PORTLAND — Four years ago, in his first summer meeting with his new Scarborough High girls’ basketball team, the first drill Jim Seavey ran was a defensive one. That set the tone for his defense-first philosophy.
The defense was in full display Saturday as the Red Storm won their first Class A basketball state championship.
Scarborough held Skowhegan to half its season scoring average, completing a 22-0 season with a 52-32 victory over the previously unbeaten Indians at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
The Red Storm took a 19-3 lead in the first quarter, hitting five 3-pointers, then closed the game with a 13-2 run, getting seven points from Brittany Ross and four from Christy Manning.
Through it all, the Red Storm’s defense got out on Skowhegan’s shooters and disrupted the Indians’ rhythm.
“Defense is what we pride ourselves on and this was by far the best we’ve executed the game plan,’’ said Seavey, his voice cracking. “I don’t know what to tell you. They just buy into it. They’re competitors. They don’t want anything but to win and they’re going to do everything as a team to be successful.
“From that first summer practice the kids have bought into if we play great team defense, we have an opportunity to win every time.’’
Offensively, Scarborough again relied on balance, with Ross, Manning and Ellie Morin each scoring 12 points. Manning added nine rebounds, seven assists and two blocked shots in her most complete effort of the postseason.
“This is a dream come true,’’ said Manning, who will attend Holy Cross on a track and field scholarship but also hopes to play basketball. “I can’t stop smiling. To be a part of Scarborough’s first Gold Ball … This is pretty awesome.’’
So was Scarborough’s first- quarter shooting. The Red Storm scored the first seven points, then kept hitting nearly every shot, knocking down 7 of 12 in the quarter. Sarah Moody hit two 3-pointers, and Ross, Manning and Morin had one each.
“We hadn’t seen anyone shoot like that against us all season,’’ said Skowhegan guard Whitney Jones. “They shot the lights out and we had no answers.’’
Morin’s 3-pointer epitomized Scarborough’s first quarter. With time running down, she got the ball on the left wing, turned and threw up a shot. Somehow it banked in at the buzzer for a 19-3 lead.
“I just chucked it up and it went in,’’ said Morin. “It kind of worked in my favor.’’
Morin, Manning and 6-foot-2 sophomore Brittany Bona combined to give Scarborough a big edge inside. Bona had four points and five rebounds.
“I tell the kids to be ready to go,’’ said Seavey. “She was ready. It’s all about the team. There’s no one kid that does it all for us.’’
Skowhegan (21-1), which also lost to Scarborough in state finals in softball and field hockey in 2009, rallied in the middle quarters and trailed 39-30 when Adrienne Davis (10 points) scored with 4:24 remaining.
“We could have hung our heads after 19-3,’’ said Coach Heath Cowan, “but we got ourselves back into the game.’’
But then Scarborough closed it out.
After a Skowhegan timeout, the Red Storm slowed the pace, looking to draw fouls or find openings inside. They scored the next seven points – two baskets by Manning, and a foul shot and basket by Ross.
“We knew Skowhegan had a lot of tremendous 3-point shooters,’’ said Ross, who had seven points in the final 2:39. “So we knew we had to step it up.’’
And that led to a historic victory.
“It feels so good,’’ said Morin. “I can’t explain it but no one can take it away. You always remember it.’’
Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at: