South Portland senior Riley Hasson soars to fire a pass to classmate Connor Buckley during the Red Riots’ 67-43 win at Bonny Eagle Saturday.
Joe Carpine / 365digitalphotography.com photos.
More photos below.
SP- 26 12 15 14- 67
BE- 11 17 3 12- 43
SP- Malone 11-1-26, Buckley 4-0-11, Hasson 2-3-7, Lewis 3-1-7, Milton 2-2-7, Bialorucki 1-0-2, Bijokta 1-0-2, Carr 1-0-2, Fiorini 1-0-2, Boles 0-1-1
BE- Maturo 5-3-15, Sirois 3-1-10, Humphrey 2-2-7, Ferris 2-0-4, Fogg 1-0-3, Esty 0-2-2, Napolitano 1-0-2
SP (7) Buckley, Malone 3, Lewis 1
BE (7) Sirois 3, Maturo 2, Fogg, Humphrey 1
STANDISH—South Portland’s boys’ basketball team has faced its share of adversity over the past week, losing a game at Thornton Academy last Saturday and losing senior standout Liam Coyne to a scary foot injury Friday evening, but the Red Riots are nothing if not resilient, confident and capable of overcoming.
Those admirable qualities were on display Saturday afternoon when South Portland paid a visit to Bonny Eagle and while the Red Riots might have appeared vulnerable to some, they put on an impressive 32-minute show to produce a victory.
South Portland trailed for all of 15 seconds and took the lead for good on a 3-pointer from senior Connor Buckley 2 minutes, 25 seconds into the game. The Red Riots would drain five 3s in all in the first quarter and put up 26 points in building a 15-point lead.
The Scots hung tough in the second period, thanks in large part to South Portland fouls, but the Red Riots were able to build on their 38-28 lead in the third quarter, as it won the frame, 15-3, to break the game open.
South Portland starters and reserves alike didn’t let up in the fourth period and the Red Riots pulled away for a 67-43 victory.
Senior Noah Malone had a game-high 26 points and Buckley added 11 as South Portland improved to 11-3 and in the process, dropped Bonny Eagle to 5-9.
“I think things are going well,” said Malone. “We’re becoming a better team every day. (Class AA South) isn’t as much of a cakewalk as people thought.”
Saturday’s game was South Portland’s fifth on the road in six outings, but its has shown an ability to rise to the occasion virtually every time out this winter.
The Red Riots won their opener, 69-59, over visiting Cheverus, lost at defending Class A champion Greely (66-60), then got on a roll, downing visiting Scarborough (60-46), host Oxford Hills (53-49), host Sanford (82-42), visiting Massabesic (62-33), visiting Deering (64-50) and visiting Windham (72-63). After a 62-53 loss at two-time defending Class AA state champion Portland, South Portland won at Deering, 54-42. A 76-64 loss at Thornton Academy followed last Saturday.
“That was a really poor defensive game,” Malone said. “We hadn’t let up over 70 points before. We’ve been working on our defense.”
“That was a good loss for us,” South Portland coach Kevin Millington said. “You need that once in awhile, even if you don’t think so at the time.”
The Red Riots then downed visiting Noble in a makeup game Wednesday (67-28) and Friday won at Falmouth in a crossover, 59-53. In that one, Coyne went down with a left foot injury. Initially, the fear was the foot was broken, but that proved untrue and it’s possible Coyne could return this season.
“Liam brings a lot to the table,” Malone said. “He’s one of our leading scorers on our team. He makes it hard for us to be guarded. He plays good defense. Everyone will have to step up.”
“We might have dodged a bullet with Liam, because he didn’t break it,” said Millington. “That gives us hope.”
Bonny Eagle won its first two games, but won just three of its last 11 entering play Saturday.
Last year, South Portland beat the host Scots, 47-32.
This time around, Bonny Eagle was looking to beat the Red Riots for the first time since Dec. 23, 2014 (64-57 at home), but instead, South Portland made it four straight in the series, thanks to a sharpshooting start.
The Red Riots opened the scoring 15 seconds in when junior Scott Lewis scored on a putback.
The Scots then went ahead on a 3-pointer from sophomore Zach Maturo with 6:58 to play in the first quarter, but that was their highwater mark.
Fifteen seconds later, Buckley sank a 3 and after Maturo tied the score with a leaner in the lane, South Portland went on top for good with 5:35 left in the first, when Buckley sank a long 3.
Malone then hit a 3-ball for his first points and an 11-5 lead.
“It was big to hit those shots,” Malone said. “Once Buckley gets going, he’ll keep going. That spaces out the floor when they have to worry about his shot. That opened up the lane.”
The hosts drew within two when Jacob Humphrey hit two free throws and sophomore Nate Ferris made a layup, but the next 13 points went to the Red Riots.
The run started when Buckley set up Malone for a layup.
Then, off an inbounds set, senior Riley Hasson fed Malone for another layup.
Hasson then made a layup, junior Jacob Milton sank a 3, Malone buried a 3-ball and with 9.8 seconds on the clock, Hasson hit a free throw to make it 24-9.
Two foul shots from Scots sophomore Jake Esty ended the run, but as time expired, Milton set up junior David Fiorini for a layup and a commanding 26-11 lead after one quarter.
