PORTLAND—After playing just once in a nearly three-week span, Cheverus’ powerhouse, undefeated girls’ basketball not surprisingly got off to a sluggish start in Wednesday’s Class AA North semifinal at the Cross Insurance Arena.

The top-ranked Stags got pushed by fourth-seeded Lewiston, but saved their best for last and like the champions they hope to become, made the big plays when it mattered most.

And now, Cheverus, after a year of biding its time, gets a chance to earn some delicious revenge.

The Stags managed just four points in the game’s first six minutes, but back-to-back 3-pointers from senior Megan Dearborn got them going and they held a 12-5 advantage after one quarter.

The Blue Devils, behind 13 first half points from senior Natalie Beaudoin, only trailed by five, 24-19, at the break, and still were within five, 35-30, late in the third quarter, but a clutch 3-pointer from Cheverus sophomore Rachel LaSalle extended the lead to eight heading to the fourth period.

And there, senior standout Maddie Fitzpatrick, who was frustrated much of the afternoon, erupted for 10 points to help the Stags pull away and go on to a 57-35 victory.


Fitzpatrick led the way with 20 points, Dearborn added 12 and LaSalle tallied 10 off the bench as Cheverus won its 19th straight game this winter, ended Lewiston’s season at 10-10 and in the process, set up a compelling Class AA North Final showdown versus No. 2 Oxford Hills (15-5) Saturday at 2 p.m., at the Cross Insurance Arena.

“I knew Lewiston wouldn’t give up,” said Stags coach Billy Goodman. “They gave us three good games this year. Their coach (Josh Morin) did a great job with the team. I knew it would be like this.”

Starting point

Ever since last year’s agonizing double-overtime loss to Oxford Hills in the Class AA North Final, Cheverus has had a single focus, getting back to the big stage and winning the program’s second Gold Ball in three seasons.

While the Stags went 18-0 this season for the first time in program history, it wasn’t easy, as Cheverus lost post standout Emma Lizotte, who transferred to Thornton Academy prior to the school year, and began the season with just two players with an abundance of varsity experience, Fitzpatrick and senior Ruth Boles.

Goodman and his staff put all the right pieces in the right places, however, and the Stags were never toppled (see sidebar for links to previous stories) and as the top seed in Class AA North, earned a bye into the semifinal round.


Lewiston, meanwhile, started 6-2, but went just 3-7 the rest of the way. As the No. 4 seed in the region, the Blue Devils advanced with a 54-46 win over No. 5 Edward Little.

Cheverus won both regular season meetings, 69-51 on the road Jan. 9 and 70-48 at home two weeks later. Fitzpatrick went off for 36 points in the first game, then had a stat line of 25 points, 11 rebounds and 11 steals in the second.

The teams had never met in the postseason.

Wednesday, the Stags got pushed, but pushed back and survived and advanced.

The teams started a combined 1-of-13 from the floor, but Cheverus went ahead to stay with 5:20 left in the first quarter, when Fitzpatrick drove for a layup.

After the Stags got two free throws from freshman Abby Kelly, Lewiston got on the board with 2:40 remaining, as Beaudoin scored her first points, on a bank shot, but Boles made two free throws to make it 6-2.


A Beaudoin 3 drew the Blue Devils within a point, but with 46 seconds left, Dearborn took a pass from sophomore Anna Goodman and hit a 3, then, in transition, Fitzpatrick set up Dearborn for another 3-ball and a 12-5 lead after eight minutes.

“I definitely like shooting at this court,” Dearborn said. “I like the energy here. We focused on shooting a lot this week and shots were falling for me tonight.”

“Megan does her job,” Billy Goodman said. “She’s been steady all year. She’s a senior leader. She missed her first couple shots, but I told her it didn’t matter and to keep shooting. She’s very coachable and I’m proud of her.”

When Boles made a layup 13 seconds into the second quarter, it appeared the Stags were poised to break away, but senior Koral Morin answered with a runner, then sophomore Bailey Tardif-Mockler scored on a putback to cut the deficit to 14-9.

Kelly then set up LaSalle for a layup and LaSalle stole the ball and passed to Fitzpatrick for a layup, but again Lewiston rallied, as Beaudoin scored on a contested runner, then Beaudoin made two foul shots.

After LaSalle scored on a putback, Beaudoin hit a jumper in the lane, then scored on another jumper in transition, that rattled in to cut the deficit to just three, 20-17.


In the final minute, Dearborn set up Boles for a layup and after sophomore Ella Beaudoin banked home a runner for the Blue Devils, a late Fitzpatrick jumper, which rolled in, made it 24-19 at the half.

In the first 16 minutes, Boles, Dearborn and Fitzpatrick all had six points for Cheverus, while Natalie Beaudoin tallied 13 for Lewiston.

But Beaudoin wouldn’t score again and while it took awhile, the Stags were eventually able to shake the Blue Devils in the second half.

Dearborn began the second half with a 3 from the corner (off a pass from Boles) and after Natalie Beaudoin set up Morin for a layup, Fitzpatrick found Dearborn in the corner for another 3.

