Lewiston 74 Deering 63

D- 10 17 17 19- 63
L- 16 17 19 22- 74

D- Wani 8-2-22, Legassey 5-0-13, Chikuta 5-2-12, Willings 4-2-10, Augusto 1-4-6

L- Dakane 9-4-23, Omasombo 7-0-18, Bigelow 6-1-13, Foster 3-0-7, Langley 1-2-4, Ring 2-0-4, Scales 1-0-3, Jackson 0-2-2

D (7) Wani 4, Legassey 3
L (7) Omasombo 4, Dakane, Foster, Scales 1

D- 20
L- 16

D: 10-23
L: 9-14


LEWISTON—The average basketball fan in greater Portland has no idea how good the Lewiston boys’ squad is.

But they’re about to find out something the Deering Rams already know.

That the Blue Devils aren’t just good.

They’re perhaps good enough to go all the way this winter.

Thursday evening at Masse Court, fifth-ranked Deering paid fourth-seeded Lewiston a visit in the Class AA North quarterfinals and while the Rams did all they could to stay in it, the Blue Devils weren’t about to be denied.

Lewiston set the tone early with consecutive 3-pointers, raced to a 14-5 lead and was up, 16-10, after one period, thanks in large part to three 3-pointers from senior David Omasombo.


Deering answered in the second quarter with an 11-0 run, capped by a three-point play from senior Alex Willings and a basket from classmate Max Chikuta, but consecutive layups from junior Eli Bigelow put the Blue Devils ahead to stay and by halftime, they enjoyed a 33-27 advantage.

Then, sophomore sensation Yusuf Dakane took over the second half.

After scoring just two points in the first half, Dakane roared to life in the third period, scoring 11 points and after freshman Evan Legassey hit consecutive 3s to pull the Rams within one, 39-38, three Dakane hoops sparked a quarter-ending 8-2 run for a 52-44 lead heading to the final stanza.

Where, Lewiston put it away.

Dakane scored 10 more points and Deering never made a serious run as the Blue Devils went on to a 74-63 victory.

Dakane had a game-high 23 points, Omasombo added 18 and Lewiston improved to 14-5, ended Deering’s season at 8-11 and advanced to battle top-ranked Edward Little (17-2) next Thursday, Feb. 24, at 3:45 p.m,. in the Class AA semifinals at the Cross Insurance Arena.


“We never back down, even if we’re losing,” Dakane said. “We always keep fighting. We’re really good. Everybody can play. It doesn’t matter who’s on the floor.”

“Lewiston’s really good,” said Rams coach Todd Wing. “They’re a team that could legitimately win it.”

Not quite enough

Deering and Lewiston have been two of the most entertaining teams to watch all season and entered tournament play as two of many legitimate title contenders in Class AA North.

The Rams struggled the first half of the season (see sidebar, for links to previous stories), winning just twice in their first nine games, but Deering closed on a 6-3 surge, with a home victory over reigning state champion Edward Little the highlight (that win was also Wing’s 100th with the program).

Lewiston lost twice apiece to Edward Little and Oxford Hills, the top teams in the region, but went 13-1 in its other games.


The teams split their regular season meetings, as the Blue Devils won, 67-62, Jan. 17 in Portland and Deering took a 61-56 victory 10 days later in Lewiston.

The Blue Devils won two prior playoff encounters (see sidebar).

Thursday, Lewiston did it again, with a combination of veterans and younger players coming up huge in the clutch.

The Blue Devils set the tone early, as first senior Malik Foster, then Omasombo drained 3-pointers for a 6-0 lead with the game just 71 seconds old.

The Rams finally got on the board when Willings set up Chikuta for a layup. Senior Titayo Augusto added a free throw, but Omasombo got free in the corner again and hit a 3 and with 3:10 on the clock, after a block from Bigelow at the other end, Omasombo took a pass from Foster in transition and buried another 3 for a 12-3 advantage, forcing Wing to call timeout.

Deering answered, on a fadeaway jumper from Willings, and after junior Caed Langley made a layup for the hosts, Legassey made his first 3 before sophomore Quinton Lindsay stole the ball and Chikuta set up Wani for a layup to cut the deficit to four before Dakane first made his presence felt by setting up senior Ring Ring for a layup and a 16-10 advantage after eight minutes.


Omosombo had nine points in the first period and he opened the second with a layup after a steal, but the next 11 points would go to the Rams.

Chikuta got the surge started with an old-fashioned three-point (layup, foul, free throw). Wani added a 3-ball from the corner, then with 6:07 to go in the first half, Willings’ three-point play gave Deering its first lead, 19-18.

Chikuta added a contested basket, but that would prove to be the Rams’ highwater mark.

A pair of Langley free throws ended the 11-0 run and after Willings made a foul shot, Bigelow’s layup tied the score.

Then, with 4:42 on the clock, Langley took a pass from Foster and made a layup to put Lewiston ahead for good, 24-22, then Omasombo hit his fourth and final 3-pointer.

A Wani 3-ball cut the deficit to one, but senior Donovan Jackson made two free throws and Foster set up Dakane for his first points, a layup.


Late in the half, Wani scored on a putback for Deering, but Bigelow fed Foster for a fastbreak layup and the Blue Devils took a 33-27 lead to the break.

Omasombo led all first half scorers with 14 points, while Wani paced the Rams with 10.

Deering could have had the lead, but turned the ball over nine times and made just 4-of-12 free throws.

The Rams did their best to go back on top in the third quarter, but Lewiston refused to let it happen.

Bigelow opened the second half with a layup, but Willings countered with a putback.

