Portland 43 Deering 31

P-  9 16 8 10- 43
D- 6 10 7 8- 31

P- E. Yugu 5-7-19, Stein 3-2-11, Tuza 2-1-5, Alaari 0-2-2, Pozzy 1-0-2, Wakati 1-0-2, B. Yugu 1-0-2

D- Santiago 4-1-12, Lia 2-3-9, Gayle 3-0-6, McGowan 1-0-2, Rosenthal 0-2-2

P (5) Stein 3, E. Yugu 2
D (5) Santiago 3, Lia 2

P-  22
D- 13

P: 10-16
D: 6-13


PORTLAND—Even in the midst of a challenging season, there’s nothing quite like beating your rival.

And Monday evening at Deering High School, Portland’s girls’ basketball team managed to beat the Rams for the second time this winter.

The Bulldogs got five quick points from junior Eliza Stein to help grab a 9-6 lead after one quarter before Deering responded in the second period to go in front, 16-15, on a 3-pointer from sophomore Natalie Santiago.

But Portland closed the first half on a 10-0 run, as senior captain Elizabeth Yugu scored eight quick points, and that put the Bulldogs in control.

The Rams would draw as close as seven points in the third quarter and got within six in the fourth, but Portland got five free throws down the stretch from Yugu and went on to a 43-31 victory.

Both teams are now 3-14 on the season.


“That was a big win against a well-coached Deering team that‘s hot right now,” said Bulldogs coach Abby Hasson.

Best for last

Both teams have struggled getting in the win column this season, but both have shown positive signs as well.

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 reigning Class AA state champion Oxford Hills (52-33). Deering then took host Portland to the wire before falling, 47-44. The Rams then lost at home against Edward Little (50-33), at home to Windham (44-32) and at Cheverus (60-47) before beating visiting Westbrook, 57-30, to get in the win column. After falling at Lewiston (66-28), Deering beat host South Portland (44-41) and host Edward Little (51-39) before losing at home to Lewiston (51-24), at Oxford Hills (65-27), at Windham (43-33) and Saturday at Hampden Academy in overtime (42-38).

As for Portland, it started the 2021-22 season with losses at Lewiston (55-44), at home to Bonny Eagle (41-26), at home to Hampden Academy (55-30) and at Cheverus (62-37). After a 47-44 home win over Deering, the Bulldogs lost at Edward Little (54-34), at home to Windham (42-32), at Thornton Academy (61-44), at reigning Class AA champion Oxford Hills (61-27), at home to Cheverus (48-29), at Windham (39-26) and Falmouth (40-35), at home to Lewiston (43-34) and at Bangor (64-30) before returning to the win column with a 39-27 home victory over Edward Little. In its most recent outing, Portland fell at home to Oxford Hills, 48-20.

In the teams’ first meeting, nine different players scored for the Bulldogs, who held on for dear life down the stretch.


Monday, on Deering’s Senior Night, where Molly Ishimwe, Anna Krush, Ella McGowan and Yipsi Sibo were honored with their families before starting the game, Portland won its ninth straight in the series.

Just 14 seconds in, Stein buried a 3 to give the Bulldogs a quick start. Yugu then set up senior Naulissa Tuza for a layup to make it 5-0.

The Rams got on the board on a free throw from Santiago, then McGowan set up sophomore Maya Gayle for a layup, but Stein answered with two free throws.

After a 3-ball from Deering junior Nyabhana Lia, sophomore Inas Alaari’s two foul shots put Portland ahead, 9-6, after eight minutes.

The Rams then started the second period strong, as Lia hit a long 3, then Maya made a basket with 5:50 to go before halftime for an 11-9 lead.

The Bulldogs responded, as senior Lina Wakati banked home a runner and Yugu pulled up and made a jumper, but a runner off the glass from Santiago tied the score, 13-13.


After Portland retook the lead on a driving layup from freshman Baleria Yugu, Santiago’s 3 put Deering in front, 16-15, with 2:48 left in the half.

But the Rams wouldn’t score again until the second half and the Bulldogs took advantage.

With 1:56 on the clock, a pair of free throws from Elizabeth Yugu put Portland ahead to stay. Yugu then hit a long 3 and for good measure, buried another 3 before Tuza’s putback made it 25-16 at halftime.

Yugu had 10 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals in the first half.

The Bulldogs sustained their advantage in the third period.

Stein got things started in the second half just like she did in the first with a 3-ball, but Santiago answered with a 3 of her own to end the 13-0 run and a 5-minute, 8-second scoring drought.


Sophomore Shay Rosenthal added a pair of free throws, but Yugu countered with a runner that rattled in.

After a McGowan runner, Stein ended the third period with her third 3-pointer and Portland took a 33-23 lead to the final stanza.

Where the Bulldogs salted away the victory.

Santiago opened the fourth quarter by banking home a 3-pointer, then Lia made a free throw to cut the deficit to six, but Elizabeth Yugu made a free throw, then junior Annie Pozzy got a jumper to rattle home for a 36-27 advantage.

After a Gayle putback, Yugu banked home a runner, then ended any remaining doubt at the free throw line, sinking a pair, making two more, then hitting one of two for Portland’s final point.

Lia hit two foul shots in the waning seconds, but it was too-little, too-late and the Bulldogs prevailed, 43-31.


“I’m proud of the effort tonight and our ability to finish, as that has been a struggle for us this year,” said Hasson.

Elizabeth Yugu didn’t just have a game-high 19 points, she also had nine rebounds, four assists and three steals.

Stein added 11 points, Tuza had five (to go with nine rebounds and a pair of blocked shots) and Alaari, Pozzy (five rebounds), Wakati (five rebounds) and Baleria Yugu each finished with two.

Portland had a 38-24 advantage on the glass, made 10-of-16 free throws and overcame 22 turnovers.

Deering’s effort was paced by Santiago, who had 12 points and three steals. Lia added nine points, Gayle six (and three steals) and McGowan and Rosenthal (five rebounds, three assists) two apiece.

The Rams only made 6-of-13 foul shots and committed 13 turnovers.



Deering is ranked seventh in the Class AA North Heal Points standings at press time. The Rams close the regular season at home versus Scarborough Thursday, then will likely play at Cheverus in a quarterfinal round tournament game next week.

Portland is eighth in Class AA North and closes at South Portland Thursday. That contest sees the renewal of the mother-daughter coaching rivalry, as Abby Hasson goes up against Red Riots coach Lynne Hasson. The Bulldogs project to host Edward Little in a play-in contest Saturday.

“We’ve talked all season about our goal of playing our best basketball come the end of the season and while we’ve got plenty to work on before the showdown Thursday, the girls have come a long way as a group since November,” Abby Hasson said. “We’ve got a couple days, then the big regular season finale. so we’ll get back to cleaning things up tomorrow at practice and get ready.”

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

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