SOUTH PORTLAND – Mikayla Mayberry scored nine of her 13 points in the fourth quarter as Cheverus held off a late South Portland surge to post a 43-33 victory in an SMAA girls’ basketball game Friday night.
Cheverus (11-2), ranked third in Western Class A Heal points, had its hands full against No. 5 South Portland (11-3), which was playing its first game without Danica Gleason. According to South Portland Coach Mike Giordano, the Red Riots’ top player will miss the rest of the season after suffering a dislocated kneecap in a win against Bonny Eagle on Monday.
The expected six- to eight-week recovery period will allow Gleason, an accomplished softball player, to be ready for the spring season.
So was Mayberry surprised by the fact that her team faced such a stiff challenge under the circumstances?
“South Portland is a tough team,” Mayberry said. “They have a lot of tenacity. They’re always tough to play against and they are not just going to hand you a win.”
It was evident in the early stages of the game that South Portland missed Gleason, but at the same time the Riots delivered a scrappy effort that allowed them to hang in against the Stags.
Cheverus used a 9-2 run in the first quarter to grab a 9-6 lead. The Stags increased their advantage to 23-14 at the half by closing the second quarter on a 6-0 run.
“We missed a bunch of free throws in an eight- or nine-point game and that would have made it a one- or two-possession game instead of eight or nine,” said Giordano, who watched his team go 4 for 11 from the line in the opening half.
The two sides struggled offensively in the third quarter and managed only one basket each through six minutes. Jillian Libby nailed a 3-pointer with 1:50 left to give Cheverus a 12-point lead, but it wasn’t enough to finish off the Red Riots, who closed the gap before the quarter ended. Holly Black made a pair of free throws with no time remaining to cut the deficit to seven.
Cheverus moved back ahead by 12 when it scored the first five points of the fourth quarter, but the Red Riots had one last kick.
Black, who paced the Red Riots with 11 points, scored five straight points and Brianne Maloney followed with five of her own to complete a 10-1 surge that made it 38-33 game with just over a minute remaining.
Mayberry capped her performance with five points in the final 20 seconds.
“They did lose their best player but they have other players that are good,” said Cheverus Coach Richie Ashley. “They’re tough. They’re young, but it’s not like they’re a JV team. I think they played hard and it was good (hard-fought) game.”
Brooke Flaherty added 11 points for Cheverus.