GORHAM — The first half of the season was a learning experience for Gorham High’s girls’ basketball team.

Thursday night, the Rams showed they learned their lessons well.

Fourth-seeded Gorham rallied late to defeat fifth-seeded Noble, 59-56, in a Class AA South quarterfinal. The Rams took the lead with 1:33 remaining when Adele Nadeau scored on a layup after stealing the ball, then held on in a frantic final 13 seconds.

“We’re definitely very resilient,” said Nadeau, who scored all eight of her points in the fourth quarter. “I feel like we bounce back very well.”

The win was Gorham’s ninth in its last 11 games and lifted the Rams (12-7) into the regional semifinals against top-seeded South Portland next Thursday at Cross Insurance Arena.

Noble finished 9-10, three of its losses to Gorham.

The Knights led late into the second quarter, but Gorham got seven points from Leah Woodbury just before halftime to take a 26-18 lead. Then the Rams appeared ready to pull away, opening an 11-point lead in the third quarter when Olivia Michaud (17 points) converted a three-point play.

Noble, though, cut the deficit to 41-36 entering the fourth, led by Raegan Kelly (12 points) and Tori Exel.

“Since Day One that I’ve been at Noble, this group has never quit,” said Noble Coach Matt Reid. “It really hasn’t mattered what the score is, the effort, the output has always been the same.”

Noble, behind 10 fourth-quarter points from Amy Fleming (14 points), continued to creep closer. And when Fleming swished a deep 3-pointer with 2:35 left, Noble had a 54-53 lead.

The Knights got the ball back after a Gorham miss, but after a timeout, Nadeau stole the ball and scored to put the Rams back on top.

“Our mindset was to not let (the player we’re guarding) get the ball,” said Nadeau.

Noble had a chance to regain the lead but missed two foul shots. Jacqui Hamilton rebounded the second miss and started a fast break that ended with Brylee Bishop scoring to make it 57-54.

Fleming answered with a tough left baseline floater, but Gorham forced two more turnovers in the final 49 seconds. Two foul shots increased the lead to 59-56 with 12.6 seconds left. Noble tried to set up Fleming for another shot but couldn’t get a clean look.

“Give Gorham credit,” said Reid. “They played aggressive defense. At that point, out of timeouts, doing it on the fly … we couldn’t get the look we wanted.”

Michaud said it was great team defense. “I feel at the beginning of the season our defensive intensity wasn’t there,” she said. “So going into this game, we knew we needed to play really good defense.”

And now the Rams are in the regional semifinals for the sixth straight year.

“I knew there was going to be a growth process throughout the  year,” said Gorham Coach Laughn Berthiaume. “The biggest thing they’ve improved on this season is to consistently compete the entire game. I think we’re in a good spot now.”

 

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