GORHAM — Ethan Belanger got hot in the second half Tuesday night to lead Sanford to a 58-52 comeback win over Gorham in Class AA boys’ basketball.

Belanger scored 11 of his team-high 16 points in the second half, nine in the third quarter.

“We had an offensive plan for the second half and we just executed. Everything just fell into place,” said Belanger.

Sanford (1-1) went into halftime trailing 27-26. On the first possession of the third quarter, Belanger knocked down a 3-pointer to give the Spartans their first lead, 29-27.

“We tried to change things up in the second half, made a few adjustments against (Gorham’s) zone. We came out that first possession and hit a 3, it gave us a little confidence,” said Sanford Coach Paul Nolette.

After a defensive stop, Belanger, in rhythm, stepped into and buried a deep 3 from the left wing to extend Sanford’s lead to five.

“My teammates just got me the ball and I guess everything fell into place,” said Belanger. “(It was a) good team win.”

Gorham (0-1) did not lay down. After a timeout, Cam Holmes and Jackson Fotter hit back-to-back 3s to regain the lead, 36-35.

After another Rams bucket pushed their lead to three, Belanger hit his third 3, this time from the corner, to tie the game at 38 with 2:40 left in the third.

The Rams withstood the 3-point barrage and took a three-point lead into the fourth quarter. Sanford’s Ethan Emard started the fourth with a tying 3 from the right wing.

On the next Spartans possession, Emard went all the way down the court after a defensive rebound for a basket that gave Sanford the lead.

Emard scored eight of his 10 points in the fourth quarter.

With Sanford ahead 48-45 and 4:57 left in the game, Gorham’s Jason Komulainen (game-high 17 points) hit a 3 from the corner to tie the game.

The Rams and Spartans traded baskets before the Spartans got a stop and Frank Veino slashed to the bucket for a layup off a nice pass from Mike Lunny to put Sanford up 52-50, a lead it would never relinquish.

“The key to this game was for us to be able to execute our stuff down the stretch and I thought at times we did a decent job, but when it counted, especially the fourth quarter, we did not get the shots we needed to get,” said Gorham Coach Mark Karter.

Fotter played a terrific game for Gorham, finishing with 13 points, seven assists and seven steals.

Gorham jumped to a 12-4 lead in the first quarter and appeared as though it would dominate all night but only had a 14-9 lead.

“(The 12-4 deficit) made me a little nervous because you could see the spirit kind of taken away from us,” said Nolette.

Sanford took advantage of its chances from the free-throw line, making 90 percent (18-20). Gorham didn’t have a free throw in the second half and made just 53 percent (8-15) in the game.

“Ironically, we lost to Cheverus in overtime on Friday and we missed 10 free throws. We shot 54 percent from the foul line and lost by two in overtime,” said Nolette.


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