GORHAM – No. 8 Gorham overcame a late-game scare from No. 9 Windham to pull out a 58-47 win in a Class A West girls’ basketball prelim Wednesday night.
The victory sent the Rams (12-7) into next Monday’s regional quarterfinal against unbeaten, top-seeded McAuley at the Portland Expo.
Gorham appeared to be cruising to its third win of the season over the Eagles, but Windham (9-10) came back from double-digit deficits twice during the second half to make it a game.
“We definitely were flat in the first half, but the girls came out and responded very well in the second half,” Windham Coach Brody Artes said. “We caught fire a little bit, and that hasn’t happened a whole lot this season. Everybody contributed a little bit. Everybody who went in the game did a good job.”
“They certainly made it interesting,” Gorham Coach Laughn Berthiaume said. “They got a number of different shooters, and they were working really, really well.”
Hitting five of its first six shots, Gorham open the game with an 11-0 run and went on to lead 28-14 at halftime.
The Eagles managed to cut the Rams’ lead to three points when Sadie Nelson sank a three-pointer from the top of the key to make it 11-8 a little more than a minute into the second quarter, but Gorham, which sank better than 60 percent of its shots during the first half, outscored the visitors by a 13-2 margin over the next five minutes to open up a 24-10 lead.
In their two victories over Windham during the regular season, the Rams averaged 44 points and won by an average margin of 16 points, but the Eagles rallied during the second half to make it much closer than that.
“In those two games, both teams had good looks they didn’t make,” Berthiaume said. “Come tournament time I expect players to step up, and the players did on both sides.”
Twice in the opening moments of the fourth quarter, Windham closed to within five points, but Gorham ran off 11 points to open up 51-35 lead.
Nelson, who led all scorers with 20 points, and Luisa Sbadella each sank two 3-pointers to fuel a 12-0 run that closed the gap to 51-47 with 1:27 left to play.
The Rams, who sank 11 of 14 free throws in the fourth quarter, didn’t allow the Eagles to score another point while gradually opening up another double-digit lead.
“We hadn’t been shooting (free throws) that well,” Berthiaume said. “Obviously, in a tournament a game could come down to a few foul shots here or there, and I’m glad we stepped up to hit them tonight.”
Kristin Ross, who flirted with foul trouble in the second half, led the Rams with 14 points. Lexi Merrifield followed with 12 points and Abby Hamilton added 11.
“I think that’s when we’re at our best when we have a little bit of balance,” Berthiaume said.
Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: