Scarborough smothers Deering, makes early statement
SCARBOROUGH—A year after what it perceived to be an unfair and disappointing playoff ouster and three games into a season in which few outside its locker room believed in its ability, the Scarborough boys' basketball team is serving up some revenge.
Friday night, the Red Storm enjoyed one of their biggest wins since joining Class A, leading highly-touted Deering nearly from start to finish en route to a 42-28 triumph.
Scarborough's underrated defense made life miserable for the Rams' run-and-gun attack, the Red Storm made key shots and were incredibly poised down the stretch as they improved to 3-0 on the young season, continuing their surprising trend.
If Scarborough's record is a surprise, than the same must be said for Deering, which dropped to 1-2.
"We'll show up every night," said Red Storm third-year coach Joe Johnson. "People will have to prepare for us. We won't sneak up on anyone. People will have to come out and check out the Red Storm."
New storm brewing
Scarborough has competed in the Southern Maine Activities Association since the 2003-04 campaign and finally managed to make it to the Portland Expo for the quarterfinals last winter, but just hours before facing Cheverus, the Red Storm learned to their chagrin that Stags' standout Indiana Faithfull (who had apparently used up his eligibility) had been cleared to play. Scarborough hadn't prepared for that eventuality and amid the ensuing media circus, the Red Storm were relegated to a veritable afterthought role. They never got in sync and went down to a 49-34 defeat.
If that wasn't bad enough, despite returning some key players, the team got virtually no respect as a top contender coming into this season, but Scarborough is quickly making a name for itself.
The Red Storm opened with a 42-23 victory at Gorham, then rolled past visiting Massabesic, 61-36.
Deering, meanwhile, which was also ousted in the quarterfinals a year ago (by South Portland), was considered one of the top threats to Cheverus this winter thanks to its athletic lineup, but the Rams have yet to hit their stride. In the opener, Deering couldn't hold a 10-point halftime lead and lost, 44-41, to visiting Bonny Eagle. Tuesday, the Rams got in the win column, but barely, by holding off host Sanford, 60-58.
Heading into Friday night's affair, Deering had won the seven previous meetings between the schools by an average of 26 points. Last winter, the Rams beat the Red Storm, 68-46.
This time, Scarborough took care of business.
Deering appeared to get off to a promising start when junior Jon Amabile scored on a leaner 29 seconds in, but the Rams would score just seven more points in the first half.
The Red Storm went up on a 3 from senior Michael Wofford. After a foul shot from sophomore Labson Awboch drew Deering even, Scarborough went ahead to stay behind a 7-0 run as junior Ben Wessel tipped home a missed shot, senior Zach Bean converted a leaner and senior Kyle Kelley drained a 3-ball.
With just over a minute to play in the opening stanza, senior Riko Augustino scored on a putback to make it 10-5, but at the other end, Bean scored on a floater and it was 12-5 Red Storm after one.
Both teams struggled offensively in the second quarter.
Scarborough took a 14-5 lead when Kelley converted a long jump shot 20 seconds in, but the Red Storm wouldn't score again for over four minutes. The Rams couldn't take advantage, only pulling within 14-9 behind a turnaround jumper from Abwoch and two Abwoch free throws.
With 3:09 to go in the first half, Wofford restored order with a 3-pointer. Bean followed with a layup and Wofford added a long jump shot to make it 21-9 Scarborough at the break.
"Scarborough came out and hit shots early and sat on the lead," lamented Deering coach Dan LeGage. "We didn't rebound. They had 10 first half points off offensive rebounds."
The Rams picked up the offensive pace in the third quarter, but the Red Storm were able to match them virtually hoop for hoop.
An Abwoch jumper got the second half scoring started, but Bean answered with a layup. After senior Jamie Ross made a reverse layup for Deering, senior Kevin Philbrick hit a jumper and Wessel scored on a turnaround jumper for a 27-13 lead.
Rams senior Jackson Frey made a leaner, but Scarborough sophomore Dillon Russo answered with back-to-back layups and it was 31-15 with just under a minute to play in the period. The Rams pulled back within 11 on an old-fashioned three-point play from Amabile and a runner from Frey, but Scarborough had a healthy 31-20 lead going to the fourth.
There, Deering never got closer than eight.
A 3-ball from Philbrick made it 34-20 Red Storm 39 seconds in. Scarborough again went cold, not scoring for over five minutes, but again, the Rams couldn't seize the opportunity. After Amabile scored on a putback with 3:46 to go, making it 34-22, a pair of Bean foul shots (after he grabbed an offensive rebound) broke the 5:20 drought and made it 36-22 with 2:01 remaining,
With 1:55 left, junior Nick DiBiase sank a 3 for Deering and 20 seconds later, Frey did the same, making it 36-28, but Philbrick buried two foul shots, Wessel made one of two, senior Peter Moore drained a pair and with 37.7 seconds to play, Wessel made one more, bringing the curtain down on the Red Storm's 42-28 triumph, their first ever over Deering, one of the region's traditional powers.
"It's a good win for our program," Bean said. "It's a great team win. We played good defense and shut down their good players. Our defense is our offense. Everyone just played well. We just kept our heads in it and really focused on protecting the ball, getting to the line and making our free throws. We were confident."
Bean led all scorers with 10 points. Wofford added eight, Philbrick seven, Wessel six, Kelley five, Russo four and Moore two.
"We're happy," Johnson said. "Deering's a solid team. They're very well coached. We changed some things defensively tonight. We played them inside the 3-point line. That's how teams have played them all year. It's a testament to our guys that they were able to adjust. They have kids who can play. We put our best defenders on their best players. We rebounded the ball and made free throws down the stretch. I'm happy with how we played.
"We're keeping it in perspective. These guys have high aspirations. It's a senior-laden team. The guys have been with me three years. They know what I expect. We had a nice run last year. We're acting like we've been there."
Deering was held to its lowest point total in memory.
"It's very frustrating," LeGage said. "Right now, we have a lot of work to do. I think it's finding what's going to work for us and finding the right pieces. We'll keep working at it. Starting 1-2 is not what we planned on doing. Other teams are doing a good job defending our scorers. Offensively, we have opportunities to score. We just have to grind it out. We try to play an up-tempo pace, press and use our guards, but so far other teams have done a good job."
Abwoch, Amabile and Frey each had seven points for the Rams. DiBiase added three and Augustino and Ross both had a pair.
Deering looks to bounce back Tuesday when it hosts Gorham in its 2010 finale.
"We hope to get (back to .500) and keep working over the break," LeGage said. "There's still a long way to go. It's just a matter of continuing to work hard."
Scarborough hopes to keep the good times rolling Tuesday when it hosts Marshwood. The Red Storm play at Noble Thursday in their final game before the holiday break.
"We've come a long way, but we still have a ton of work to do," Bean said. "We'll work hard in practice and keep getting better. The sky's the limit."
Both teams will take part in the Portland High Christmas Tournament at the Portland Expo in the week between Christmas and New Year's.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com