Free Basketball

Free Basketball

The Expo was dark yesterday (it's a blizzard buffer in the schedule), so I went to the Hockey Rink Formerly Known as the Portland Civic Center for the AA boys semifinals.

The first game was the most anticipated game (flex scheduling?) between Cheverus and Portland.

Portland led most of the way in this one, but never by more than 8, as Cheverus struggled from the field. You knew the Stags would make a run, and they strung a couple of baskets together to take the lead early in the 4th quarter for the first time since it was 2-0. That ended up being part of a 13-2 run that pushed the Cheverus lead to 8 with about 2 minutes to go. It sure looked like it was pretty much over.

But no one told Portland.

Jeissey Khamis got a bucket to stop the bleeding. Then after a Leo McNabb offensive foul, Jeissey Khamis was fouled on a 3-pointer and made all 3 shots. After a McNabb miss, Kevin Rugabirwa found Lucas LeCage for a 3 and all of a sudden, Portland had cut it to 1. In all, a 10-3 run in just over a minute.

Out of a Cheverus time out, Khamis fouled McNabb around half court, ending his night with 10 points and 12 boards. McNabb missed the first free throw (they would have been in the double bonus under the old system) and made the second to make the lead 2.

Coming out of Portland's final time out, the Bulldogs missed their third straight look at tying the game, Cheverus grabbed the rebound and Portland fouled, only for Cheverus to miss both free throws. With no time outs, Portland raced down the floor. Rugabirwa's runner was no good, nor was Cordell Jones' put-back, but James Johnson's put-back at the buzzer was, sending the game to OT.

CUT TO: under 2 in OT. Gio St. Onge hit 2 free throws to tie the game. After some controlled chaos, Cordell Jones made one of 2 free throws to give Portland the lead. Leo McNabb's attempt from three was no good and it was Portland ball with 0.8 to go.

But wait!

Portland TRAVELED ON THE DESIGNATED SPOT to give Cheverus one more chance. When was the last time you saw that in a big situation? It was the right call, by the way. Would we get our first ever replay moment?


Video credit: Me

It would have been good, had it gone down.

Leo McNabb finished with 14 on 4/16 shooting. St. Onge added 12 for the Stags.

Portland will play #1 Windham, who pulled away from Lewiston late. Blake McPherson lead the Eagles with 17. Creighty Dickson had 15 rebounds.

Earlier in the day in Augusta, the Valley girls took care of Greenville behind 19 points from Kirsten Bigelow and Madeline Hill's double-double (18/11). Nola Mason put up 16 points and 19 boards in the loss.

In the other D South girls semifinal, Waynflete's Lucy Hart juuuust missed a triple-double with 13/9/9.

Up in Bangor, Cami Shields led Southern Aroostook to their 6th consecutive Regional Final. Six straight. I don't care what class you're in. That's incredibly impressive.

Southern Aroostook girls pull away from Jonesport-Beals to advance to sixth straight regional final
BANGOR- Cami Shields scored 17 of her game-high 20 points in the second half on Thursday, leading the two-time defending state champion Southern Aroostook Warriors to a 57-35 win over Jonesport-Bea…

They'll face Katahdin in the final, who continued their Cinderella run with an upset of Wisdom. Hunter Hartsgrove led the way with 22. Lily Roy had 23 for Wisdom.

Honestly, this a pretty mild upset. Katahdin was the 7, but the Model thinks they should have been the 5. Wisdom was only favored by 1.3.

Speaking of under-seeded 7 seeds.

Mount View came out slowly, but then turned up the defense to turn an early deficit into a rout.

Mount View started the tournament with a 2.1% chance to win the whole thing. They're up to 12.7%. I think that's still too low.

Part of the reason for that is #1 Calais had their own blowout, beating Hodgdon 42-27.

And over on the other side of the bracket, Mount Abram destroyed Carrabec 70-33. Payton Mitchell had 23/7r/6a/6s to lead the Roadrunners,

This is turning into a very strong bracket.

And I haven't even mentioned that Sammy Calder scored 35 points to will Monmouth to a comeback victory over Hall-Dale in overtime.

C South boys basketball: Sammy Calder leads Monmouth Academy to OT win over Hall-Dale
Senior forward scores 35 points to lead the Mustangs to the regional final.

Hall-Dale's Nick Brown had 15 and 10 before fouling out in overtime.

Still, if you gave me odds on DraftKings, I'd put a couple bucks on Mount View to win this.

In Girls action at the ACC, Madison pulled off a small upset in C South. NYA was the 1 seed and Madison the 4, but the Model thought NYA was over-seeded and Madison under-seeded and that's a pretty good recipe for an upset.

Madison got 14 & 12 from Raegan Cowen in the win, but NYA got the consolation prize of one of the best assists of the tourney.

They'll take on #2 Hall-Dale who, to the surprise of no one, rolled.

The Model is quite sure they should be the 1 seed.

Yesterday, when talking about Old Town winning while going 0/19 from 3, I wrote that the rule that you can't win shooting that badly wasn't always true. But what about the reverse? Can you lose while shooting the lights out?

Probably not.

9/10 from three in the first half. And it wasn't just one guy getting hot. It was multiple people and it was quite impressive to watch.

They'll get Gorham in the Regional Final. Gorham swept the regular season, winning by 3 and 7, but based on what I saw last night, I think Scarborough might pull it off. And if they shoot 90% from 3 again, they'll definitely do it.

This is an exceptional slate of games today. The Stax Index (which is what determines the Game of the Day, factors in a bunch of different numbers, and is basically looking for the most entertaining game, something worth driving to.

On the boys side, the numbers look like this:

GNG/Noble: 87.8
Orono/Old Town: 87.5
Oceanside/Lincoln Academy: 87.2
Hampden/Messo: 86.7

That's crazy.

All of these games look awesome. Jamier Rose is probably the breakout star of the tourney so far, leading a Noble team in their first real tourney experience in almost 40 years...Lincoln Academy is in their first Regional Final since 1989 and they'll try to finish the job they couldn't complete when they nearly beat Oceanside in January. Meanwhile, Oceanside is looking for their first Gold Ball since Rockland and Georges Valley merged as they work through a season made unnecessarily more difficult by ADs and IGs outside of their control (can't wait for Dana White to show up 🙄)...And after the front-runners all had underwhelming semifinals, Zach McLaughlin is making a late push for Mr. Basketball against a Messo team that has turned into a legit contender.

Hell, Tyler Krusz even made a hype video for Orono/Old Town.

But none of those are Game of the Day.

Because the Game of the Day is Brunswick and Mt. Ararat.

I'm a little surprised by this because Brunswick has looked unbeatable thus far in the A South tourney and Mt. Ararat has looked vulnerable, but they've gotten the job done.

You can look at this a lot of different ways. If you want to deep-dive into the Model, Brunswick has gotten a slightly easier draw and yadda yadda yadda.

They split the season series. They're rivals. They're the 1 seed and the 2 seed. If you need more convincing than that, I can't help you.

Just go to the Expo today. Session 1: Spruce/Oceanside and Lincoln/Oceanside. Session 2: Mt. Ararat/Brunswick and Noble/GNG. All 4 of those games have the potential to be classics. I think all of these lower seeds can win. I really do. I'll be there. Come say hi. Maybe bring caffeine.