STANDISH–Bonny Eagle’s Jake Humphrey and Gorham’s Jordan Bretton matched each other with 19 apiece – the game high – on Friday night, Jan. 25. The Scots built a domineering upper-hand to begin the outing, and led 27-13 at the break; the Rams, however, controlled much of the latter half and seized the lead midway through the fourth.

In the end, Bonny Eagle narrowly escaped with a victory, downing their guests 49-47.

“The first half, we were playing great defense,” Scots head coach John Trull said. “We were contesting all their shots….And then our offense came to us there at the end of the second quarter, a little bit, to pump a lead out. But we knew no lead was safe against these guys.”

Beyond Humphrey’s 19, Zach Maturo – always a threat – kicked in 17 for the Scots. Cam Gardner added five for the team, and Will Hendrix and Nate Ferris four each.

Meanwhile, in addition to Bretton’s 19, Tyler Haines contributed nine for the Rams and Nick Strout eight. Grant Nadeau had four, Ryan Reno three, and Bode Meader and Henry O’Neill two each.

Your favorite local sportswriter has a reputation as bad juju, a real jinx, in the Bonny Eagle gym this winter, having attended exactly two girls games – in both of which the Lady Scots looked sharp to start, only to ultimately succumb on second-half collapses. So when the Gentlemen Scots first went up big on their Rams counterparts, and then started to unravel, he actually contemplated sneaking away before school officials could escort him out. The action, though – it was just too good to miss.

Gardner opened the low-scoring first with a three, but Reno hit a two and Bretton followed him up with with back-to-back twos of his own to usher the Rams out front, 6-3. Gardner then hashed a couple from the line before Maturo closed the quarter with a three.

8-6 Bonny Eagle to begin the second – which the Scots utterly dominated, outstripping their guests 19-7. Maturo lit the fuse with a three, then burned it low with a two; Gorham called timeout. When the sides returned to the court, Humphrey picked up his first points of the game on a crowd-pleasing three and 16-6.

“Our defense is amazing,” Humphrey said, asked what allowed the Scots to so effectively control the uphill half. “Especially when we have me, Zach, Cam Gardner, and Will all taking charges. Jack Bean – that’s when you know it’s going to be a special night, when we have Jack Bean on the ground taking charges.”

The Rams kept their cool and responded with six straight: two each by Meader (on a reverse layup), Bretton and Haines (from the line). But after that – and until the end of the quarter – Bonny Eagle barreled forward, putting up 11 more to the Rams’ one. Maturo drained a two, as did Ferris; Humphrey turned a steal of his own into a two, and then a steal of Jake Esty’s into two more. Humphrey capped the hot streak with a slick buzzer-beater, an off-balance fadeaway jumper from a low angle – it looked like it should’ve been a three, but the nearest official failed to signal as much. C’est la b-ball.

Bonny Eagle continued to school the Rams through the start of the third, building all the way to 38-19. Hendrix kicked off the push with a two; he added another two shortly. Humphrey hit a three and a two and Ferris a two. Gorham was hardly silent – Breton, Haines and O’Neill all tallied points; they just couldn’t keep up. Frankly, the game looked in the bag for the Scots.

That’s when the action went all topsy-turvy.

Somehow, Bonny Eagle accrued six fouls in those first few minutes of the third (while the Rams picked up none), meaning they had no choice but to switch to a less-aggressive defense. If they reached the seven-foul mark so early, Gorham would have roughly a quarter and a half of bonus free-throw after bonus free-throw to help them chew through their deficit.

“We started playing a little bit too physical,” Humphrey said. “Getting hands-on defense.”

“That was a nightmare,” Trull said of his boys’ foul troubles. “Because we know they’re a great free-throw-shooting team, probably one of the best in the State. We did not want to slow the game down, we did not want to stop the clock, we did not want to foul.”

“One thing [we’ve] done a great job with is responding to officials,” Trull said. “So, all refs are going to call the game differently. And I just tell them [the boys], ‘You have to play how the refs are going to call it.’ I let the officials know it was 6-0, and I let my guys know that we have to adjust to how they’re calling the game. We had to play defense differently.”

Whether or not it was the defensive change that tripped them up, Bonny Eagle stumbled: Gorham sprang into a hearty run, with Nadeau, Bretton, and Haines all dropping in points. Humphrey punctuated the play with a two, and, later, a free, but Bretton and Haines added still more buckets. Bretton especially caught fire, closing the quarter with a pair of threes, including a slick buzzer-beater.

“We knew they were gonna make shots,” Trull said. “They hit some contested shots, and a lot of credit to them in the third quarter. I think they had 22 points in the third quarter, which is more than their first-half total – almost double their first-half total.”

“When you have a lead like that, it’s really never safe,” Trull continued, “because once it goes from 14 to eight, it feels like a tie game. Especially – they had a good crowd here tonight; it was a nice atmosphere. But, credit to our guys for dealing with that and playing through that. We even gave up the lead and were still able to win, so that’s huge.”

