Thornton Academy’s Jack Tilley drives to the basket during Tuesday’s Class AA semifinal game against South Portland.

Thornton Academy’s Jack Tilley drives to the basket during Tuesday’s Class AA semifinal game against South Portland.

PORTLAND — Late free throws helped the No. 4 South Portland boys basketball team upset No. 1 Thornton Academy 39-36 in the Class AA semifinal matchup Tuesday night at Cross Insurance Arena.

Jack Tilley led the Trojans with 17, while South Portland’s Jack Fiorini scored 13 for the Red Riots.

The Trojans got on the board early, starting with a quick 3- pointer from David Koehan and another two from Tilley in the opening minute.

South Portland would then keep TA in check, as Ruay Bol scored six points late in the first quarter to make the score a tight 10-8 at the end of the opening period.

Thornton Academy’s David Keohan goes up for a shot during Tuesday’s Class AA South semifinal game against South Portland.

Thornton Academy’s David Keohan goes up for a shot during Tuesday’s Class AA South semifinal game against South Portland.

The second quarter was low scoring with neither team surrendering space in their zones while also failing to piece together many scoring drives.

An issue for each team was shooting from the floor, with TA converting just 6-of-21 shots in the opening half, while South Portland made five of their 15 shots.

South Portland outscored TA 5-4 in the second thanks to a 3-pointer from Fiorini and trailed 14-13 heading into the half.

The third quarter remained close between the two squads as they exchanged points back-and-forth throughout the third quarter.

Both Ben Lambert and Tilley nailed 3-pointers for the Trojans in the third, while Fiorini impressed for the Red Riots, scoring six points. Both teams scored 13 points, making the score 26-25 heading into the final period of play.

TA scored two points in the opening seconds of the fourth, but thanks to a long-distance 3-pointer from Kamden Mallory, South Portland tied the score at 28. The Red Riots would then add to the streak and take a 31-28 lead midway through the final quarter.

Tilley answered for the Trojans as the senior scored six points and put TA back on top as the minutes waned.

TA took a 36-35 lead into the final minute. With 11 seconds remaining, Fiorini had a chance to give South Portland the lead by shooting two free throws.

Fiorini converted both shots, and five seconds later, Matt Pelletier had a chance to add points of his own after a technical foul was called against TA.

Pelletier added to the score, giving the Red Riots the 39-36 win.

South Portland coach Kevin Millington stressed the importance of slowing down the fast-paced TA attack to his players.

“I think it was the pace of play, we couldn’t let their athletes get up and down the court. It was an ugly game, but I think ugly is probably in our favor,” said Millington.

TA coach Bob Davies admitted to his team’s struggles with the slow pace.

“We didn’t play well and to be honest I don’t think they played well. It was a slow game, which is probably what they wanted, we’re a fast team and we play with speed,” said Davies.

Millington also made sure his team took advantage of its size while on offense.

“We have been struggling to shoot since November, so we try to emphasize getting the ball to the inside. Our advantage is with our bigs, so we want to get the ball inside and score those layups,” said Millington.

South Portland advances to the Class AA South finals against Massabesic on Friday night. Millington has been impressed with the Mustangs and anticipates a tough matchup.

“They’re a tough team. They’re wellcoached and have some athletes as good as we’ve seen all year. It’s a tough matchup so we will have to play a good game,” said Millington.

Sports Staff Writer Alex Sponseller can be reached at [email protected] or at 282-1535 ext. 322. Follow the Journal Tribune Sports Department on Twitter @JournalTsports.


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