PORTLAND—Cheverus’ girls’ basketball team began the 2023-24 season an unknown quantity.

The Stags ended it undefeated and unrivaled.

Saturday evening at the Cross Insurance Arena, Cheverus got a spirited battle from Gorham in the Class AA state final, but thanks to a terrific defensive effort, one more fabulous performance from senior stars Ruth Boles and Maddie Fitzpatrick and an abundance of key contributions from everyone else who took the floor, managed to capture the Gold Ball.

In perfect fashion.

The teams went back-and-forth in the first quarter before a layup from Boles just before the horn produced a 10-9 Cheverus lead, a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.

The Stags then held Gorham to a single point in the second quarter and stretched their lead to 17-10 at the half.


The Rams found their 3-point range in the third period and even drew within four, but a clutch, critical 3 from senior Megan Dearborn at the horn made it 28-21 Cheverus.

Fitzpatrick then set up Boles for a backbreaking 3 to start the fourth quarter and the Stags pulled away for a 38-24 victory.

Boles led the way with 17 points, Fitzpatrick added a double-double of 14 points and 13 rebounds, junior Rachel Feeley and freshman Addison Jordan held Rams senior standout Ellie Gay in check and Cheverus capped its first-ever undefeated season at 21-0, ended Gorham’s fine season at 18-4 and in the process, won a championship for the second time in program history.

“It’s incredible,” said Fitzpatrick, the Miss Maine Basketball finalist who will play at the University of Maine next year. “We wanted it and we did it. It’s too perfect to believe it’s real. We just worked so hard in the offseason to get this chance and we took advantage of it. The journey was worth it.”

A team for the ages

After winning the Class AA Gold Ball for the first time in 2022, Cheverus was on the brink of earning an opportunity to repeat last winter, but couldn’t hold a 12-point fourth quarter lead against Oxford Hills in the regional final and ended up losing a double-overtime heartbreaker.


The Stags expected to return a veteran team this winter, but those hopes were dashed when senior post standout Emma Lizotte transferred to Thornton Academy and Jaelyn Jensen and Jenna Jensen left for Mt. Ararat.

As a result, Cheverus had to rely even more than ever on the brilliant Fitzpatrick and hope that Boles would take the next step, which she absolutely did, while bringing along a supporting cast.

The plan came together perfectly (see sidebar for links to previous stories), as the Stags turned heads early with a decisive win at Oxford Hills and a home victory over Thornton Academy. Cheverus would be tested by Scarborough and Oxford Hills in a second meeting, but managed to run the table, going 18-0 with an average margin of victory of 23 points.

“We had the confidence we could do something like this,” said Fitzpatrick. “If you don’t have the confidence, you won’t be able to achieve it.”

The Stags earned a bye into the semifinals and pulled away in the second half to beat No. 4 Lewiston, 57-35. Cheverus then got a shot at avenging last year’s ouster when it took on No. 2 Oxford Hills in the regional final. While Fitzpatrick missed almost half the game with foul trouble, Boles had the game of her life and the Stags managed to advance, 48-38, reaching the state final for the second time.

Gorham, meanwhile, went 15-3 this year, closing on a 13-1 tear, losing only to South Portland (twice) and Edward Little. Gorham earned the top seed in Class AA South and after dominating No. 8 Noble in the quarterfinals (87-14), pulled away in the second half to defeat No. 4 Sanford in the semifinals, 52-34, then held off No. 3 Scarborough in the regional final, 46-37.


Cheverus and Gorham didn’t play this year.

Stags coach Billy Goodman knew enough about the Rams to be concerned.

“I saw what I needed to,” Goodman said. “They move the ball better than most teams, they’re fast, they can shoot and they play good defense. I was really worried about this one.”

The Stags had won both prior playoff meetings, 50-44 in the 2012 Western A preliminary round and 49-36 to win the championship in 2022 (Fitzpatrick, Gay and Gorham senior Kalin Curtis were the only players to score in that game to play in this one).

Saturday, the Rams hoped to win a championship for the ninth time, but instead, it was the Stags celebrating for the second, as Fitzpatrick capped her nonpareil career in style.

Cheverus turned the ball over to start the game, then Gorham had a long possession which led to the game’s first points, as junior Julia Reed set up Curtis for a layup.


After multiple misses, the Stags got on the board with 4:50 left in the opening stanza, as Boles got a pass from Jordan and made a layup.

Fitzpatrick then hit a bank shot and with 3:57 to go, she stole the ball and made a layup for a 6-2 lead, forcing Gorham coach Laughn Berthiaume to call timeout.

It worked, as Gay, who is also a finalist for Miss Maine Basketball, got the ball to senior Summer Gammon in the corner and Gammon drained a 3.

