A big start and a big finish carried Cheverus to a 76-63 win over Scarborough in an SMAA boys’ basketball game Tuesday night at Keegan Gym.
In between, it got a little dicey for the Stags (8-7), who nearly squandered a 22-point halftime lead.
Scarborough (7-8) outscored the Stags 32-12 in the third quarter to pull within 52-50 before Cheverus regained control.
With the bottom half of the 12 teams that qualify for the Western Class A tournament fighting for valuable Heal points in the final two weeks of the regular season, the win was key for the Stags, who entered the game in eighth place.
Scarborough entered ranked 12th and likely in need of another win or two to secure a tourney spot.
The Red Storm suffered their fourth straight loss. They have games remaining against Sanford, South Portland and Thornton Academy.
The Stags took a 15-0 lead as Brad Carney and Noah Stebbins both sank a pair of 3-pointers. Cheverus led 20-5 after one, then 40-18 at halftime.
“We were comfortable with our lead and took a step back,” said point guard Manny Ismail.
“We knew what we had to do. We were able to turn it back on and come out with the win. We have a bunch of guys who can score and play defense. We played good defense, which led to layups in the fourth quarter, which built the lead back. This is a big win especially because we’re playing Portland on Friday and this could give us some good momentum.”
Zordan Holman, a 6-foot-5 junior center, opened the fourth with a three-point play to give Cheverus a 55-50 lead. Stebbins followed with a basket to make it 57-50.
Nate Wessel scored for the Red Storm, but the Stags scored the next six on two baskets by Stebbins and one by Ismail on a drive to make it 63-52.
The Red Storm still had hopes after a 3-pointer by Dan LeClair, but Holman and Ismail scored to secure it.
Ismail, Holman and Stebbins combined for 21 of Cheverus’ 24 fourth-quarter points.
The others came on a 3-pointer by freshman Austin Boudreau, whose two 3-pointers in the third bailed the Stags out of their lethargy.
“We had all kinds of crazy things happen to us in the third quarter,” said Cheverus Coach Dan Costigan.
“We had a technical foul called on us for six men on the court. The kids stuck together and pulled it out. Scarborough is dangerous.
“They got down big at halftime and there’s only one thing they can do. They started launching from 3-point range and they went in. That’s how they play. I’m happy with the way we responded.”
Scarborough scored the first nine points of the third quarter. A 3-pointer by Boudreau slowed the Red Storm momentarily. Wessel scored 12 points in the quarter and Matt Hartl added nine.
“We used up all our energy coming back,” said Scarborough Coach Tony DiBiase. “
We had a chance to tie it up but missed two inside shots. When they got up by seven in the fourth, we had to start gambling. We just came out so flat and Cheverus hit every shot. I’ll give the kids credit. They came back.
“Cheverus played well early, then we started to play really well in the third quarter, but when Cheverus made its second run, we didn’t have anything to come back.”
Cheverus placed four players in double figures, led by Stebbins with 18 points. Ismail had 15, followed by Holman with 13 and Boudreau with 11.
Holman and the 6-2 Sam Cross controlled the boards at times for the Stags.
The Red Storm were led by Hartl with 19 points and Wessel with 18. LeClair added 11.
Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Twitter: TomChard PPH