Scarborough outlasts Portland in late-season showdown

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Scarborough senior Sophie Glidden grabs the ball in front of Portland freshman Amanda Kabantu during the Red Storm’s 42-35 victory Friday.

Mike Strout photos.

More photos below.

BOX SCORE

Portland 42 Scarborough 35

S- 15 12 2 13- 42
P- 12 3 11 9- 35

S- Freeman 6-2-18, Glidden 4-7-16, Dickinson 1-1-4, Blanche 1-0-2, Jefferds 0-2-2

P- D. Kabantu 5-0-11, Eubanks 3-1-8, Motema 3-0-6, Walsh 2-1-5, A. Kabantu  1-1-3, Brown 1-0-2

3-pointers:
S (6) Freeman 4, Dickinson, Glidden 1
P (2) Eubanks, D. Kabantu 1

Turnovers:
S- 18
P- 7

Free throws
S: 12-15
P: 3-9

PORTLAND—Scarborough’s girls’ basketball team has made a habit out of extricating itself from tough predicaments this winter.

The Red Storm started the season 2-3, but haven’t lost since and Friday evening at the Portland Exposition Building, Scarborough didn’t score a point for 10 minutes and let a 14-point lead slip away against host Portland, but when the game had to be won, the Red Storm once again had what it took.

The Bulldogs took a quick 6-0 lead, but Scarborough scored 27 of the final 36 points of the first half, thanks to an 18-point effort from sophomore Julia Freeman, to take a seemingly safe 27-15 lead to the second half.

There, senior Sophie Glidden scored 19 seconds in to push the advantage to 14, but by the time the Red Storm scored again, more than a quarter had elapsed and the lead had disappeared.

With Portland holding all the momentum, Scarborough rose off the deck and turned to Glidden, who converted a three-point play, then sank a 3-pointer to put the Red Storm ahead to stay.

Scarborough managed to hold on from there and went on to a 42-35 victory.

Freeman (18 points, 12 rebounds) and Glidden (16 points, 10 rebounds) both produced double-doubles to help the Red Storm extend their win streak to 11 games, improve to 13-3 and in the process, drop the Bulldogs to 11-5.

“We hadn’t played a team like that all season,” said Glidden. “Once we got used to seeing how they played, we handled it well.”

Two teams to watch

Portland and Scarborough both have what it takes to turn heads in February.

The Bulldogs opened with a 39-30 win at Thornton Academy, then downed visiting Windham, 49-40. After falling, 57-38, at Oxford Hills, Portland responded with a 48-32 home win over Massabesic. After a 48-43 home loss to rival Deering, the Bulldogs took the next step with a last-second, 43-41 victory at two-time defending Class AA champion Gorham, then rattled off wins over visiting Edward Little (57-42) and host Sanford (48-36). After falling just short at home against South Portland (47-38), Portland defeated visiting Lewiston (49-26) and Maine Girls’ Academy (42-39) and won at Cheverus (47-37) before being upset at Bangor (44-41). After a 56-49 home victory over Bonny Eagle Tuesday, the Bulldogs handled host Noble Thursday, 57-39.

The Red Storm started with wins at Sanford (63-23) and at home over Falmouth (46-33) before stumbling at home to Bonny Eagle (45-34) and South Portland (40-32) and at Gorham (67-53). The Red Storm then prevailed at Edward Little, 41-18, Noble, 57-43, and Cheverus, 50-48, at home over Deering (53-37) and Biddeford (41-28), at Massabesic, 52-27, at home over Windham (64-45) and Sanford (58-30), at Kennebunk (53-30) and at home over Lewiston (58-49).

Last year, Scarborough won, 53-35, at the Expo to take an 11-3 all-time lead in the series (see sidebar, below, for previous results).

Friday, in the nightcap of a doubleheader, the Bulldogs looked to beat Scarborough for the first time since Feb. 3, 2011 (50-43 at home), but the Red Storm made it seven straight in the series.

