BIDDEFORD—Back in February, the championship dreams of the Scarborough girls’ basketball team were dashed by the Biddeford Tigers.
Monday afternoon, the Tigers had the Red Storm on the ropes again, but Scarborough closed the third period on a 12-3 run, thanks in large part to six straight points from senior Sarah Moody, then held on down the stretch to improve to 7-0 on the season with a 44-39 victory.
“We were motivated to win this one since they knocked us out last year,” Moody said. “(The Tigers) have good players and they always play hard. It’s a rivalry.”
Another test passed
After returning virtually everyone from last year’s semifinalist, the Red Storm were considered co-favorites in Western A with two-time defending state champion Deering. After opening with a 53-33 win at Gorham and a 68-31 home triumph over Massabesic, Scarborough made an enormous statement by rallying from a dozen points down in the second half to edge the Rams, 52-50. Not content to rest on their laurels, the Red Storm then defeated Marshwood (55-29), Westbrook (64-32) and McAuley (58-40).
Biddeford (which lost to Deering in the Western A Final last year) won its first four outings this winter before losing at the Rams.
Last year, Scarborough was able to win at Biddeford and Monday, the Red Storm found a way to do it again.
Senior standout Christy Manning scored twice on layups in the opening minute to give the visitors a quick 4-0 lead, but the Tigers drew even thanks to a jump shot from senior Lauren Rousseau and a Rousseau runner in the lane. Scarborough went back on top on a layup from senior Brittany Ross and made it 8-4 on a Manning putback. After Biddeford got back within a basket on a layup from junior Keila Grigware, Red Storm senior Jenn Colpitts made two free throws. Tigers senior Jen Vadnais cut the deficit to 10-8 with two foul shots of her own, but a Colpitts layup stretched the margin back to four. Grigware then made it a 12-10 game after one period with a layup.
Biddeford got the better of the Red Storm in the second quarter, using its tenacious defense and clutch offensive play to take the lead.
Just 44 seconds in, Grigware forced a 12-12 tie with a layup. After Manning put Scarborough back on top with a layup, Rousseau made a free throw, then hit a jump shot for the Tigers first lead, 15-14. Junior Amethyst Hersom followed with a layup and a 17-14 advantage, but Manning responded with a layup to make it 17-16. Grigware then scored on an up-and-under move and Rousseau made a layup for a 21-16 lead.
With 2:27 to go in the half, Ross banked home a 3-pointer, but Grigware sank a free throw. After Manning pulled Scarborough within 22-21 with a short jumper, Grigware made a layup. In the final minute, Manning was fouled and made one free throw to pull the Red Storm within two, 24-22, at halftime.
Scarborough turned the ball over nine times in the half and shot just 3-of-11 from the charity stripe.
Resembling the champions they hope to be, the Red Storm got the job done in the final 16 minutes.
After Biddeford pushed its lead back to five in the first minute of the third period on a free throw and a jumper from the omnipresent Grigware, Moody came to life.
With 7:09 left in the quarter, she made a layup. With 5:35 left, she hit a bank shot and 40 seconds later, she nailed a jumper to put Scarborough back on top, 28-27.
“We weren’t playing to our potential,” Moody said. “It was a sloppy game. We were down at halftime and knew we had to step it up. Obviously, they were taking away Christy, so I thought someone else should step up. I just came to open spots and let it go.”
“Sarah made it happen,” Seavey added. “That turned momentum and made them play catch-up.”
The visitors then got points from their defense when Manning blocked a shot at one end and Ross made a layup at the other for a 30-27 advantage with 4:03 to play in the third. Biddeford coach Ron Cote called timeout and the Tigers responded, tying the game on a driving layup from Vadnais and a foul shot from Grigware, but with 1:16 left in the quarter, Scarborough senior Heather Carrier came up huge, nailing a 3 to put her team ahead to stay. With 2 seconds left, Colpitts made a free throw and it was 34-30 Red Storm entering the fourth.
Down the stretch, Biddeford did everything it could to rally, but Scarborough answered every challenge.
Just 55 seconds into the fourth, Manning made a layup for a 36-30 lead. After Rousseau answered with a runner, Manning made a free throw to make it 37-32. Senior Aimee Michaud made a foul shot for the hosts, but Manning converted a layup with 4:49 to go for a 39-33 lead. With 3:56 left, Rousseau made two foul shots, but five seconds later, Ross was fouled, swished the first attempt and banking home the second for a 41-35 advantage.
“Brittany always calls bank,” joked Scarborough coach Jim Seavey.
With 3:17 left, Grigware hit a turnaround jumper to pull her team within four. The Tigers would get several chances to draw closer, but couldn’t convert. Then, with 51 seconds to play, Ross made the front end of a one-and-one for a 42-37 lead. With 9 seconds to go, Grigware sank two free throws to make it 42-39 and keep hope alive.
Three seconds later, Ross was fouled, but missed the front end. Rousseau rebounded and called timeout, but Biddeford was whistled for an inbounds violation and the ball went back to Scarborough. The Red Storm inbounded the ball to Colpitts who was fouled. She sank both free throws to ice it and Scarborough held on for the 44-39 victory.
“Good teams find ways to win and that’s what we did today,” said Seavey. “A ‘W’ is a ‘W,’ whether it’s pretty or ugly. Today was pretty ugly, but we found a way to get it done.
“We were 10-for-22 at the foul line. That made it a closer game. I thought in the second half, we rebounded much better than we did in the first half. We gave up putbacks in the first half. In the second, we eliminated that and took the lead.”
The Red Storm were led by 18 points from Manning (who shot just 2-of-10 from the line). Ross added 10 and Moody finished with eight, six of which came during the third quarter surge. Colpitts had five points and Carrier contributed the clutch 3. Scarborough finished with 18 turnovers.
“Seniors step up and find a way to get it done,” said Seavey. “(Biddeford) did a nice job neutralizing Jenn. Christy never shoots like that at the foul line, I hope she never shoots like that again.”
Biddeford (4-2) got 19 points from Grigware and 13 from Rousseau. Vadnais added four, Hersom had two and Michaud finished with one. The Tigers also gave the ball up on 18 occasions.
Big week ahead
Scarborough is now idle until Jan. 5 when it hosts South Portland in a rematch of last year’s quarterfinal (won by the Red Storm). Scarborough then goes to Thornton Academy and Cheverus.
“We have three more tests next week,” Seavey said. “Three tournament teams. We’ll see where we’re at. I’d still like to get more healthy. It would make us that much better in the long run. We’ll keep plugging away.”
“We haven’t played to our potential yet,” Moody added. “Everyone’s good in this league. We have to come to play every single night. We’ll get everyone’s best game.”
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com