Scarborough’s girls’ basketball team celebrates its 44-36 home win over defending Class AA South champion Gorham Thursday.
Derek Davis / Portland Press Herald photos.
More photos below.
G- 10 6 9 11- 36
S- 12 8 16 8- 44
G- Holmes 8-6-22, Hamilton 3-0-6, Brent 1-1-3, Walker 1-0-3, Nadeau 1-0-2
S- Freeman 5-2-14, Couture 2-6-11, Conley 3-0-8, Dickinson 1-2-5, Blanche 1-0-3, Fiorillo 1-0-3
G (1) Walker 1
S (8) Conley, Freeman 2, Blanche, Couture, Dickinson, Fiorillo 1
SCARBOROUGH—It’s time to start taking the Scarborough girls’ basketball team seriously and if you don’t believe me, just ask the defending Class AA South champion Gorham Rams.
Thursday evening at Alumni Gymnasium, three weeks after beating the Rams in Gorham, the Red Storm put forth a solid 32-minute effort, trailing for all of 45 seconds, as they beat the region’s gold standard again.
Three-point shooting was the theme in the first period, as Scarborough buried four shots from behind the arc, including a buzzer-beater from junior Julia Freeman which gave the Red Storm a 12-10 lead.
Early in the second period, senior Josie Couture, who spearheaded a stellar defensive on Gorham senior standout Mackenzie Holmes all evening, made a 3-ball to put Scarborough on top to stay and Freeman followed with another. Just before the horn, a putback from sophomore Kayla Conley put the Red Storm up, 20-16.
Scarborough came out strong in the third period and went up by as many as 11 on a Freeman layup, but Holmes helped cut the deficit to 33-25 before another buzzer-beating-3, this one from junior Bella Dickinson, extended the lead to 11 heading for the fourth period.
There, the Rams were able to get as close as six points before clutch free throws from Couture and Freeman brought the curtain down on a 44-36 victory.
Freeman had 14 points, Couture added 11 and the Red Storm improved to 9-1, swept Gorham in a season series for the first time since the teams were in Class B years ago and dropped the Rams to 6-3 in the process.
“I told the kids in the locker room that I don’t get excited when I expect something,” said Scarborough coach Mike Giordano. “I thought if we beat them on their floor, it should be a heck of a game here and we should compete with them and we did that, so I’m really proud of the girls.”
Gorham and Scarborough were the last two teams standing in Class AA South a year ago and this winter, the Rams and Red Storm, along with South Portland, are again setting the pace.
Gorham started by downing visiting Massabesic, 82-55, host Noble, 69-46 and host Deering (49-35) before losing at home to Scarborough (50-36). The Rams got back on track with a 57-26 home victory over Sanford, then they won at Portland (49-43). Saturday, Gorham lost at home to defending Class A champion Greely, 57-51. Monday, the Rams bounced back and downed visiting Cheverus, 55-39.
Scarborough opened with victories over visiting Sanford (41-38), host Falmouth (49-25) and host Bonny Eagle (59-44). After a 55-36 loss at South Portland, the Red Storm won at Gorham, 50-36, then followed that up with a 33-32 home victory over defending Class AA champion Edward Little. Scarborough continued its good times by downing visiting Noble (48-37) and Cheverus (56-35) and Monday, the Red Storm handled host Deering, 68-48.
In the previous meeting Dec. 21, Scarborough got 16 points from Dickinson and 13 from Couture to snap a six-game losing streak in the series.
Thursday, the Red Storm did it again and beat Gorham in Scarborough for the first time since Dec. 10, 2011 (58-51).
It took 2 minutes, 40 seconds for the game’s first points to be scored and Conley did the honors with a 3-pointer.
Gorham rallied, as junior Jacqui Hamilton made a jumper in the lane, then took a pass from Holmes and made a layup for a 4-3 lead.
Junior Madison Blanche countered with a 3 for the hosts and after Holmes scored her first points, on a leaner, freshman Lindsay Fiorillo knocked down a 3-ball from the corner for a 9-6 Red Storm advantage.
The Rams appeared primed to take the lead into the second quarter, as Holmes made a layup after a steal and Holmes took a pass from sophomore Lauren Fotter and made a layup, but as time expired, Freeman knocked down a 3-pointer and Scarborough was up, 12-10, after eight minutes.
“(Last-second shots) obviously get us all energized,” Freeman said. “The whole bench and team gets uplifted and it gives us a bigger will to win.”
The Red Storm continued to make life difficult for Holmes and Company in the second period and extended their lead by two heading into the half.
As was the case in the first period, the second quarter started slowly from a scoring perspective and it took until the 4:24 mark until Hamilton banked home a shot to tie the score.
Couture and Freeman then countered with 3-balls to put the hosts up six.
In the final minute of the half, Holmes made a layup, then scored on a putback, but just before the horn, Conley got a rebound and put it in for a 20-16 halftime advantage.
In the first 16 minutes, Freeman led the Red Storm, who had six 3-pointers, with six points. Holmes had 10 points for the Rams, but they turned the ball over nine times to dig a hole.
“I told the girls if it looked like I was searching for an answer, I was,” said Gorham coach Laughn Berthiaume, alluding to myriad substitutions. “I put in some kids who had the ability to make shots, but we didn’t score. We had a stretch in the second quarter, where we turned the ball over and didn’t get good shots.”
