In two regular-season losses against top-seeded Oxford Hills, Portland High junior center Jeissey Khamis didn’t score in a 48-47 home defeat and was a minor contributor with seven points in a 62-52 overtime road loss.

Saturday at Cross Insurance Arena, Khamis was the difference in the Class AA North final. First with his rebounding, then with his offense, Khamis dominated as second-seeded Portland pulled away for a 47-35 win.

Khamis finished with 19 points and 19 rebounds while controlling the paint to earn the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player award. Portland is headed to the state final for the first time since winning the championship in 2017. Oxford Hills’ season is finished at 19-2.

“Today he rose to the occasion. What you saw today is something he’s capable of doing every game,” said Portland Coach Joe Russo.

“I am not surprised what he did tonight. I am not surprised. We know he has that ability. We don’t know when that’s going to come out,” Russo said. “I think tonight the challenge was that we knew Oxford Hills is big and strong and he knew we were kind of undermanned inside, and he took the challenge.”

Portland (16-5) will face defending champion South Portland in the state final at 8:45 p.m. next Saturday at Cross arena.


Khamis said he couldn’t remember why he barely played in the first game against Oxford Hills. Russo suggested it was because of an injury, maybe illness. Oxford Hills Coach Scott Graffam said Russo didn’t think Khamis could defend the Vikings’ front court.

Whatever the real reason was back in January, Khamis was motivated to make a difference when it mattered.

“One game before the championship game. We just wanted to bring it home and go to states, because last year we lost in the quarters to Cheverus on a buzzer-beater, and we brought a different mentality this year,” he said.

Khamis had already snatched several defensive rebounds to limit Oxford Hills to one shot and scored six points in the first half as Portland held a slender 18-16 lead at the break.

Khamis got nine points in the third quarter, including a corner 3-pointer, as Portland extended its lead to 33-25.

“Once I get one going, get a shot in, I just keep going,” Khamis said. “I didn’t really want to shoot (the 3-point shot). I was just wide open, so I took it.”


Khamis scored Portland’s first four points in the fourth quarter, while Oxford Hills, the defending regional champion, missed its first 13 shots. Remijo Wani (11 points) and senior captain Pitia Donato each scored four points down the stretch for the Bulldogs to help wrap up the win.

“Just get him the ball. Just every play, he has to touch the ball,” Donato said of Khamis. “When he gets going, you just got to keep giving him the ball. After like the first two quarters, I knew he was going to work. He was grabbing everything.”

Meanwhile, it didn’t matter who was shooting for Oxford Hills, because the ball wasn’t falling. Standout guard Cole Pulkkinen was able to create enough havoc to get to the line and make 8 of 9 free throws on his way to a team-high 12 points. But 6-foot-6 junior forward Teigan Pelletier never heated up and finished with eight points.

Oxford Hills made 9 of 46 shots (19.6 percent), a day after a 66-60 semifinal win against Cheverus that ended with Vikings reserve Jake Carson and two Cheverus personnel being ejected when tempers flared immediately after the game was over. Portland was also playing back-to-back games after avenging two regular-season losses to Lewiston with a 46-40 win.

“We expended a lot of energy and it was a very emotional game (Friday) against Cheverus,” Graffam said. “We didn’t shoot the ball at all like we have this year. I think our legs were dead, to tell you the truth. I’m not blaming that. I think it had a lot to do with Portland, the best defensive team in the league.”

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