March 2, 2013

For Scarborough seniors, the last game's bittersweet

It's a moment many high school athletes face - stepping onto the court one final time.

By Gillian Graham ggraham@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

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Six seniors on the Scarborough girls basketball team – from left, Marisa O’Toole, Grace Farnkoff, Maria Philbrick, Taylor LeBorgne, Courtney Alofs and Mary Redmond – walk onto the court for their semifinal game against Catherine McAuley High School at the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland on Feb. 22. Because Scarborough lost, it would turn out to be their last game together, “but we gave everything we had,” Farnkoff said.

Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

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Scarborough senior Mary Redmond maneuvers around Jaclyn Welch of McAuley during their semifinal game last month. Redmond, who transferred to Scarborough before her junior year, became the team’s leading scorer.

John Ewing/Staff Photographer

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As always, he said, you should leave your hearts on the floor.

“I don’t have to tell you how excited you need to be,” Cote said. “We’re going in there and we’re going to have some fun.”

During practice the players were focused – exactly what Cote has come to expect from them. 

“The thing I’ve noticed is they have a mentality of ‘we’re going to compete and refuse to lose,’ ” Cote said. “They make my job easier.” 

Mike Jefferds, the assistant coach nicknamed “Big Girl 1” by the team because he stands in as a tall player during practice, has worked with them for the past two years, but has known many of the players for close to a decade.

He calls them “the greatest group of kids in the world” and can quickly rattle off what makes them special: There is no drama or cattiness. The girls take criticism without becoming emotional. They want to win and they push themselves harder every day.

“As athletes, you ask kids to play without emotion and to play hard. You don’t have to stress that with them, they just do it,” Jefferds said. “Off the court, you’ll see them pick each other up if someone is down. They’re a coach’s dream.”

The friendships the seniors built during a decade playing together is evident on and off the court, Jefferds said.

“The biggest compliment I can give them is they’re role models for my 12-year-old daughter,” he said. “They lead by example. There’s a quiet confidence about them.”

That confidence was on display the next day when the team arrived at the high school for one final shoot-around before the big game. After a half-hour on their home court, they boarded the bus for the short ride to the civic center.

Before the game they were focused on their strategy, but there was an awareness that this could be the last time they’d play together.

At their recent Senior Night, the underclassmen on the team had given them gifts and decorated the locker room. 

“It overwhelmed us,” Alofs said. “It was reality. This is our last time so we better finish strong.”

That same night, LeBorgne “started bawling” when underclassmen presented their tribute to the seniors and she realized “this could be our last game and we don’t want it to be.”

“It just went by so fast,” Philbrick agreed. “We’re going to do everything we can to keep playing.”

‘IT’S A GRADUATION OF SORTS’

Well before the game started, David and Carlene Alofs staked out seats high above center court. For them, it was the end of years of cheering for their oldest daughter as she played her way to travel team and high school championships.

“It’s a graduation of sorts,” David Alofs said.

He said his daughter had been thinking about the game a little more than usual and had “some extra butterflies.” She didn’t want to talk about it much, he said.

“It’s sad,” Carlene Alofs said, her eyes filling with tears. “It’s the end of her Red Storm career.”
Cynthia and Richard O’Toole said it was a pleasure to watch Marisa grow up on and off the court with the other seniors on the team.

“It’s been really nice to watch the kids develop as a team. They get along well, they work together well,” Richard O’Toole said. “We’ll miss watching them play together.”

“It’s a little bittersweet,” Cynthia O’Toole added. Marisa O’Toole plans to play softball at Bowdoin, where she will study government and law.

Sitting a few rows away, Ron and Susan LeBorgne said they’ve enjoyed every minute of watching their daughter, Taylor, play basketball for Scarborough. Over the years they’ve watched her help bring home state championship titles in basketball, soccer and lacrosse. Despite all those victories in other sports, it was basketball that remained Taylor’s favorite, her mother said.

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Additional Photos

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Members of the Scarborough team bring gear to a storage room at the school after handing in their uniforms Feb. 27, the date of their last team meeting. “We had a tremendous year,” Coach Ron Cote said.

Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

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Senior Courtney Alofs is comforted by her mother, Carlene, far right, after the Scarborough High School girls basketball team played its final game Feb. 22. At left, senior Maria Philbrick talks with her family members.

Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

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From left, seniors Maria Philbrick, Taylor LeBorgne and Mary Redmond return to the court after halftime in their semifinal Feb. 22 against McAuley. McAuley won, 47-38, ending Scarborough’s season and its quest for the gold ball. But senior Marisa O’Toole said, “I think we played our hearts out.”

Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer



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