Gorham juniors Mackenzie Holmes (5) and Brittany Desjardin (11) exult with their teammates after beating Scarborough, 47-28, in Friday’s Class AA South Final. The Rams will meet Edward Little in the state final, while the Red Storm’s season ended at 17-4.
Joe Carpine / 365digitalphotography.com photos.
More photos below.
G- 21 11 8 7- 47
S- 8 5 8 7- 28
G- Nadeau 4-1-12, Desjardin 3-1-8, Holmes 2-4-8, Michaud 3-0-7, Brent 1-1-4, Rowe 2-0-4, Hamilton 1-1-3, Biamby 0-1-1
S- Glidden 3-2-9, Dickinson 3-0-7, Freeman 1-0-3, Jefferds 1-1-3, Blanche 0-2-2, Couture 1-0-2, Kelley 0-2-2
G (6) Nadeau 3, Brent, Desjardin, Michaud 1
S (3) Dickinson, Freeman, Glidden 1
PORTLAND—Scarborough’s girls’ basketball team got Gorham junior standout Mackenzie Holmes into foul trouble and held her to eight points in the teams’ Class AA South Final Friday afternoon at the Cross Insurance Arena.
And the Red Storm still lost by 19.
Because the surging Rams are much more than Holmes and are on a magical run that has them one victory from a third consecutive state title.
After taking leads of 15-0 in a quarterfinal round victory at Maine Girls’ Academy and 16-0 in a semifinal round upset win over South Portland, fifth-ranked Gorham didn’t follow suit against No. 2 Scarborough, at least not right away.
The Red Storm got early 3-pointers from senior standout Sophie Glidden and sophomore Bella Dickinson and were up, 8-6, midway through the first quarter.
Four minutes later, the Rams were ahead by 13 and the competitive phase of the contest was essentially over.
Gorham erupted for 21 straight points and went on a 25-2 run spanning the first and second quarters which saw Scarborough go without a point for 9 minutes, 5 seconds and by halftime, the Rams were firmly in control, 32-13, even though Holmes had only four points.
Junior Brittany Desjardin and freshmen Olivia Michaud and Adele Nadeau all hit big shots to help Gorham run away and hide and the Red Storm simply didn’t have enough answers for that many weapons.
Holmes picked up her third foul early in the third quarter, but Scarborough couldn’t take advantage and by the end of the frame, the margin was still 19 points, 40-21.
Down the stretch, the Rams didn’t let the Red Storm get closer than 17 points and they closed out their 47-28 victory.
Nadeau led all scorers with 12 points, Desjardin and Holmes each added eight and Michaud tallied seven as Gorham won its fifth game in a row, improved to 14-7, snapped Scarborough’s win streak at 15 games, ended the Red Storm’s season at 17-4 and advanced to its third straight Class AA Final, where it will battle Edward Little (14-7) next Friday at 6 p.m., at the Cross Insurance Arena.
“They’re all special in their own way, but I won’t lie, this one is pretty sweet,” said Rams coach Laughn Berthiaume. “We’re not stopping here. We’re looking at the next one.”
Something had to give Friday.
Scarborough came into the day on a 15-game win streak, while Gorham hadn’t lost in three weeks and has clearly saved its best basketball for when it mattered most.
The Red Storm opened the season with wins over Sanford and Falmouth, then lost to Bonny Eagle, South Portland and Gorham before turning things around and hitting their stride to finish the year 15-3, good for the No. 2 seed in Class AA South (see sidebar, below, for links to previous stories).
After handling visiting No. 7 Sanford, 53-36, in the quarterfinals, Scarborough avenged a loss and held off No. 3 Bonny Eagle, 48-40, in Tuesday’s semifinal round.
The Rams began the season with five straight victories to extend their three-year streak to 47, but a four-game skid followed and Gorham dropped seven of 11 games in all before closing with victories over Windham and Thornton Academy to go 11-7 and place fifth in the region.
The Rams hinted that a deep run was in store when they blitzed host No. 4 Maine Girls’ Academy, 63-37, in the quarterfinal round. Tuesday, Gorham staggered top-ranked South Portland, 53-42.
