What was less surprising about Tuesday’s McAuley-South Portland girls’ basketball slugfest – that there was only one field goal in overtime that decided the defensive battle, or that Red Riots senior Maddie Hasson was the one who delivered it?

Hasson scored all five points for South Portland in overtime – and 21 for the game – to will her team to a 39-36 victory in the Class AA South semifinals at the Cross Insurance Arena.

Her go-ahead basket came after she snared her 10th and final rebound and dribbled downcourt into the teeth of four defenders for a layup.

“I just knew we needed a score and then I ended up getting all the way to the rim,” Hasson said. “I think I had overpassed a little bit in transition. … I think I was ahead of the pack and earlier in the game Coach was telling me, ‘Go up with it, go up with it.’ So I think I had that mindset going downcourt with that one.”

“Coach” is also Hasson’s mother, Lynne. It was Lynne Hasson who decided to call a timeout with 14.3 seconds left in overtime and her daughter in the middle of attempting a pair of free throws that would put the third-seeded Red Riots (17-3) up by three points.

“Coach trying to ice her own free-throw shooter, I guess,” Maddie Hasson chuckled. “It was fine. We had some things to talk about so it wasn’t a big deal.”

Indeed. Maddie Hasson calmly swished both and South Portland forced a late turnover to clinch the victory over second-seeded McAuley (16-3).

“I knew on the line I was confident with the ball in my hands and it just came down to doing it like I always have,” Maddie Hasson said.

The victory puts the Red Riots in the regional final against top-seeded Gorham at 7 p.m. Friday at the CIA. It’s the farthest the team has advanced since 2006, when Maddie Hasson was a 7-year-old “super fan” in attendance to see another big victory over McAuley.

The last South Portland state title was in 1986, Lynne Hasson pointed out.

“So we like the sixes,” she said. “We feel like we’re kind of a team of destiny.”

McAuley, which ousted South Portland in the regional semifinals last year, forced overtime on a Brooke Howard layup with 42.9 seconds remaining to tie it at 34. But the Riots hounded the Lions into 10-of-46 shooting (21.7 percent) for the game. Jess Willerson scored 13 points to lead McAuley, but needed 16 shots to do so, thanks to tough defense by Hasson.

Hasson forced Willerson into missing a potential winning shot late in regulation. Willerson scored McAuley’s only points in overtime on a pair of free throws.

“She obviously has a lot of size on me but we’ve been working all week on how to defend her,” said Maddie Hasson, who at 5-foot-11 was giving up 3 inches to Willerson.

“So it just came down to executing what we’ve been working on.”


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