SCARBOROUGH — One of the trademarks of any team coached by Mike Giordano is defense – gritty, swarming defense.

“Our coaches talk about how offense might not always be on, but defense has to be consistent,” said junior guard Madison Blanche.

And Scarborough High’s defense was spectacular Wednesday night. The second-seeded Red Storm held seventh-seeded Massabesic scoreless for the game’s first 10 minutes and 22 seconds on the way to a 41-29 victory in a Class AA South girls’ basketball quarterfinal.

Scarborough had an 11-0 lead before the Mustangs scored and never let Massabesic closer than eight points the rest of the way.

“Give Scarborough some credit,” said Massabesic Coach Chris Aube. “They have a lot of athleticism and a lot of length and they made things tough for us.

“I think we’re a team that tries to go on runs and get into our pressure. And when you don’t score, it’s pretty hard to do that.”

Scarborough (17-2) will play Gorham or Sanford in the regional semifinals at 10 a.m. Tuesday at Cross Insurance Arena. Massabesic finished 7-12.

The Red Storm’s defensive effort was much needed. Scarborough struggled offensively as well, holding a mere 2-0 lead after one quarter. The Red Storm shot 1 for 18 in the first eight minutes, while Massabesic was 0 for 11 with eight turnovers.

But Scarborough was able to get into an offensive rhythm in the second quarter, while the Mustangs were never able to get into one at all.

“You hope to do that eventually, that your shots will start falling, and still be consistent defensively,” said Giordano.

“We were able to hold up.”

Julia Freeman, who led Scarborough with 13 points, opened the second quarter with a 3-pointer. After a steal by Blanche, Kayla Conley (12 points) scored a layup. Another Massabesic turnover led to a 3-pointer by Conley, and it was 10-0.

Trailing 11-0, Massabesic finally got on the board with 5:38 left in the second quarter when Grace Frechette scored at the end of a fast break. But Scarborough led 22-9 at the half.

“I think we just had a lot of energy in that first quarter,” said Freeman. “I mean, it’s a quarterfinal game. When we got our feet under us, our shots started to fall and that’s what really changed.”

Massabesic, which was led by McKenzy Ouellette with 15 points, scored the first five points of the third quarter as Scarborough once again went into an offensive funk, with six missed shots and two turnovers. But Conley hit a 3-pointer from the left wing in transition to spark a 9-0 run that gave the Red Storm a 31-14 lead after three.

“We have to not hesitate and keep shooting even if they don’t fall,” said Conley. “We have to be confident.”

Massabesic got as close as 35-24 with 3:26 left. But baskets by Conley and Freeman and two foul shots by Bella Dickinson pushed the lead back up to 41-24 with 2:14 remaining.

“The pressure was on us,” said Giordano. “And maybe we played that way a little bit early. But their defensive consistency was the key. And we really do pride ourselves on playing good defense.

“And now it doesn’t get any easier.”

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

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