SCARBOROUGH—A year ago, a girls’ basketball matchup between Cheverus and Scarborough would be a standing room only, must-see game for any high school basketball fan. But after the Red Storm graduated several key parts of their state champion squad from 2010, the visiting Stags were able to control the game from the start and walked away 49-35 victors Saturday afternoon.
“It’s win and that’s all we needed,” Cheverus coach Rickie Ashley said. “When we look at it, it’s a 14 point SMAA win and I’m happy with it. Some shots didn’t fall for us. but that’s basketball.”
“It’s never easy coming into a Saturday afternoon game, but we played well,” Cheverus junior center Morgan Cahill added. “It took us a while to pull away, but we were able to hit some shots when we needed.”
The game started quickly for Cheverus as the Lady Stags (now 9-1) jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first three minutes. After sophomore Brooke Flaherty (seven points) scored just seconds into the game on a turnaround jumper, back-to-back fast break layups by junior Alexandra Palazzi-Leahy (14 points) and senior Britni Mikulanecz (12 points) put Cheverus in the driver’s seat early on.
“I think fast break points can lead to scoring in bunches,” Ashley said. “We have a couple of girls who can run fast breaks well and it shows.”
After a three-point play by Scarborough, Palazzi-Leahy showed her range, hitting a deep 3 to make it 10-3 Lady Stags with less than four minutes left in the first.
After Scarborough clawed back to pull within 11-7 with less than a minute to go in the quarter, sophomore Mikayla Mayberry (three points) hit a baseline 3 to put the Stags up 14-7 after one.
The second quarter didn’t start off well for Cheverus, as it only mustered two points in the first four minutes and led by just five. The Stags were also turning the ball over several times which prompted a timeout from Ashley to get the team back on track.
“I think our team played hard today against a very good Cheverus team,” Scarborough coach Jim Seavey said. “We were able disrupt them with pressure and force some tough shots. We’re a very young team, but we really competed today.”
The timeout seemed to work as after a jumper by Mikulanecz, the senior stole the ball at midcourt and hurled the ball forward to Palazzi-Leahy for a layup, giving the Stags at 19-10 lead.
The Stags would extend the lead to as much as 11 near the end of the second quarter, as sophomore Eden Monsen fed Morgan Cahill for an easy layup to put the Stags up 22-12. A minute later, Cahill (12 points) made another layup, on which the junior was fouled. Though she missed the free throw, gathered the rebound and missed a jumper, Palazzi-Leahy got another offensive board and put in a layup to push the lead to 11. Sophomore Taylor LeBorgne (11 points) would hit a three for Scarborough with two seconds left, leaving the Stags a 26-18 lead at half.
“Coach at halftime just kept telling us to take our shots,” Cahill said. “We had a lot of good looks at the basket in the first half, but they just didn’t fall. We knew we would get some points if we just kept shooting.”
Scarborough started off the third quarter with a minute-long possession, but the Stags held them without a bucket and countered with a six-second fast break, ending with a Cahill layup to push the lead back to double digits. Things then tightened up in a hurry as the Red Storm scored five consecutive points, three on free throws. The visitors responded with a five point run of their own, as Palazzi-Leahy hit a baseline 3 and, off a steal, Mikulanecz threw up a no-look scoop shot that put Cheverus back up by ten, 33-23.
The teams would trade baskets back and fourth for the remainder of the quarter. Flaherty scored back-to-back buckets from close range and Cheverus led 39-28 at the end of the third.
The fourth quarter began with offensive futility on both sides, as the first points didn’t come until nearly three minutes in when Cahill made a layup. Thirty seconds later, Cahill got a pass from Mikulanecz down low and the junior laid it up and in to give the Stags a 43-28 lead with less than five minutes to go in the game. Cahill, who scored zero points in the first quarter, attributes her teammates’ passing with getting her on track in the last half of the game.
“I have to give a lot of credit to the leadership of Brooke (Flaherty) and others on the floor for helping out,” Cahill said. “They kept feeding me the ball and passing well and it led to a lot of easy layups.”
Scarborough wouldn’t go quietly, as junior Mo Hannan (11 points) scored five straight points to bring the Red Storm back within 10 with less than three minutes left, but there wasn’t enough time, as Cheverus effectively killed the rest of the game off through ball movement in the offensive end.
“We’ll be taking a lot of positives from this game,” Seavey said. “We kept it close for a large portion of the game and caused a lot of turnovers with our pressure. We just have to hit some shots and make sure not to turn the ball back over. We graduated six seniors from the state championship team but we’re competing.”
“In the end, it’s a win and that’s all that matters,” Ashley said. “Credit to the Scarborough team, they played really hard and deserved to be in the game.”
Cheverus (fourth in the latest Western Class A Heal Points standings) is idle for a week then gets another opportunity to make a statement against a city power it hasn’t been able to beat when it hosts unbeaten Deering (second in the standings) Saturday at 1 p.m.
Scarborough (now 2-8 and 12th) plays at Sanford Friday.
Cheverus senior Britni Mikulanecz goes to the hoop on a fast break as Scarborough junior Mo Hannan gives chase.
Scarborough sophomore Taylor LeBorgne drives to the hoop as she’s defended by Cheverus sophomore Brooke Flaherty.
Cheverus sophomore Brooke Flaherty dribbles the ball up the court as Scarborough senior Dani Foster reaches in to try to knock it away.
Cheverus junior Morgan Cahill goes up for two as she’s challenged by Scarborough junior Molly Carter and senior Dani Foster (right).
Scarborough sophomore Courtney Alofs takes the ball to the basket as she slides between Cheverus junior Morgan Cahill (left) and sophomore Mikayla Mayberry.
Scarborough junior Mo Hannan attempts to knock a rebound away from Cheverus sophomore Victoria Nappi as she goes to the ground Saturdy afternoon. The Stags beat the Red Storm, 49-35.
More photos below.