Phil Conley walked into the Scarborough boys’ basketball team’s locker room and let out a yell:

“Are you kidding me?”

And the celebration began with a roar. Finally, Scarborough will be playing in a boys’ basketball state championship game.

The top-seeded Red Storm used near-perfect foul shooting in the fourth quarter to pull away from second-seeded South Portland for a 55-43 win in the Class AA South championship game Friday night at Cross Insurance Arena.

Scarborough hit 14 of 15 foul shots in the fourth quarter to secure the school’s first regional championship.

“It means the world to me, to get a regional title for Scarborough High,” said Conley. “Athletic Director Mike LeGage believed in me two years ago when I applied for the job. And I’m glad that the guys bought into my system and we won a title.”

Scarborough (17-4) will play at 9 p.m. next Friday at CIA, facing Edward Little, which hasn’t won a state title since 1946. South Portland, won the previous two South titles, finished 15-6.

“This is crazy,” said Scarborough junior forward Nick Fiorillo, who received the George Vinall Trophy as the tournament’s outstanding player. “I don’t even know what to say. We worked so hard all year. We still (have) one more game to go.”

Morgan Pratt led the Red Storm with 14 points, while Fiorillo had 13 and Jaquan Seme 11. The three of them hit 11 of 12 foul shots in the fourth.

“After every drill in practice, we go 20, 25 at the line,” said Fiorillo. “Coach keeps track of them. It’s something we don’t joke around with, and this is why.”

Defenses dominated for the most part. The score was 19-19 at the half and 33-30 entering the fourth quarter.

There, Scarborough quickly pulled away. Fiorillo started it with two foul shots. A Pratt layup (off a great back-door pass from Zoltan Panyi) made it 37-30 and forced a South Portland timeout.

“We knew how badly we wanted it and we knew we had to pull away if we wanted it to make the game ours,” said Pratt. “We were just able to execute and take control of the game.”

Noah Malone, who led the Red Riots with 16 points, made a 3-pointer coming out of the timeout. But Fiorillo scored inside on a lob pass from Reece Lagerquist. Then the Red Storm forced a turnover on the press, leading to a three-point play by Brian Austin (on a back-door cut with a pass from Fiorillo), and it was suddenly 42-33. After another South Portland turnover, Paul Kirk hit two foul shots, and the lead hit 11.

“They made some shots and we didn’t,” said South Portland Coach Kevin Millington. “I know it sounds pretty simple. But games happen with little runs like that, and if the clock is such at a certain time … if that’s in the first quarter, we’d be able to climb back, because there’s plenty of time. The timing of that run was such that we had to play differently.”

The Riots were forced to foul, and the Red Storm were nearly perfect. They hit 16 of 18 foul shots overall.

“Coming in, we were really confident, but I think it’s just now setting in what this means,” said Pratt. “We’re pretty fired up.”

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

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