Other Portland players picked up the slack while Remijo Wani struggled Friday.

When the Bulldogs needed someone to come through in the closing stages of a Class AA North semifinal, though, the senior delivered the biggest shot of the game.

Wani hit a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 1:15 remaining, and second-seeded Portland finally pulled away to beat third-seeded Lewiston, 46-40, at Cross Insurance Arena.

“I was surprised that I was that wide open,” Wani said. “My teammates had to tell me from the bench. So I just let it go, and it just felt good.”

The Bulldogs (15-5) will meet top-ranked Oxford Hills in the regional final at 3:45 p.m. Saturday at Cross Insurance Arena. The Vikings won both matchups with Portland in the regular season – a come-from-behind 48-47 victory on Jan. 3 and a 62-52 overtime slugfest on Jan. 13.


Friday’s semifinal stayed close from the tip, particularly in the second half when neither team led by more than four points.

A free throw by Lewiston’s Caed Langley tied the game at 38-38 with 2:17 remaining.

Neither team scored again for more than a minute, until Wani hit a 3 to put Portland up 41-38. That kicked off an 8-0 run as the Bulldogs made 5 of 6 free throws to put the game away.

Wani finished with six points on a pair of 3-pointers as he struggled to get going on offense. Portland Coach Joe Russo said he took Wani out earlier in the fourth quarter to give him some time to settle down.

When Wani went back into the game, the Bulldogs put the ball in his hands the next two plays.

“Believe it or not, when he went back in, both plays were for Remi, and he had to decide whether he wanted to shoot (or) penetrate,” Russo said. “We had confidence in Remi … because he can do it. And he came through.”


Pitia Donato maintained his usual production by continually attacking the basket, and Kevin Rugabirwa hit three 3s. They led the Bulldogs with 13 points apiece.

Russo said Portland has several players who can step up. His job each game is figuring who it will be.

“That’s the great thing about this team, you never know whose night it’s going to be,” Wani said. “Thankfully, Kevin came through, and you never know, someone might do something tomorrow. It’s a mystery.”

Though Lewiston’s Yusuf Dakane led all scorers with 15 points, Russo was satisfied with way the Bulldogs defended him.

“We were just doing a few simple things on him, but they were huge,” Russo said. “It was don’t let him penetrate, but when he did, we engulfed him, because he is one of the most talented, if not the most, in our league.”

Eli Bigelow scored 10 points for Lewiston and hit a few big shots, including a fourth-quarter 3 that tied the game at 37-37. Langley came off the bench and pulled down several rebounds for the Blue Devils.

But, at the end of the game, Lewiston struggled to make shots. Coach Elgin Physic said the Blue Devils took good shots, they just didn’t fall.

“Even the shots that were in the hoop popped out,” he said. “No matter how much defense you play, eventually, in the end of the game, you have to put the ball in the basket, and we just didn’t.”

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