“We were sick of losing,” said Holmes, who didn’t lose a single game as a freshman or sophomore. “Girls had to fill new roles. It wasn’t easy at first. There were some growing pains, but it’s all worked out.”
“I thought the development of the things we were struggling with was coming,” said Berthiaume. “It wasn’t an overnight fix. The guards got stronger. Mackenzie and (senior) Michelle (Rowe) and the kids who had been there before were very positive through the whole process. That got us in the right direction.”
“I watched (Gorham) against South Portland (late in the regular season) and they were down 20 and they got it back to 10 and gained some confidence and from that point on, they’ve been a different team,” said Scarborough coach Mike Giordano.
In the regular season meeting Dec. 22, the Rams got 28 points and 10 rebounds from Holmes to win, 66-53, at Scarborough, which was paced by 21 points from Glidden.
The teams had met twice previously in the tournament with Gorham taking both: 43-35 in the 1998 Western B quarterfinals and 62-53 in the 1999 Western B Final.
Friday, the Red Storm had a solid four minutes, then the bottom fell out.
Unlike the quarterfinals and semifinals, the Rams didn’t roar out of the gate, but they went on a patented run soon enough.
A 3 from Glidden 13 seconds in put Scarborough on top and after Rowe drove for a layup for Gorham’s first points, a 3 from Dickinson made it 6-2 Scarborough.
The rest of the frame belonged to the Rams, who closed the quarter on a 19-2 surge.
Nadeau started the uprising with a baseline jumper that rattled in and Holmes tied the score with a leaner for her first points.
With 4 minutes to go in the period, Dickinson hit a jumper, but the Red Storm wouldn’t score again for a long, long time.
Twenty-eight seconds later, a 3 from Desjardin put Gorham on top to stay.
Nadeau added a free throw, Holmes hit a pair, Nadeau drained a 3, Michaud made a jump shot, Desjardin banked home a shot after a pretty fake and as time expired, Desjardin got a runner to drop for a stunning 21-8 advantage.
The final 15 points of the period went to Gorham.
“It’s pick your poison,” said Giordano. “We decided to collapse around Mackenzie and make the younger kids beat us and they did. We gave them good looks, but you expect some of the younger kids not to make them, so hats off to them. They’ve peaked at the right time. It felt like every shot they took went in.”
The Rams didn’t let up in the second quarter either and extended their lead.
Michaud started the frame with a 3-ball 28 seconds in and junior Courtney Brent added a 3 for a 27-8 lead.
Finally, with 2:55 to go in the half, Scarborough ended its 9:05 drought and the 25-2 Gorham run, as sophomore Julia Freeman buried a 3, but Michaud answered with a layup and Nadeau canned another 3.
“I knew I had to take open shots because we needed to get a lead,” Nadeau said. “We’re at our best when we get a lead. Everyone on the team shot well.
“(Adele and Brittany) don’t play like freshmen,” Holmes said. “They’re not liabilities that allow the defense to sag off. They have confidence.”
In the final minute, Freeman set up Glidden for a layup, but that only drew the beleaguered Red Storm within 19, 32-13, at the half.
The most impressive aspect of the Rams’ first half was that Holmes “only” put up four of the team’s 32 points. Nadeau led the way with nine points and Desjardin and Michaud each added seven.
Dickinson and Glidden had five points apiece for Scarborough, which hoped to creep back in the game in the third quarter, but the Red Storm couldn’t gain any ground.
Senior Lindsey Kelley got the second half to a promising start for Scarborough with two free throws and after drawing the third foul on Holmes, Glidden sank a pair.
Gorham answered, as Rowe fed sophomore Jacqi Hamilton, who made a layup while being fouled, and she added the free throw for the old-fashioned three-point play and a 35-17 lead.
Sophomore Madison Blanche hit two free throws for the Red Storm before Dickinson set up Glidden for a layup to cut the deficit to 14.
