Massabesic’s Tyus Sprague-Ripley goes up for a shot over South Portland’s Ruay Bol during Friday night’s Class AA South final at Cross Insurance Arena.

Massabesic’s Tyus Sprague-Ripley goes up for a shot over South Portland’s Ruay Bol during Friday night’s Class AA South final at Cross Insurance Arena.

PORTLAND — The fourth-seeded South Portland boys basketball team pulled off another playoff upset, beating No. 3 Massabesic 62-60 on Friday night to advance to the state finals.

South Portland was led by Jack Fiorini with 30 points, while Ruay Bol scored 22 points in the second half.

The Mustangs were led by Ryan Gullikson with 28 points and Tyus Sprague-Ripley with 27.

The first quarter was a tight battle between both squads, with both defenses limiting their opponents’ scoring opportunities.

Although the Red Riots had struggled throughout the year with long-range shooting, their 3-point shots were on point, with Riley Hasson sinking an early three.

As both teams battled at the center court, the score was a modest 7-5 in favor of South Portland with less than three minutes remaining in the first quarter.

Thanks to another 3-pointer, this time from Fiorini, the Red Riots took a 10-7 advantage into the second quarter.

Many of South Portland’s troubles stemmed from the absence of forward Bol, who was forced to the bench for much of the opening half due to picking up two early fouls, which led to the Red Riots lacking their typical post dominance.

Massabesic began the second quarter faster and was in control in the first minutes, scoring the first six points of the period. The Red Riots continued to grind in the paint and managed to keep the score within reason throughout the quarter.

With less than four minutes remaining in the half, the Mustangs took a four-point lead, but thanks to back-to-back 3-pointers from Matt Pelletier, and another from Hasson, the Red Riots would regain the lead.

In the final minute of the half, Massabesic’s Josh Daigle took a steal to the hoop to tie the score 25-25 heading into the break.

Both teams came out firing in the second half. As the pace of play quickened, each team traded scoring flurries.

Midway through the third quarter, Massabesic enjoyed a 7-0 run, including a 3-pointer from Gullikson. The Red Riots quickly responded by going on an 9-0 run of their own and taking a four-point lead in the final two minutes of the third quarter.

Bol’s return was big for the Red Riots, as he scored six of the nine points in their late third-quarter run, including a contested dunk beneath the rim.

The Mustangs continued to press South Portland, and thanks to late scores in the final minute Massabesic brought the score to 43-42 South Portland heading into the final quarter.

Bol continued to control the game, scoring six more points early in the final quarter. Massabesic fought back with big shots, including a deep 3-pointer from Dan Amabile.

In the final four minutes, the Red Riots gained a strong advantage, going on a 9-0 run in a two-minute span and compiling a 57-51 lead.

South Portland would not be denied, closing out the final two minutes strong, riding Bol’s nine fourth-quarter points until the final seconds.

Massabesic put up one last shot in the final seconds, but missed at the buzzer, sending the crowd into a frenzy and South Portland to the finals.

Binette was pleased of his team’s effort throughout the game.

“We were at the rim, they did everything we were supposed to. They took direction until the last second. They executed until the last half second of the season,” said Binette.

Binette admitted his team’s struggles against Bol in the second half.

“He was getting to the baseline and sneaking behind us. He’s an athletic kid, he was getting the second chance rebounds. We tried checking him out, but he’s athletic, he’s got long arms … he’s a tough kid,” said Binette.

Considering Massabesic won a single game last season, Binette was proud of his team’s progression throughout the season.

“I can’t say enough about them … they are great kids. They came to practice every day and worked hard. They never lost focused like some other teams I have coached, and you can lose focus since the season is so long,” said Binette. “They were focused all the way through, they had a goal and they just missed it.”

Sports Staff Writer Alex Sponseller can be reached at [email protected] or at 282-1535 ext. 323. Follow the Journal Tribune Sports Department on Twitter @ JournalTsports.

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