When the Portland High School boys’ basketball team traveled to Bangor for a Dec. 21 matchup, the Bulldogs were a handful, taking a 15-point first-half lead before the host Rams fought back for a competitive 64-58 win.
Tuesday afternoon’s rematch in the Class AA North semifinal was nothing like that. The top-seeded Rams never trailed, holding Portland to just two points in the first quarter to build a big early lead — 13-2 after one stanza — that they wouldn’t give up.
The final score showed a 61-41 victory for Bangor, who will now advance to face reigning state champion Edward Little High School of Auburn in the regional final.
Senior captain Matt Fleming led the Rams with 21 points, followed by fellow senior captain Damien Vance with 20. Isaac Cummings and the team’s third senior captain, Henry Westrich, each scored nine.
Senior Jeremiah Alado scored 10 to lead Portland in the loss, followed by teammate Pedro Fonseca with nine.
Portland on Tuesday wasn’t able to conjure the magic it used in the quarterfinals, when Stillman Mahan buried a buzzer-beating three-pointer to give the No. 5 Bulldogs a dramatic 51-50 win over higher-seeded crosstown rival Deering High School.
Bangor, which now has a record of 18-2, convincingly defeated Lewiston High School in the quarterfinals, 68-36.
The Class AA North boys’ final will take place Friday at 6:30 p.m. at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland.
Portland’s season ends with an 11-9 record.
Windham High School eliminated both teams from the tournament last year, topping Bangor in the quarterfinals, 78-62, and knocking out Portland in the semis, 55-53.