A night after knocking South Portland from the ranks of the unbeaten, Westbrook High had the favor returned by Thornton Academy.

Coming off a 62-47 road win over South Portland last Thursday night (the game was moved from Wednesday because of snow), Westbrook played host to Thornton on Friday night. Against the Golden Trojans, the Blue Blazes never found the outside touch or offensive rhythm they enjoyed 24 hours before as they fell 50-36.

Even with the loss, Westbrook (8-1) remained No. 1 in this week’s Class A West Heal Point standings. Thornton (8-1) jumped two spots to second, South Portland (8-1) dropped a place to third, Deering (7-2) dropped one to fourth and the defending state champs from Cheverus (8-0) stayed at No. 5.

Knowing back-to-back marquee games would take its toll on the Blazes’ legs, Thornton’s plan was to set the tempo early on.

“Last night they played a great game against another good team, so they had to be tired, but we knew they’d give it their all,” said Thornton guard James Morse, who scored a game-high 22 points. “We just came out, worked hard and got the win.”

The Trojans jumped ahead 7-1 and led 12-7 after a quarter. Morse scored all 14 of Thornton’s points in the second quarter as the team took a 26-16 lead into the half. Westbrook’s standout big men, 6’6″ forward Nich Jobin and 6’7″ center Dominic Borelli, combined for 30 points and 25 rebounds in the win over South Portland, but were held to a total of 23 points and 10 boards against the Trojans.

“I thought they played tremendous defense,” said Westbrook coach Mark Karter, who shook off the suggestion that his team might have been tired. “They really tried to take away Dominic inside in the first half and did a nice job of it. I thought we had a chance to make some shots in the first half, but they didn’t drop. We got ourselves in a little hole, and that’s a good team to try to come back on.”

Westbrook also didn’t get a single point from its bench, which scored 18 against South Portland.

“It was a great team defensive effort right from the get-go,” said Thornton coach Bob Davies. “What was most impressive is we did it for all four quarters. There weren’t many letdowns.”

The Blazes did cut their deficit to 26-22 with 5:30 remaining in the third quarter after Jobin scored six straight to start the second half, but Morse answered with two baskets and Andrew Shaw drained a 3-pointer to make it 33-22 with 4:02 remaining. Shaw’s basket broke a run of 18 straight Thornton points scored by Morse, whose also impressed at the defensive end, forcing turnovers to get the Trojans going in transition.

“We started to get the ball inside a little more in the second half, but when you’ve got James Morse controlling the game, it’s hard to come back on a team like that,” Karter said.

The Trojans led 35-25 entering the fourth. Even with two 3s and eight points from Christian Hamilton, Westbrook got no closer than nine in the final quarter.

“I really liked the way our kids battled in the second half,” Karter said. “We didn’t give up, but they were just too much for us.”

Jobin led Westbrook with 13 points while Borelli added 10.

Against the Riots, something had to give. South Portland, without a player taller than 6’4″, is led by the SMAA’s leading scorer in Keegan Hyland, a junior guard who can light it up from outside or take it to the rim. Westbrook, on the other hand, has two of the league’s premier inside players in Jobin and Borelli.

Hyland started quickly and managed a game-high 23 points despite a fine defensive effort by Hamilton. Jobin and Borelli were held scoreless in the first quarter and Borelli had only two points at the half, but scored 11 of his team-high 17 in the third quarter when the Blue Blazes pulled away.

The South Portland student body turned out en masse, packing the bleachers behind the hoop at the far end of the gym. Hyland gave the loud group something to cheer about early on, knocking down back-to-back 3-pointers five minutes into the game to give the Riots a 12-4 lead.

But sophomore reserve forward Sean Murphy put the Blazes right back in it with two straight 3s of his own from the right side of the arc. He was left free as the South Portland defenders focused their attention inside. It was 13-12 South Portland at the end of one.

Jobin scored with 5:21 left in the second to tie the score at 16-16. It was the first points for either he or Borelli. Four minutes later, Hamilton’s 3 gave Westbrook a 24-22 lead, its first since 2-0. Borelli’s only hoop of the half made it 26-24 entering the break. Hyland finished the first half with 15 points, including three 3s.

The Westbrook big men took over in the third, combining for 16 points as the Blazes outscored the Riots 24-10 in the quarter. After Murphy (11 points) sank his third 3 of the game, Jobin came up with a steal, converted a fast-break layup, and was fouled. He missed the free throw, but Murphy was there for the offensive rebound. He kicked it to Jobin, then got it back for an easy basket. After a defensive stop, Borelli scored inside to make it 36-26 in favor of Westbrook.

Hyland answered with two quick baskets, but Hamilton hit another 3 and Jobin scored in transition to make it 41-30 with 3:40 to go in the third. The Riots did not get closer than 10 the rest of the way.

Hyland managed only four points – all on free throws – over the game’s final 12 minutes. Hamilton was charged with guarding him and did an admirable job, forcing him into many tough, off-balance shots with a hand in his face. It was 50-34 entering the fourth quarter.

Westbrook pushed the lead to 20 at 58-38 with 4:40 to go in the game. Both teams cleared their benches in the final minutes. Jobin finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds. Borelli had 13 boards.

Matt Lee, nursing an ankle injury, dressed but did not play for South Portland.


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