PORTLANDCheverus’ boys’ basketball team has learned what it takes to win in Class AA North.

Deering is still figuring it out.

And that was on display Thursday evening when the rivals did battle in an entertaining contest at Keegan Gymnasium.

The Stags, behind the heroics of senior Silvano Ismail, raced to a quick 11-4 lead, but the Rams came back to make it a one-point game, 13-12, after one quarter.

Deering then went on a 7-0 run in the second period to tie the score, 24-24, but Cheverus closed the first half on a 10-0 surge to take control.

The Stags took a 15-point advantage early in the third quarter, but again, the Rams refused to buckle and got back within 10, 52-42, heading to the fourth period.


There, Deering made Cheverus sweat as it drew within five, but the Stags did enough to slam the door and prevail, 66-57.

Ismail led all scorers with 27 points and Cheverus improved to 7-2 while dropping the Rams to a misleading 0-7 in the process.

“It’s a slugfest in AA North every night,” said Stags coach Richie Ashley, who was honored before the game for recently reaching the 100 career victory plateau. “Deering’s been playing tough. If you look at their record and don’t come to play, they’ll make you pay.”

Answering the bell

Cheverus started the season by handling visiting Bangor (67-42) and host Deering (79-52), then won at Westbrook (58-51) before falling at home to Portland (48-45) and Lewiston (66-58). The Stags responded by beating visiting Edward Little (53-49) and winning at Hampden Academy (58-42) and Scarborough (71-50).

Deering opened this season with a 60-49 loss at Bonny Eagle, then fell at home to Cheverus (72-45), at reigning Class AA North champion Oxford Hills (80-50), at Portland (55-42) and at home to Lewiston (75-64) and Edward Little (64-54).


Last year, the Stags beat the Rams twice, 73-72 in overtime at home and 64-55 at Deering.

Thursday, Cheverus did again, but Deering continued to impress with its willingness to fight to the end.

Cheverus junior Gio St. Onge defends Deering junior Trip Marston early in the Stags’ 66-57 victory Thursday. Hoffer photos.

The Stags opened the scoring, as Ismail made a layup 43 seconds in. The Rams then drew even on a leaner from junior Trip Marston and after junior Gio St. Onge made a short jumper for the hosts, Marston tied the score with a floater in the lane.

Cheverus then rattled off seven quick points, as Ismail scored on a floater, Ismail drained a 3-pointer, then Ismail scored on a putback to make it 11-4.

After a free throw from Deering sophomore Justin Jamal ended the run, sophomore Evan Legassey drained a 3 from the corner and sophomore Mogga Yanga scored on a putback to cut the deficit to one.

Sophomore Leo McNabb answered with a layup for the Stags, but junior Rahim Shabani got a runner at the horn to drop and the Rams only trailed by a point, 13-12, after eight minutes.


Legassey then opened the second period with a long 3 to give Deering its final lead.

After St. Onge tied the score with a layup after a steal, Cheverus went back on top on a foul shot from senior Carter Hoglund. Ismail then hit a jumper after a nice spin move and St. Onge added a free throw. After sophomore David Otti answered with a layup for Deering, junior Maddik Weisberg made a free throw, senior Luke McNabb made a layup after a steal and St. Onge drove for a layup to put the Stags on top by seven, 24-17.

The Rams roared right back, as Marston set up Legassey for a layup, Marston sank a 3 and Jamal drove for a layup to tie it, 24-24.

But in the final 1:42 of the first half, the Stags scored 10 straight points to get some breathing room.

A 3-ball from Ismail put Cheverus on top for good, then Luke McNabb made a 3 in transition. After a steal from sophomore Sammy Nzeyimana, Luke McNabb set up Ismail for a layup, then with 13 seconds to go, Leo McNabb’s putback made it 34-24 at the break.

“That was our youth showing through,” lamented Deering coach Todd Wing. “Not getting defensive stops and not executing.”


In the first half, Ismail led all scorers with 16 points, but the Stags weren’t home-free yet.

Cheverus senior Silvano Ismail soars for a layup and two of his game-high 27 points.

Ismail began the second half the way he left off in the first, driving for a layup. After Otti scored on a putback, St. Onge hit a 3, then Weisberg took a pass from Leo McNabb and made a layup for Cheverus’ biggest lead, 41-26.

Legassey countered with a 3 and Jamal made a layup and after Nzeyimana made a 3 for the Stags, Legassey scored on a runner and Marston drained a to pull Deering within eight, 44-36.

The Stags then regrouped and re-seized control, as first Ismail, then Luke McNabb drained 3-pointers.

Jamal answered with a runner in the lane, then Otti made a layup before Luke McNabb made a layup and Otti made two late foul shots to send the contest to the fourth period with Cheverus on top, 52-42.

In the final stanza, the Rams kept pushing, but the Stags were able to push back.


