BOX SCORE

Thornton Academy 48 Scarborough 35

TA- 7 15 16 10- 48
S- 8 7 6 14- 35

TA- Dow 5-3-14, Cook 4-4-13, Melendez 3-1-8, Sulikowski 3-1-7, Coleman 1-0-2, Littlefield 1-0-2, Ney 1-0-2

S- Conley 4-2-10, Foley 3-1-9, Harris 2-0-4, Hartley 2-0-4, U. Djuranovic 0-3-3, Black 1-0-2, Stone 1-0-2, Reagan 0-1-1

3-pointers:
TA (3) Cook, Dow, Melendez 1
S (2) Foley 2

Turnovers:
TA- 24
S- 19

FTs
TA: 9-17
S: 7-11

SCARBOROUGH—Scarborough’s girls’ basketball team plays hard every game, but so far this winter, the Red Storm haven’t been able to consistently put the ball in the hoop.

That trend continued Friday morning/afternoon at Alumni Gym against a very young, talented and up-and-coming Thornton Academy squad, which rode a big run in each half to victory.

Midway through the first quarter, the score was more symbolic of the long-lasting softball rivalry between the schools, 1-0, but the offense eventually came and Scarborough held an 8-7 lead after eight minutes.

A 3-point shot from senior Sylvia Foley put the Red Storm up by four early in the second period, but the Golden Trojans closed the half on a 14-3 run, capped by a fastbreak layup from sophomore Hannah Cook, to take a 22-15 advantage to the break.

After Scarborough senior Kayla Conley pulled her team within four early in the second half, Thornton Academy pulled away, thanks to an 11-0 surge, sparked by big plays from junior Mikenzie Melendez, sophomore Jessica Dow and freshman Addisen Sulikowski, and by the end of the third quarter, the lead was 38-21.

The Golden Trojans weren’t about to buckle down the stretch and while the Red Storm fought until the final horn, they never got closer than 13 and Thornton Academy closed out its 48-35 victory.

Dow led all scorers with 14 points and had a double-double with a dozen rebounds to boot, and Cook added 13 points as the Golden Trojans stayed perfect at 5-0 and kept Scarborough winless at 0-4 in the process.

“We haven’t gotten to 40 (points) all year and that’s where our issues are,” said Red Storm coach Mike Giordano. “We’ve played really good defense, but I think today, we let down a little bit. When you work so hard and things don’t fall for you, there’s a little bit of a letdown. That and (Thornton’s) a really good team.”

What might have been

Class AA South might have been wide open this winter, if there had been a normal season ending with a tournament.

Instead, teams are making the most of their limited opportunities.

Scarborough, which lost to Sanford in last year’s Class AA South semifinals, started with a pair of losses to Gorham, 51-14 in Gorham and 36-31 at home, then dropped its third in a row Wednesday, 48-37, at Thornton Academy (despite 11 points from Foley).

The Golden Trojans, meanwhile, rattled off four straight victories to start the campaign: 66-38 over Biddeford, 57-47 over Biddeford, 52-36 over Windham (giving coach Eric Marston his 100th career victory) and 48-37 over visiting Scarborough (thanks in large part to 22 points from Sulikowski).

Last year, Scarborough won both meetings, 47-38 at home and 47-36 in Saco.

Friday, in an early start, the Red Storm hoped to get in the win column, but Thornton Academy had too many weapons.

Perhaps because of the early start time, the first half of the first quarter was a veritable pitcher’s duel, with a softball-like score of 1-0.

Scarborough got that initial point on a free throw from junior Una Djuranovic.

Thornton Academy finally got on the board with a driving layup from Dow, but the Red Storm got a driving bank shot from freshman Caroline Hartley, a floater from Conley and a 3-point shot from Foley to go up, 8-2.

Back came the Golden Trojans, as Cook buried a 3 and Melendez put home a miss to cut the deficit to one, 8-7, after one quarter.

Thornton Academy then opened up a lead in the second period.

After Conley and Dow traded free throws, Foley’s second 3 gave Scarborough a 12-8 advantage, but the Golden Trojans would close the half on a 14-3 run.

A free throw from Sulikowski got things started, then a leaner from Cook put put Thornton Academy on top to stay.

Dow then scored on a leaner and Dow set up Melendez for a layup.

After Djuranovic made two free throws for the Red Storm, Dow sank a 3 and Cook hit two foul shots.

Foley got a point back at the line for Scarborough, but with 4.1 seconds left, sophomore Emily Coleman fed Cook for a layup and a 22-15 lead at halftime.

Early in the third quarter, the Golden Trojans gave the Red Storm life with turnovers on their first four possessions, but Scarborough could get no closer than four points before Thornton Academy broke it open.

