SOUTH PORTLAND—South Portland’s girls’ basketball team endured a third quarter to forget against Scarborough Saturday afternoon at Beal Gymnasium.

But did the Red Riots responded with a fourth quarter surge to remember and as a result, earned a much-needed victory over their regional rival.

South Portland started with a flourish, as freshman Destiny Peter came off the bench and scored five quick points to build a 15-7 lead after one period.

The Red Riots pushed their advantage to 15 in the second quarter before Red Storm junior Caroline Hartley hit a late 3-pointer to make it 23-11 at the half.

Scarborough then roared out of the blocks to start the second half, dominated the third period to the tune of 19-5 and took the lead, 30-28, thanks to two Hartley free throws.

But South Portland didn’t buckle, as senior Ava Bryant converted an old-fashioned three-point play 13 seconds into the fourth quarter and she’d add eight more points as the Red Riots gradually pulled away and won the final stanza by a 21-5 margin to prevail, 49-35.


Bryant led all scorers with 18 points as South Portland snapped a four-game skid, improved to 3-5 and in the process, dropped the Red Storm to 2-6 with their fifth straight setback.

“It was a great team win,” Bryant said. “We’ve been really working on our defense and it really paid off. When we all come together, we can do great things.”

A sea of red

Scarborough opened with a 44-36 victory at Sanford and after falling at Thornton Academy (58-33), handled visiting Bonny Eagle (48-29). The Red Storm’s skid began with a 38-29 home loss to Gorham, then they lost at Bonny Eagle in overtime (45-43), at Cheverus (67-40) and at home to Thornton Academy (52-42).

South Portland also started auspiciously, beating visiting Noble (56-39) and after falling at Windham (45-32), downing visiting Sanford (52-45), but a last-second, 44-43 home loss to Falmouth began its losing streak and the Red Riots then fell at Thornton Academy (56-30), at Sanford (61-39), and Tuesday, at Sanford again (51-37).

Last year, Scarborough won both meetings, 49-40 at home and 33-28 at South Portland.


Saturday, the Red Storm hoped for their fourth straight win in the series, but instead, the Red Riots beat Scarborough for the first time since Dec. 23, 2019 (45-33, on the road).

South Portland senior Samantha Duffy shoots a 3-pointer over Scarborough sophomore Isabel Freedman early in the Red Riots’ 49-35 victory Saturday. Hoffer photos.

South Portland started quickly, as senior Samantha Duffy knocked down a 3-pointer 46 seconds in and after Hartley made a free throw, freshman Caleigh Corcoran’s putback made it 5-1 Red Riots.

Afetr sophomore Isabel Freedman banked home a runner for Scarborough, senior Anna Brown countered with a layup after a steal.

Senior Daisy Stone hit a free throw for the visitors, but Peter made an immediate impact with a bank shot, then hit a free throw and Bryant followed with her first points, a 3-ball, to make it 13-4.

In the final minute, senior Julia Black ended South Portland’s mini-run with a 3-ball from the corner, but Duffy set up Peter for a layup for a 15-7 lead after eight minutes.

The Red Riots then tried to run away and hide in the second quarter, but couldn’t quite do so.


Bryant hit two free throws, Brown added a contested bank shot and after Red Storm sophomore Ellie Rumelhart picked up her third foul, Peter took a pass from freshman Stella Henderson and made a layup to make it 21-7.

Hartley snapped a 7 minute, 16 second scoring drought with a free throw, but a jumper from senior Talia Bradbury gave South Portland its biggest lead.

With time winding down in the half, sophomore Megan Rumelhart fed Hartley for a 3, but that only cut the deficit 23-11.

In the first 16 minutes, Peter led the way with seven points and five rebounds, but the Red Riots weren’t home free yet, as Scarborough turned the game on its ear in the third period.

Scarborough junior Caroline Hartley is defended by South Portland sophomore Emma Travis.

South Portland actually struck first in the second half, as Bryant banked home a shot, but Hartley started the comeback with a free throw and after Freedman made a layup after a steal, Hartley sank two more foul shots to cut the deficit to 25-16.

Bryant got a point back at the line and after Megan Rumelhart and Duffy traded layups, Scarborough scored the final dozen points of the frame.


Hartley scored on a bank shot, then Freedman drove and laid the ball in with her left hand and Ellie Rumelhart banked in a 3 to make it a one-possession contest, 28-25.

In the final minute of the quarter, Black hit two free throws, then Hartley made one to tie it before two Hartley foul shots with 8.5 seconds remaining gave the Red Storm their first and only lead of the afternoon, 30-28, capping a tremendous third period.

“It’s just composure,” lamented South Portland coach Lynne Hasson. “We try to play fast and we rushed and played right into their hands. Instead of breaking their press and settling, we passed the ball and threw it out of the gym.”

