Gorham and Cheverus battle for Class AA state championship

Gorham and Cheverus battle for Class AA state championship

Cheverus sophomore Maddie Fitzpatrick is averaging 19.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.3 steals per game. Ben McCanna / Personal Photographer

Going into the season, there was no doubt that Gorham and Cheverus would have two of the best women’s class AA basketball teams.

Saturday night they will determine which is the best.

Cheverus and Gorham will play for the Class AA State Championship at 7:05 p.m. at Cross Insurance Arena in Portland. The teams haven’t played each other in the regular season, but they know each other well.

They should. They are very similar.

The Stags (17-3) have five seniors and two top sophomores Maddie Fitzpatrick and Emma Lizotte. The Rams (18-3) have six seniors and a sharp-shooting sophomore in Ellie Gay who can open a game with her score.

Beyond that, the teams are well-drilled, fundamentally sound, play hellish defense and like to take 3-pointers and control the tempo.

Combine it all, and it should be one hell of a league game.

“I think we have a lot of similarities,” said Gorham manager Laughn Berthiaume, whose side are making their fourth Class AA title game appearance in six years (with championships in 2017 and 2018) . “It’s our differences in lineups that will make this game interesting.”

“They’re a really good team,” Cheverus coach Bill Goodman said. “We know we are going to fight.”

Cheverus, making his first appearance in a state championship game, could have a little more star power in Fitzpatrick (19.5 ppg, 6.3 rebounds, 4.3 steals) and Lizotte (14, 5 points, 10.3 rebounds), but the Rams have extraordinary balance. Six different players have been Gorham’s top scorer in his 21 games.

“We really have to focus on our defense,” Goodman said. “Literally anyone can score in this team.”

Senior guard Anna Nelson leads the Rams with 12.8 points per game, followed by Brylee Bishop with 11.3 and Gay with 9.9.

“I think it shows who we are as teammates,” Nelson said of the team balance. “We want the other to succeed, to play his best game. We want to have fun. When everyone is scoring, contributing and doing their part, it’s so much more fun to play.

“And we’re all capable of having different roles, whether it’s scoring 20 points one night or two the next.”

Gorham’s captain Anna Nelson celebrates a basket in the Rams’ victory in the Class AA South Championship game. Nelson scored 15 points and was named the tournament’s most outstanding player. Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

Cheverus senior guard Lillie Singleton, who is averaging 9.9 points and 3.4 assists, said senior management will also play an important role. She and her four classmates played football together for four years, in addition to basketball. They have developed an alchemy that allows everyone to succeed in their own role.

“Coach talks a lot about senior leadership,” she said. “And in a big game like this, that has to pass. Everyone must play their part. We are all individuals, but when we come together it seems to work.

Although no one could have predicted that each team would win a championship this year, both coaches knew they had the ingredients to be very good.

Goodman saw it in the way his players bonded with each other.

“I think it started last year, just with what everybody dealt with, and over the summer,” Goodman said of the 2021 season which was cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic. coronavirus. “The girls just seemed to get along. If you go watch a practice, you don’t know who’s who among seniors and freshmen. They are all joking.

“And last summer, everyone showed up ready to learn. They all wanted to become better basketball players.

Berthiaume also liked what he saw on the pitch.

“I knew we would be athletic and I knew I had versatile kids,” he said. “Building a team, you always have visions. But they got together and took on certain roles, and we have a number of kids who can impact the game at any time.

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