Gorham 37

Westbrook 58

With his Blue Blazes trailing to Gorham at the half, junior Nich Jobin took over in the third quarter, scoring the first three baskets and giving Westbrook the lead and the momentum.

The Blazes cruised from there, pulling away from the Rams for a 58-37 SMAA boys basketball win at home on Tuesday night. Westbrook remained perfect at 3-0, while the Rams are still in search of their first victory, standing at 0-4.

Gorham’s Zach Speirs, who finished with a team-high 13 points, made a layup with seconds to go in the first half to give the Rams a 26-24 lead entering the break, but the Blazes outscored Gorham 17-5 in the third quarter.

Jobin scored six straight points to make it 30-26 with 4:40 to go in the third, forcing a Gorham timeout. Andrew Beckwith extended the lead to nine on a 3-pointer and Tyler Kelly scored down low on an assist from Jose Nouchanthavong with 1:18 left to make it 29-28. It was 41-31 entering the fourth quarter.

The Rams managed just 11 points in the second half.

“That’s been the tale of the whole season so far,” said first-year Gorham coach Josh Longstaff. “We’re in it the first half and halfway through the third quarter, then… It’s like a collapse. Once we get over that hump, I think we’re going to be OK. The kids work so hard all the time. As we get in a little better shape as the season goes along, I think we’ll be OK.”

Jobin finished with a game-high 22 points, 13 coming in the second half. His presence inside opened things up for the Blazes on the perimeter, as they made three 3s in the second half and five in the game.

“I thought defensively they played a real good first half and we settled a lot for outside jumpers,” said Westbrook coach Mark Karter. “We made a little adjustment at halftime to get the ball inside more in the second half and we got some easier shots.

“And I think our defense stiffened up a bit. Any time you hold a team to 11 points in a half, it’s a pretty good defensive effort. I thought our rebounding was much better in the second half, too.”

Gorham’s full-court pressure in the fourth quarter forced a few Westbrook mistakes, but the Rams never got closer than 10 points over the final eight minutes. A Gorham 3 from Mason Roy made it 47-37 with 4:51 left, but Christian Hamilton’s 3 and a steal and one-handed dunk by Jobin 10 seconds later pushed the lead to 15 with 2:40 to go.

The 6’6″ Jobin was a difficult matchup for the Rams, who don’t have a starter over 6’3″.

“He’s tough,” Longstaff said. “In the first half, I thought we did a good job on him. In the second half, I think he made an adjustment. Good players do that.”

Jobin is the Blazes’ leading scorer and rebounder this season. His contributions have been important with 6’7″ junior center Dominic Borelli still out with a back injury (Karter said Borelli is day-to-day).

“Nich’s been a real nice player for us the first part of the year,” Karter said. “He came out and did a great job in the third quarter, getting us going in the right direction. He kind of carried us the whole game. He’s really come a long way since last year. He’s worked a lot on his game and it seems to be showing.”

Alex Graves finished with 11 points for Gorham. Hamilton had eight for Westbrook, while Beckwith and Sean Murphy each chipped in seven.

The Blazes are scheduled to play at 4-0 Deering on Friday night at 7 p.m. The Rams are slated to play 3-0 South Portland on the road on Friday at 6 p.m.

Longstaff, a former Portland High standout and assistant coach, took over a team that returned no starters. He remains upbeat about his team.

“They’re constantly playing hard,” he said. “Defensively, we’re getting better. Offensively, we’ve still got to be a little more patient. Once we button up the defense a little bit, I think the offense is going to come.”

Karter has no doubt that Longstaff will get the Rams on track.

“They play really hard and they’re well coached,” Karter said. “I think it’s just a matter of time before they get over that hump. I think they’re doing good things over there. (Longstaff) was a great player and really knows the game of basketball. I don’t have any reservations that he’ll get things going over there.”

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