PORTLAND—The Lewiston Blue Devils hadn’t been able to put together a full game, or win a game this winter, but Thursday afternoon, they managed to do both of those things during an early-season boys’ basketball contest at Deering.

Although the Rams didn’t make things easy.

Deering trailed, 8-3, early and 8-7 after one quarter, then took the lead on a layup from senior Sam Anderson early in the second period, but a layup from Blue Devils junior Lonnie Thomas, which would become a recurring theme, put the visitors on top and by halftime, Lewiston had a 24-15 advantage.

The Rams then chased and chased in the second half and while they did catch up, they never could go ahead.

Deering got as close as one in the third quarter before the Blue Devils went on top, 34-29, heading to the final stanza.

There, with 5:17 left, a 3-pointer from junior Evan Legassey pulled the Rams even, 34-34, but consecutive putbacks from Thomas gave Lewiston the lead for good.


Junior Justin Jamal pulled Deering within one at 40-39 and Leggasey made it 42-41 on a layup, but with 24 seconds remaining, a Thomas layup extended the lead to three again.

As time wound down, the Rams needed a game-tying 3-pointer, but Jamal wasn’t able to find Legassey and instead drove for a layup, but that only ran out the remainder of the clock and the Blue Devils prevailed, 44-43.

Thomas led the way with 20 points and Lewiston improved to 1-5 and in the process, dropped Deering to 2-5.

“This feels good,” said Blue Devils coach Elgin Physic. “It means a lot. The kids have been working hard, but hadn’t been able to put a full game together.”

Down to the wire

Deering, which won just once in a more-competitive-than-the-record-suggested 2022-23 campaign, opened this winter with a 40-35 loss at Scarborough. After a 52-50 buzzer-beating home loss to Thornton Academy, the Rams edged visiting Sanford (48-44) and after a 56-46 setback at rival Portland, edged host Edward Little (50-48) before falling at home to Cheverus two days before Christmas, 67-60.


Lewiston struggled early, losing at Windham (47-31), at home to Messalonskee (40-31) and Noble (66-40), at Scarborough (47-27) and at home to Sanford (60-32).

Last year, the Blue Devils won both meetings, 75-64 in Portland and 66-49 in Lewiston.

Thursday, Deering hoped to turn the tide, but instead, Lewiston managed to beat Deering for the fourth straight time.

Just barely.

Deering junior Justin Jamal races past Lewiston junior Deion Jackson as Rams senior Sam Anderson looks on during the Blue Devils’ 44-43 victory Thursday. Hoffer photos.

Deering started slowly, not making a field goal until the final minute of the first quarter, but the Rams did take an early 1-0 lead, on a foul shot from Jamal, then, after a putback from Blue Devils junior Abdirahman Dakane, Legassey sank a pair of free throws to make it 3-2.

Lewiston then scored six straight, as junior Jefffery Randall scored his first points on a putback, junior Adam Zeininger went coast-to-coast for a layup, then Thomas set up Randall for another layup and an 8-3 advantage.


Deering then awakened, as senior Trip Marston, who came off the bench seconds earlier, was fouled after grabbing an offensive rebound, then made two free throws, before Jamal set up junior Mogga Yanga for a short jumper with 32 seconds left to cut the deficit to one heading to the second period.

There, the Rams went on top when Marston set up Sam Anderson for a layup with 5:42 to go before halftime, but that would prove to be Deering’s final advantage.

After senior Caden Boon set up Thomas for a layup and the lead, Dakane scored on a floater.

After Jamal got a point back at the line, Thomas made another layup to make it 14-10.

Legassey’s first 3, off a pass from Marston, drew Deering within one, but again Lewiston countered, as Dakane fed Randall for a layup, then Thomas tipped home a missed shot for a five-point advantage.

Junior David Otti banked home a shot for the Rams, but the final six points of the half went to the visitors, as Thomas set up senior Moses Samba for a layup, Dakane scored on a runner in transition, then Samba’s putback made it 24-15 Blue Devils at the break.


In the first 16 minutes, Dakane, Randall and Thomas all had six points for Lewiston, while Legassey paced Deering with five points.

The Rams would then come to life in the third quarter.

Deering junior Tavian Lauture is defended by Lewiston junior Abdirahman Dakane.

A putback from Otti provided a spark, but Thomas found Randall for a layup to answer. Legassey then hit a 3 to cut the deficit to six, but a coast-to-coast layup from Thomas made it 28-20.

Yanga and junior Deion Jackson traded layups before Yanga drove for another layup, Jamal set up Legassey for a 3 from the corner, then with 1;41 on the clock, Legassey was fouled after a steal and hit both free throws to make it a 30-29 game.

But after Legassey had a 3-point bid for the lead rim out, then Anderson missed a shot, Jackson set up Boon for a layup to stem the 7-0 run before Dakane made a basket after a steal as time wound down to give the Blue Devils a slim 34-29 advantage heading for the fourth period.

There, Lewiston would do just enough to earn its first victory.


First, the Rams got five quick points to tie the score, as junior Tavian Lauture scored on a putback, then with 5:17 remaining, Jamal found Legassey in the corner and Legassey buried a 3 to make it 34-34.

But 22 seconds later, a putback from Thomas gave Lewiston the lead for good.

After another Thomas putback, Yanga made a foul shot, but a short jumper off an inbounds feed by Thomas (from Randall) made the score 40-35 with 3:19 to play.

Deering kept fighting and drew within one, as Yanga made a free throw, then with 2:25 showing, Otti set up Jamal for a 3-point shot.

Eighteen seconds later, the Randall to Thomas connection produced another layup to stretch the lead back to three.

After a Rams’ turnover, the Blue Devils milked the clock down to 43 seconds where Randall was fouled and attempted his team’s first and only two free throw attempts of the game, but he missed both.


At the other end, Lauture set up Legassey for a layup to make it a one-point game again with 29.6 seconds on the clock, but five seconds later, Thomas caught a touchdown pass off the inbounds and raced in for a layup.

Deering had one final chance to tie it and 20 seconds to do so, but the Rams couldn’t get Legassey open and as the time ticked down, Jamal drove into the lane and went to the basket and while his layup went through with 2.7 seconds to go, in high school basketball, the clock doesn’t stop in that situation and Lewiston allowed it to drain to zero and celebrate a hard-earned 44-43 victory.

“We were hoping to get a shot off a little bit sooner,” said Deering coach Todd Wing. “We knew they’d probably defend Evan and if they were, we wanted to go to the rim, but we went too late.”

Thomas led all scorers with 20 points, almost all of them coming on layups. He also had six rebounds, four steals, three assists and two blocked shots.

Dakane (eight rebounds, three steals) and Randall (three assists, three rebounds, two steals) each added eight points, while Samba had four (to go with three rebounds) and Boon (seven rebounds) and Zeininger both wound up with two.

The Blue Devils had a 36-32 advantage on the glass, didn’t make a 3-point shot or a free throw and turned the ball over two dozen times, but got out of town with a victory.


“We had a solid two days of practice, so we felt good coming in,” said Physic. “We made some big strides. We had a couple switching defenses, just to try to keep them on their toes. Deering’s improved from last year. We wanted to keep scoring and defending and not turning over the basketball. We were able to expose the gaps in their zone a little bit and we were patient. It builds our confidence a little bit that we can put together a full game.”


Deering was paced by Legassey’s 18 points. Yanga added eight off the bench (to go with three rebounds and three steals), Jamal had seven (as well four rebounds, three assists and two steals), Otti four (and eight rebounds) and Anderson (five boards), Lauture and Marston (three assists, three steals) all had two. Senior Josiah King didn’t score, but had five steals.

The Rams hit 10-of-14 free throws and turned the ball over 13 times.

“That’s just who we are right now,” lamented Wing. “We play teams tough, but we’re not winners yet. We’re not closers. Eventually you have to throw a knockout punch, but we’re a team that throws jabs. We’re not ready for that yet.”

Work to do


Lewiston returns to Portland Saturday when it goes to Cheverus. The Blue Devils then host Portland Tuesday of next week.

“We’re still trying to find ourselves,” said Physic. “Guys last year had to play roles and this year, they have to play bigger roles. We’ll try and figure it out. We just want to play to our strengths and improve our weaknesses.”

Deering is off until next Thursday when it goes to two-time reigning Class AA champion South Portland. The Rams’ next home game is Jan. 6, versus Bonny Eagle.

“The schedule won’t do us any favors,” Wing said. “We’ll learn some quick lessons and if we don’t learn, we’ll keep getting the same results.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. For game updates and links to game stories, follow him on Threads: @foresports2023

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