STANDISH — The undefeated South Portland boys’ basketball team scored only 20 points in the first half and was getting outrebounded. No wonder Bonny Eagle led by six points.

“We hadn’t been down at (halftime) this season,” senior guard Cade Carr said.

“It’s good for us.”

As long as you win – and the Red Riots did. South Portland turned up the defensive pressure and went home with a 43-34 victory Thursday night.

South Portland, which also beat Bonny Eagle 66-65 in December, improved to 10-0. The Scots fell to 5-5, with all five losses against teams ranked No. 1 or 2 in Class AA – four of them by nine points or less.

Carr paced the Red Riots with 10 points. Bonny Eagle’s All-State guard, Zach Maturo, led all scorers with 19, including 18 in the first half (with four 3-pointers).

“Zach had an amazing first half and we had to really focus on him defensively,” Carr said. “Gerik Bialorucki did a great job on him in the second half. All around, it was great team defense.”

Bonny Eagle was still ahead 33-30 after three quarters but scored one point in the final eight minutes. The Scots shot eight percent (2 for 24) in the second half and 25 percent for the game. South Portland just was a little better, at 34 percent, and had no 3-pointers.

“We had a good opportunity,” Bonny Eagle Coach John Trull said. “We caught them on a night when they were cold shooting, and we didn’t take advantage.”

That’s why South Portland Coach Kevin Millington could smile.

“It is rewarding to have to grind, instead of scoring 70 points, and win that way,” he said. “I don’t think we made a 3, so we had to play defense and rebound.

“Bonny Eagle is such a tough team. They are the most competitive team we’ve played. They’re grinders. They’re fighters. There’s a reason we didn’t make any 3s, because they were defending the heck out of us.”

In the first half, the Scots had good ball movement, but it usually ended in the hands of their talented point guard, who can drive, dish and pop a 3-pointer.

In the second half, Bialorucki was assigned to pay extra attention to Maturo.

“We face-guarded him, and we hadn’t done that yet,” Millington said. “He had a hard time getting the ball back, and once he did, we had a lot of guys surrounding him.

“He’s just a special player. We could do that next game and he might score 30 on us.”

None of the other Scots could get hot.

“Every team concentrates on Zach,” Trull said. “He’s not really a secret, so we have to be better as a team. We have to have other guys step up, and right now, it’s not happening.”

South Portland, with 6-foot-3 Geremi Baez underneath, began dominating the boards, so the Scots were not getting second chances. The Red Riots finally took the lead in the first minute of the fourth quarter on layups by Owen Mahoney and Carr.

South Portland is at home Saturday against Scarborough. Bonny Eagle next plays Tuesday at Windham.

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