After Feeley countered with a jumper, the Rams got a breakaway layup, as Curtis fed Gay, then a Gammon runner rolled in, but just before time expired, Boles stole the ball and raced in to make a layup for a 10-9 advantage after one quarter.

Cheverus’ defense then completely flustered Gorham in the second quarter, helping the Stags pull further ahead.

Early in the frame, Fitzpatrick connected with Boles on a patented back-door layup.


With 3:48 to go before halftime, after Fitzpatrick missed a 3, sophomore Rachel LaSalle got the offensive rebound, got the ball back to Fitpzatrick who tried another 3 and this time found the mark for a 15-9 lead, forcing Berthiuame to call timeout again.

Curtis got a point back at the line, but Boles set up Fitzpatrick for a contested bank shot and it was 17-10 Stags at the half.

Fitzpatrick led the way with nine points, while Cheverus forced 11 turnovers.

The game remained tight in the third period.

Fitzpatrick set up Boles for a short jumper to open the second half, but with 6:37 left in the third quarter, a Reed 3 snapped a 9 minute, 57 second field goal drought.

Fitzpatrick then answered as only she can, going coast-to-coast and finishing with her left hand off the glass to make it 21-13.


Junior Vanessa Walker hit a long 3 for the Rams, but off an inbounds set, sophomore Anna Goodman fed Boles for a layup.

“We had to get the ball inside,” Fitzpatrick said. “We had a height advantage against them. That and taking care of the ball. We wanted easy looks and to tire them out on defense.”

After Gay made a layup, Fitzpatrick found Jordan for a layup, but with 1:51 left, sophomore Logan Doughty hit a long 3 to pull Gorham within four.

But out of a timeout, just before the horn, Goodman found Dearborn in the corner and her 3 found nothing but net to send Cheverus to the fourth period up seven, 28-21.

“We knew (Gorham would) go on a run, that’s just basketball, but we got together and calmed down and locked in again,” Fitzpatrick said. “Megan took a deep breath and hit the shot. We talk about next play and she drained that 3.”

“That got our momentum up a lot,” said Boles. “That got us all hyped up.”


“When we needed it most, it was the seniors stepping up,” Billy Goodman added. “I knew Coach Berthiuame does a great job and his kids never give up. They have scorers everywhere. I knew they’d get close. We’ve worked on playing in close games in practice and it paid off.”

In the final period, the Stags squeezed the life out of the Rams and went on to victory.

After Gorham missed several open looks to get closer, Fitzpatrick set up Boles for a 3 in transition with 4:49 on the clock and Cheverus had a double-digit advantage, 31-21.

“I don’t make 3s as much as layups, but I try whenever I’m open and Maddie gave me a great pass,” Boles said.

Boles added two free throws 54 seconds later, then Fitzpatrick scored on a putback with 2:31 remaining, registering a double-double in the process, to all but put it away.

A 3-ball from sophomore Lauren Dunbar with 1:32 remaining ended the Stags’ 10-0 run and an 8:19 drought, but it wasn’t nearly enough.


With 41 seconds showing, Fitzpatrick, after missing four straight from the free throw line, got one to rattle home for the final point of her transcendent career.

Boles then made two more foul shots with 18 seconds remaining to bring the curtain down and at 8:31 p.m., Cheverus rushed the court to celebrate its 38-24 victory.

“It’s indescribable,” said Boles. “It’s been amazing to be a part of this team. I’m surrounded by great people and I love them so much. We hyped ourselves up coming in. We just had push the ball and focus on defense.”

“We knew we had a special team,” Feeley said. “We didn’t know how far we could go with it, but I think we did a good job.”

“I’ve known Coach Goodman since seventh grade and this is what we wanted,” Fitzpatrick said. “To win it for the seniors, it’s incredible.”

“I truly can’t believe it,” Billy Goodman added. “This is just so special. We had to have different girls step up every night. Obviously, it started with Maddie, Ruth and Megan, but all the girls had to step up for us to do what we did. I’m so impressed how my team performed.”


Boles, who will play at Springfield College next year, led all scorers in her swan song with 17 points. She also had four rebounds and three steals, capping a superb tournament which cemented her as one of the state’s elite players.

“(Ruth’s) a triple-threat player,” Fitzpatrick said. “She’s been great all season for us. She’s so reliable. She’s so much fun to play with.”

Fitzpatrick stuffed the stat sheet one final time, scoring 14 points, grabbing 13 rebounds and also registering six assists and three steals. Fitzpatrick wasn’t whistled for a single foul this time around.

“It was my last game and I knew I had five fouls and I could use them, but I had it in the back of my mind,” Fitzpatrick said. “They’ve been calling a lot of charges lately, so I had to be cognizant of that.”

