SCARBOROUGH — Phil Conley’s 100th victory as the South Portland High boys’ basketball coach didn’t come without a struggle Tuesday night. But lately that’s been his team’s style.

The Red Riots, who rallied to defeat Deering a week ago, fell into a 14-point hole early in the second quarter before coming back for a 60-54 victory against Scarborough in an SMAA game.

South Portland (8-2) chipped away with its size and pressure defense, then took control with a 21-10 run in the third quarter.

The Red Storm (6-4), who lost by 22 points at South Portland on Dec. 27, came out hot and took a 10-2 lead. Early in the second quarter they went on a 7-0 run to lead 25-11.

But later in the quarter the Riots used an 8-0 spurt to get back into it led by their big men, Jack Fiorini and Jaren Muller.

“We were down pretty big in the game,” said Conley, who reached 100 wins in his eighth season with South Portland.

“Our defensive pressure got us back into the game and I told the players at halftime that the team that played the best defense would win. We continued that defensive pressure in the second half.”

After trailing 31-27 at halftime, the Riots started quickly in the third quarter. Kam Harper hit a 3-pointer to make it 31-30. Nate Wessel hit a free throw for Scarborough but Muller connected on a nifty jump hook from the right side and it was tied, 32-32. It was the first tie since 2-2.

Ruay Bol of South Portland then got the ball near midcourt and dribbled in for a dunk for the Riots’ first lead, then followed with an inside move to make it 36-32.

The Riots’ scoring was well distributed in the quarter. Harper, a senior guard, had five points in the quarter, and Jordin Jackson and Bol had two baskets each.

South Portland went up by nine points when Muller scored to start the fourth quarter, but he collected his fourth foul shortly thereafter and fouled out with 5:02 remaining and his team up by eight.

The Riots managed to hold on despite a big second half by Milani Hicks.

Hicks scored 15 of his game-high 20 points in the second half for Scarborough.

The Red Storm pulled within 58-54 on a basket by Andrew Porada with 19 seconds remaining after a steal by Sam Warren. Hicks then missed a 3-pointer with 8 seconds remaining that would have brought the Red Storm within one point.

“I like the way this team competes,” said Conley.

“It tells me a lot about this team to be able to come back like that on the other team’s floor. Scarborough came out determined to play better than the last time and they did. They’re a good team.”

Scarborough Coach Tony DiBiase agreed that South Portland’s defense turned the game around.

He also said South Portland’s height is tough to contend with. The Red Storm are a small team with the exception of 6-foot-7 center Jake Gardner.

“South Portland is one of the tallest teams I can remember,” said DiBiase.

Despite the height difference, DiBiase said his team was right there.

“I thought we had them,” he said. “South Portland’s pressure defense got them back into the game. We played well and had a chance. We’ll build on this.”

Sam Freeman, the regular point guard for Scarborough, played only briefly because he’s coming off a bout with the flu.

Freeman entered the game in the third quarter but soon was removed.

His absence hurt Scarborough’s attempts to beat the Riots’ press.

Fiorini and Bol led the Riots with 12 points. Muller chipped in with 11.

Sophomore guard Emmett Peoples got Scarborough off to a great start with 10 first-quarter points.

Wessel added 15 points for Scarborough.

“This team is focused,” said Harper. “We have the confidence to beat any team as long as we continue to work hard. We had the confidence to get back into this game.”