Scarborough boys stumble against Windham
PORTLAND—The Portland Exposition Building hasn't been kind to the Scarborough boys' basketball team over the years and Saturday night, some 10 months after a poor shooting performance spelled defeat in the Western Class A tournament, the Red Storm struggled again against Windham in the penultimate act of the Red Claws Christmas Tournament.
In a countable contest, Scarborough was sluggish early and trailed, 23-12, after one quarter. The Red Storm got within nine points at halftime and slowly crept within three in the third period, but the Eagles, behind strong inside and outside play, met the challenge, going on a 12-0 run to take a 13-point advantage to the final stanza. There, Scarborough didn't quit and even drew within four with just over two minutes to go, but Windham held on for the 72-63 victory.
The Red Storm was led by 20 points and 14 rebounds from promising junior Milani Hicks, but it wasn't enough as it fell to 4-3 on the season as the Eagles improved to 4-3 with their fourth successive triumph.
"Typical, we fell too far behind and used up all our energy to catch up," lamented Scarborough coach Tony DiBiase. "We finally showed energy in the fourth period. We didn't show any in the first three. I don't have any idea why not. It's been trending that way for a couple weeks. We can't play well without energy. If we don't play with energy, we won't beat anybody. We don't have any size. We have to play up and down. If we don't play fast, we struggle."
Living long range
Scarborough graduated most of last year's team, which won a tournament game for the first time since 1986 and reached the Western A quarterfinals before making just four 3-pointers in a 48-32 loss to Bonny Eagle.
The Red Storm has remained competitive this winter, however, opening with wins over visiting Biddeford (86-32), host Westbrook (64-50) and visiting Windham (84-82, in overtime), before losing at home to Noble (74-72, in overtime) and after holding on for a 75-70 win at Massabesic, falling at Gorham (59-45).
Windham, meanwhile, lost its first three games: 65-62 to visiting Cheverus, 67-61 to visiting Marshwood and 84-82 at Scarborough, in OT. The Eagles then defeated host Sanford (63-59), visiting Gorham (61-40) and visiting Biddeford (61-44).
Last year, the Red Storm won, 68-49, over visiting Windham. The Eagles last beat Scarborough, 71-59, Jan. 25, 2010.
Saturday, the Red Storm came to the Expo having won just once there in seven previous countable games (58-45 over Portland, Jan. 28, 2010).
That trend continued as Windham ended a string of three straight losses to Scarborough.
The Eagles came out on fire, as senior Spencer Hodge made a 3 and after Hicks made two free throws, junior Kevin Weisser made another 3. The Red Storm got a pullup jumper from junior Nate Wessel, but junior Greg Gledhill answered with a layup and an 8-4 lead.
Wessel made another jumper for Scarborough, but Hodge sank a pair of free throws and junior Troy Davis knocked down a 3. Junior Sam Freeman got a point back at the foul line, but junior Markus D'Andrea hit a baseline jumper and D'Andrea set up senior C.J. Berthiaume for a layup and a 17-7 lead.
Freeman countered with a 3, but Hodge made a layup after a steal, then hit two foul shots. Hicks made a runner in the lane, but junior Kevin Weisser scored on a putback to make it 23-12 after one quarter.
Scarborough brought more energy to start the second, as Wessel drove to the hoop and was fouled (he missed both free throws) and senior Matt Hartl drove for a layup.
Windham got a putback from junior Jack Ciampino, but senior Dan LeClair made a layup, then sank a 3 to cut the deficit to 25-19.
After the Eagles got a putback from sophomore Kyle Kilfoil, Wessel scored on a leaner. Weisser made two foul shots, but Hicks drove for a layup and with 2:30 to go in the half, Hicks made a free throw pull the Red Storm within five, 29-24.
Windham closed the half strong, however, getting a jumper after a steal from Hodge and a putback from Giampino as time wound down to make it 33-24.
The Eagles only turned the ball over three times in the first half and had a 21-18 rebounding advantage (nine coming on the offensive glass). Hodge led all scorers with 11 points. Hicks' seven points and seven rebounds led Scarborough.
In the third, the Red Storm made a run, but Windham countered with an even bigger one to seize control.
A floater from Davis started the frame. Hicks converted an old-fashioned three-point play (runner, foul, free throw), but Hodge answered with a 3.