After sluggish starts in the first two quarters, Scarborough started fast in the third period and extended its lead.
Dickinson got things started with two free throws, then Conley fed Freeman for a layup and a 24-16 lead.
After senior Sarah Walker countered with a 3-pointer for the Rams, Couture made two free throws, Couture added two more and Dickinson set up Freeman for a layup and a 30-19 advantage with 4:06 remaining.
“Coach always say to go out at the beginning of the third quarter and score,” Freeman said. “If we get a lead, we can keep it.”
After Holmes made two free throws, she made two more to cut the deficit to seven, but Conley countered with a 3-ball from the corner.
With 1:06 left in the frame, Holmes made a layup after a steal, but as time wound down, Blanche passed to Dickinson in the corner and Dickinson got a 3-pointer to bounce off the rim and in for a 36-25 advantage heading for the final stanza.
“Offensively, those (last-second) baskets are huge and defensively, they break your spirit,” said Giordano. “To our credit, we made them and that gave us a boost.”
In the fourth period, Gorham made an expected run, but couldn’t catch up.
A bank shot from Freeman stretched the lead to 13, but senior Courtney Brent converted an old-fashioned three-point play (layup, foul, free throw) and sophomore Adele Nadeau made a layup to cut Scarborough’s lead to 38-30 with 2:55 left.
Couture drove and answered with a runner, but Holmes banked home a shot with her left hand, then with 1:17 remaining, Holmes made a leaner to cut the deficit to just six, 40-34.
That’s as close as the Rams would get, however, as 35 seconds later, Freeman made two foul shots.
“I know to keep a level head,” Freeman said. “The team is always there to calm me down. It’s a tough position, but free throws help win games.”
Then, after Holmes answered with a pair of foul shots, Couture made two with 14.5 seconds to go and Scarborough prevailed, 44-36.
“I was just trying to tune everything out and focus on making the shots,” Couture said. “I think we have a lot of really good players who like to give it their all every time and we’re willing to work hard on defense and go after it.”
Freeman paced the Red Storm with 14 points. She also grabbed four rebounds.
Couture had 11 points and three steals and her biggest contribution was on the defensive end.
“I want to win so badly as a senior,” said Couture. “I know this is the last time I’ll play basketball and it makes me want it a lot.”
Conley added eight points (to go with eight rebounds and a pair of steals), Dickinson had five (as well as four assists) and Blanche (six boards, four assists) and Fiorillo finished with three apiece.
“We don’t play a lot of kids, but night-in, night-out, it’s somebody different (contributing),” Giordano said.
Scarborough had a 30-27 edge on the glass, only turned the ball over 14 times and made 10 of 12 free throws.
Gorham got 22 points and 11 rebounds from Holmes, but the rest of the squad managed just 14 points.
“Stopping Mackenzie was our number one priority,” Couture said. “We didn’t have just one person on her. Everyone else helped out too. I like to think I did a pretty good job.”
“We really made Mackenzie work for everything,” Giordano said. “She’s a great player, but we dogged her hard. To her credit, she earned every single point. I thought our defensive plan was really good. It was a team effort. Everyone had to be aware of where their girl was and where Mackenzie was.”
Hamilton contributed six points, Brent and Walker had three apiece and Nadeau finished with two.
The Rams committed 17 turnovers and hit 7 of 8 free throws.
“Scarborough’s a very difficult team to play against,” Berthiaume said. “They’re very well-coached. They have five players who are very skilled. They share the ball well, knock down open 3s at a good percentage and shoot free throws well, so if you get behind on them, they’re in control and you have to take some chances. Those chances you take will hurt you more often than against some other teams.
“We needed to push the ball, no question. We’re a team that should be able to get out and run. The message I gave the girls was that I wasn’t going to pat them on the back and tell them they did a good job when I thought we didn’t bring our best effort, but at the same time, we’re all in it together. We have to work and figure it out.”
The remainder of the regular season will see Gorham, Scarborough and South Portland jockey for the top spot in Class AA South.
The Rams (third in the Heal Points standings at press time) are back in action Saturday at Lewiston, then they return home for a key showdown versus Oxford Hills Tuesday.
“I don’t think we blow the whole thing up, but I’m definitely searching the combination that will play tough together, move the ball and complement Mackenzie at the same time,” said Berthiaume. “We’re halfway through the season. We’re learning what we do well and what we’re weak at. We need to build on things we do well. We’re trying to put kids where their strengths are. We’re trying to figure it out.”
The Red Storm (second behind South Portland in AA South) next play Saturday at Windham. A trip to Biddeford looms Tuesday.
“I think we just have to keep working and execute the way we can,” Freeman said. “We’re a great team when we all work together.”
“Whoever wins our region will have a tough time doing it,” Giordano said. “Whoever survives will have had a heck of a year.”
Scarborough junior Bella Dickinson shoots a 3-pointer over Gorham junior Jacqui Hamilton.
Gorham senior Mackenzie Holmes goes up for two of her game-high 22 points over Scarborough senior Josie Couture as junior Madison Blanche also defends.
Gorham senior Brittany Desjardin knocks the ball away from Scarborough senior Josie Couture.
Scarborough junior Madison Blanche goes up for a shot as Gorham sophomore Adele Nadeau, left, and freshman Anna Nelson defend.