If it were a H-O-R-S-E shot, the description would have gone something like this: off one foot from just inside the half-court circle, off glass, and in.

But it wasn’t a loony attempt in a backyard game. Instead, it was a halftime buzzer-beater by Scarborough High’s Abbey Pelletier to give her team a 13-point lead and all the momentum going into the break.

The No. 2 Red Storm (17-2) added to its lead in the second half, cruising to a 53-26 victory over No. 7 South Portland (12-8) in Monday’s Western Maine Class A girls basketball quarterfinal at the Portland Expo.

Scarborough advances to play No. 3 Biddeford in Friday’s semifinal at 7:30 p.m. at the Cumberland Country Civic Center.

The Storm jumped out to a 17-7 lead after one quarter as all five starters scored in the opening eight minutes. Scarborough’s Reegan Bracket had a half-court attempt rim out at the first-quarter buzzer.

In the second quarter, both teams struggled offensively, managing only four points apiece through the first 7:50. With less than 10 seconds to go in the half, it was 21-11 and South Portland had possession. The Red Riots lost the ball taking it up the court and Pelletier picked it up.

“I just turned around and shot it and it went in,” Pelletier said.

It gave the Storm a 24-11 lead at the half.

“That’s nice to go in the locker room on the plus side of that, rather than having it scored against you, because it does take some wind out of you,” said Scarborough coach Jim Seavey. “It takes some time to regroup.”

It deflated the Riots, who were looking to get the ball up court to cut their deficit to single digits going into the second half.

“It’s 21-11 at that point. If we can go down and score, we can make it 21-13, not having played that well, but still being in the game,” said Riots coach Mike Giordano. “Those type of shots break your back a little bit. She made a heady play and got a little lucky.”

Esther Palmieri started off the third quarter with a 3-pointer for South Portland, but Scarborough used an 11-2 run over the rest of the quarter to take a commanding 36-16 lead into the fourth quarter. The Riots got no closer than 19 in the fourth.

“They play really good defense,” Giordano said. “We just didn’t seem like we could get anything going at the offensive end today.”

Christy Manning had eight of her game-high 16 points in the fourth quarter for the Storm. Pelletier finished with 12, all coming through the first three quarters. Jenn Colpitts added 10.

Danielle McCusker paced South Portland with 10 points, while Brianna Hawkins had nine.

When the Riots and Storm met in the regular season back in early January, Scarborough pulled out a 45-41 win. By getting out in transition early and scoring some easy baskets, the Storm made sure the postseason meeting wouldn’t be nearly as close.

“We were able to get the tempo going our way,” Seavey said. “They did a really nice job controlling the tempo in the regular season. I thought we created off our transition game better than we did in the regular season. And obviously having Abbey Pelletier back was a tremendous boost for us. She missed 10 games for us during the regular season with mono. She was in street clothes against them.”

Pelletier’s presence gives the Storm a formidable inside duo. She and Manning both stand 5’10” and are skilled offensively and solid on the glass.

“It makes them really big inside,” Giordano said. “I thought we still matched up size-wise OK, but they we far more aggressive on the offensive glass, getting second and third opportunities while we were getting just one shot. That makes a difference.”

Scarborough swept Biddeford in two regular-season contests: 65-56 on the road in late December and 64-54 at home in the regular-season finale. The Tigers advanced with a 51-42 quarterfinal win over Marshwood.

Pelletier said the key to beating them a third time is on D. “Keep up the defense,” she said. “Defense will win games for us. We’ve beaten them a couple times, so we just need to keep up our confidence and do it again.”

Biddeford has a deep bench, strong guards and some size inside. The Tigers like to press.

“Biddeford’s really good because the have a really good inside and outside game that you have to match up on,” Manning said. “They’ll be pretty tough to beat.”

South Portland will graduate two seniors from its team: Hawkins, a starter at forward, and Kelsi Conley, a key reserve.

“They’re been two quiet leaders who have always done things both in the classroom and on the floor the way you would want them to, representing your school,” Giordano said. “They’ve done a great job. I thanked them for their time and their efforts.”


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