The fourth quarter began inauspiciously for the Red Riots as well, as Bryant lost her shoe before the ball could be inbounded, but things quickly got better.

Just 13 seconds in, Bryant drove and banked home a shot while being fouled and she added the and-one free throw to put South Portland back on top to stay.

After Bryant and Hartley traded foul shots, Peter hit a pair of free throws, Bryant was fouled after a steal and made both of her attempts and with 4:39 to go, two Brown free throws pushed the lead to 38-31.


Two Freedman foul shots gave Scarborough hope, but Corcoran answered with one free throw, Brown hit a runner in the lane, Peter set up Bryant for a breakaway layup, sophomore Emma Travis hit a jumper and with 1:44 remaining, Bryant made another layup after a steal to make it 47-33 and end all doubt.

Down the stretch, freshman Camdyn Conant and Avery Bastian each made a free throw for the Red Storm before freshman Nyeerah Padgett’s leaner closed the door on the Red Riots’ 49-35 victory.

“We snapped back into it,” said Bryant. “We just had to apply pressure to them. We needed to start taking more open shots. When we drive to the hoop, we’re dangerous and we can hit foul shots as well.”

“We needed a win,” Hasson said. “I told the girls they totally panicked, but they pulled it back together.”

Bryant scored 10 points in the fourth quarter and led all scorers with 18. She also had five steals and four rebounds.

“I felt like I had to pick it up and when I did, we all started to come together,” Bryant said.


“Ava’s done it for three years,” Hasson said. “When she plays hard with intensity and composure, she does great things. She can take over games because she’s so athletic and tough.”

Peter came off the bench and added nine points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots.

“Destiny is hard to stop on the block when we can get her the ball and she rebounds well,” said Hasson.

Brown finished with eight points (to go with five rebounds and three steals), Duffy had five points and three steals, Corcoran added three points and Bradbury, Padgett and Travis all had two.

“We are young, but we also have four seniors, three of whom are starting, who need to lead the way,” Hasson said. “We have a couple great freshmen. Caleigh needs to look to score. She’s really athletic.”

The Red Riots had a 41-28 rebounding advantage, overcame 26 turnovers and made 13-of-17 free throws.


For Scarborough, which was playing without sophomore point guard Emerson Flaker (who is nursing an ankle injury), Hartley led the way with 14 points, six rebounds, three steals and two blocks before fouling out. Freedman tallied eight points, six rebounds and two steals, Black had five points, four rebounds and two steals, Ellie Rumelhart finished with three points (and four rebounds), Megan Rumelhart had two points (and three assists) and Bastian, Conant and Stone all had one.

The Red Storm made 16-of-24 free throws, but turned the ball over 23 times.

“We talked about wasting a great third quarter,” Scarborough coach Mike Giordano said. “It probably expended more (energy) than we had because we had a lot of mistakes in the fourth. We turned the ball over a lot. Without Emerson on the court as our best ballhandler, then having Caroline have to come out of the game, we were without our top two scorers, but I thought the kids played hard all the way to the end.”

Giordano, who coached South Portland’s girls’ team for 17 years and prior to that served as an assistant on the boys’ squad, said after the game that it’s still meaningful for him to set foot in Beal Gymnasium.

“The gym is so different now, but still, during the national anthem, I remembered staring at that flag a lot of times,” said Giordano. “Obviously, this place holds a special place in my heart. I spent most of my coaching career here.”

See you Saturday


The teams will play again next Saturday, again in South Portland, a schedule addition necessitated by Massabesic not playing a varsity slate this winter.

First, Scarborough is at Noble Tuesday and after returning to South Portland, has a key game at Gorham next Monday.

“At some point, I think our effort will pay off,” said Giordano. “I know our record says we’re 2-6, but this doesn’t feel like a 2-6 team.”

The Red Riots, meanwhile, visit Gorham Tuesday and Bonny Eagle Friday. After hosting Scarborough, South Portland welcomes Thornton Academy Jan. 17.

“We needed a win and this win will pick up our intensity and will help us the rest of the season,” said Bryant. “We’re young, but we’re growing and we’re doing a lot of good things. We have to keep taking it to the rim and work on our defense.”

“In the South, obviously Thornton is the team to beat,” Hasson said. “They have a lot of size, they’re aggressive and they shoot it well, but 2 through 7, it’s up for grabs. You’ll see a lot of shifts in the Heal Points. We’ve shown improvement on defense, but we need more girls to score. We don’t have a go-to player, but we have five players who can score. If we play well and handle pressure with composure, I don’t think there’s anyone we can’t beat.”

Michael Hoffer can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

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