SOUTH PORTLAND — Maddie Hasson grew up around basketball.

Now it’s her game that has grown up.

It wasn’t that long ago that Hasson started her career at South Portland High as an undersized and, admittedly at times, overmatched freshman point guard.

“That was definitely a tough role to step into as a freshman,” Hasson said at a recent practice.

Hasson is now a 5-foot-11 post player and returning Maine Sunday Telegram All-State selection who still possesses her guard skills. She and the surging Red Riots (11-2, 10 straight wins) are making it tough on everyone else.

“She has an ability to impact the game in so many different areas,” Gorham Coach Laughn Berthiaume said. “She can guard all five positions and her rebounding is tremendous.”

Yes, the rebounding. Hasson is averaging more than 13 rebounds per game, best in the SMAA by more than three a game.

Hasson was already a league top-10 rebounder as a junior with 7.3 per game. Her mother, Lynne Hasson, South Portland’s third-year head coach, said the guard-oriented team needed Hasson to rebound more.

“And now she loves it,” Lynne Hasson said. “Now she goes up to get it and she goes hard.”

Hasson averaged 14.1 points as a sophomore. The Red Riots compiled a surprising 15-3 record that season before being upset by Cheverus in the quarterfinals.

Last season, Hasson received All-State honors after averaging 16.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.8 steals. South Portland was eliminated by McAuley in the regional semifinals. Hasson scored 14 points but neither she nor her teammates could get untracked in the 39-34 loss.

McAuley had its way with South Portland again in the season opener. Hasson was held to four points and struggled in her role as the low-post defender against McAuley’s 6-foot-2 center Jess Willerson.

In the rematch last week, the Red Riots stifled everything McAuley tried to do, racing to a 35-15 halftime lead en route to a 57-45 victory. Before fouling out, Hasson had 22 points, and South Portland broke an 11-game losing streak to McAuley.

“I feel like we’ve been working up toward this win for a long time,” Hasson said. “We had been right there in games that we could have, and maybe should have, won and then in the end they’ve pulled it out which is part of why (McAuley) has won championships. They’ve closed out games. I think now we’re at that level. We closed out the game we were supposed to win.”

After that game, Hasson was second in the SMAA scoring race with 19.3 points, first in rebounds (13.7), sixth in assists (3.7) and third in steals (4.3). She’s also a 72 percent free-throw shooter.

“Every year she gets better because she gets stronger,” said South Portland junior guard Lydia Henderson, a three-year starter. “Since she’s stronger she’s become such a hard player to guard. But I remember when I was a freshman she would maneuver through people in these weird ways and I don’t know how she did it and it would almost look slow motion but she would get through.”

“Now she’s in so much more control,” sophomore guard Meghan Graff said. “Now she can jump stop, draw the foul and still finish. She’s very difficult to guard.”

“Every year she just gets a little better,” McAuley Coach Bill Goodman said. “This year she’s a little more efficient and playing at a very high level. We held her to four points in the first game and that wasn’t going to happen (again).”

Lynne Hasson said her daughter’s adjustment to playing opposing centers might be even more important. South Portland is allowing 30.2 points per game, tops in the league.

Hasson is ranked fifth academically in her class and next year will play for Bowdoin College. Hasson received a scholarship offer from the University of Maine in June “and heavily considered” becoming a Black Bear, she said.

“Some kids, their goal is to be a Division I basketball player,” Hasson said. “That was never really the case for me. I’ve known since I was really little that I wanted to play basketball in college. I had an offer from Maine but I had the option to go to Bowdoin. Where they’re in one of the best conferences in the country, competing for a national championship every year, with an education that will take me a long way after college, and a coach like Coach (Adrienne) Shibles … I just felt like it had the whole package and was the best fit for me.”

Maddie Hasson has been immersed in basketball – specifically South Portland High basketball – since birth. Her parents, Lynne (McGouldrick) and Chris Hasson were both South Portland High players. Both played in college, with Lynne playing at UMaine. Older siblings Connor and Abby were strong players at South Portland, who also played in college. Younger brother Riley is on the South Portland boys’ varsity.

“The pride in South Portland and South Portland girls’ basketball is definitely strong,” Maddie Hasson said.

Because Lynne Hasson was a longtime varsity assistant and junior varsity coach before replacing Mike Giordano, Maddie spent many hours in the gym, shooting at a side basket.

“I was coming to the varsity practice almost every day and those were the players I looked up to,” she said. Hasson said she’s never felt uncomfortable or under extra pressure playing for her mother.

“I can only think of positives. I love it. Since the McAuley game, so many people – some who I don’t even know (but) know me or know my family or follow the program – have said congratulations and ‘We’re rooting for you guys.’ That’s really exciting to see that support from the community.”

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or:

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Twitter: SteveCCraig