SOUTH PORTLAND — Cade Carr hadn’t made a basket all game but he swished a 3-pointer with under 5 seconds left to force overtime. Pamba Pamba struggled to score in regulation, then he put up eight points in overtime.

Those two contributions keyed South Portland High to a gritty 68-65 Class AA South boys’ basketball win against Thornton Academy in Thursday’s midseason matchup of unbeaten teams.

“Seniors. It’s huge for us that we have six, seven that play,” Carr said. “When we get down, there’s no worries and we know we can pull it out.”

South Portland improved to 7-0. Thornton Academy, which never trailed in the second half and led 48-38 in the third quarter (48-38), is 5-1.

Pamba’s two slicing layups in traffic in overtime gave the Red Riots their first leads since the second quarter. He finished with 15 points and stepped forward after leading scorer Geremi Baez fouled out late in the fourth quarter. Baez had kept South Portland in range with 15 of his team-high 17 points in the second half.

“My mindset at the end of the game, even though my shots weren’t falling, was just to keep attacking, keep applying pressure,” Pamba said. “Thornton’s a tough team because their length and defensive pressure is ridiculous.”

Both teams were coming off one-point championship game victories in New Hampshire holiday tournaments. South Portland beat York 61-60 in the Seacoast Winter Classic final in Portsmouth. Thornton nipped Goffstown, N.H., 47-46 to win the Chick-Fil-A Holiday Tournament in Nashua.

With five weeks left in the regular season, Thursday’s game served as a preview of what’s to come in AA South.

“It’s an overtime game in southern Maine basketball with two good teams,” said Thornton Coach Bob Davies. “It was a good game to be part of. Every night in this league, it’s difficult and it’s a grind.”

Carr’s tying 3-pointer was set up out of a timeout. He popped open on the right wing with ample space – a rarity for either team.

“My big man, No. 32 Hunter Owen, fantastic screen,” Carr said about his shot that tied the game, 56-56.

Thornton took a quick 60-56 lead to start overtime on hoops by Jack Pyzynski and Payton Jones (15 points). South Portland tied it on an offensive putback by Ryan Boles and two Pamba free throws.

Dylan Griffin, an inside force for Thornton all night with 22 points and 20 rebounds, hit one free throw with 1:37 left to play before Pamba answered with his two baskets in the paint. Carr helped with two clutch free throws with 27 seconds left for a 66-63 lead. After the last of Thornton’s 23 turnovers (South Portland committed 18), Pamba got loose on a deep inbound pass for an easy bucket with 11 seconds to play to seal the win.

“It was a challenging game in so many ways,” said South Portland Coach Kevin Millington. “I don’t think it was the best game for either team and part of that is who they’re playing. Both teams play pretty aggressively defensively.  But, I like being 7-0.”


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