SCARBOROUGH — When the Scarborough girls’ basketball team won at Gorham three weeks ago, many dismissed it as a fluke.

Thursday night at Alumni Gymnasium, the Red Storm beat the defending regional champion Rams again and left no doubt they’re a legitimate contender.

Scarborough dictated play most of the way, trailed for all of 45 seconds, and behind eight 3-pointers went on to a 44-36 victory.

Julia Freeman had 14 points and Josie Couture added 11 while spearheading a strong defensive effort on Gorham standout Mackenzie Holmes for the Red Storm (9-1).

“I’m proud of the kids but I told them in the locker room that I don’t get excited when I expect something,” said Scarborough Coach Mike Giordano.

“I thought we beat them on their floor so it should be a heck of a game here, and we should compete and we did.”

Scarborough got the job done from the outside in the first period, hitting four 3-pointers. Holmes had six points, including a late layup for the lead. But as time expired, Freeman’s 3-point shot put the Red Storm up, 12-10.

Scarborough continued to frustrate the Rams in the second period, with Couture and Freeman making 3-pointers for an 18-12 lead. Holmes hit two baskets in the final minute, but at the horn, Kayla Conley (8 points, 8 rebounds) capped her strong all-around first half by scoring on a putback for a 20-16 Red Storm advantage.

Unlike the first two quarters, Scarborough started fast in the third. Two free throws from Bella Dickinson, four from Couture and two Freeman layups stretched the lead to 30-19 with 4:06 to play in the period. After Holmes made a layup after a steal to cut the deficit to eight, Dickinson rattled home a clutch 3 at the horn for a 36-25 lead.

“(Baskets just before the horn) get us so energized,” Freeman said. “The whole team gets uplifted and we have a bigger will to win.”

In the fourth period, a Freeman bank shot gave the Red Storm their largest advantage, 13 points, but when Holmes fought her way through the defense and made a leaner with 1:17 left, Gorham was within 40-34.

But Scarborough didn’t buckle. Freeman and Couture each hit two clutch foul shots and the Red Storm closed out the victory.

“We have a lot of good players who give their all every time,” Couture said. “We’re willing to not just shoot but work on defense and go after it.”

Gorham (6-3) got a 22-point, 11-rebound performance from Holmes, but the rest of the team had just 14 points.

“The message I gave (the girls) was that I wasn’t going to pat them on the back and tell them they did a good job when I thought we didn’t bring our best effort,” said Rams Coach Laughn Berthiaume. “At the same time, we’re all in this together and we’ll have to go to work and figure it out. I’m searching for the combination of playing tough, moving the ball and complementing Mackenzie at the same time.”