Gorham High won only four games in the boys’ basketball regular season. Doesn’t matter. The Rams are 1-0 in the postseason and heading to the Class AA South semifinals.
Using a quick-reacting, modified 2-3 zone with some triangle-and-two mixed in, the sixth-seeded Rams held third-seeded Sanford scoreless for more than 12 minutes in the middle two quarters Thursday night in a 42-31 regional quarterfinal victory at the Portland Expo.
“It’s a zone with a little wrinkle,” said Gorham Coach Mark Karter. “They have two very good players in (Ethan) Belanger and (Brad) Bouchard, so our goal was to make sure we tried to neutralize them.”
Belanger scored a team-high 10 points but was limited to six shots. Bouchard scored the first two baskets of the game and didn’t score again, finishing with five points.
Worse, no Sanford player scored during a 12:23 stretch that changed a 17-9 lead for the Spartans into a 28-17 Gorham advantage.
“The goal of it for us was to take time off the clock and shorten the game,” said Jackson Fotter, who scored a game-high 11 points for Gorham. “Today, we knocked down free throws and got it done, but I would say defense was what did it for us.”
Gorham (5-14) didn’t exactly light it up, but two 3-pointers from Cameron Holmes (10 points, two blocks) keyed a 14-3 third quarter.
Sanford’s scoring drought was finally snapped by a Frank Veino free throw with 1:26 left in the third.
“I thought we came out and executed real well in the third quarter, and that’s something we’ve kind of struggled with throughout the year,” Karter said.
Gorham will meet second-seeded Thornton Academy (16-2) in the semifinals at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Cross Insurance Arena.
Thornton Academy beat Gorham twice this season, 61-40 in Gorham and 62-54 in Saco. The first loss to Thornton was Gorham’s largest losing margin this season.
A year ago, Gorham was the second seed and fell to Massabesic 49-48, losing a 16-point advantage.
That this year’s team is back in the semifinals is a surprise to most.
“Throughout the year we played very well at times, but we’ve always had a three-, four- minute stretch that’s killed us,” Karter said. “Tonight, we didn’t have that stretch, and that’s kind of the difference in winning or losing.”
Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or: