Cheverus sophomore Maddie Fitzpatrick is averaging 19.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.3 steals per game. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Entering the season there was no question that Gorham and Cheverus would have two of the best girls’ basketball teams in Class AA.

Saturday night, they’ll determine which one is the best.

Cheverus and Gorham will play for the Class AA state championship at 7:05 p.m. at Cross Insurance Arena in Portland. The teams didn’t play each other in the regular season, but they know each other well.

They should. They are very similar.

The Stags (17-3) have five seniors and two of the best players around in sophomores Maddie Fitzpatrick and Emma Lizotte. The Rams (18-3) have six seniors and a sharp-shooting sophomore in Ellie Gay who can break a game open with her scoring.

Beyond that, the teams are well coached, fundamentally sound, play hellacious defense, and like to take 3-pointers and control the tempo.


Combine all that, and it should be one heck of a championship game.

“I think we do have a lot of similarities,” said Gorham Coach Laughn Berthiaume, whose team is making its fourth appearance in the Class AA title game in six years (with championships in 2017 and 2018). “It’s our differences in the lineups that will make this an interesting matchup.”

“They’re a really good team,” said Cheverus Coach Bill Goodman. “We know we’re in for a battle.”

Cheverus, making its first appearance in a state championship game, might have a little more star power in Fitzpatrick (19.5 points per game, 6.3 rebounds, 4.3 steals) and Lizotte (14.5 points, 10.3 rebounds), but the Rams have extraordinary balance. Six different players have been Gorham’s high scorer in its 21 games.

“We’ve really got to focus on our defense,” said Goodman. “Literally everybody can score on that team.”

Senior guard Anna Nelson leads the Rams with 12.8 points per game, followed by Brylee Bishop with 11.3 and Gay with 9.9.


“I think that speaks to who we are as teammates,” Nelson said of the team’s balance. “We want one another to succeed, to have their best game. We want to have fun. When everyone is scoring and contributing and doing their part, it’s so much more fun to play.

“And we’re all capable of having different roles, whether that’s scoring 20 points one night or two the next.”

Gorham captain Anna Nelson celebrates a basket during the Rams’ victory in the Class AA South championship game. Nelson scored 15 points and was named the tournament’s most outstanding player. Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

Cheverus senior guard Lillie Singleton, who averages 9.9 points and 3.4 assists, said senior leadership will play a big role as well. She and her four classmates have played soccer together for four years, in addition to basketball. They have developed a chemistry that allows each of them to succeed in their own roles.

“Coach talks a lot about senior leadership,” she said. “And in a big game like this, that has to come through. Everyone has to play their roles. We are all individuals, but when we come together, it seems to work.”

While no one could have predicted each team making a championship run this year, both coaches knew they had the ingredients to be very good.

Goodman saw it in the way his players bonded with each other.


“I think it started last year, just with what everyone dealt with, and over the summer,” Goodman said of the 2021 season that was abbreviated because of the coronavirus pandemic. “The girls just seemed to get along. If you go watch a practice, you don’t know who’s who among the seniors and freshmen. They’re all joking around.

“And last summer, everyone showed up ready to learn. They all wanted to become better basketball players.”

Berthiaume also liked what he saw on the court.

“I knew we’d be athletic and I knew I had kids who were versatile,” he said. “Building a team, you always have visions. But they’ve come together and accepted certain roles, and we have a number of kids who can impact the game at any moment.”

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