Gorham 42 Scarborough 31

G- 15 6 10 11- 42
S- 12 5 7 7- 31

G- O. Michaud 8-1-17, Nelson 4-2-10, Nadeau 2-2-7, Hamilton 2-1-5, Bishop 1-1-3

S- Conley 3-1-9, Fiorillo 2-0-6, LeFebvre 3-0-6, Blanche 0-4-4, Dickinson 1-0-3, Djuranovic 0-3-3

G (1) Nadeau 1
S (5) Conley, Fiorillo 2, Dickinson 1

G- 11
S- 14

G: 7-13
S: 8-14

SCARBOROUGH—Gorham’s girls’ basketball team can no longer rely on Mackenzie Holmes to score 20 or 30 points a game.

But the 2019-20 Rams are finding their own way and Friday evening at Alumni Gymnasium, they showed how dangerous they can be with an impressive victory at defending Class AA South champion Scarborough.

Junior Olivia Michaud scored seven first quarter points and a 3-point shot from junior Adele Nadeau put Gorham ahead to stay as it took a 15-12 advantage after eight minutes.

The Rams only managed six points in the second period, but held the Red Storm to five as they held a 21-17 lead at the half.

Sophomore Anna Nelson then put on a passing clinic in the third quarter and Gorham stretched its advantage to 31-24.

The Red Storm hoped to make a run in the fourth period, but never got closer than six points and the Rams pulled away for a 42-31 victory.

Michaud led all scorers with 17 points, Nelson added 10 and Gorham evened its record at 6-6 and in the process, dropped Scarborough to 7-6.

“Our energy as a team was different tonight,” said Michaud. “We wanted it. We haven’t had a good win in awhile, so we came out ready to play.”

Finding the recipe

Both teams have faced their share of challenges this winter.

Scarborough’s biggest has been well-documented, as the loss to a knee injury of senior captain Julia Freeman on the eve of the preseason made for tough sledding. Regardless, the Red Storm have had their moments.

After opening with a 70-66 overtime win at Massabesic, Scarborough lost at Cheverus (48-44), downed host Sanford (46-26), lost at Portland (45-35), won at Gorham (52-35), fell at home to South Portland (45-33), downed host Bonny Eagle (46-30), lost at home to Massabesic (51-42), then enjoyed victories over visiting Deering (68-50), host Noble (54-47) and host South Portland (46-44). Tuesday, the Red Storm were no match for visiting Oxford Hills, the defending Class AA champion in a state game rematch, losing, 64-23.

Gorham, which had to part with Holmes, now starring at the University of Indiana, opened with losses to visiting South Portland (60-44) and host Oxford Hills (74-59). After downing visiting Bonny Eagle (66-27) and visiting Edward Little (65-48), the Rams fell at home to Scarborough, 52-35. After a 55-38 home win over Thornton Academy, Gorham lost on a buzzer-beater at Massabesic (59-58), then fell at Windham as well (47-30). After wins over visiting Sanford (58-44) and at Thornton Academy (60-40), the Rams were defeated Wednesday, 52-31, by visiting Portland.

In the teams’ first meeting Dec. 20, Scarborough started fast, leading, 16-6, after one quarter and 29-10 at halftime, before going on to a 17-point win. In that one, junior Kayla Conley and senior Bella Dickinson scored 13 points apiece, senior Madison Blanche had 12 and sophomore Lindsay Fiorillo added 10. Nadeau led Gorham with nine points.

Friday, in the first game of a girl-boy doubleheader, the Red Storm hoped to make it five wins in a row in the series, but instead, the Rams beat Scarborough for the first time since the 2017-18 season.

The hosts took an early lead, as sophomore Elisabeth LeFebvre scored on a putback 21 seconds in, but at the other end, Nelson scored on a runner in the lane.

A 3-point shot from Fiorillo put the Red Storm up again, but Michaud answered with an old-fashioned three-point play, driving for a layup while being fouled, then adding the free throw.

After LeFebvre scored on another putback, Michaud drove and banked home a shot, then Nelson gave Gorham its first lead, 9-7, on a layup.

With 3:52 remaining in the opening stanza, a 3-point shot from Conley gave Scarborough its final lead.

The Rams then rattled off six straight points, as a Nadeau 3 gave the visitors the lead for good, Michaud drove for a layup and senior Jacqui Hamilton added a free throw.

The Red Storm got a pair of late free throws from senior Blanche, but Gorham held a 15-12 advantage after eight minutes, thanks in large part to Michaud’s seven points.

Both teams struggled for offense in the second quarter.

After Nelson made two free throws, sophomore Una Djuranovic answered with one for Scarborough and after Djuranovic kept possession alive with a pair of offensive rebounds, Conley hit a 3 to cut the deficit to one, but Michaud answered with a driving layup.

