SCARBOROUGH — Scarborough began the new year in need of some meaningful victories to make a push for a spot in the Western Class A boys’ basketball tournament.
The Red Storm got one Monday night, forcing the tempo with a devastating full-court press as they ran away with a 70-46 victory over Thornton Academy in an SMAA game.
It was the third win in four games for Scarborough (7-4), and it came against an opponent ranked sixth in Western Class A. The Red Storm are 11th in the Heal point standings.
“If we knock down our shots, we can compete with anybody because we play a really up-tempo, fast style of basketball,” Scarborough Coach Tony DiBiase said. “The key is whether or not we make shots, and we made our shots tonight and got the game at our tempo.”
Scarborough ran off 14 consecutive points in the first quarter to open a 19-6 lead.
“They ‘re a good team, and they bothered us,” Thornton Academy Coach Bob Davies said. “They took care of the ball and got into transition. We didn’t get back, and they made us pay for it.”
Sam Freeman, a junior guard, scored 22 points for Scarborough. He sank three of his four 3-pointers in the second half to help put the game out of reach.
“I was struggling at the beginning of the year, and I just couldn’t find my shot,’ Freeman said. “Tonight, we had a shootaround before the game and I was just on tonight. It was one of those nights I was just on, and I couldn’t miss.”
Nate Wessel added 20 points, including four consecutive baskets during the first-quarter run. Matt Hartl, a senior guard, had 11 points and seven assists.
Quinn Richardson-Newton led Thornton Academy (4-5) with 20 points.
The Trojans closed to within 10 points late in the second quarter, but Wessel finished the first half with a three-point play that made it 40-26.
Thornton made another run in the third quarter, cutting the deficit to 54-44.
“We took care of the ball and scored some points, and we didn’t let them have the transition,” Davies said. “We played a little bit better (defense), but we gave up a couple of layups that really hurt or we would have really gotten back into it.”
Scarborough regained control in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Trojans 16-2.
“I don’t know if the pace was fast,” Davies said. “I think they bother you and you try to play slower than you should. I’m not sold that the press really speeds it up. You should get the odd-number break against the press and be able to finish it off, and we didn’t do that tonight.”
Hartl, at 6-foot-2, is Scarborough’s only starter taller than 6 feet, but the Red Storm more than held on their own on the glass.
“Coach always says we’ve got to box out,” said Wessel, a 6-0 junior who grabbed 13 rebounds. “If we don’t, we’re going to get killed off the glass.”