Scarborough overcame a slow start, rode the hot shooting of Julia Freeman and used a strong defensive effort to beat Gorham, 39-32, Tuesday morning in a Class AA South girls’ basketball semifinal at the Cross Insurance Arena.

Freeman had 21 points to help the second-seeded Red Storm improve to 17-2 (with three wins over Gorham), and set up a date with No. 1 South Portland in the Class AA South final on Friday at 3:45 p.m.

Scarborough also ended Gorham’s three-year regional title reign.

“I think we knew the whole time we had the right game plan and we have the perfect team to take into this tournament,” said Freeman. “We were all confident.”

Gorham started fast with Mackenzie Holmes making a 3-pointer, then driving for a basket. Holmes – who will play at Indiana University – put the Rams up 8-2 with another layup midway through the first, but Scarborough answered with a Josie Couture 3-pointer to pull within a point.

Lauren Fotter’s layup put Gorham up after one quarter, 10-7.

“We had to keep our composure and not panic and we stayed together,” said Couture, who had 10 points and four steals.

Freeman scored the first eight points of the second quarter – including a pair of 3-pointers – to make it 15-10 before Gorham rallied to lead by a point on a layup from Jaqui Hamilton.

With 24.3 seconds remaining, Holmes picked up her second foul and two Freeman free throws gave Scarborough a 20-19 advantage. Freeman had 13 points in the second quarter and 17 for the half.

“We were down and we knew we had to get back on top,” Freeman said. “We knew the offense had to kick in and once I hit my first shot, I felt comfortable.”

Midway through the third quarter a Holmes layup put the Rams up, 24-23, but that would be their last lead. The Red Storm closed the quarter with a 9-2 run and took the lead for good on a Bella Dickinson basket. They capped the surge with a Dickinson steal and a Freeman layup to take a 32-26 advantage to the fourth period.

Gorham got no closer than four the rest of the way.

“To beat such a quality team that has so much success here, with the best player I think in the state, maybe New England, it’s very special,” said Scarborough Coach Mike Giordano. “We just stuck with our game plan.”

Holmes led the Rams with 23 points, 13 rebounds and four blocked shots in her final high school game. No one else had more than two points and Gorham turned the ball over 19 times.

“We just struggled with the turnovers,” said Gorham Coach Laughn Berthiaume. “It’s about getting a certain number of shots off. To their credit, Scarborough put the pressure on and we didn’t handle it like I thought we would.

“What I take from the season is how enjoyable it was to be around the kids and how much fun we had and how disappointed we are that it’s over. That shows how special our bond was.”

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