After Dakane heated up and scored on a putback, Wani hit a 3.


Dakane set up Bigelow for a layup, but in a 36-second span, Legassey twice took passes from Willings before burying 3s and just like that, Deering was within a single point, 39-38.

But Dakane calmly countered with a 3 before Bigelow made a layup and the lead was back to six.

Wani made two free throws, then Lindsay threw a pretty pass to Chikuta for a layup to cut the deficit to 44-42, but Dakane scored on a putback, Foster scored on a putback, then Omasombo fed Dakane for a layup in transition.

Augusto made a layup for the Rams, but Dakane drove for a layup to cap an 11-point period, giving the Blue Devils a 52-44 advantage heading to the final stanza.

“Yusuf is a very special player,” said Lewiston first-year coach Elgin Physic. “He can do some things that you can’t teach. He’s naturally gifted. He did a great job attacking tonight.”

In the fourth, Lewiston secured its ticket to the semifinals.


Dakane set up Ring for a layup to start the frame, then Omasombo blocked a shot at one end, then made a layup at the other.

Wani countered with a putback, but senior Elijah Scales made his lone basket of the night, a 3, and the Blue Devils had a 59-46 lead with 6:41 left.

After Legassey scored on a putback, Dakane converted a three-point play, then Dakane stole the ball and made a layup for a 64-48 advantage with 5:03 to go.

After Legassey drove for a layup, Bigelow’s three-point play gave Lewiston its biggest lead, but the Rams made one final push, as Chikuta drove for a layup, Augusto hit two free throws, then Chikuta made one foul shot with 2:49 on the clock to make it 67-55.

But Dakane answered with a floater and after Willings made a layup, Dakane hit a free throw and Omasombo made a layup for a 72-57 advantage with just 1:04 remaining, essentially ending the competitive phase of the contest.

The Rams got a 3 from Wani, then Chikuta set up Wani for a layup to make it a 10-point game, but after Deering missed a 3 which could have made things interesting, Chikuta fouled out and Dakane scored his team’s final two points from the free throw line.


Augusto made one final free throw with 2.7 seconds to go, then the Blue Devils closed out their 74-63 victory.

“Against their defense, I think we moved the ball really well and got some easy buckets,” Physic said. “We wanted to keep the pressure on them. (Last time we played), we folded in the third and fourth quarter against them. We just stood still. We did a better job tonight trusting each other and moving.”

Dakane not only led all scorers with 23 points, he also had nine rebounds, two assists and two steals.

“I do whatever Coach wants me to do,” said Dakane. “My teammates believed in me and told me to keep driving and to keep going.”

Omasombo finished with 18 points and three assists and Bigelow also wound up in double figures with 13 points (he also had five rebounds and blocked three shots). Foster added seven points (seven rebounds and five assists), Langley and Ring each had four, Scales finished with three and Jackson had two (to go with five assists).

Lewiston overcame 16 turnovers and made 9-of-14 free throws.


The Blue Devils lost twice this year to the Red Eddies, 69-59, then 74-66 in a double-overtime thriller last week.

This time around, Lewiston is hoping the third time’s charm and it would be foolish to overlook the surging Blue Devils.

“We have to keep fighting,” said Dakane. “If we keep fighting, I think we can pull it out. I’m looking forward to playing (in Portland) for the first time.”

“I was an assistant with (Edward Little) Coach (Mike) Adams, so for me, it’s like going back home again,” Physic said. “I think we’re one of those sleeper schools who can make a run if we stay disciplined and execute. It was a great game last Thursday. It was like two heavyweights going at each other. The state tournament is kind of like Disneyworld, it’s magical. Anything can happen. We’ll go out there and play as hard as we can.”

Big strides

Deering was led by Wani, who had 22 points, five rebounds and a pair of steals. He was one of four players in double figures, as Legassey had 13 points, Chikuta a dozen (to go with four assists and four rebounds) and Willings 10 (to go with seven rebounds and three assists). Augusto finished with six points and four rebounds.


The Rams held a slim 32-31 edge on the glass, but gave the ball away 20 times and made just 10-of-23 foul shots.

“Turnovers and missed free throws has been our m.o. in some of our close losses and we didn’t minimize that enough tonight,” Wing said. “I thought we executed a pretty good game plan and we mixed it up and disrupted them defensively, but they got second chance points and we had careless turnovers and empty possessions. It was two good teams in a clean, hard rock-fight and that was good to see. There was nothing but respect afterwards. Two teams went toe-to-toe and threw heavyweight blows and one had to walk out the winner.”

Deering came a long way this winter and its final record won’t reflect all it accomplished.

“I’m just proud of the way the guys competed,” Wing said. “Losing can do a lot of things to a team and that’s where senior leadership comes in. The guys believed and they didn’t give up and that’s the heart of a champion and I thank them and I’m proud of that.”

The Rams now have to say goodbye to Augusto, Chikuta, Willings, Abdulla Al Taee and Nick Langella.

“I’m happy for our seniors,” Wing said. “They waited their turn. They were at the Civic Center (for the regional final loss to Edward Little) two years ago. They kind of got the shaft last year, but got to be on display this year, so I’m happy for them.”

Deering returns Legassey, Lindsay and Wani to form a strong starting nucleus for the 2022-23 season and some younger players are poised to step in and make their mark as the Rams should be very much in contention again.

“We have some kids who were patient this year,’ Wing said. “We have some sophomores who surprised us at the JV level. We have some freshmen who will step into major roles next year and compete for positions. We have some kids who are hungry. We’ll be back for more.”

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

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