Portland started fast, as sophomore Gemima Motema set the tone with a layup after a steal a minute in. Senior Shayla Eubanks added a baseline jumper and freshman Davina Kabantu drove for a layup to make it 6-0, but after Scarborough coach Mike Giordano called timeout, Scarborough roared to life.

After turning the ball over on their first three possessions, the Red Storm got the offense going, as Freeman banked in a shot while being fouled and added the free throw for the old-fashioned three-point play. Glidden added a pair of foul shots and after a jumper from Portland freshman Amanda Kabantu, Freeman tied the score with a 3-pointer and sophomore Bella Dickinson put Scarborough on top with a 3-ball before Glidden added two foul shots for a 13-8 lead.

“I tried to get them to relax,” Giordano said. “It was just a basketball game. We have a senior and a junior, but we also have three sophomores. They got caught up in the moment.” 

A jumper from Eubanks ended the 13-2 run, but junior Emily Jefferds countered with two fee throws for Scarborough. As time was winding down, Davina Kabantu raced coast-to-coast for a layup and Portland was down three, 15-12, after one quarter.

The Red Storm opened up a seemingly comfortable lead in the second period.

A free throw from Freeman opened the frame, then on successive trips, sophomore Madison Blanche set up Freeman for 3s, making it 22-12 Scarborough.

“Coming into it, I was actually a little afraid,” Freeman said. “I remember last year that my shot was off. I worked a lot on it in warmups. Once I got one shot off, I was more confident.” 

Portland answered with a free throw from Amanda Kabantu and a layup after a steal from Davina Kabantu, but Freeman made a layup, then capped her stellar first half with a 3-pointer to give the Red Storm a 27-15 halftime advantage.

In the first 16 minutes, Freeman led all scorers and outscored the Bulldogs with 18 points.

“Julia carried us in the first half,” Giordano said. “I thought she rebounded really well for her size.”

Scarborough looked to pull away in the third period, but Portland roared back to make things very interesting.

Nineteen seconds into the second half, Glidden banked home a runner, but the Red Storm wouldn’t score again for 10 minutes.

Eubanks started the rally with a 3-pointer. After Motema hit a runner, junior Reagan Brown banked home a shot and junior Nettie Walsh made successive jumpers to pull the Bulldogs within three, 29-26, after three periods.

“Nettie stepped up and made some big baskets,” said Portland coach Gerry Corcoran. “She’s suffering from shin splints, but she did a tremendous job.”

Portland forced seven turnovers in the frame, then tied the score early in the fourth quarter before Scarborough regained control.

Just 10 seconds into the final stanza, Davina Kabantu hit a 3-pointer and the Bulldogs had completed their comeback, but they never managed to go ahead and eventually, the Red Storm settled down.

After Portland missed on multiple chances to take the lead, Scarborough returned to its strength, Glidden, who made a layup while being fouled, then hit the free throw to complete the three-point play for a 32-29 advantage with 5:39 to go.

“That was a designed play and I wanted the ball,” Glidden said. “In the past, we haven’t run designed plays that well in games, but we got baskets on almost every set play in this game.”

“We look to Sophie a lot because she’s a key for us,” Freeman said. “She can make anything against anyone. Getting the ball back to Sophie was really important.”

“You expect your senior captain to do that,” Giordano added. “We ran some stuff for her and she finished. She wanted the ball. She’s worked hard for those moments and she really shined tonight.”

The Red Storm ended a 10:02 drought and a 14-0 run.

The Bulldogs answered on a leaner from Motema, which rattled in, but with 5:10 on the clock, Glidden took an inbounds pass from Blanche, then sank a 3 for a 35-31 lead.

Motema got a point back at the line, but with 4:21 to go, Freeman set up Glidden for a layup.

Thirteen seconds later, Davina Kabantu hit a jumper to make it a one-score game, but Blanche scored her lone points with 3:37 remaining, a runner which rolled through the net.

After Dickinson and Eubanks traded free throws, Portland had multiple chances to draw closer, but Eubanks, Davina Kabantu and Motema all missed 3-pointers.

With 20.5 seconds on the clock, Glidden hit two free throws and that brought the curtain down on Scarborough’s 42-35 victory.