LeClair then made a free throw, Hicks hit two, Hartl made a driving layup and after a LeClair steal, Hartl made another layup to cut the deficit to 38-34, forcing Windham coach Kevin Millington to call timeout.
It worked as two D'Andrea free throws ended the 7-0 surge. LeClair then sank a 3 to pull Scarborough within one possession, 40-37, but it would draw no closer.
The Eagles began their pivotal surge as D'Andrea knocked down a 3. He then hit another from even deeper and on the possession, D'Andrea set up Gledhill for a short bank shot.
The Red Storm was then called for a technical foul and Weisser made both free throws. A Gledhill layup just inside the final minute capped the 12-0 burst. Freeman made a layup with 10.1 seconds to go in the third, but that only pulled Scarborough within 13, 52-39.
Windham then finished things off in the fourth, although the Red Storm, to its credit, never quit.
After Hicks made a free throw, Gledhill sent a nice skip pass from one end of the floor to the opposite where Davis made the catch, went up and sank a 3. Davis then returned the favor, passing to Gledhill for a layup and a 57-40 advantage.
Hodge added a free throw before LeClair scored on a putback. Gledhill then converted a three-point play for a 61-42 lead.
Scarborough attempted one final rally, as Hicks scored on a driving layup, Hicks made two free throws and Hartl sank a 3, but D'Andrea made a foul shot. Hartl then fed Wessel for a layup, but Weisser made the second of two free throws for a 63-51 advantage with just 3:24 remaining.
Undaunted, the Red Storm got a 3 from Hartl and an old-fashioned three-point play from Hicks to pull within six, 63-57. LeClair then fed Freeman for a layup and suddenly the score was 63-59 with 2:41 still to play.
The Eagles answered, however, as junior Ryan Gorman threaded a pass just past the hands of Freeman to Berthiaume, who made a layup to restore the six-point lead.
Wessel countered with two foul shots and Scarborough got the ball back, but Hicks was off on a 3 which could have made things very interesting. At the other end, D'Andrea sent a no-look pass to Gorman, who made a layup and after a Red Storm turnover, Weisser took a pass from Davis and made a layup for a 69-61 lead with just 1:01 showing.
Wessel tried to spark one final surge with a putback, but with 35.2 seconds to go, D'Andrea set up Gorman for a layup which essentially iced it.
After Hicks missed a 3, Weisser was fouled and sank the second of his two attempts and that brought down the curtain on the Eagles' 72-63 victory.
"Windham's a very good club," said DiBiase. "They handle the ball well. They're almost a mirror of us, but they're bigger. We beat them the first time, but that was more up and down. We had more energy at home. We didn't play well here last year and for the first half tonight we didn't play well either. After the first period we did OK defensively. We just couldn't get down the floor and knock down shots."
The Eagles were paced by 15 points from Hodge and 13 points, 13 rebounds and two blocked shots from Weisser. D'Andrea and Gledhill both had 11 points, Davis added eight, Berthiaume (who also had seven boards), Giampino and Gorman all had four and Kilfoil had two.
Windham turned the ball over a dozen times and made 15 of 20 foul shots.
Scarborough was paced by Hicks' 20 points and 14 rebounds. Wessel added 14 points.
"I thought Milani played great tonight," said DiBiase. "He's really come along. Nate Wessel battled hard. He's just 5-10, playing against kids who are 6-3."
Hartl had 12 points and six rebounds, while LeClair added nine points and Freeman had eight.
The Red Storm had a 36-34 rebounding advantage, turned the ball over just 12 times and made 14 of 23 free throws.
In the mix
Both Windham and Scarborough have little time off before continuing their quests to make the playoffs.
The Eagles (now fifth in the Western Class A Heal Points standings) are at Westbrook Friday.
The Red Storm (now eighth) is at Biddeford Monday, then hosts Thornton Academy Friday.
"We have to figure it out," DiBiase said. "We're not a young team. We have three juniors starting, but it's an inexperienced team. This is our seventh game. Monday will be our eighth and Friday will be our ninth. That's half of our schedule. There's no practice time. That hasn't helped this team at all. We're coaching and teaching as we go along.
"We handled Biddeford pretty easily last time, but we can't them lightly. Obviously, our goal is to get back here (for the quarterfinals). I think we have enough to be competitive and win big games down the stretch. It's about us, not wins and losses. It's how we play. If we play well, we can give most teams a battle."