No titles, but a hoops season to remember-Southern edition

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Nick Fiorillo helped Scarborough’s boys’ basketball team to its first state final.

South Portland’s girls’ basketball team, led in part by senior Meghan Graff, was almost unbeatable during the regular season.

Cape Elizabeth, paced by standout Finn Bowe, got to the Class B South Final.

The 2017-18 basketball season will be remembered for producing drama from early December right into March.

While no local schools took home a Gold Ball this winter, it was still a season to hail.

South Portland’s girls’ team entered the year as the favorite in Class AA South after successive losses to Gorham in the regional final and with a exception of a one-point slip-up at eventual state champion Edward Little, the Red Riots excelled. Scarborough wasn’t far off South Portland’s pace, closing the regular season on a 13-game win streak. Cape Elizabeth just missed qualifying for the Class B South tournament.

The Red Riots and Red Storm each easily passed their quarterfinal round tests, but South Portland was stunned by a familiar nemesis, Gorham, in the semifinals, after digging an early 16-0 hole. Scarborough managed to down Bonny Eagle in its semifinal, but the Red Storm were doomed by another big Gorham run in a regional final setback.

On the boys’ side, South Portland sought its third straight Class AA South title, but injuries eventually did a number on the Red Riots, opening the door for Scarborough to earn the top seed in the region for the first time. Cape Elizabeth, meanwhile, was its usual strong self in Class B South, overcoming a January swoon to earn the second seed in the region.

The Capers defeated Mountain Valley in the quarterfinals and Yarmouth in the semifinals, but despite holding a second half lead, they couldn’t dispatch defending regional champion Wells in the Class B South Final and their season came to an end. South Portland got past Massabesic in the quarterfinals and avenged a regular season loss with a win over Thornton Academy in the semifinals. That allowed the Red Riots to square off with Scarborough in the regional final after the Red Storm defeated Noble and Bonny Eagle to reach that round for the first time in program history. Scarborough then made even more history, beating South Portland to play for the Gold Ball for the first time. Despite a valiant effort, the Red Storm fell just short, losing to Edward Little, 41-36.

Here’s one last look at the best memories from this basketball season:

Michael’s Top Five Stories

5) Short-handed South Portland boys make a run

South Portland appeared on track for another run at a Gold Ball until the injuries started to pile up. The biggest maladies were suffered by senior Liam Coyne, who missed the final month of the season, and senior spark plug Riley Hasson, who also had to sit out the tournament. The Red Riots still managed to win a pair of regional playoff games before meeting their match in Scarborough in the Class AA South Final.

4) Cape boys fall one win short of states

Cape Elizabeth’s boys’ team didn’t win easily this winter, but the Capers did win, as senior standout Finn Bowe led the way and his supporting cast came along nicely. Cape Elizabeth was just 9-7 after a 2-6 stretch, but the Capers won their final two regular season games, then had their way with Mountain Valley and Yarmouth to reach the Class B South Final. The Capers appeared to have Wells on the ropes after an Andrew Hartel dunk in the third period, but the Warriors, the defending regional champions, finished strong and Cape Elizabeth fell just five points short, 40-35.

3) Scarborough girls reach regional final

The Scarborough girls felt they were a top threat to South Portland this winter and indeed, the Red Storm managed to advance even deeper in the tournament than the Red Riots, but ultimately, both squads were vanquished by the same foe. Scarborough won its first two games, lost three in a row and after giving Coach Mike Giordano his 250th career victory, the Red Storm caught fire, winning their final 13 games to finish second in Class AA South. Scarborough’s streak eventually reached 15 in a row after beating Sanford in the quarterfinals and Bonny Eagle in the semifinals. An expected showdown with South Portland in the regional final never came to fruition, however, as Gorham upset the Red Riots. The Red Storm suffered the same fate, as the two-time defending state champion Rams pulled away by halftime and prevailed, 47-28, ending Scarborough’s season at 17-4.

2) South Portland girls excel for 19 games

The stage was set this winter for South Portland’s girls’ basketball team to win its first state championship in over three decades. Two-time champion Gorham appeared to have been weakened by graduation and the Red Riots were talented and senior-laden. South Portland won its first 14 games, most by decisive margins, and even after falling by a point at eventual champion Edward Little, the Red Riots were in good shape. They even beat Gorham late in the season. South Portland was the top seed in Class AA South and had its way with Noble in the quarterfinals. Then came a meeting with Gorham in the semifinals and before the Red Riots knew what hit them, they were down 16-0 and they never recovered, losing, 53-42, as a promising campaign ended in agony at 18-2.

1) Scarborough’s history boys come so close

Prior to this winter, Scarborough’s boys’ team had never taken part in a regional final, not to mention a state game. That all changed as the Red Storm caught fire and turned heads with their dazzling play. Scarborough first hinted at greatness Jan. 20, when it beat two-time defending Class AA champion Portland in a thriller. The Red Storm built on that and wound up first in AA South with a 14-4 mark. Scarborough earned the top seed for the tournament for the first time and after beating Noble and Bonny Eagle, punched its ticket to the regional final. There, the Red Storm tasted a satisfying victory over two-time defending Class AA South champion South Portland, a win that was especially sweet for Coach Phil Conley, the former Red Riots’ head man. Scarborough then took the floor with a Gold Ball on the line for the first time and while it battled Edward Little for 32 minutes, it just couldn’t generate enough offense and lost, 41-36. The Red Storm will be back.

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.