“Megan’s been really consistent in her role, especially making 3s,” Fitzpatrick said. “A lot of teams try to clog up the paint against us, but they can’t do that when we have Megan, Rachel LaSalle and Anna outside making shots.”

Fitzpatrick then made a nice move and made a layup, then was fouled after another pretty move and sank both attempts to push the lead to 34-21.


Lewiston then roared back with a 9-1 run.

Senior Ellie Legare started the surge with a 3, then she drilled another in transition. After Kelly made a free throw, Legare scored on a putback and with 3:21 remaining, a Morin free throw made the score 35-30.

The Blue Devils then had chances to draw even closer but couldn’t do so and after a Fitzpatrick block on the defensive end, she set up LaSalle for a momentum-turning 3-ball and an eight-point advantage heading to the fourth quarter.

And there, Cheverus finally put it away.

Fitzpatrick set the tone by finishing in traffic with her left hand off the glass. Next, she was fouled after an offensive rebound and made both attempts to push the lead to a dozen. After Legare countered with another 3, Fitzpatrick drove for a layup.

“Maddie didn’t practice much last week, so I knew she’d be rusty and I knew the team would be rusty,” Billy Goodman said. “By halftime, she had gotten into it and in the second half, she was typical Maddie.”


LaSalle added another 3 from the corner, Boles scored on a putback, then Fitzpatrick ended all doubt with two foul shots for a 51-33 advantage with 4:24 left.

After Legare scored her final points on a layup, Fitzpatrick set up Kelly for a layup, Fitzpatrick spun and banked home a shot for her final points, then with 24 seconds remaining, senior Olivia Conroy made a layup after a steal and that brought the curtain down on the Stags’ 57-35 victory.

“We were trying to do anything we could to stay consistent no matter the score,” Dearborn said. “We just really tried to keep our energy up. (Lewiston’s) a great team. Their ball movement was great. We knew coming in they’d be good competition.”

“It’s difficult playing here and we have some younger girls who play really key roles, so we knew it might be a rocky start, but we have five seniors and Coach Goodman and we did what we had to do,” said Fitzpatrick. “It was frustrating, but we won. We had a great week of practice but we hadn’t played and it makes a difference.”

“It got a little nervewracking,” Billy Goodman added. “I felt the team stepped up when they should. We made good decisions and it helped us pull away a little bit.”

Nothing came easily for her, but when the dust settled, Fitzpatrick had another stellar stat line of 20 points, 17 rebounds, four assists and two steals.


” You can’t focus on the negative or it will stay bad,” Fitzpatrick said. “I’ve learned that.”

Dearborn added 12 points (all on 3-pointers) and LaSalle also finished in double figures with 10 points, off the bench.

“I’ve been looking to build confidence in the girls off the bench, so I told Rachel if she scored 10 points, I’d run (halfcourt back and fullcourt back) in practice and she told me after the game, ‘You’re running,'” Billy Goodman said. “She hit some big shots for us. The girls off the bench all played confidently and produced very nicely.”

Boles had eight points, 11 rebounds, three steals and three blocked shots, Kelly tallied five points off the bench and Conroy had two.

Cheverus enjoyed a 48-37 advantage on the glass, only turned the ball over 11 times and made 11-of-15 free throws.

Lewiston’s effort was paced by Natalie Beaudoin, who had 13 points, but none after halftime. She also had seven rebounds and two blocks. Legare also had 13 points, as well as six rebounds. Morin added five points (to go with four rebounds, two assists and two steals) and Ella Beaudoin and Tardif-Mockler each had two.


The Blue Devils took just four free throws, making three, and turned the ball over 16 times.

Here we go again

Cheverus and Oxford Hills need no introduction.

In 2022, the Stags beat the Vikings, 52-36, in the regional final en route to their first championship. Last year, Cheverus led Oxford Hills by a dozen points in the fourth quarter but couldn’t hold it and the Vikings came back to win in a 40-minute instant classic, 68-63. The teams also played in the 2018 semifinal round (a 59-49 Oxford Hills victory).

The teams met twice this year, with the Stags rolling to a stunningly decisive 76-47 road win Dec. 15, then holding on for a 58-54 victory Jan. 4 at home.

Cheverus knows beating the Vikings a third time won’t come easily, but it can’t wait for the opportunity.

“I think we’re all really excited,” said Fitzpatrick. “They’re a great team, they’re well-coached and we have that memory from last year that hurts. We’ll go out and give it everything we’ve got. We just have to stay together like we have all year. We’ll be a family. We’ll give them everything we’ve got.”

“We’ll prep as well as we can,” Dearborn said. “We’ve played them before. We know them and know they’re great competition.”

“They’re on a run,” Billy Goodman added. “We respect them. We know we’ll get their best. It will be our toughest game. We have a couple days to practice and watch film and get focused. It’ll start with rebounding and taking care of the ball and hopefully some shots will go in. They had an amazing comeback against us last year and it was hard to take. We respect them and we’ll need to play our best game to beat them this time.”

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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