PORTLAND—The high-powered shootout never developed and neither did Scarborough’s hoped-for upset in Saturday evening’s Western Class A boys’ basketball quarterfinal round contest against Bonny Eagle.
Just two weeks after the teams produced a 59-58 overtime thriller, won by the Scots, neither offense ever truly got comfortable at the Portland Exposition Building, but Bonny Eagle, behind its indomitable scorer and playmaker, junior Dustin Cole, had the answers in the second half.
The sixth-ranked Red Storm, coming off its first playoff win in 27 seasons, held a 6-5 lead after one quarter and even enjoyed a 12-7 advantage after a 3 from senior Sam Terry early in the second, but the third-seeded Scots went on a 9-0 run to take the lead for good. Scarborough was very much in the game at the start of the second half, trailing by just four, but after senior and emotional leader Dillon Russo fouled out, Cole set up a pair of teammates for 3s in a one-minute span and Bonny Eagle was up eight heading for the final period. There, Scots sophomore Zach Dubiel knocked down two 3s and the Red Storm couldn’t respond as Bonny Eagle went on to a 48-32 victory.
Cole finished with 22 points and six assists as the Scots improved to 16-3, ended Scarborough’s best Class A season to date at 13-7 and advanced to meet No. 7 Thornton Academy (an upset winner over defending state champion Deering in its quarterfinal) in the semifinal round Thursday at 6 p.m., at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
“We didn’t shoot the ball very well at all,” lamented first-year Red Storm coach Tony DiBiase. “Give credit to Bonny Eagle’s defense, they played very well. We had some good looks in the second half and ran our stuff better, but we just didn’t knock down shots like we can.”
After falling in the preliminary round last year, the Red Storm welcomed DiBiase this winter and opened with a 66-49 home win over Gorham. Scarborough then dropped close decisions at Westbrook (63-59) and Marshwood (77-74). After downing visiting Windham, 68-49, the Red Storm gave highly touted visiting Portland a scare before falling, 63-53. Scarborough closed 2012 with a 60-50 victory at Biddeford, then opened 2013 with a 76-55 home loss to South Portland. Wins at Thornton Academy (81-74), Cheverus (73-51) and at home over Noble (80-61) followed. The Red Storm then lost at defending state champion Deering (54-50) before handling visiting Biddeford (60-47) and Kennebunk (52-26) and host Sanford (70-55) and Massabesic (81-45). A gutwrenching 59-58 overtime home loss to Bonny Eagle followed before Scarborough closed with wins over visiting Thornton Academy (43-40) and at Kennebunk (60-31) to earn a 12-6 record and the No. 6 seed.
Tuesday, the Red Storm won a playoff game for the first time since 1986, beating No. 11 Gorham, 65-46, in the preliminary round, to advance to the Expo.
The Scots, who were ousted on a buzzer beater by Deering in the regional final last season, opened 2012-13 with a 65-53 home victory over Sanford, then downed host Massabesic (68-41) and visiting Thornton Academy (62-29), before losing a tough one at Portland (55-52). After handling visiting Gorham, 78-64, Bonny Eagle stunned host Deering and avenged its playoff loss, 45-44, on a late 3-pointer. The Scots then won at Cheverus (69-48) and at home over Noble (76-39). After being upset at Westbrook, 53-50, Bonny Eagle defeated visiting Marshwood (57-47), visiting Windham (61-47) and host Kennebunk (87-57). A gutwrenching 82-77 double overtime home loss to South Portland followed, but the Scots bounced back to win at Gorham (73-58), at home over Biddeford (74-61), at Scarborough in an overtime thriller, 59-58, at home over Westbrook (61-50) and at Windham (49-35) to wind up 15-3, good for the No. 3 seed in Western A and a bye into the quarterfinals.
The teams had no prior playoff history.
Saturday, they made some, but it wasn’t the game that most expected.
Early on, instead of playing bombs-away from behind the 3-point stripe, Scarborough worked for a good shot.
Cole gave the Scots an early 3-0 lead, not on a 3-ball, but on a driving layup on which he was fouled and added the free throw for an old-fashioned three-point play. The Red Storm’s first points came on a driving layup from senior Brendan Hall. Classmate Dillon Russo gave Scarborough its first lead on a leaner, but Cole answered with a floater. With 4:06 to go in the first quarter, senior Sam Wessel made a leaner and no one would score again the rest of the stanza, leaving the Red Storm in front, 6-5.
