BIDDEFORD – If there were first-game jitters lurking somewhere on the court for the South Portland girls’ basketball team Friday night, opponents take note.

The Red Riots stormed to a 72-55 victory over Biddeford, pulling away in the second half to start the season with a bang.

“I can’t remember the last time we scored 72 points,” said 6-foot forward Abby Hasson. “There’s a lot to be excited about.

“It was turnover, layup, turnover, layup. Bang. We were pretty deep inside (and) outside.”

The Red Riots trailed early but scored just before the buzzer at the end of the second period for a 36-35 halftime lead. They never looked back.

A 10-point lead by the middle of the third quarter stretched to 21 points heading into the fourth quarter, 60-39.

“I think our depth got to them,” said South Portland Coach Mike Giordano. “Our turnovers were creating easy baskets off the pressure.”

The Red Riots pressured the ballhandler, the shooter and left little margin of error for the Tigers.

Three players scored in double figures for South Portland: Hasson with 19, Danielle DiBiase with 12 and Danica Gleason with 10.

“First games, you don’t know. It’s about who are we,” said Giordano. “It usually takes four, five games, but I certainly like the defensive intensity.”

Amethyst Hersom did all the scoring for the Tigers in a 10-2 run for an 18-9 lead late in the first quarter, and they led 18-14 at the end of the period.

But South Portland continued to rally in the second quarter, pulling ahead on a steal and layup by DiBiase.

Hasson was a force inside, but perimeter shooting was also a strength for South Portland.

“I give them a lot of credit,” said Brian Heal, in his first game as coach of the Tigers. “They did a really good job defensively. We talked about turnovers all week.”

The loss was a starting point for the Tigers, said standout Keila Grigware, who finished with 14 points.

“We know we’re a young team with a new coach,” she said. “This was a learning experience. We’ll try and work on our mistakes and make them disappear in practice.”

Hersom finished with 20 points and Alyson Roy and Bryanna Michaud each scored seven for Biddeford.

“Those first-game jitters got out of our system,” said Hasson. “We have a third of our season before Christmas break. I can’t wait.”

Giordana agreed. “Getting the first one in the right direction certainly helps,” he said.

Staff Writer Jenn Menendez can be contacted at 791-6426 or at:

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