First-year coach Richie Ashley told his Cheverus High boys’ basketball team in the summer he had a plan for the Stags – but it probably didn’t include a running 40-foot bank shot at the buzzer to win a playoff game.

The winning shot came from 135-pound junior guard Silvano Ismail, who carried the load the entire second half for the Stags in a come-from-behind victory over city rival Portland in the Class AA North quarterfinals Wednesday night at the Portland Expo.

Seth Huntington rebounded a free-throw miss by Wani Donato with 4.3 seconds to play and found Ismail at midcourt with an outlet pass. Ismail took two dribbles and let fly with a shot that gave Cheverus a 44-42 victory.

“Coach told us in June, we got a plan, it’s going to happen in February, and we got the job done today,” said Ismail, who scored 19 of his game-high 23 points in the second half.

No. 6 Cheverus (9-9) advances to the regional semifinals next Thursday at Cross Insurance Arena against the winner of Thursday’s quarterfinal between No. 7 Bangor and No. 2 Oxford Hills. It will be Cheverus’ first regional semifinal appearance since 2012.

Prior to Donato going to the line for a 1-and-1, Ashley called a timeout to set up a play and get Ismail the ball off a missed free throw.


Huntington said his job was “just boxing out and trusting that Silvano would be where he was. That was our game plan and he made a play and it was amazing.”

Giovanni St. Onge added 11 points for Cheverus, which helped itself by making 13 of 17 free throws.

Portland, the third seed in the ruggedly competitive Class AA North, finishes 11-8. The Bulldogs led 29-20 at the half and scored first in the third quarter. But the rest of the half was a shooting nightmare for Portland – 5 of 22 from the floor and 1 of 9 at the free-throw line.

“Tonight is no different than any other game we’ve played all year, except tonight the Cheverus kid makes a 40-footer, a running one-hand 40-footer off the glass,” said Portland Coach Joe Russo.

In the first half, Portland scored its first three baskets and five overall after offensive rebounds. In the second half, Cheverus rebounded better and aggressively contested Portland’s inside shots, while Ismail heated up.

Spencer Cross (17 points) scored 10 of Portland’s 13 second-half points. When Cross hustled for an offensive rebound and converted a tough scoop shot in traffic, Portland led 40-34.

Ismail answered with a deep 3-pointer and then sliced to the rim for an inside basket to cut the lead to one. Donato (12 points) scored in transition off a steal with 19.7 seconds left, only to have Ismail get to the free-throw line with 8.4 seconds remaining, where he coolly made both free throws to set up the final sequence.

“Seth Huntington made the rebound of his life, then the outlet of his life, and Silvano Ismail made the shot of his life,” Ashley said. “The credit goes to all of the kids, they battled their tails off tonight against a bigger team, a more physical team.”

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