Emily Esposito is regarded as one of the best basketball players in the state, yet she feels she’s struggled this year.

She looked pretty good Tuesday night.

Esposito, a junior guard, had 36 points and six steals to spur unbeaten Gorham to a 64-36 victory over Cheverus in a Class AA girls’ basketball matchup.

Freshman center Mackenzie Holmes added 20 points as the Rams, top-ranked in Clas AA South, improved to 17-0.

The two were nearly unstoppable, at one point combining to score 33 consecutive points for the Rams through the second and third quarters.

“When we settle (down) and have the ball go inside and back out again, they’re as difficult a 1-2 punch as there is in the league,” said Coach Laughn Berthiaume. “They’re a part of what we do; they’re a big part of what we do but when they’re hot, we’re also smart enough to give them the ball.”

Cheverus, which dropped to 10-7 in Class AA North, tried to stay close with its 3-point shooting and trailed by only two midway through the second quarter, 16-14, on an Emme Poulin 3-pointer. But Gorham extended its defense to take away the open 3 and methodically pulled away.

Leading 28-17 at the half, the Rams extended it to 46-29 after three as Esposito and Holmes scored all 18 Gorham points in that quarter.

Esposito had 10 and Holmes eight as the Rams worked the ball inside against the smaller Stags, with Danasia Fennie often making the entry pass. She finished with five assists.

“We just want to make sure we don’t just settle for jump shots against anybody,” said Berthiaume. “Inside out is the best way to play. And it’s good to have options.”

“Mackenzie does a terrific job inside,” said Esposito. “When she gets double-teamed she tends to kick it out and I guess it happened to be to me tonight. I think between the two of us we know how each other plays, so just reading that … good chemistry.”

And when those two get going, it’s hard to defend them.

“It’s hard to get the ball out of their hands,” said Cheverus Coach Steve Huntington. “Kaylea Lundin is a very smart point guard. What do you take away?”

On this night the Stags didn’t have that answer. “We worked really hard to get each other the ball to score,” said Holmes, who had 13 rebounds. “I think that it just worked well for us and Espo played an awesome game. We were getting her the ball and that’s always a good thing.”

Esposito said she hasn’t been shooting well this season and has spent extra time in the gym trying to find her shooting stroke. Tuesday night the shots dropped but she’s still looking to improve. “I feel I could do more to help my team,” she said. “That’s where I’m coming from.”

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