Scarborough was further bolstered by Cole receiving his second foul late in the quarter, but he remained on the floor and was unfazed.
Twenty-one seconds into the second period, Bonny Eagle senior Jon Thomas made a layup, but Red Storm senior Sam Terry countered with a layup while being fouled and after getting a second chance at a free throw after a Scots’ lane violation, Terry made the free throw for a three point play. The next time down, Terry knocked down a 3-pointer, Scarborough’s first of the game, and the Red Storm was up, 12-7.
That would prove to be Scarborough’s highwater mark, however.
Cole started a Bonny Eagle run with a layup, taking a pass from sophomore Ben Malloy. Malloy then took a pass from Cole on the fastbreak, made a layup while being fouled, then tied the score with a free throw.
With 4:19 left in the half, Dubiel knocked down his first 3, a shot which bounced around the rim and in, to put the Scots on top for good, 15-12.
Cole added a free throw before the Red Storm ended the 9-0 run on a free throw from senior John Wheeler. After Bonny Eagle senior Clayton Autry made a jumper, Scarborough senior Kevin Manning hit a long 3 and Wheeler added a foul shot to pull the Red Storm within one, 18-17, but Cole countered with a driving layup and the next time down the floor, Cole scored on another driving layup while being fouled and added the free throw. A layup from Wheeler pulled Scarborough back to 23-19 at halftime.
In the first half, there were four old-fashioned three-point plays and just three from behind the arc.
The Red Storm’s hopes took a serious hit early in the third period.
After Cole opened the second half scoring on a pullup jumper, Russo was called for his fourth foul and in frustration, he pounded the floor and was called for a technical foul, which, by rule, tacked on another personal, his fifth, finishing his evening. Cole made both technical free throws to make it an eight-point game.
After Wheeler knocked down a 3, Cole demonstrated that as dangerous as he can be as a shooter, his ability to set up his teammates is unrivaled.
With 3:49 to go in the third, Cole spotted an open Malloy, who buried a 3. A minute later, Cole again eschewed a shot and passed to Autry, who made a 3 of his own and Bonny Eagle was in command, up, 33-22.
Late in the third, Hall made a left-handed layup while being fouled and added a free throw to make it 33-25 heading for the final period.
There, the Scots quickly put it away, courtesy Dubiel, who made back-to-back 3-pointers to push the lead to 14.
A Hall jumper made it 39-27 with 4:59 remaining, but Cole drained a pair of free throws. After Terry hit a 3 to keep hope alive, Malloy made two free throws, Thomas took a pass from Malloy and made a layup and Cole sank two free throws to put it out of reach.
With 1:34 to go, Hall scored on a left-handed leaner off the glass for Scarborough’s final points. Cole added one more free throw to bring down the curtain on Bonny Eagle’s 48-32 triumph.
“It was way different from the first game,” said Scots coach Phil Bourassa. “(Scarborough) missed shots and had one of their better players foul out early. This point of the year, teams are so sound defensively. There are so many great coaches in our league. Everyone preaches defense every day. Bounces came our way a little bit more today.”
Scarborough got nine points apiece from Hall and Terry, seven from Wheeler, three from Manning and two each from Russo and Wessel. Hall and Terry had four rebounds each. Hall had three steals. The Red Storm reached double figures in scoring in just one of the fourth quarters (the second), committed 16 turnovers and made just 4-of-8 free throws.
“We stood around a little bit in the first half, but did better in the second half,” DiBiase said. “Defensively, I thought we did a good job.We were the top two scoring teams in the league. Bonny Eagle averages 65 points and we averaged 64. They had 48 tonight and we had 32. We normally get 32 in a half. We average nine 3s a game, but only made four. I thought we had some good dribble-drives to the basket, but we missed layups. Some of that might be the new atmosphere. A team of our size has to make shots. The other problem is that it’s very hard to press them. Other teams we could make turn the ball over. It’s very hard with those guys.”
For Bonny Eagle, Cole continued to add to his legend with 22 points, 10 from the free throw line, and six assists.