Conley opened the second half with a layup and after a Dow free throw, Conley made another layup to pull the Red Storm within 23-19, but the rest of the period belonged to the Golden Trojans.

First, Melendez knocked down a 3-pointer. Then, after a Melendez steal, Sulikowski made a layup. Sulikowski then set up junior Bailey Littlefield for a layup, Dow scored on a leaner and Sulikowski went coast-to-coast for a layup and a 34-19 advantage.

“What’s nice about this group is that when we need it most, someone steps up and it’s not always the same person,” Marston said. “That’s the mark of a well-rounded group.”

Conley got two points back with a jump shot, but Coleman scored on a putback and Dow drained two free throws for a 38-21 advantage at quarter’s end.

Thornton Academy closed the frame on a 15-2 run.

“What got us going was our intensity,” Dow said. “Our bench gave us positive energy and that helped. We got off to a slow start because we weren’t moving well on offense. We started trusting our offense and that and our intensity got us going.”

“All the credit goes to the girls,” Marston said. “We have some terrific athletes and basketball players. The more I stay out of it and let them use their athleticism, the better off we are. The girls use their length and get deflections and get things going the other way. That played a key role today. We were able to turn defense into offense.”

When Dow opened the fourth period with a leaner, then saved the ball right to Sulikowski, who made a layup, the Golden Trojans were up by 21, but the Red Storm turned up their defensive intensity and fought hard to the end.

After Conley made a free throw, Foley drove for a layup.

Cook answered with two foul shots, but sophomore Daisy Stone made a layup, Hartley converted a layup after a steal and with 3:33 remaining, sophomore Ayden Harris sank a long jumper to make it 44-30.

Junior Samantha Ney made a layup for Thornton Academy, but sophomore Julia Black countered with a layup after a steal for Scarborough.

Down the stretch, Cook scored her final points on a layup, Harris banked home a shot for the Red Storm, then sophomore Annelise Reagan made a foul shot for the hosts to account for the 48-35 final score.

“I think we have great intensity,” Dow said. “We all love each other and that’s a huge thing.”

Dow, who also stars in soccer and softball, was too much for Scarborough to handle, scoring 14 points, grabbing a dozen rebounds and dishing out four assists.

“I can’t imagine (Jessica) not being one of the best athletes to graduate from Thornton Academy when all is said and done,” Marston said. “She’s a three-sport standout and a phenomenal kid. She’ll do whatever it takes to win, whether it’s offense or defense, on the floor or on the bench cheering.”

Cook also wound up in double figures with 13 points. She grabbed six rebounds and blocked a pair of shots.

Melendez added eight points, to go with nine rebounds. Sulikowski had seven points (seven rebounds and three steals) and Coleman, Littlefield and Ney all added two points.

Thornton Academy made just 9-of-17 free throws and turned the ball over 24 times, but it didn’t matter.

Scarborough was led by its seniors, Conley, who had 10 points, to go with four rebounds and three steals, and Foley, who wound up with nine points.

“We only have two seniors, but Kayla and Sylvia have been great leaders for us,” Giordano said.

Harris and Hartley (five rebounds, five steals) both added four points, Djuranovic had three (to go with eight rebounds and three steals), Black and Stone two apiece and Reagan one.

The Red Storm held a 44-43 rebounding advantage, turned the ball over 19 times and made 7-of-11 foul shots.

“The two teams we’ve started out with (Gorham and Thornton Academy) are probably the two best in the South,” Giordano said.

Quest continues

Thornton Academy hopes to stay undefeated next week when it goes to Bonny Eagle Tuesday, then hosts Bonny Eagle two days later. The Golden Trojans also have home games remaining versus Westbrook and Gorham and a game at Gorham.

“I think we’re establishing we’re getting better and I think next year we’ll be great,” Dow said. “It’s awesome to get some games in this year and it’s very exciting to get everyone back.”

“I think Gorham is a good barometer for everybody,” Marston said. “We’d certainly love to play well against them. Wins are awesome, but we really want to get better and improve for next year. At tryouts, we weren’t sure how long this would last. We wanted to treat it like the summer-time, gearing up for next year and trying to get better.”

Scarborough seeks its first win Tuesday, when defending Class AA South champion South Portland pays a visit. The Red Storm go to the Red Riots Thursday. Two games versus Westbrook and single contests against Deering and Bonny Eagle also remain.

“Nobody’s going to feel sorry for us and we won’t feel sorry for ourselves,” Giordano said. “We’ll keep working hard. They’re doing everything we ask them to do and they’re getting experience. I’m looking at this like it’s the summer when you evaluate the kids and where they can help We hope to get (junior) Lindsay (Fiorillo) back in some capacity next week and that will give us a lift in the offensive end.”

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

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