Scarborough junior Lindsey Kelley (3) is hugged by senior Kaylee Emma at the conclusion of the Red Storm’s 42-38 win over Thornton Academy in Friday’s Class AA South quarterfinal. Scarborough advanced to meet South Portland in the semifinals Tuesday.

Mike Strout photos.

More photos below.

PORTLAND—After a two-game losing streak to end the regular season, Scarborough’s girls’ basketball team heard all the doubters.

Friday afternoon, in a Class AA South quarterfinal at the Portland Exposition Building, the Red Storm answered them in the best way possible.

By showing their mental fortitude and holding off Thornton Academy for an extremely sweet victory.

Scarborough, ranked third, and the sixth-seeded Golden Trojans went back-and-forth at each other in a game of runs, but in the end, the Red Storm’s defense and the poise and excellence of junior Sophie Glidden proved to be the difference.

Thornton Academy held a 10-9 lead after one quarter, but a 7-0 second period run put Scarborough on top. Late in the half, Glidden made a 3-pointer, freshman Madison Blanche did the same and just before the horn, Glidden hit a momentum-altering 3 to make it 27-20 Red Storm at the break.

Not surprisingly, the Golden Trojans made several runs in the second half, but they never were able to catch up.

After Thornton Academy got the first six points of the third quarter, a Glidden 3 opened it back up and a Blanche steal and layup made the score 34-28 Scarborough heading for the fourth period.

There, the Red Storm had to hold on for dear life and managed to do so.

With 5:54 to play, Scarborough senior Brooke Malone converted a three-point play to make it a 10-point contest, 39-29, but the Golden Trojans embarked on one final push.

A 3-pointer from junior Alex Hart capped a 9-0 surge and cut the deficit to one, 39-38, with 2:17 to play, but Thornton Academy wouldn’t score again.

A free throw from Blanche extended the lead to two, but the Golden Trojans would have six looks to tie or go ahead, only to miss every single one.

Finally, with 16.7 seconds to go, Glidden put the finishing touches on the victory with two free throws and the Red Storm prevailed, 42-38.

Glidden led all scorers with 22 points and added seven rebounds and Scarborough won a quarterfinal for the first time in four years, improved to 16-3, ended the Golden Trojans’ season at 10-9, and advanced to set up a delicious Class AA South semifinal versus No. 2 South Portland (16-2) Tuesday at 1:30 p.m., at the Cross Insurance Arena across town.

“I didn’t expect it to be easy,” said Red Storm coach Mike Giordano, who punched his ticket to the semifinals for the first time since 2008, when he coached at South Portland. “I’ve thought about this game all week. (Thornton Academy’s) well-coached with tournament experience. We had a lot to overcome a lot and we did. We used last week as motivation. People said we were done and we were too young and we didn’t belong here and those things just aren’t true. I told the girls that’s what people think of you, so go prove them wrong. They did.”

Tough draw

For a team that was once 15-1, Scarborough having to play Thornton Academy in its first playoff outing was far from an ideal scenario.

The Golden Trojans posted a 9-9 record this winter, but were viewed by everyone as a potential darkhorse entering the tournament.

The Red Storm, meanwhile, lost at home to Deering and Bonny Eagle in the final week to wind up 15-3, an excellent record to be sure, but only good for the No. 3 spot in the region (see sidebar, below, for links to previous game stories).

Scarborough won both regular season meetings: 41-39 at home Jan. 6 and 45-31 in Saco Feb. 2.

The lone prior playoff meeting between the teams came two years ago when the Golden Trojans surged late to win, 43-27, in the Western A quarterfinals en route to a trip to the state final.

The teams were scheduled to play Wednesday, but bad weather moved the game to Friday where the Red Storm showed their mettle.

Scarborough got the game’s first four points on a putback from Glidden and two free throws from junior Lindsey Kelley.

Thornton Academy didn’t score for the game’s first 3 minutes, 24 seconds, then rattled off eight quick points for the lead.

A reverse layup from Hart got the offense started. Senior Alisha Aube then took over, scoring on a putback, making two free throws, then driving for a layup and an 8-4 lead.

