Lynne Hasson has told her South Portland girls’ basketball players many times that foul shooting can make the difference in a game.

Wednesday night it did.

The third-seeded Red Riots hit 7 of 8 foul shots in the final 1:15 to turn back sixth-seeded Scarborough 49-41 in a Class AA South quarterfinal at the Portland Expo.

South Portland had a 12-point lead cut to four with 1:39 remaining, but stayed ahead with clutch foul shooting.

“Foul shots are never more important than in the playoffs,” said Lydia Henderson, who was perfect on four foul shots. “We shoot them every day in practice under pressure situations. Those are all mental, just staying focused at the end when it counts is really important.”

South Portland (16-3) will play second-seeded McAuley (16-2) in the semifinals at 2 p.m. Tuesday at Cross Insurance Arena. The Riots beat McAuley 57-45 on Jan. 12.

Scarborough (7-12) lost by 17 points to South Portland in the regular season.

The Riots appeared to take control during a 7:31 stretch through the first and second quarters when the Red Storm went scoreless. South Portland scored 12 consecutive points in that span to move to a 15-7 lead that it slowly expanded.

It got to 14 points in the third quarter and was 12 entering the fourth when Sarah Boles hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from the left wing to end the third. Boles had 12 points for South Portland, stepping in after Scarborough worked to take away the Riots’ top scorers.

“She hit some shots,” said Scarborough Coach Mike Giordano. “We had to gamble on someone and we gambled on her. To her credit, she made the shots.

“I’m proud of the kids’ effort tonight. We were down big but fought back.”

“(Boles) can score,” said Hasson. “I was glad to see her score tonight.”

A quick basket by Meghan Graff gave the Riots a 40-26 lead in the fourth. But Scarborough, led by Sophie Glidden, came back.

Glidden scored nine of her 22 points in the final quarter. Her three-point play with 1:39 left brought the Red Storm within 42-38, but she committed two fouls in the next four seconds to foul out.

Henderson, who scored six of her nine points in the final quarter, hit two free throws for a 44-38 lead with 1:15 left. After Jillian Ware of Scarborough hit one foul shot with 51.9 seconds remaining, the Riots spread the floor, forcing the Red Storm to foul. Maddie Hasson (14 points) of South Portland hit two more foul shots for a 46-39 lead. Then freshman Katie Whitmore hit 1 of 2 with 15.4 seconds left to make it 47-41. Henderson clinched it with two more free throws with 8.6 seconds left.

“We’re pretty mentally tough,” said Maddie Hasson. “We shoot a ton of free throws, and just once you get there, you know you shot a million in your lifetime and it’s just not thinking about the situation, just shooting them the way you always do.”

Lynne Hasson said the Riots’ experience helped down the stretch.

“We’ve got some older kids who’ve been here,” she said. “I don’t think they’re going to tighten up in these situations. They can knock down those foul shots.”

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