Deering junior Sam Anderson opened the frame with a free throw, but Ismail put on an athletic show, spinning, then converting a reverse layup to bring the crowd to its feet.

After Marston rebounded his own miss, he made a jump shot, Otti made a layup and with 4:32 remaining, Marston stole the ball and banked it home to make it a five-point contest, 54-49.

But that’s as close as the Rams would get.

With 3:58 on the clock, Ismail put back his own miss.

Thirty seconds later, Ismail made a leaner in the lane.

With 3:10 to go, Weisberg made a layup and Cheverus was up by double-digits once more, 60-49.


Deering made one final run, as Otti scored on a putback and Yanga sank two free throws, but with 1:35 left, Leo McNabb made a foul shot and 39 seconds later, Nzeyimana made another.

Jamal cut the deficit to seven to with two free throws with 45.7 seconds showing, but Ismail scored his final points with two foul shots to ice it.

In the final seconds, Jamal scored on a floater, but two Leo McNabb free throws brought the curtain down on the Stags’ 66-57 triumph.

“Deering’s a tough team,” Ismail said. “Young, but they have the big guy, David, a good point guard and one of the best shooters in the state in Evan. We kept it together and got the ‘W.'”

“Deering did a good job doing what they wanted to, slowing us down,” Ashley said. “It’s a learning experience. We didn’t play as well as we normally do, but we still won.”

Ismail dazzled with 27 points, seven rebounds and two assists.


“I love to see (Silvano) go crazy every night,” St. Onge said. “Silvano’s the best player in the state. He’s not selfish at all. He’s a great teammate and he’s one of the better leaders I’ve ever met.”

“Silvano does everything,” Ashley said. “He rebounds, plays defense on the other team’s best player. He hits foul shots, gives us offense. More than that, he’s a great kid and teammate. To have a leader like that is irreplaceable.”

“Silvano is so tough,” said Wing. “He’s so efficient. He’s certainly a Mister Basketball candidate for good reason. He’s a competitor and he likes to get after it, but he’s classy.”

St. Onge also finished in double figures with 12 points, to go with five rebounds, three steals and a pair of assists.

“Whatever it takes to win is what I want to do for this team,” said St. Onge, when asked about his role. “I don’t need to score. I love to just incorporate my teammates.”

Luke McNabb had 10 points off the bench.


“Luke has played really well the past two games,” said Ashley. “We need another guy to widen the floor when teams play zone and they have to, because when they play us man (to man), we make it a track meet.”

Leo McNabb finished with seven points, five steals and three assists, Weisberg had five points and a game-high 10 rebounds, Nzeyimana added four points, five steals, five rebounds and four assists and Hoglund had one point.

Cheverus enjoyed a 34-29 advantage on the glass, made just 9-of-20 free throws and committed 17 turnovers, but persevered.

“We have a lot of young guys,” Ashley said. “Silvano is by far one of the best players, but he’s only played varsity basketball for a year-and-a-half. Maddik played JV. Leo and Sammy are sophomores.”

Deering was led by Marston, who battled foul trouble, but still managed to score 14 points, while adding five rebounds and four steals.

“(Trip’s) kind of a crafty lefty,” Wing said. “His shot has been on. He’s not exclusively a jump shooter. He can get in the paint. He’s really important to us.”


Legassey added 13 points and four rebounds, while Otti had a dozen points and six rebounds.

“I’m telling the guys to get the ball in to David, but reflecting as a coach, I haven’t practiced post entry enough, so we’ll work on that,” Wing said.

Jamal also finished in double-figures with 11 points, Yanga had four points and four rebounds off the bench, Shabani finished with two points and three steals and Anderson had one point.

The Rams made 8-of-13 foul shots and turned the ball over 22 times.

“I don’t like what it looks like in the win column and the guys don’t like what it looks like in the win column and that’s a good thing, but we also have to be realistic that it’s a process,” Wing said. “The past few days, I’ve gone through the past 15 years of varsity rosters at Deering and we haven’t had sophomore starters like this year. It’s about trusting the process. These guys don’t back down and I’ll take that now and in the future. They’re my guys.”

See you Saturday


Deering hosts Windham Saturday and Bangor Monday as it looks to hit its stride.

“We’re going against a Windham team that’s very much like us,” Wing said. “We run the same stuff offensively. We’re both young and are looking to get a playoff berth. It will be a fight. We’ll be ready.

“Without a doubt, we’re heading in the direction. Our road is going to be long and we’ll be smiling at the end of it.”

Cheverus gets a second shot at Portland Saturday, at the Expo.

“This year, it’s all business, but we’re having fun,” Ismail said. “We’re still young a little bit, but the younger guys are helping a lot.”

“We want to play our best in February,” said Ashley. “We want to be over .500 and host a playoff game. Once you do that, you roll the dice because it doesn’t matter the seed.”

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

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