SOUTH PORTLAND — Maggie Whitmore couldn’t miss, and when that happen, South Portland’s girls’ basketball team simply doesn’t lose.

Friday evening at Beal Gymnasium, Whitmore scored 24 points in the first half and wound up with a career-high 36 to lead the Red Riots to a 59-42 victory over Gorham.

South Portland, which has the inside track for the top seed in the Class AA South tournament, won its fifth game in a row and improved to 13-3 with two games remaining in the regular season.

“This was a big game with a big crowd and I knew someone had to step up,” said Whitmore. “It can be any one of us on a given night, but tonight, things really clicked for me.”

Whitmore set the tone with a driving layup just 13 seconds into the game, and the Red Riots never trailed. Whitmore had seven points in the opening quarter, but the Rams (9-7) hung tough and were only down 14-12 after a late 3-pointer from Tatyanna Biamby.

Whitmore then completely dominated the second quarter. She scored seven points in just over a minute, capped by a 3-pointer, to extend the lead to 23-12. Gorham got back within six, 27-21, but Whitmore scored on a left-handed bank shot after a spin move, then made a jumper in the lane before driving for a layup.

By halftime, South Portland was up 39-26.

“From the get-go, Maggie had that look in her eye,” said Red Riots Coach Lynne Hasson. “It was apparent she was going to be a senior leader and lead us to a big win.”

The scoring pace slowed in the third quarter, but Whitmore got six more points, including a fadeaway jumper that stretched the lead to 18.

Four points from Sophia Michaud and a jumper from Brylee Bishop pulled Gorham within 49-37 heading into the fourth quarter. The Rams got as close as 10, but Whitmore drove for a layup that sparked a 10-3 closing run.

“Basketball is a game of runs and we had to stop their run before it got too dramatic,” said Whitmore.

“That’s a good Gorham team that could beat anyone,” Hasson added. “They’ll be in the mix. They made their run, then we made a run of our own. We’re getting to where we want to be.”

Hylah Owen added eight points for South Portland.

The Rams were paced by 16 points from Adele Nadeau and nine from Michaud, but they had a four-game winning streak stopped.

“We didn’t help enough on (Maggie) in the first half,” said Gorham Coach Laughn Berthiaume. “We weren’t quick enough closing gaps, and when she got in the lane, she’s tough to guard one-on-one.

“I’m happy with the way the girls competed. (South Portland) is a good team. We just have to figure out a better way to attack them.”

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