When Scarborough drained four of its first five long-range shots Friday night, South Portland senior guard Jaelen Jackson thought his team could be in trouble.

The Red Storm, despite having lost twice to South Portland in the regular season, had just knocked off third-seeded Gorham in overtime and didn’t seem fazed by playing the defending state champion Red Riots on the spacious floor of Cross Insurance Arena.

“Gorham’s a very good team,” Jackson said. “If they can beat them, then they can beat us. So I wasn’t particularly surprised. I knew it was going to be a little bit of a fight.”

Jackson and his teammates were up to the challenge. They employed a suffocating defense and pulled away for a comfortable 63-37 victory in the Class AA South boys’ basketball semifinals.

No. 2 South Portland (17-3) advances to the regional final at 8:45 p.m. Saturday against either No. 1 Thornton Academy (17-3) or No. 4 Bonny Eagle (13-7). A year ago, South Portland beat Thornton to advance to the state championship game, where the Red Riots defeated Oxford Hills, 58-44.

On Friday night, Jackson scored 14 points and dished out five assists. Junior center Gabe Galarraga led all scorers with 15 points, including a 3-pointer near the end of the first quarter that gave South Portland a lead it would never relinquish, 15-12.


The Red Riots opened the second quarter with an 18-5 run and led 37-22 at intermission. Scarborough was never able to cut the deficit to single digits in the second half.

After those four 3-pointers in the first eight minutes, Scarborough managed only one successful 3-pointer in each of the next three quarters.

“Just being aggressive on the ball, trying to get a hand up in their face,” Galarraga said. “It really made a huge difference. The majority of their points came off 3s, so once we shut that down, it was wraps from there.”

Wraps, of course, being the successful completion of a task. Galarraga didn’t score in the second half and Jackson only added one field goal. Instead, South Portland received contributions from six others. Manny Hidalgo finished with eight points. Ben Smith had six, and Jayden Kim had four.

In all, 10 players scored for South Portland, which took advantage of the larger court by putting everyone in motion.

“We really wanted to make Scarborough have to guard us by bringing their big guys out a little bit and having to chase us around,” said South Portland Coach Kevin Millington. “We have really good ball-handling guards. If we can move people around and share the ball, we can get downhill to the rim.”

Liam Garriepy led Scarborough with 13 points and made three shots from beyond the arc. Liam Jefferds, DeAngelo Alston and Nate Glidden each added six points.

“There weren’t many people picking us to be in the semifinals,” Scarborough Coach Phil Conley said. “We haven’t been fully healthy for most of the season, but they stayed together and we won a big quarterfinal game on the road. We have a strong nucleus coming back.”

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