Back came the Red Storm, as freshman Julia Freeman made a layup and Glidden put home a miss while being fouled and added the free throw to complete the old-fashioned three-point play to put Scarborough back on top, 9-8.

With 8.2 seconds to go in the frame, Hart stole a pass and raced in for a layup and Thornton Academy took a one-point advantage to the second quarter.

There, the Red Storm overcame a slow start with a run to take the lead.

A layup by freshman Amanda Bogardus gave the Golden Trojans a three-point lead 23 seconds into the second period, but sophomore Josie Couture made a free throw, Glidden drove for a layup, Couture scored on a putback and Glidden made a layup on the fastbreak for a 16-12 Scarborough advantage.

Aube got a point back at the line and Bogardus hit a jumper, but Freeman answered with a driving layup.

With 2:35 left in the half, senior Bella Robinson made a jumper in the lane to cut the deficit to 18-17, but the Red Storm closed on a 9-3 run, thanks to three 3-pointers.

Glidden got the long-range party started with a 3 and Blanche followed with another.

After Hart made a 3 for the Golden Trojans, Glidden sank another, out of an inbounds set, just before the horn and Scarborough had a 27-20 lead at halftime. 

“When I play, I want to score,” said Glidden. “I want to help the team. It feels good to make those shots.”

In the first half, Glidden led all scorers with 15 points. Thornton Academy was paced by seven points apiece from Aube and Hart.

The Golden Trojans made things interesting again in the third quarter, but couldn’t take the lead.

The first six points of the second half went to Thornton Academy, as Aube scored on an up-and-under layup, Hart made a layup after a steal and after Hart picked up her fourth foul with 5:49 remaining in the third, Aube scored on a leaner to make it a one-point game, 27-26.

That’s as close as the Golden Trojans would get, however, as Glidden stemmed the tide with a clutch 3.

After Aube made a layup to make it a two-point game, the final four points of the frame went to Scarborough, as Glidden made a short jumper and Blanche made a layup after a steal for a 34-28 lead heading for the final stanza.

There, the Red Storm held on for dear life to salt away their first quarterfinal round victory in four seasons.

Aube made it a five-point game with a free throw 22 seconds in, but Kelley countered with two and with 5:54 remaining, Malone missed a 3, but got her own rebound, drove for a layup, was fouled on the play and added the free throw for the three-point play and a double-digit lead, 39-29.

A jumper from senior Lucy Macomber drew Thornton Academy within eight and Robinson drove and finished a layup with her left hand.

With 3:09 to go, Aube set up freshman Alexis Sanders for a layup and suddenly, the deficit was just four, 39-35.

After Aube was off target on a 3, Scarborough got the ball back, but turned it over and with 2:17 left, Hart buried a 3 to make things very interesting.

With exactly 2 minutes to play, Blanche made one of two free throws, then the Golden Trojans had multiple chances to tie or go ahead, but couldn’t do so.

First Hart drove for a layup, but it rolled off the rim.

After a Red Storm turnover, Thornton Academy got the ball back, but Bogarus’ jumper went in and out and Glidden got the rebound.

Scarborough freshman Bella Dickinson was fouled with 56.7 seconds left, but couldn’t extend the lead as she missed the front end of a one-and-one.

The Golden Trojans then got a series of chances, but Robinson missed a shot, got her own rebound and a follow-up bid by Bogardus was blocked out of bounds by Glidden.

“Our defense held them off,” Glidden said. “We knew they’d look for ‘Lish and Alex. I stuck close to them.”

Hart then had a shot blocked by Kelley, but Thornton Academy had one final look.

Hart nearly tied it as she got the rim, but again her layup was just off and Glidden got the rebound and was fouled with 16.7 seconds to go.

With the season on the line, to the surprise of no one, Glidden calmly sank both free throws to make it a two-possession game.

“I’ve shot well from the foul line all season,” said Glidden. “We work on free throws every practice. It’s just muscle memory.”

“(Sophie’s) a junior captain and that tells you a lot about who she is as a player and a leader,” Giordano said. “We lean on her to make the big shots. She’s an 81 percent free throw shooter. I was happy with her at the line.”