Out of a timeout, Holmes returned to the game and Nadeau set up Rowe for a layup and after Glidden was called for her fourth foul, Nadeau set up Holmes for a three-point play restoring the 19-point lead, 40-21, heading to the fourth quarter.
There, the Rams put the finishing touches on their third straight regional championship.
After Dickinson started the final stanza with a jumper, Brent hit a free throw and Nadeau made her final 3 for a 44-23 lead.
Scarborough junior Josie Couture scored on a runner and senior Emily Jefferds added a jump shot, but Desjardin made a free throw and Holmes added another before Berthiaume cleared the bench.
In the final minute, Gorham freshman Tayanna Biamby and Jefferds traded free throws and the Rams finished off their 47-28 victory.
“It’s awesome,” Nadeau said. “I’ve never had this experience before. No one expected us to do this which makes it even better.”
“Every game we come in and play for each other,” Holmes said. “We’re confident in ourselves and I think that’s the difference. People stepped up when they needed to and hit shots. We had initial jitters, then we started doing what we’ve been doing. We made sure we got out on their shooters. We wanted to contest their drives. They’re a good shooting team. It feels great we came in as a 5 seed and we’re going back (to states).”
Gorham had a balanced attack led by Nadeau, with 12 points (she also had nine rebounds). Desjardin had eight points and Holmes added eight points, to go with eight rebounds and four blocked shots.
Michaud finished with seven points, Brent (three steals) and Rowe (four rebounds, three assists) had four apiece, Hamilton added three and Biamby had one.
“They keyed on Mackenzie, that’s not a shocker, and the other girls were ready to step up and shoot when they were open,” Berthiaume said. “If you told me she’d have eight points, I would have wondered, but Adele was in double digits and Olivia and Brittany had great games and other kids contributed and that offset an eight-point night.”
The Rams shot 50 percent (16 of 32) from the floor, had a 33-26 rebounding advantage, overcame 17 turnovers and hit 9 of 14 free throws.
Gorham beat visiting Edward Little, 48-36, back on Jan. 23 behind 20 points from Holmes. The Rams also defeated the Red Eddies in the 2016 Class AA state final, 45-36.
A three-peat championship is very much in reach for this red-hot team that has absolutely peaked at the right time.
“We have to play like we have been playing and not let up,” Nadeau said.
“Edward Little is a hot team,” Berthiaume said. “They’re play with a lot of confidence, so we have our work cut out for us.”
Scarborough was paced by nine points from Glidden (who also had five rebounds). Dickinson added seven points, Freeman (six rebounds) and Jefferds had three apiece and Blanche (four rebounds, three assists and three steals), Couture (four rebounds) and Kelley all finished with two.
The Red Storm only shot 17 percent from the floor (9 of 53), made 7 of 11 foul shots and turned the ball over 10 times (just four times after the first period).
“It’s been a great year,” Giordano said. “We started off slow. We had a key injury and struggled, then we got Josie back and played really well for a long time. It’s a great group of kids.”
Scarborough graduates six with Glidden being the biggest departure.
“Sophie is one of the best players to ever play for Scarborough,” Giordano said. “She’s over 900 points and 500 rebounds and is a McDonald’s All-Star and a semifinalist for Miss Maine (Basketball). All of the things she deserves.”
The 2018-19 Red Storm will be paced by Blanche, Couture, Dickinson, Freeman and freshman Kayla Conley and should be very competitive again.
“We have three sophomores who got good experience this year,” Giordano said. “We’ll learn from this and be better from it.”
Gorham junior Mackenzie Holmes goes up for a layup as Scarborough sophomore Julia Freeman defends.
Scarborough senior Sophie Glidden defends Gorham junior Courtney Brent.
Scarborough sophomore Juila Freeman shoots over Gorham freshman Adele Nadeau.
Scarborough sophomore Bella Dickinson takes a shot.
Scarborough junior Josie Couture drives on Gorham junior Mackenzie Holmes.
There were a lot of smiles on the Gorham bench near the game’s conclusion.
1999 Western B Final
Gorham 62 Scarborough 53
1998 Western B quarterfinals
Gorham 43 Scarborough 35