41-35 at the dawn of the fourth: Bonny Eagle were barely out front, and held none of the momentum. Strout began the home stretch with two from the line. Haines pickpocketed the Scots on their ensuing possession, dashed upcourt and dished to Strout for two more – no, not for two more: Haines committed a foul and the bucket failed to count. It was a minor setback, though, as he then added a free and Strout two more, setting the scoreboard at 41-40.

With 5:36 on the clock, Maturo nailed a two: 43-40. Reno next knocked down a free, and Nadeau – Nadeau would’ve had a two, but he traveled. Still, just another minor setback, right? Right, because Bretton netted a three momentarily, thereby seizing the lead for the Rams in so much style. 44-43.

Maturo remarked on the Scots’ mental state when Gorham took over the lead. “Me and Jacob…we do this all the time; it’s nothing new. We just knew we had to buckle down, and that’s just how we play.”

“I feel like we play better when it’s closer,” Humphrey added. “That’s when me and Zach just, kind of, go to work. I feel so confident with Zach shooting the ball.”

The Scots have now won three games by two points or fewer, slipping past Scarborough 59-58 back in early December and Kennebunk 88-87 just last week.

The Rams were up, but Bonny Eagle had six more in them, while Gorham had only three. Maturo clinched things for his boys: He hit one from the line, then – when Nadeau lost his footing at midcourt – he pounced on the ball, wresting control and generating an opportunity that led to a further pair of frees. 46-44.

But Gorham weren’t ready to cash in their chips, of course, and Strout drained a downtowner for 47-46. Maturo responded with a spin-jumper in the high key to reverse things again, 48-47, and that – that is almost, but not quite, how the evening would end.

The Rams had maybe 50 seconds to work with, but Bretton traveled and control flipped to the Scots, who burned through the next 25 seconds just fiddling around. Gorham, desperate, pressured heavily, but Trull called timeout to save possession for his kids before the Rams could foul.

On the inbounds pass, the ball flew Humphrey’s way; if Gorham still wanted to foul, Bretton apparently didn’t want to be the one to do it. He did though, and since it was his fifth of the night, he stalked to the sideline obviously, and understandably, frustrated.

Humphrey hit one of two from the line: 49-47; Gorham called timeout. When play resumed, however, Strout couldn’t find the right vantage point to fire off a final shot – Maturo just wouldn’t let him get a decent look at the basket.

“At the end, we really pulled through on defense,” Humphrey said. “The last possession, Zach played the best defense of the game – stopped Nick. Zach sealed the win right there, on his defense.”

Trull applauded both Maturo and Humphrey. “They’ve done a great job growing up – Zach and Hump, being a junior and a sophomore – playing games like this that they really haven’t played in before. Being able to finish games, it’s really a tribute to them and how they prepare and how mentally tough they are and it’s a huge advantage.”

Both Bonny Eagle and Gorham are having excellent seasons. The Scots, now 11-3, sit in third in AA South at present; the Rams, now 8-6, trail them in fourth. TA (11-4) holds first, SoPo (8-5) second, and Scarborough fifth (8-7).

Bonny Eagle travels to Portland (fifth in AA North, 9-5) on Tuesday the 29th, then Falmouth (second in A South, 11-3) on Friday, Feb. 1. Gorham, meanwhile, visits Westbrook (12th in A South, 1-13) on the 29th and welcomes the Riots on Thursday the 31st.

“We feel good,” Maturo said of the coming weeks. “One game at a time. One practice at a time. We have a hard-working group of guys…We have Portland and Windham and Massabesic and Falmouth left – which, we know we can win all those games.”

Adam Birt can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @CurrentSportsME.

Gorham’s Jordan Bretton tied with Bonny Eagle’s Jake Humphrey for the game-high score, 19.

Bonny Eagle big Will Hendrix denies Gorhamite Nick Strout.

Gorham’s Jordan Bretton strips the ball from Bonny Eagle’s Jake Humphrey as Humphrey takes to the sky.

Will Hendrix makes for the net.

Will Hendrix, trapped in a corner, looks for a passing option.

Bode Meader dribbles along the endline, attacking for the Rams.

Nick Strout lfots up an inside shot.

Gorhamite Ryan Reno is a major inside presence.

Tyler Haines ducks around a Bonny Eagle opponent.

Tyler Haines is a formidable force on the court for Gorham.

Grant Nadeau volleys a layup attempt.

Nick Strout unwinds into a shot.

Gorham’s Grant Nadeau ducks around a Bonny Eagler, looking for a route to the net.

Henry O’Neill contributed a couple critical points in the Rams’ comeback and near-victory.

Bonny Eagle’s Jake Humphrey tries for two; Gorhamite Jordan Bretton defends.

Zach Maturo gets air over a crowd of Gorham defenders.

Gorham’s Nick Strout and Bonny Eagle’s Cam Gardner do midair battle.

Zach Maturo ascends toward the net. Maturo finished with 17.

Cam Gardner warmed up the Bonny Eagle offense with points to open the game.

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