That slammed the door and Scarborough got to celebrate its hard-fought and hard-earned 42-38 victory.

“We really have a will to win,” Glidden said. “We stick together really well. We’ve won most of our close games at the end. We do the little things, make foul shots and play good defense. We didn’t think much about the losses. We got a little content at the end of the season, but it motivated us to come out with a win today. We expected it to be close. They knew our plays and our best players. They gave us a good game. We knew the entire time they could catch up.”

“A 10-point lead wasn’t safe with Aube and Hart on the other side,” said Giordano. “They make things happen. I didn’t feel safe, but we forced tough shots.”

Glidden all scorers with 22 points. She also had seven rebounds and a pair of steals. Blanche added six points (to go with six boards and two assists), Freeman and Kelley had four apiece and Malone (six boards) and Couture added three each.

Couture’s effort couldn’t truly be quantified, however, as she did her best to limit Aube over 32 minutes.

“We stuck with our defense,” Glidden said. “Aube and Hart were our biggest concerns. ‘Lish can score from anywhere and can do anything. Josie did a good job containing her. Alex is quick and can set up plays.”

“Josie has been an unsung hero all year defensively,” Giordano said. “We always put her on the opponent’s best player. She answers the call.”

Scarborough had a 31-26 edge in rebounds, overcame 21 turnovers (15 in the second half) and made 10 of 15 free throws.

Thornton Academy was paced by Aube’s 16 points (and game-high 11 rebounds). Hart added 12 points (to go with six steals and four boards), Bogardus had four and Macomber, Robinson and Sanders finished with two apiece. 

Battle royale

South Portland will pose a stern test Tuesday at the erstwhile Cumberland County Civic Center. The Red Riots won their final 12 games and are considered the team most likely to challenge the seemingly unbeatable top-seeded Rams of Gorham.

Scarborough hopes to have something to say about that and has to like it’s chances considering it downed South Portland, 46-40, Jan. 3 at home. 

The teams have met four previous times in the playoffs, with the Red Storm holding a 3-1 edge. Last year, the Red Riots held on for a 49-41 victory in the Class AA South quarterfinals.

“It’s a big deal,” Glidden said. “It’s the first time I”ve been to the Civic Center. I’ve dreamed of that since I was in third grade. It’s really exciting. We know it’ll be a close game. We match up really well. It’ll depend on defense. We’ll be confident.”

“Coach (Ron) Cote brought them there right before I came on board, it’s taken us four years to get back and it’s pretty sweet,” Giordano said. “I’d be lying to you if I said we were satisfied. We won’t be satisfied unless we play on Friday night with a chance to win a championship. We’ll play a team we certainly respect, but we beat them. I’ve seen South Portland several times. We have a good idea of what they like to do and what makes them go. We’ll try to limit them. These are the games kids will remember the rest of their lives. It’ll be fun.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Scarborough freshman Bella Dickinson lines up a shot as Thornton Academy senior Alisha Aube defends.

Scarborough junior Sophie Glidden leaves Thornton Academy junior Adeline Paradis in her wake and scores two of her game-high 22 points.

Scarborough freshman Julia Freeman looks for her shot as Thornton Academy senior Lucy Macomber (23) and freshman Amanda Bogardus defend.

Scarborough senior Brooke Malone prepares to shoot.

Scarborough freshman Madison Blanche prepares to shoot as Thornton Academy senior Alisha Aube defends.

Scarborough junior Sophie Glidden knocks the ball away from Thornton Academy junior Alex Hart.

Scarborough senior Brooke Malone (4) is congratulated by sophomore Josie Couture (12) and junior Sophie Glidden after a key basket in the second half.

Scarborough junior Lindsey Kelley and Thornton Academy junior Alex Hart fight for a loose ball late in the game.

Scarborough coach Mike Giordano talks to freshman Madison Blanche during a timeout.

Previous Scarborough stories

Season Preview

Scarborough 53 Portland 35

Gorham 58 Scarborough 26

Scarborough 55 Cheverus 37

Previous Scarborough-Thornton Academy playoff results

2015 Western A quarterfinals
TA 43 Scarborough 27 

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