Fitzpatrick, the finest player in Cheverus history, and one of the best to ever suit up in the state, will take her talents to Orono next year and will live on in legend at her alma mater.

“There’s sadness because I love this program so much, but there’s no better way to finish,” said Fitzpatrick. “I’ll never forget my time at Cheverus. It was so special and I’m so glad I chose to come here.”


“It’s been amazing playing with Maddie,” Boles said. “Her ball movement, her talking on defense, she just does it all.”

“It’s awesome playing with Maddie and Ruth,” Feeley said. “They’re amazing players, they have good (basketball) IQ. They know when to take the good shot and they’re very caring. They pick us up when we make mistakes.”

“It’s been a dream to coach Maddie for four years,” Billy Goodman added. “She’s had an amazing attitude. She’s literally a champion, on and off the court.”

Dearborn made just one basket, but it was a critical 3-pointer. Feeley and Jordan, who both spent much of their evening holding Gay in check, each finished with two points. Senior Olivia Conroy, LaSalle, freshman Abby Kelly and Anna Goodman (two assists and a rebound) played critical roles as well.

“Every championship has been special, but Maddie, Ruth and Megan mean so much to me and having my daughter on the team was just incredible,” Billy Goodman said. “She made some beautiful passes and did a great job on D and got a key rebound. I’m so proud of her. Rachel (LaSalle) and Rachel Feeley and freshmen Abby Kelly and Addison Jordan all stepped up. They didn’t know better when we went to Oxford and Bangor, places where we’ve struggled. They didn’t care.”

The Stags had a 28-26 edge on the glass, overcame 13 turnovers and made 5-of-10 free throws.



For Gorham, Gammon led the way with five points. She also had four rebounds.

Gay scored four points and had two assists, two rebounds and two steals.

“(Ellie’s) a very good player and it was hard to face-guard her,” Feeley said. “I just had to move my feet. I think Addie and I did a good job on her. We didn’t want her to get any open shots. That was our number one assignment. That and get out on the shooters. I was looking forward to the challenge.”

“We started off our week of practice really focused on Ellie because she’s a great player with a quick shot,” said Fitzpatrick. “Addie and Rachel just executed. They worked so hard this week and it paid off.”

“My younger teammates played great,” Boles said. “Addie and Rachel on Ellie Gay were great.”


“We started the game off in the defense we’ve had all year, but Ellie’s such a great player and by (face-guarding her), it was just the ultimate sign of respect for her as a player,” Billy Goodman added.

“When they were face-guarding her, I thought we did a pretty good of running to spots where she’d demanded two or three (defenders) and we could have slipped somebody into space for a good look, but (Cheverus) rotated quickly,” Berthiaume said. “Credit to (Cheverus). They play really good defense and it just wasn’t our night shooting the basketball.”

Curtis (seven rebounds), Doughty, Dunbar, Reed (four assists, three rebounds, three steals) and Walker all added three points.

The Rams made just 1-of-6 free throws and turned the ball over 19 times.

“(The Stags are) a tough team to play from behind against,” said Berthiaume. “They got the basket at the end of the quarter in the first and that 3 at the end of the quarter in the third, but I didn’t think we were out of the game at that point. I thought we had some good looks in the fourth, if we knocked down a couple of those, we could have applied pressure in an organized way.

“I’m very proud of this group. It’s pretty special. They stuck together the whole year and had fun. I told the girls earlier in the week, they’re the only team in the Southern region to play into March three years in a row. That’s something to be proud of. Three regional titles is pretty special, but three state final losses sting at the same time.”


Gorham loses Curtis, Gammon and Gay and next year will rely on the likes of Doughty, Dunbar, Reed and Walker to remain near the top of the heap.

“Those three seniors have been a big part of this program for a long time,” Berthiaume said. “I’m sorry to see them go, but I’m very proud of what they’ve done. I thought we had a lot of younger kids contribute a lot. Even some of the kids who didn’t get a lot of playing time worked hard in practice and worked to push the starters.”

A new challenge

The Stags will have a very different look next winter.

The loss of Fitzpatrick is immeasurable and Boles and Dearborn will be huge departures as well. Cheverus also says goodbye to Conroy and Abby Marshall.

“The seniors have really impressed me,” Billy Goodman said. “They do different things to help the team.”


The 2024-25 team likely won’t feature a superstar, but with Feeley, Anna Goodman, Jordan and LaSalle leading the way, don’t expect much of a dropoff.

“We just need to work hard and want it,” said Feeley.

“The younger players are great,” Fitzpatrick said. “They’re sponges and they take everything in. They got a lot of experience this year, so Cheverus girls’ basketball is in good hands.”

“We’ll definitely come back and watch them next year,” Boles said.

“I’m going to miss the seniors, but I have a great group of girls coming back who will work hard,” Billy Goodman added.

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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