With one game remaining, the basketball playoff picture is nearly complete.
Cape Elizabeth and South Portland’s boys’ teams are in line for high seeds, while Scarborough needs help and Greater Portland Christian School will be on the outside looking in.
On the girls’ side, South Portland is a sure thing in Western Class A, while Cape Elizabeth appears primed to make the quarterfinals for the first time in 15 seasons in Western B. GPCS will qualify for the Western D field. Defending Class A champion Scarborough is going to fall short.
Here’s a look at where each team stands:
In Western Class A, South Portland will likely stay the No. 4 seed. The Red Riots split four stern tests in a six-day span and took a 12-5 mark to undefeated, top-ranked, defending state champion Cheverus Friday night. Last Thursday, South Portland rolled to a surprisingly easy 86-64 home win over Deering as senior Vukasin Vignjevic scored 27 points and sophomore Tanner Hyland added 23. South Portland hit nine first-half 3-pointers, six of those coming in the first quarter, to take a commanding lead.
“We shot the ball extremely well in the first half,” said Red Riots coach Phil Conley. “The thing I was most impressed with tonight was how the kids shared the ball and moved the ball around. We finished with 25 assists as a team.”
The next evening, the Red Riots were humbled, 70-43, at Bonny Eagle (Hyland led the way with 11). Saturday afternoon, South Portland bounced back with a 66-53 home victory over Westbrook, thanks to 27 points from Hyland and 18 from Vignjevic.
“I think we just got in the flow,” Hyland said. “We started out slow and weren’t hitting our shots, but we settled down and started hitting them and got going, got the lead and kept it. My shots starting falling and I got more confident.”
“Anytime you have a game like we did last night, you want to immediately play,” said Conley. “I told the guys in the locker room that we didn’t have time to dwell. Westbrook’s a very good team. We had a chance to show what South Portland basketball is all about.”
Tuesday, the Red Riots (playing without game-changing senior center Matt Russell who was out with illness) couldn’t avenge a triple-overtime loss from earlier this season when they fell at home to Portland, 59-54. Vignjevic led the way with 16 points and Hyland and juniors Logan Gaddar and Jordan Muller all had 10.
After a 6-1 start this winter, Scarborough appeared playoff-bound, even bound for a high seed, but little has gone right for the Red Storm since. After losing, 58-42, at home to Portland last Thursday (senior Zach Bean had 18 points) and downing visiting Kennebunk, 51-45, Friday (behind 21 from Bean), Scarborough fell to 8-9 Tuesday with a 33-31 home loss to Thornton Academy (Bean led with 12). The Red Storm enter Friday’s game at Kennebunk 10th in Western A (where just eight teams qualify for the playoffs). Scarborough needs and win and some help to make it to the Expo for the second year in a row.
In Western B, Cape Elizabeth, a regional finalist a year ago, has won four of five to improve to 13-4 (third in the Heals, just behind York, as of Wednesday). Last Thursday, the Capers downed visiting Wells, 52-39 (senior Theo Bowe had 23 points, classmate Joey Doane added 18). Friday, Cape Elizabeth was knocked off at York, 49-45 (despite Bowe’s 31). Tuesday, the Capers put on an impressive performance in avenging an earlier loss by pounding host Yarmouth, 61-39, behind 15 points from Bowe and 13 from sophomore Chris Robicheaw. Cape Elizabeth closes at home Friday night versus defending state champion Falmouth, which is desperate for a victory. The Capers will likely go into the tournament as the second or third seed.
In Western D, Greater Portland Christian School won’t make the playoffs. The Lions lost, 65-22 (Ben Hammond had 15 points and 16 rebounds), to visiting Elan Saturday, then bounced back Tuesday to defeat host Acadia Christian, 37-28 (Hammond recorded his 16th straight double-double, 18 points, 12 boards). GPCS (3-13 and 14th in the Heals) was at Buckfield Wednesday and finishes Friday at home versus Acadia Christian.
The most compelling story on the girls’ side is the culmination of the resurgence of the Cape Elizabeth program, which was dormant for the better part of the past decade before Chris Roberts, a former standout player with the program, came in as coach and revived it. The Capers lost in double-overtime to Falmouth in the preliminary round a year ago to barely miss making it to the Expo, but it appears as if 2010-11 will be the year they get there.
Cape Elizabeth appears to have the inside track for the No. 7 seed, which would allow it to avoid a prelim. The Capers were 45-37 winners at Wells last Thursday behind freshman Kate Miklavic’s 11 points and 10 from junior Kayla Raftice. The next night, Cape Elizabeth lost, 58-15, to visiting York, the undefeated, defending state champion (senior Emily Donovan had eight points) and Monday, the Capers dropped to 8-8 after a 43-37 setback at Waynflete (Raftice led the team with eight points). Cape Elizabeth hosted Yarmouth Wednesday and welcomes Falmouth Friday. Victories in both games would give the Capers their first winning season since 1996.
In Western A, South Portland has quietly put together a solid campaign and will be a force to be reckoned with in the tournament. The Red Riots held off host Westbrook, 43-35 (behind 15 points from senior Abby Hasson and 13 from classmate Danielle DiBiase), Friday, then rode a fourth quarter surge to a 53-44 home victory over Bonny Eagle Saturday afternoon. South Portland trailed by a point heading for the fourth quarter before the Red Riots took the lead for good (it was the eighth lead change of the contest) when junior Libby Grant, who hadn’t scored, calmly swished a 3-pointer.
“I didn’t think about it and just went for it,” Grant said. “It felt so nice.”
Thirty seconds later, senior Stephanie McDonough canned a 3-ball and it was 32-27.
“Steph McDonough isn’t always recognized, but she can hit them,” said Hasson.
South Portland went on to pull away for its 11th victory.
“Two games in a row, we came alive when we had to come alive,” Red Riots coach Mike Giordano said. “I thought we dominated the last eight minutes. There was no separation. Credit to Bonny Eagle. They were playing for their tournament life. We knew we’d get their best effort. We had two big 3s and that gave us some space. From that point on, I thought we did a good job finishing.”
South Portland fell to 11-6 Tuesday after a 60-52 loss at Portland. DiBiase had a team-high 18. The Red Riots (sixth in Western A) look for a win in their finale Friday night at home versus Cheverus. If South Portland stays in the sixth spot, it won’t have to play Deering or McAuley in the quarterfinals.
“I’m pleased,” Giordano said. “We’ve been in every game we’ve played all year.”
Scarborough dug too deep a hole this winter by starting 1-7. The Red Storm have been roughly a .500 team since, but it won’t be enough to earn a trip to the postseason. Scarborough lost at Portland (50-43), downed host Kennebunk (53-26) and visiting Noble (57-38), the fell at Thornton Academy (66-38) to fall to 5-12 (13th in Western A, where just nine teams qualify). Sophomore Taylor LeBorgne’s 11 points paced the team versus the Bulldogs. Junior Brittany Bona led with 12 against the Rams. Courtney Alofs had 17 points in the win over the Knights. Bona had 16 in the loss to the Golden Trojans. The Red Storm close at home versus Kennebunk Friday.
In Western D, GPCS was up to fifth with an 11-4 mark after recent wins at Hebron (47-38) and Acadia Christian (44-28). Suzanne Gonzalez had 10 points against Acadia. The Lions were at Buckfield Wednesday, then close the regular season at home versus Acadia Christian Friday.
Freelance writer Tom Minervino contributed to this story
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster or followed on Twitter @foresports