GORHAM — South Portland High and Gorham’s boys’ basketball teams are locked into the No. 2 and No. 3 spots in AA South with a game to play. That means, barring a quarterfinal upset, they will meet for a third time in the AA South regional semifinal.

Hopefully it will be as fun as Tuesday night’s game in Gorham, which South Portland won 55-54 on a bucket by Jaelen Jackson with two seconds to play.

Down a point, Jackson got the ball on a hand-off from Joey Hanlon with eight seconds to play in the halfcourt corner, dribbled to the top of the key, glanced at the clock with about six seconds left, then drove right and worked through a sturdy body contact for the winning basket.

“The play was basically to get me the ball. It didn’t matter where I got it. I wanted to attack from the top,” said Jackson, who finished with a game-high 19 points.

Gorham had taken a 54-53 lead with 13 seconds to play on a dead-eye 3-pointer from Devin Dobson-Jacques, who scored a team-high 14 points off the bench.

Dobson-Jacques nearly pulled off a miracle shot when he caught a deflected pass while going into a jump shot and put a soft shot on the rim that rolled off.


Gorham (12-5), which entered as the No. 2 team, won the first meeting on Jan. 10, 65-55. That started the Rams eight-game win streak that included beating No. 1 Thornton Academy.

“I think we got a little more toward team basketball about halfway through the season and we played much better defense. Once you do that and you can shoot the ball, that translates into wins usually,” said Gorham Coach Mark Karter.

South Portland, third in the Heal points entering the game, improved to 14-3.

“There’s no way either one of us is going to get to (first) and no way either one of us will drop to four,” said South Portland Coach Kevin Millington.

Gorham’s A-game was on display when it raced to a 16-2 lead with four 3-pointers including two in a row from Ashton Leclerc (13 points). South Portland closed the margin to as little as three before Gorham got seven straight from Dobson-Jacques and four more bench points from freshman Cordell Jones for a 32-24 halftime lead.

The Rams stretched the lead to 44-33 with three minutes left in the third quarter but then the shooting went cold, a few turnovers cropped up, and South Portland had a 17-0 run over the next 8:45 for a 50-44 lead.

Jackson started things with a bank shot and a steal that set up Nafees Padgett (9 points). Ben Smith and Gabe Galarraga (11 points) each made a pair of shots.

“Everyone needs to step up. Everyone needs to chip away at that deficit,” said Galarraga. “That’s exactly what we did. Jaelen took control at the end but the whole team was just getting those tough buckets.”

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