BOX SCORE

Gorham 49 Scarborough 26

S- 4 11 5 6- 26
G- 11 18 12- 8- 49

S- Fiorillo 2-5-9, E. Rumelhart 4-0-9, LeFebvre 2-1-5, Hartley 0-2-2, Stone 0-1-1

G- Nelson 5-2-15, Gay 5-1-14, Bishop 4-0-9, Curtis 2-0-4, Walker 1-0-3, S. Michaud 0-2-2, Woodbury 1-0-2

3-pointers:
S (1) E. Rumelhart 1
G (8) Gay, Nelson 3, Bishop, Walker 1

Turnovers:
S- 15
G- 8

FTs
S: 9-15
G: 5-8

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PORTLAND—Scarborough’s girls’ basketball team had one fervent hope heading into Saturday evening’s Class AA South Final against Gorham at the Cross Insurance Arena.

That the Rams wouldn’t shoot well.

Instead, Gorham shot lights-out and as a result, is moving on to the state final, while the Red Storm’s season of overachievement has come to a close.

Scarborough, playing without injured freshman point guard Emerson Flaker, who suffered a leg injury in the semifinals, took an early 2-1 lead, but the Rams, behind a couple 3-pointers from sophomore Ellie Gay, took control of the game with a 10-0 run and took an 11-4 advantage to the second quarter.

There, the Red Storm scored the first basket, but Gorham, thanks to a couple 3s from senior star Anna Nelson, another from Gay and one more from senior Nicole Walker, broke it open and stretched its lead to 29-15 at the half.

When the Rams scored the first 10 points of the third period, the competitive phase of the contest was over and they rolled to a 49-26 victory.

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Nelson led the way with 15 points, Gay added 14 and Gorham improved to 18-3, advanced to take on Cheverus (17-3) in the Class AA state final Saturday at 7 p.m. at Cross Insurance Arena, and in the process, ended Scarborough’s memorable season at 16-5.

“I’m never ashamed to lose to a one seed, especially when they shot the lights out,” said Red Storm coach Mike Giordano. “I wished they’d missed a few and gave us an opportunity, but hats off to them, they’ve played like the one seed all year.”

End of the road

Gorham entered the season as a favorite in Class AA South and lived up to billing, winning its first eight games and after falling at Scarborough, winning five more. After losses to Massabesic and Brunswick, the Rams closed by beating South Portland and Noble. Gorham then eliminated No. 8 Noble (57-28) in the quarterfinals before ousting No. 4 Massabesic (51-43) in Wednesday’s semifinal round.

Scarborough was just 2-2 after four games, but came to life, gave Giordano his 300th career victory and finished the regular season winners of 12 out of its last 14 contests (see sidebar for links to previous stories). The Red Storm defeated No. 7 Bonny Eagle (40-26) in the quarterfinals, then downed No. 3 Thornton Academy (40-31) in the semifinal round.

Gorham and Scarborough split during the regular season, with each team winning at home, the Rams by a 40-26 margin Dec. 23 and the Red Storm by a 44-39 score Jan. 18.

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Gorham had won three of four prior playoff encounters (see sidebar), but Scarborough took the most recent, 39-32, in the 2019 Class AA South semifinals.

Saturday, the Red Storm hoped their stellar defense would keep them in it, but they could only watch in dismay as the Rams sank 3-pointer after 3 after 3.

A free throw from Gorham senior Sophia Michaud opened the scoring 35 seconds in.

Scarborough then took its lone lead with 6:45 to go in the opening stanza, when promising freshman Ellie Rumelhart scored on a putback, but the Rams soon seized control, as Gay hit a 3 to put her team ahead to stay with 5:28 to go, senior Brylee Bishop knocked down a jumper, Gay made a layup after a steal, then Nelson set up Gay for a 3-pointer which rolled around and in for an 11-2 lead, forcing Giordano to call timeout.

In the waning seconds, senior Lindsay Fiorillo set up classmate Elisabeth LeFebvre for a layup to end the 10-0 run and a 5 minute, 26 second scoring drought, but Gorham took a seven-point lead to the second quarter.

And promptly extended it.

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A Rumelhart bank shot started the frame and gave the Red Storm momentary hope, but Nelson scored her first points on a 3 and Michaud added a free throw.

LeFebvre countered with an old-fashioned three-point play (putback, foul and free throw), but Nelson made a jumper.

After Rumelhart banked home a shot to make it 17-11 midway through the second, Nelson set up Gay for a 3 in transition and after Fiorillo made two foul shots for her first points, Nelson canned another 3.

