SOUTH PORTLAND — In a game between once-beaten SMAA boys’ basketball teams, South Portland Coach Kevin Millington wanted to make sure his team played up-tempo against Windham.

The Eagles were more than happy to oblige, running and gunning to a 13-point lead by late in the second quarter Tuesday night at Beal Gym.

“I think that’s the first time in the last few years that we’re trying to play fast and the other team was playing faster,” Millington said. “They were dictating the pace.”

Eventually that pace – and foul trouble – took a toll on Windham as South Portland rallied in the second half for a 72-63 victory.

South Portland (7-1) overcame an eight-point deficit late in the third quarter and made it 51-51 heading into the fourth. The Red Riots continued their momentum with a 12-4 run centered around drives by Noah Malone, Connor Buckley and Riley Hasson at the same time Windham (7-2) turned cold from 3-point range.

The Eagles managed only 22 second-half points, the same total they scored in a hot opening quarter.

“I’d like to say I had all these great adjustments,” Millington said. “To be honest, I didn’t know what to do.”

South Portland’s five starters all finished with between nine and 18 points. Malone led the way with 18 followed by Buckley (15), Liam Coyne (14), Scott Lewis (14) and Hasson (9).

“We do have a little more of a balanced attack,” Millington said. “Having those scorers down the stretch, I think Windham got a little tired. We were very tired, too, but we had maybe a little more left in the tank at the end.”

Backcourt mates Nick Curtis and Mike Gilman fouled out for Windham, as did center Dierhow Bol. Curtis, the point guard, picked up his third foul in the waning seconds of the first half and his fourth in the opening seconds of the final quarter with the score tied.

“It took away the aggressiveness on the defensive side,” Windham Coach Chad Pulkkinen said. “(Gilman) and (Curtis) have never fouled out of a game, so that was uncharacteristic of them.”

Curtis finished with 21 points, but it was Cory Hutchison who torched South Portland for much of the game. He poured in seven 3-pointers on his way to a game-high 25 points.

His sixth, from the left wing, gave Windham a 51-43 lead midway through the third quarter.

“We didn’t match up with him well,” South Portland’s Hasson said of Hutchison. “He’s a good player. If you get too distracted with the other players, like we did, he comes in and he doesn’t miss when he’s open.”

Trailing by eight, South Portland extended its defense, and the uncontested 3s and backdoor cuts Windham found plentiful in the first half disappeared.

“When we’re unselfish, a lot of things open up for us,” Pulkkinen said. “In the second half we were just very selfish with the basketball and got out of our game plan. We just didn’t move the ball enough to get open looks because guys weren’t moving.”

The lead changed hands eight times. South Portland grabbed it for good on a Buckley drive that made it 57-55. When Windham fouled in desperation, the Red Riots drained 9 of 10 free throws down the stretch.

“That’s some of the best competition we’ve faced all season,” Malone said. “They came out and they were shooting lights out, and that was really tough to handle.”

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