rams gave Wing his 100th victory, 64-59, over visiting Edward Little, then rallied to knock off host Lewiston (61-56) before falling at home to Oxford Hills Monday (59-55) and beating visiting Windham Wednesday, 73-51.

Westbrook started with losses to Brunswick (77-65), Fryeburg Academy (51-37) and Cheverus (64-45) before knocking off Cape Elizabeth (55-52). The Blue Blazes then lost at home to Kennebunk (73-59) and fell at Yarmouth (62-48), before beating visiting Biddeford (45-43), falling at Kennebunk (74-62) and at home to Bonny Eagle (61-47). Westbrook then rattled off three straight wins: 57-52 at Biddeford, 62-30 at Mt. Ararat and 80-61 over visiting Morse Tuesday.

Deering and Westbrook used to meet annually when they were in the same class and played six times in the tournament between 1964 and 2001, but the teams hadn’t squared off in a countable game since Dec. 23, 2014, a 66-52 Rams’ road victory.


Thursday, in a makeup contest with an early start time. which had players and coaches scrambling to arrive on time, Deering won again at Westbrook, but it didn’t come without some anxious moments.

The 3-point shooting parade began immediately and it was the Rams putting on a show initially, as Willings started the contest with a 3-ball from the corner and Chikuta added another to make it 6-0 less than a minute in.

Hethcoat then got going, not from behind the 3-point arc, but at the charity stripe, making two free throws, before he drained his first 3.

After freshman Evan Legassey scored on a putback for Deering, Hethcoat put home a miss at the other end.

Chikuta answered with a long 3 and off an inbounds set, Chikuta found Willings for a short jumper and a 13-7 lead, but Hethcoat made back-to-back 3s, with the second rattling home, to tie the score.

The Rams went back on top on an old-fashioned three point play (layup, foul, free throw) from junior Juilan Fuller, then Legassey drained a 3, but back came Westbrook, more specifically Hethcoat, who made a 3, then took a pass from junior Kolbyn Dunphe on the fastbreak and made a layup before draining another 3 with 20 seconds left to put the Blue Blazes ahead for the first time with his 19th, 20th and 21st points.


The lead didn’t last, as Deering got a late 3 from senior Nick Langella to take a 22-21 advantage to the second period.

There, the Rams tried to get some separation when Willings hit a 3 and Wani set up Chikuta for a layup, but Dunphe found senior Alex Joao for a layup.

Wani then drained a 3 to give Deering a 30-23 lead, but Hethcoat stepped back and answered with another long 3-ball.

After Wani made two free throws, Westbrook scored seven straight points, as Hethcoat made a 3 from the corner, Dunphe set up senior Connor Doolittle for a layup, then senior Braiden Pierce banked home a shot with 4:36 on the clock for a 33-32 lead.

A corner 3 from Chikuta put the Rams back in the lead and after Chikuta kept possession with an offensive rebound, he set up Legassey for another 3.

Again, the Blue Blazes answered, as Dunphe made a layup and after Chikuta sank a 3 long 3, Dunphe banked home a shot in traffic, Pierce set up Dunphe for a layup and Pierce found junior Ben Eugley for a layup that tied the score.


With 1:17 left, Chikuta hit a contested leaner and Deering clung to a 43-41 advantage at the half.

While Hethcoat went off for 27 points, the Rams were paced by Chikuta, who had 16 points, six rebounds and four assists.

The pace of scoring slowed in the third quarter, but the intensity didn’t wane.

Augusto opened the second half with a layup, but Hethcoat finished a finger roll and Dunphe hit a jumper to tie the score, 45-45.

Willings countered with a leaner, but Pierce spun and banked home a shot to even things up again.

Augusto scored on a putback for Deering, but with 2:12 to go in the frame, Hethcoat gave Westbrook what proved to be its final lead, 50-49.


Twelve seconds later, Wani took a pass from Willings and made a layup and after Willings added a free throw, Wani found Augusto for a layup and Legassey hit a foul shot, but with 11 seconds to go, Dunphe hit a 3 and the Blue Blazes only trailed by two points, 55-53, heading for the fourth.

Westbrook then tied it up 54 seconds in on a spinning layup from Dunphe, but Wani made a pair of free throws, Chikuta drove for a layup, Chikuta scored on a putback, then Willings set up Wani for a layup and a 63-55 lead with 5:23 to play.

The Blue Blazes weren’t done, however, as Dunphe scored on a leaner and after Chikuta found Augusto for a layup, junior Ben Eugley made a layup and after a Chikuta free throw, Chikuta picked up his fifth foul and had to leave the game before Pierce made his first free throw and missed the second, but Eugley put home the miss to cut the deficit to 66-62 with 3:28 left.

After Wani and Dunphe traded two free throws, Wani and Eugley traded one.

Then, with 1:55 to go, junior Quincy Seavey came off the bench and hit a clutch 3 from the corner to cut the Rams’ lead to 69-68.