“It was really tough against a scrappy team,” Freeman said. “They came after us. We had to push the ball, but they were denying it. We finally started to click and we locked down on defense and we did better.” 

“We knew Portland would come back and we struggled scoring,” Giordano said. “You usually don’t survive that. It’s usually fatal. We got the momentum back and finished it on the defensive end. Nobody pressures like they do. We didn’t turn it over a lot, so I’m pleased with how we handled it.”

Freeman led all scorers with 18 points and also had 12 rebounds.

Glidden also excelled with 16 points, 10 boards and four blocked shots.

“Sophie is just a player-and-a-half,” Corcoran said. “She’s awesome. She’s tough on both ends. She’s methodical and she uses her body incredibly well. She knows where to be at the right time.” 

Dickinson added four points, while Blanche (four rebounds, four assists) and Jefferds had two apiece.

Scarborough out-rebounded Portland, 43-39, overcame 18 turnovers and hit 12 of 15 free throws.

The Bulldogs were paced by 11 points from Davina Kabantu. Eubanks added eight points, seven rebounds and two blocks. Motema had six points and four steals, Walsh finished with five points, Amanda Kabantu had three and Brown two.

Portland only made 3 of 9 free throws and turned the ball over seven times.

“I have to keep reminding myself that these are 15-, 16-, 17-year-old girls,” Corcoran said. “We went up 6-0, then we stopped playing. Scarborough’s awesome. They’re fun to watch and disciplined. They move like one piece of machinery with two shooters who can catch and knock down shots. We need other players to step up. We can’t just depend on a couple shooters.”

Almost time

Each team has two games left as they look to solidify their playoff standing.

Portland (second in the Class AA North Heal Points standings at press time) travels to South Portland for a big test Tuesday, then closes at Deering Thursday.

“We’re going to take a break and let the girls heal, then get ready for South Portland Tuesday,” Corcoran said. “That’s a huge game for us.”

Scarborough (second behind South Portland in  AA South) plays at Thornton Academy Tuesday and hosts Maine Girls’ Academy in the finale Thursday.

“We can always improve on defense and if we do that, it will help our offense,” Freeman said.

“At the beginning of the season when we were 2-3, it wasn’t feeling good,” Glidden said. “We got sick of losing and we set our goal on winning out. I’m very confident. I think we can win our last two games. It’ll be an interesting tournament. Six teams could win on any given day.”

“We have good things going,” Giordano added. “I’m really pleased. We’ve gotten better. This was a huge test for us and we passed. Back at 2-3, we still controlled our destiny and we’re still in that position. If we win out, we’ll be 2, or 3 at the worst.”

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

Portland junior Reagan Brown shoots over Scarborough junior Josie Couture.

Scarborough sophomore Madison Blanches drives on Portland freshman Amanda Kabantu.

Scarborough sophomore Julia Freeman goes up for a layup as Portland freshman Davina Kabantu defends. Freeman led all scorers with 18 points.

Portland senior Shayla Eubanks is defended by Scarborough junior Josie Couture.

Scarborough sophomore Madison Blanche defends Portland sophomore Gemima Motema.

Scarborough senior Sophie Glidden goes up for a shot between Portland senior Shayla Eubanks, left, and freshman Amanda Kabantu.

Previous Portland-Scarborough results

2016-17
Scarborough 53 @ Portland 35

2015-16
@ Scarborough 55 Portland 33 

2014-15
Scarborough 42 @ Portland 33 

2013-14
@ Scarborough 61 Portland 59 

2012-13
Scarborough 57 @ Portland 44

2011-12
@ Scarborough 50 Portland 38

2010-11
@ Portland 50 Scarborough 43

2009-10
@ Scarborough 56 Portland 43

2008-09
Scarborough 64 @ Portland 46

2007-08
@ Scarborough 67 Portland 46

2006-07
@ Scarborough 54 Portland 26

2005-06
Scarborough 41 @ Portland 39

2004-05
@ Portland 54 Scarborough 32

2003-04
Portland 65 @ Scarborough 39

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