Fiorillo made two more free throws, but Gorham closed the half in style, as first Walker got a 3 to roll around the rim and drop, then Nelson fired a dagger 3-pointer for a 29-15 halftime advantage.

“Those runs really give us confidence and get us hyped up together,” said Gay. “It’s a really fun game to play when we’re hitting shots.”

“They took it to us on the offensive glass in the first quarter and once we started rebounding the ball better, we were able to get out and run,” said Rams coach Laughn Berthiaume. “It felt good to hit some 3s.”

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Gay and Nelson each had 11 points in the first half.

Any comeback hopes Scarborough might have entertained were quickly dashed in the third quarter.

Nelson set up senior Leah Woodbury for a layup on the fastbreak to get things started. Nelson then found Bishop for a fastbreak layup before Gay made a jumper and a free throw and with 3:32 left, Bishop made a 3 to extend the lead to a commanding 39-15.

Twenty-eight seconds later, a long Fiorillo jumper ended the run and a 7:27 drought, but Bishop got a jumper to roll home at the other end.

Late in the frame, Fiorillo scored on a leaner, then made a free throw, but the Red Storm still trailed, 41-20, heading for the fourth period.

Where Gorham made it official.

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Rumelhart started the final stanza with a 3-ball, but Nelson countered with a jumper to keep the lead at 20.

After sophomore Caroline Hartley made two free throws for Scarborough, Nelson answered with a pair, then sophomore Kalin Curtis drove for a layup.

Junior Daisy Stone made a foul shot for the Red Storm before a bank shot from Curtis accounted for the 49-26 final score and set the stage for a Rams’ celebration.

“It feels great,” Berthiaume said. “I expected exactly what Scarborough gave up. They played scrappy, they played tough. That’s a credit to the coaches and the kids over there. I expected they’d give us all we could handle.”

Nelson, who will play at Dartmouth College next year, not only had a game-high 15 points, she also finished with seven assists. After the game, Nelson was given the Edward “Red” McMann Trophy, given to the tournament’s outstanding player/sportsman.

“This is something we’ve been working on, since the preseason, even the summer,” said Nelson. “It’s something we’ve been working on since we were freshmen. Speaking for the senior class, this has been our goal since we were in middle school, watching the kids above us.”

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Gay added 14 points, five rebounds and a pair of steals.

Bishop finished with nine points and four rebounds, Curtis had four points, Walker three and Michaud and Woodbury (four rebounds, two blocked shots) two apiece.

Gorham made eight 3-pointers to Scarborough’s one, only committed one turnover and made 5-of-8 free throws.

The Rams now return to the big stage, after winning Class AA in both 2016 and 2017 and dropping a heartbreaker to Edward Little in the 2018 contest.

Gorham and Cheverus, which dethroned two-time state champion Oxford Hills in the Class AA North Final, did not meet this season.

The Rams lost the only prior playoff meeting, 50-44, in the 2012 Western A preliminary round.

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“It’s a special group,” Berthiaume said. “I’m really, really happy for the seniors.  These girls watched (the previous champions) and came up through the youth program and aspired to be on this court doing the same thing, so I’m really proud of them.

“Cheverus has a lot of size and they play great defense. We’ll have to bring our best game. I think my kids are gritty and I think we’re going to play tough too, so I’m looking forward to it.”

What a ride

For Scarborough, Fiorillo bowed out with nine points. She also had seven rebounds and two assists.

Rumelhart also scored nine points and had five rebounds.

LeFebvre added five points and a game-high 10 rebounds, as well as a couple blocked shots in her swan song.

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Hartley had two points (as well as three blocks and three rebounds) and Stone one.

The Red Storm enjoyed a 33-28 advantage on the glass, but turned the ball over 15 times and made just 9-of-15 free throws.

“To the kids’ credit, they tried to do the adjustments we made,” Giordano said. “They gave me everything they had. I was looking up at the scoreboard and I mentioned to (assistant coach Dick) Whitmore that we gave up 49 points and that’s the most we’ve given up all year.

“When we were 2-2, I hoped we’d get to the 4 or 5 seed, but we overachieved. It all started with the seniors. Those three kids (Una Djuranovic was the other) have been our glue.”

Scarborough will return the likes of Flaker, Hartley and Rumelhart next year and will look to make another run.

“The message to the younger kids is to learn from the upperclassmen,” Giordano said. “This is where we want to be.”

Press Herald staff writer Mike Lowe contributed to this story.

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

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