Deering then turned the ball over, but Westbrook couldn’t take advantage, as Hethcoat missed a shot and Legassey got the rebound.


With 1:28 left, Augusto set up sophomore Quinton Lindsay for a layup to put the Rams back up by three, but Doolittle made a free throw and with 43.4 seconds on the clock, Hethcoat stole the ball and made a layup to even things up for the sixth and final time.

Undaunted, Deering rushed back up the floor and with 36.6 seconds showing, Augusto set up Willings for a layup and the Rams finally had the lead for good.

“We don’t want to have to work so hard for buckets, so if we can score in transition and not have to work hard, that build momentum and it paid dividends at the end,” Wing said.

The Blue Blazes tried to answer, but Augusto stole the ball and got it to Wani, who was fouled with 20.3 seconds remaining.

Wani calmly sank both attempts and the Rams’ lead was four.

“I think I’m a decent shooter at the free throw line,” Wani said. “I’m not really nervous. I just focus.”


Hethcoat tried to rally his team with a 3, but it was off-target and Wani got the rebound.

Wani was fouled and he hit two more free throws with 7.7 seconds left to essentially ice it.

“Remi’s a special player,” said Wing. “As a coach, he makes my life easy at the end of games. I won’t over-coach. I want to give the best player the ball at the end.”

Hethcoat then drove for a layup, but Westbrook couldn’t get the ball back and Deering finally closed out its 77-73 victory.

“It was a fun game,” Wani said. “I like to get up and down the court and apply pressure on defense. We don’t normally play Westbrook. It was good to play a close game. We’re used to it by now. It was really our defense and hitting free throws at the end. We woke up on defense.”

“We put ourselves in tough spots all year, so it almost seems like we’re most comfortable in that situation,” said Wing.


Chikuta had a team-high 21 points before fouling out. He also had eight rebounds and five assists.

“To Max’s credit, he’s turned the corner,” Wing said. “When he plays well, we click. I was pleased he was so locked in.”

Wani scored 18 points, with 11 coming at the free throw line. He also had eight rebounds, four assists and three steals.

Willings had 13 points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals.

“Alex is a key piece on defense,’ Wani said. “He secured the paint and that’s what we needed. He’s big for our confidence.”

Legassey added nine points, Augusto had eight points, six rebounds, five assists and four steals, Fuller and Langella three points apiece and Lindsay two points.


The Rams had a 37-26 rebound advantage, made 15-of-28 free throws and overcame 16 turnovers.

Hethcoat paced Westbrook with a game-high 36 points and also had four steals and three rebounds. Deering did manage to hold him to just nine second half points.

“When a shooter is having a game like that, you can’t let him get into rhythm,” Wing said. “We had to be physical with him and not let him get his rhythm and we did that.”

“We played (Deering) this summer and they pounded us pretty good, but Tyler had something like 48 against them, so he clearly likes playing Deering for some reason,” said Blue Blazes coach Bryan Hoy. “He had a phenomenal start. They adjusted in the second half, but we had other guys step up and score and we hung right with them.”

Dunphe added 17 points, nine rebounds, seven assists, two steals and two blocked shots.

Eugley finished with seven points, Pierce had five, Doolittle and Seavey three apiece and Joao two.


The Blue Blazes made 7-of-11 free throws and committed 15 turnovers.

“My guys played great,” said Hoy. ” They shot really well, but we stuck with them. We’ve been pressing lately and came out and played zone and they killed us so we went back to what we were doing before. We didn’t think we could keep up with them, but we did. We had trouble getting stops tonight and it felt like we were behind all night even though we were right there.”

Westbrook (ranked ninth in the Class A South Heal Points standings at press time) is at Morse Saturday, goes to Falmouth Monday, hosts Falmouth Tuesday, then closes at home versus Marshwood Thursday of next week.

“February is when we need to play well and we’re clicking right now,” Hoy said. “This is just our fourth game where we’ve had everybody playing. We had a long stretch where we were missing some key guys. We were competitive, so I knew we’d be ready to go when we got them back. Outside of Falmouth, I think it’s very open. It’s a tough end to the season for us, but we’re in a good position to make a run if we keep playing well.”

Deering (now fifth in Class AA North) is back in action Saturday afternoon at home versus Hampden Academy. The Rams then close with games at Portland Tuesday and Scarborough Thursday of next week.

“We have to keep keying in on defense because defense wins championships,” Wani said. “We want to make some noise. I believe in our team.”

“Without question, we’re trending in the right direction, but we know we have a tough game with Hampden coming down Saturday,” said Wing. “We haven’t played them since 2012 a Deering win in the Class A state final). That’s another funky start time, but I guess today gave us a little practice with that. It doesn’t get easier. Hampden and Scarborough are hungry for wins and Portland-Deering is what it’s going to be.”

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

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