After a Conley free throw gave Scarborough its final point of the half, Nelson hit a runner to give the Rams a 21-17 lead at the break.

In the first half, Michaud led the way with nine points and Nelson had eight.

That tandem would remain solid in the second half as well.

Nelson opened the third quarter by highlighting her passing acumen, first finding Michaud for a layup on the fastbreak, then setting up sophomore Brylee Bishop for a fastbreak layup and a 25-17 advantage.

“Defense is big part of our style of play,” Nelson said. “We’re a very fast team. We like to get steals and run. Our offense comes from our defense. We have so much trust in each other. We hold each other accountable.”

After LeFebvre hit a short jumper with 6:13 to go, snapping a nearly eight-minute field goal drought for the Red Storm, Dickinson hit a long 3 to pull Scarborough within three points, 25-22.

Nadeau answered with a driving layup, then Nelson threaded the needle with a perfect pass to Hamilton for a layup.

Late in the quarter, Michaud scored on a leaner and while Djuranovic countered with two foul shots, Gorham was up, 31-24, heading for the fourth period.

There, the Rams slammed the door.

Blanche gave the Red Storm hope by opening the frame with a free throw, but Hamilton drove for a layup and with 4:27 to go, Michaud scored on a layup for a double-digit advantage, 35-25.

“Olivia is quick,” said Gorham coach Laughn Berthiaume. “When we can get her cutting to the hoop or in transition, she’ll get easy opportunities.”

After Fiorillo hit a 3 from the corner to pull Scarborough within seven, Nadeau found Michaud for a bank shot, then Nadeau made two free throws and Bishop added another to make it 40-28 with 2:14 to go.

Blanche got a point back for the Red Storm, but Michaud fed Nelson for a layup and Gorham’s final points before a Conley layup after a steal accounted for the 42-31 final score.

“Defensive energy worked,” Berthiaume said. “We just had to play good one-on-one defense and we had kids who did that.”

Michaud led all scorers with 17 points.

“One of the principles we live by is our trust and our faith in each other,” Michaud said. “We’re a very unselfish team. We’re willing to give up a good shot for a great shot. I think at the beginning of the season, it was a challenge. We’re used to having Mackenzie and getting her the ball and she’d score. We had to figure out how to work as a team.”

Nelson stuffed the stat sheet with 10 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals.

“Anna plays hard,” said Berthiaume. “She understands that there’s more to the game than shooting. She does a little bit of everything. She’s solid out there.”

Nadeau had seven points (and five rebounds), Hamilton added five and Bishop wound up with three (to go with five rebounds).

” I couldn’t tell you how many different high scorers we’ve had,” said Berthiaume. “We’ve had games with four girls in double digits. We have to share the ball and trust each other.”

The Rams only turned the ball over 11 times and made 7-of-13 free throws.

“Not turning the ball over was key,” said Berthiaume.

For Scarborough, Conley led the way with nine points, six rebounds, three steals and two blocked shots.

Fiorillo and LeFebvre (who had a game-high 11 rebounds) each added six points, Blanche had four (to go with five rebounds) and Dickinson and Djuranovic contributed three apiece.

The Red Storm held a 34-30 edge on the glass, but made just 8-of-14 foul shots and turned the ball over 14 times.

“We had no defensive intensity tonight,” lamented Scarborough coach Mike Giordano. “That’s two games in a row and it’s worrisome. We’ll go as far as our defense takes us. When we lack intensity, what happened the last two games will happen. Credit to them. Gorham did a nice job. They played hard and took it to us. They really dictated what they wanted to do and we didn’t match their intensity.”

Down the stretch

Gorham (now ranked fifth in the Class AA South Heal Points standings) is back in action Monday when Noble pays a visit. The Rams go to Sanford Friday. Games at Bonny Eagle, South Portland and Noble and a home tilt versus Massabesic also remain.

“We’re capable of doing anything,” said Nelson. “It’s starting to come together. We have to work hard and play each possession to our ability. We just need to play hard every game.”

“I think we have to have consistency every possession and do the little things, defend, rebound, get out and run,” Berthiaume said. “I want every girl to get on the court and make an impact. We started three sophomores and a couple juniors tonight. I think it’s just a matter of getting games under our belts. I feel like we’re getting comfortable. I hope we’re peaking at the right time.”

Scarborough (second to South Portland in Class AA South) is idle until Friday of next week when Thornton Academy pays a visit. The Red Storm also host Sanford, Noble and Bonny Eagle and travel to Thornton Academy before the end of the regular season.

“We have to find the intensity we had (against South Portland),” Giordano said. “It starts in practice. It’s getting late. We have to figure it out.”

Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

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