In all, South Portland hit five 3-pointers in the first eight minutes.
“I told the guys before the game I liked that we relied on getting to the basket against Falmouth and didn’t take a lot of 3s, so their response to me today was to jack up a lot of 3s,” Millington said. “They’re good shots when they go in.”
Not surprisingly, the offense slowed down in the second period and Bonny Eagle cut into its deficit.
A 3-pointer from Scots senior Connor Sirois started the frame. After Milton made a free throw, Humphrey banked home a shot to make it 27-16.
Lewis put back a miss, but Sirois made it a 10-point game with a 3-ball.
The Red Riots opened it back up, as Malone set up junior Tyree Bijokta for a layup and after Maturo made a free throw, Milton converted an old-fashioned three-point play, making a layup while being fouled and adding the free throw, and Lewis tipped in a missed shot for a 36-20 lead.
After Sirois hit another 3 for the hosts, Malone finished a feed from Milton and made a layup with 2:28 remaining, but Bonny Eagle finished the half strong, getting a driving layup from Maturo, a free throw from Sirois and a pair of Maturo free throws to make the score 38-28 at halftime.
In the first half, Malone had 12 points and South Portland got scoring from seven different players, which was enough to counter-balance 10 points apiece from Maturo and Sirois.
The Red Riots then got some separation in the third quarter.
A putback from Malone started the second half. After Lewis sank a free throw, Buckley banked home a shot, then, with 3:06 remaining, Buckley buried a 3 to make it 46-28.
Thirty-six seconds later, the Scots ended a 6 minute, 21 second drought when Maturo made a 3, but that would be their lone points of the frame.
Down the stretch, Malone converted a three-point play, Malone scored on a putback and Hasson set up Malone for a layup and a 53-31 advantage.
The fourth period saw South Portland put it away.
After Hasson started the final stanza with two foul shots, senior Christian Napolitano made a layup for Bonny Eagle.
Malone and Humphrey traded 3s before Milton set up Malone for a layup and a 60-36 lead.
Maturo countered with a floater, but Hasson drove for a layup, sophomore Ryan Boles made a free throw and junior Gerik Bialorucki made a layup after a steal for a 27-point advantage.
Junior Logan Fogg countered with a 3 for the Scots and Ferris scored on a putback, but a bank shot from Red Riots sophomore Cade Carr accounted for the 67-43 final score.
“We were frustrated with fouls in the first half,” Malone said. “Personally, that got me fired up to go out and finish it.”
Malone led all scorers with 26 points. He also had seven rebounds and three assists.
“I just try to go out and play and crash the boards as much as I can,” Malone said. “If I get my shot going, it makes it easier.”
“Noah can score in so many different ways,” Millington said. “He has such a good head on his shoulders, it doesn’t matter who we’re playing.”
Buckley also wound up in double figures with 11 points. He also had three assists.
Hasson had seven points, five assists, three steals, three rebounds, a blocked shot and an abundance of floor-burn from giving up his body.
Lewis also had seven points, to go with 12 rebounds.
“Scott is very good offensively,” Millington said. “He has really good hands. His feet are getting better. When he scores, we’re that much better.”
Milton added seven points (to go with five rebounds, three assists and two steals), Bialorucki, Bijokta, Carr and Fiorini each had two and Boles finished with one.
“We have a lot of talent,” said Millington. “Guys who can come in and get points and help out defensively.”
South Portland won the rebounding battle, 39-16, only turned the ball over 10 times and hit 8 of 12 free throws.
Bonny Eagle’s top scorer was Maturo, who had 15 points. Sirois added 10 points, Humphrey had seven, Ferris four, Fogg three and Esty and Napolitano two apiece.
The Scots committed 15 turnovers and made 8 of 13 foul shots.
Bonny Eagle (fourth in the Class AA South Heal Points standings at press time) is back in action Tuesday at home against Portland. The Scots then close with home games versus Falmouth and Massabesic and a trip to Windham.
South Portland is chasing Scarborough for the top spot in the region and if it finishes strong, will likely earn the number one seed for the second year in a row. The Red Riots return home Tuesday, but face a big challenge in dangerous Edward Little.
“Edward Little has size and can rebound,” Malone said. “They can shoot too. We have to play defensively and transition to offense.”
After hosting Gorham, South Portland welcomes Portland, then closes at Cheverus.
“The biggest thing is playing tournament-caliber games before the tournament,” Millington said. “Win or lose, we want to be tournament-ready. We’re excited.”
South Portland senior Noah Malone goes up for a shot. Malone led all scorers with 26 points.
South Portland junior Scott Lewis is hounded by Bonny Eagle sophomore Jake Esty (22) and senior Christian Napolitano.
South Portland junior Jacob Milton makes a layup.
South Portland junior Tyree Bijotka passes the ball.
South Portland senior Connor Buckley shoots a 3-pointer over Bonny Eagle sophomore Jake Esty.
South Portland sophomore Ryan Boles attempts a 3-pointer from the corner.
South Portland senior Riley Hasson emotes on a drive to the basket.
South Portland senior Noah Malone finishes at the rim.