SANFORD — Unbeaten South Portland High’s three stars each shined at different times, in different ways.

And the glare generated was too much for a Sanford boys’ basketball team off to one of its best starts in recent memory.

Senior forward Owen Maloney scored seven of his game-high 19 points in the first two minutes to stake the visiting Red Riots to a quick 9-0 lead and they were on their way to a 65-42 win to improve to 6-0 in Class AA South.

“I think the shots just came to me. I was just playing in the offense and got open early,” Maloney said.

Sanford slipped to 5-2, with both losses coming in lopsided fashion against South Portland.

The Red Riots led 13-2 after a quarter, despite their two other standout starters – junior 6-10 center JP Estrella and junior point guard Jaelen Jackson – struggling with their shots early.

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“You play so many games, you’re not going to play your best every moment of every game, so they are great complements to each other,” said South Portland Coach Kevin Millington. “One’s a point guard, one’s a wing, one’s a big. So sometimes you need one to step up to get the other two going and I thought Owen really set the tone tonight.”

Estrella, who finished with 14 points, was making his presence felt, however, at the top of Red Riots’ three-quarter court zone trap.

Sanford had eight turnovers in the first four minutes of the game.

“He just changes everything. A normal pass you can make, a normal ball reversal, isn’t a normal pass against him,” said Sanford Coach Jake Mills. “He doesn’t have to even get a finger on the ball. It’s just we have to throw the ball higher in the air and now their backside guys can intercept it.”

Trailing 17-4, Sanford made a brief run to get back in the game thanks to the outside shooting of sophomore guard Tanner McCann (16 points), who scored eight straight points on a pair of 3-pointers that sandwiched a baseline jumper over the onrushing Estrella to cut the lead to 17-12.

That’s when Jackson stepped up, with an athletic tip-in off an Estella miss, and then a layup off a steal.

Jackson made a similar impact at the start of the third quarter with a pair of quick 3-pointers, scoring 10 of his 14 points in the third quarter.

With a 51-27 lead after three quarters, South Portland’s starters took a seat. Sanford’s leading scorer Justin Kennedy was able to get to the rim and the free throw line against South Portland’s reserves in the fourth quarter for 12 of his 16 points.

South Portland’s backup big man Gabe Galarraga, a 6-5 sophomore, responded in kind with eight of his 12 points, working a variety of post moves with patience and strength.


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