The Gorham girls’ basketball team kept looking to its leader with the season on the line. And Ellie Gay kept delivering.

Gay hit a tying 3-pointer in the final minute of regulation, and then hit the go-ahead basket in overtime to lead No. 3 Gorham past No. 2 Sanford, 40-37, in the Class AA South semifinals at the Cross Insurance Arena.

Gorham (11-9)  advances to the regional final against No. 1 Thornton Academy.

Gay, the lone returning starter from a Rams team that went to the state final last year, scored a game-high 21 points and added seven rebounds.

“I’ve never really been in this leadership role on any of my teams, so stepping into it was a really important skill set I knew I had to do mentally,” said Gay, who had 15 of her points in the second half and overtime. “I knew I had to help my teammates out, because they’ve never played on a big floor like this. It was important to step up.”

Kalin Curtis scored seven points, five of which came in overtime, and grabbed 12 rebounds.


“We had a really good week of practice,” said Gorham Coach Laughn Berthiaume. “I think in a normal year, eight days off would be not a good thing. But I thought it really benefitted us to kind of go back to the beginning.”

Julissa McBarron led Sanford (13-7) with 18 points, while Riley Hebler and Ava Hudson had six each.

“You have a three-point lead, you’re in control, and Ellie Gay hits a bomb,” Sanford Coach Rossie Kearson said. “It’s kind of deflating because they’re looking at it like ‘We were right there, we had it,’ and that happens, now you have to refocus. … (You’ve) got to hold on and continue to play, but it’s tough, especially when you’ve got young kids.”

Sanford faced its largest deficit of the game at 29-23 midway through the third, but fought back to take a 34-31 lead into the final minute. Gorham missed good looks to pull even or within one, but finally connected when Gay hit from behind the line with 46 seconds to play.

The Rams had four cracks at a go-ahead basket just before the buzzer and missed them all, but the momentum had already swung over – not that Gay had much time to celebrate her shot.

“I knew I had to shoot it at that point,” she said. “I had to just forget about it and get back on defense. You can’t take a break on defense.”


A Curtis basket and free throw put Gorham up three in overtime, but a three-point play by McBarron tied it at 37. Gay made another basket with a minute left for the lead, Sanford missed its next four attempts from the field, and Curtis made two more free throws.

“I thought of it just as a regular game,” Curtis said. “The (crowd) is farther away and the atmosphere is so much different. I think it’s way better to play in a gym like this.”

With Curtis, Lauren Dunbar (nine rebounds) and Summer Gammon (nine rebounds) leading the way, Gorham outrebounded Sanford 52-37.

“That was key for us,” Berthiaume said.

And yet, the McBarron-led Spartans nearly found the formula for victory. McBarron also had 12 rebounds and four steals.

“Julissa is a special, special player,” said Kearson, whose team will return 10 players and four starters. “She’s only going to get better. … I told the girls at the end, the future’s bright for us. This is very good experience for you to have.”

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