It took a period for South Portland to get Emily Haeuser into the scoring column Monday, but once the six-foot center started putting the ball in the net the Riots were able to keep visiting Bonny Eagle at bay.

Haeuser put her team up early in the second quarter and South Portland didn’t relinquish that lead, topping the Scots, 53-40, in Class A girls basketball action.

The contest was the season-opener for Bonny Eagle, but not for the Riots, who edged a tough Deering squad by four points on Saturday.

“Whenever you open up with the Riots, that always makes it a little more difficult,” said Scots coach Marc Sawyer. “Coach Giordano is a professional. His girls are very well prepared. They’re a semi-veteran club, and they looked like they were in mid-season form.”

Both teams started slowly, with the hosts’ man-to-man defense forcing turnovers the first three times that Bonny Eagle tried to pass inside the perimeter. Meanwhile, South Portland had its own difficulties in the offensive end, as more than four minutes passed without the Riots registering a point.

The result was a 7-6 lead for the Scots after the first quarter.

Enter Haeuser. The squad’s lone senior started the game, but it wasn’t until the second period that she made her presence known. A free throw to tie the game was immediately followed by a rebound and lay-up.

Haeuser had nine points in the quarter, and her team took a nine-point lead, 27-18, into the locker room.

“We try to get the ball in as much as possible when we have a size advantage,” she said, praising her teammates for getting her the ball.

Indeed, Jackie Rice and Jessica Aceto made smart passes all night. Together with wily point guard Christina Aceto, South Portland is a team that moves the ball well.

Rice also had all of her 11 points in the first half, a mixture of outside shots, drives to the hoop and free throws.

Haeuser, who finished with 20, added nine more points in the third quarter, including five in a 50-second span toward the end, and the Riots lead was extended to 42-26 after three.

The margin was as much as 23 in the final frame before the Scots second unit fought back, outscoring their opponents, 11-1, in the last four minutes.

“That was a very scrappy Bonny Eagle team,” said South Portland coach Mike Giordano. “Those kids played really hard and they disrupted what we wanted to do early on.”

Though the Riots came into the season needing to replace the offense generated by graduated all-stater Whitney Morrow and have just one senior on the roster, the core of the squad logged quality minutes in some big games last season. They play older than they are.

Not only is the team aggressive on defense, but few of the girls hesitate when it comes to shooting.

“Those kids have been through the battles,” said Giordano, “and they’ve learned a little bit about the game and have become better players all around.”

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