“We’re ready for anything (on Dustin),” Bourassa said. “We’ve seen it all. Nothing can phase the kid. He knows how to get open. He played well enough for us to win tonight, but we need him to play better for us to go on.”
“I don’t think (Cole) controlled the whole game like I’ve seen him do before,”DiBiase said. “We did a nice job on him. They had four or five 3s in the second half to open it. You have to play close attention to him and make him dish, but the other guys made shots.”
Speaking of which, Dubiel made three shots, but they were huge, all from behind the stripe, good for nine points.
“We got some of the best minutes of Zach Dubiel’s life,” Bourassa said. “He hit three 3s and chased (Manning around). He was a difference-maker for us. It was awesome to see.”
Malloy added eight points, Autry had five and Thomas four.
Bonny Eagle only made five 3-pointers and finished with well below its scoring average, but had a 20-14 advantage on the glass (Thomas grabbed six rebounds, Cole five), only committed 10 turnovers against a scrappy defense and made 13-of-17 free throws.
Looking ahead to Wednesday, Bonny Eagle downed visiting Thornton Academy (13-7) in the regular season, 62-29, way back on Dec. 14. The Golden Trojans are clearly a much better team now, however, so the Scots’ road to a third straight regional final is anything but easy.
“We get to go back to the Civic Center,” Bourassa said. “I have a lot of respect for (Thornton Academy coach Bob) Davies. Wednesday night will be a battle. I really look forward to it.”
Scarborough’s season can’t be classified as anything short of an unqualified success. Unheralded and unpedigreed entering the year, the Red Storm won games, entertained fans with its style and made history before finally bowing out.
As this program continues to ascend, this group, especially seniors Hall, Manning, Russo, Terry, Wessel and Wheeler will deservedly earn credit for turning things around.
“I told (the guys) it hurts after this game because you put so much time and effort into it,” DiBiase said. “It’s the same for the coaching staff. It wouldn’t hurt if we didn’t care. At the beginning of the year, people thought we’d be at the lower part of the league. A lot of these guys didn’t play much last year, but I thought we’d be better. I thought we accomplished a lot and played well. Thirteen wins, the first playoff win in a long time.
“Getting here is important, especially for the young players. Them getting a chance to see what Scarborough basketball can be about. You have to get here year after year and play well. It takes steps.”
Clearly, graduation will hit the Red Storm hard, but now that Scarborough knows how to win, look for it be a regular contender.
“Our JV team won 13 teams and we have good, athletic freshmen, so I think we’ll be OK,” said DiBiase. “We’ll keep moving ahead. I hope we build from this experience.”
Scarborough senior Brendan Hall drives on Bonny Eagle senior John Thomas.
Scarborough senior Kevin Manning rises for a shot.
Scarborough senior Dillon Russo is called for a charge on Bonny Eagle sophomore Nick Dubay. It was a rough night for Russo, who fouled out in the third quarter.
Scarborough junior Dan Leclair has a good look at the hoop. The usually sharpshooting Red Storm struggled to knock down shots all evening.
Scarborough junior Matt Hartl and seniors Brendan Hall and Dillon Russo console each other afterr the loss.
Scarborough senior John Wheeler fades away to shoot over Bonny Eagle junior Dustin Cole during the teams’ Western Class A quarterfinal round game Saturday evening. The Red Storm’s best Class A season to date ended with a 48-32 setback.
More photos below.
S- 6 13 6 7- 32
BE- 5 18 10 15- 48
S- Hall 4-1-9, Terry 3-1-9, Wheeler 2-2-7, Manning 1-0-3, Russo 1-0-2, Wessel 1-0-2
BE- Cole 6-10-22, Dubiel 3-0-9, Malloy 2-3-8, Autry 2-0-5, Thomas 2-0-4
S (4) Terry 2, Manning, Wheeler 1
BE (5) Dubiel 3, Autry, Malloy 1
S (14) Hall, Terry 4, Manning Wessel 2, Hartl, Wheeler 1
BE (20) Thomas 6, Cole 5, Dubiel, Wright 3, Autry 2, Malloy 1
S (4) Hall 3, Wessel 1
BE (2) Dubiel, Thomas 1