SOUTH PORTLAND — Although they play in different classes, Class AA South Portland and Class A Greely loom as two of the best high school girls’ basketball teams in the area, if not the state.

So when they met Friday night for the first time, there was a lot on the line.

The Riots rode the inside excellence of forward Maggie Whitmore and dead-eye foul shooting to defeat Greely 63-53 at Beal Gymnasium.

Whitmore scored 22 points on a variety of inside moves, 18 coming in the second half. The Riots were 17 of 17 at the foul line.

South Portland’s Meghan Graff looks for room under the basket while being guarded by Greely’s Camille Clement. Graff finished with 12 points. Staff photo by Ben McCann

“That was a huge win for us,” said Whitmore. “They’re either the best team or one of the best teams we’ll face all season. So us coming together and getting this win will be huge in the long run.”

The win raised South Portland’s early-season record to 3-0. Greely dropped to 2-1.

The Rangers were led by junior Anna DeWolfe, who scored 25 points, including the 1,000th of her career. That came with 2:48 remaining in the third quarter when she hit a 10-foot leaner in the lane.

“I couldn’t have done it without my teammates,” said DeWolfe. “They’ve been a part of everything. This team is really coming together.”

South Portland’s Eva Mazur goes up for a shot against Greely. She finished with 10 points. Staff photo by Ben McCanna

DeWolfe earned every point she got against the Riots, who harassed every Greely ballhandler, and contested every pass and shot the Rangers took.

The Riots trailed only once, 5-4 after Brooke Obar hit a 3-pointer with 4:50 left in the first period. They regained the lead when Sarah Boles hit a 3-pointer from the right corner 26 seconds later.

Obar (18 points) made it 7-7, then Olivia Cloutier hit a 3-pointer from the left wing to give South Portland a 10-7 lead.

It was 14-10 after one quarter after DeWolfe hit a 30-footer at the buzzer.

South Portland led 26-21 at the half, then Whitmore, a 5-foot-10 forward who had a size advantage inside, went to work.

Greely guard Anna DeWolfe lines up for a 3-pointer against South Portland. DeWolfe, a junior, hit a milestone 1,000 career points midway through the game. She was the game’s top scorer with 25 points. Staff photo by Ben McCanna

With Meghan Graff (12 points, seven assists) and Eva Mazur (10 points, six assists) getting the ball inside to her, Whitmore was able to use her power and athleticism to push the Riots in front. She had eight points in the third quarter and 10 in the fourth.

Perhaps none of her points were bigger than the two foul shots she hit with 3:33 remaining. Greely had cut the deficit to four on a 3-pointer by Madison Scott, but Whitmore regained the momentum for South Portland with two foul shots, then followed with an inside basket that made it 54-46 with just over two minutes remaining.

“We know what she likes to do,” said Greely Coach Todd Flaherty, “but it’s hard to stop her from doing what she wants to do. She’s pretty good at it.”

Graff said the game plan was to get the ball inside. The Riots just did it better in the second half.

“We knew we had a height advantage in the post,” said Graff. “In the first half we struggled. In the second half it was what gave us the lead.”

And the foul shooting clinched it. The Riots set a preseason goal of shooting 80 percent as a team. A perfect night will go a long way toward achieving that.

“That’s impressive,” said Riots Coach Lynne Hasson. “That’s been a focus for us. I know it’s a cliche and all that but foul shots do win games.”

They certainly helped Friday night.

filed under: