SOUTH PORTLAND—Scarborough’s girls’ basketball team knows that whatever happens over the course of a game, it can always rely on its defense to carry it through.

And Friday evening at Beal Gymnasium, after scoring 30 first half points, the Red Storm needed their defense to hold off a second half rally by the host South Portland Red Riots in an early-season rivalry showdown.

Scarborough shot to a 15-6 lead after one quarter, thanks in part to seven forced turnovers, then held a 30-18 advantage at halftime, as senior standout Caroline Hartley scored 11 points.

But the Red Storm’s offense went cold from there and after pulling within 38-28 heading for the fourth period, South Portland drew as close as five on a couple of occasions, but a pair of blocks from Hartley, who was playing with four fouls, and a timely steal from junior Emerson Flaker helped slam the door and Scarborough went on to a 45-40 victory.

Hartley led the way with 13 points, Flaker added 11 and junior Isabel Freedman knocked down three clutch 3-pointers for nine points as the Red Storm remained one of the early season’s best stories by improving to 3-0 and in the process, dropping the Red Riots to 1-2.

“We were consistent defensively,” said Scarborough coach Mike Giordano. “We weren’t consistent offensively, but it was enough. I like our chances when we score in the mid-40s.”


Don’t forget us

While much of the preseason speculation around Class AA South has understandably centered around reigning regional champion Gorham and new-look powerhouse Thornton Academy, Scarborough and South Portland believe that they’ll be very much in the mix as well by the time all is said and done.

The Red Storm, who lost to Thornton Academy (53-34) in last year’s semifinals, began the 2023-24 campaign with a decisive 82-28 home win over Noble and followed that up with a 40-35 home victory over Windham Tuesday.

The Red Riots, meanwhile, whose season ended a year ago with a 50-34 quarterfinal round loss to Scarborough, started the new campaign with a statement-making 33-31 win at Gorham, then fell at home to powerhouse Cheverus Tuesday, 48-28.

Last year, due to a scheduling oddity, the neighbors and rivals met three times in the regular season. South Portland won two of the three meetings, 49-35 at home and 45-31 in Scarborough, with the Red Storm winning at the Red Riots, 47-30, then prevailing again in the tournament.

Friday, Scarborough never trailed, seized control early and went on to its first 3-0 start to a season since 2018-19, when it played in the state final.


South Portland freshman Annie Whitmore passes to classmate Mya Lawrence as Scarborough junior Megan Rumelhart defends during the Red Storm’s 45-40 victory Friday night. Hoffer photos.

Seventeen seconds in, junior Ellie Rumelhart opened the scoring with two free throws.

After South Portland drew even on a driving layup from its extremely promising freshman Annie Whitmore, Hartley gave the Red Storm the lead for good, as she took a pass from Rumelhart and drained a 3-pointer with 6:17 to go in the first quarter.

Flaker then drove for consecutive layups and with 2:25 to go in the frame, Freedman’s first 3-pointer made it 12-2.

Eighteen seconds later, a jump shot from junior Victoria Wright snapped the Red Riots’ 5 minute, 25 second scoring drought and Scarborough’s 10-0 run, but Hartley made a free throw, then Hartley set up Rumelhart for a layup before Whitmore drove for a last-second layup to make the score 15-6 heading to the second period.

Hartley started the second quarter by banking home a runner. Whitmore countered with a putback, then junior Emma Travis made a free throw, but Hartley made a layup and after sophomore Nyeerah Padgett scored in traffic for the hosts, Hartley drained a long 3 with 4:28 remaining for a 22-11 advantage.

Scarborough wasn’t finished, as Hartley set up Flaker for a layup, then, with 3;20 to go, sharpshooting sophomore Helena Bukarac rattled home a 3 to give the Red Storm what proved to be their biggest lead, 27-11.


The Red Riots tried to rally, as Travis drained a 3, sophomore Destiny Peter made a free throw and sophomore Caleigh Corcoran knocked down a long jumper, but Freedman countered with a 3-ball before a free throw from Corcoran pulled South Portland within a dozen, 30-18, at the half.

In the first 16 minutes, Hartley led all scorers with 11 points and the Red Riots’ 10 turnovers and 3-of-8 foul shooting put them in a hole.

Neither team could do much offensively in the third quarter and little changed in regards to the margin.

Scarborough junior Emerson Flaker defends South Portland freshman Annie Whitmore.

After nearly three scoreless minutes, Peter made two free throws for South Portland, but Freedman answered with yet another 3.

After Whitmore sank two foul shots, Bukarac hit a 3 to make it 36-22.

Whitmore then banked home a shot, but sophomore Camdyn Conant made two free throws to restore the 14-point advantage.


The Red Riots closed the frame in style, as Corcoran made a free throw, then she took a pass from Whitmore and made a layup before Wright hit a foul shot to make it a 10-point contest, 38-28, heading for the final stanza.

Where Scarborough did just enough to close it out.

South Portland quickly drew within six, as Corcoran made another free throw, then sophomore Stella Henderson banked home a 3 with 7:03 still to play.

For over four minutes, the Red Storm couldn’t add to their lead, but fortunately for the visitors, the Red Riots couldn’t get any closer.

With 4:02 to go, Hartley was whistled for her fourth foul. Undaunted, Hartley came up big by blocking a shot from Peter.

Then, with 2:26 showing, Flaker drove for a layup, which proved to be Scarborough’s first field goal in 7:41 and snapped South Portland’s 8-0 run.


The hosts quickly answered, however, as Whitmore drained a long 3-pointer 16 seconds later, but with 2:04 to play, Flaker made a free throw for a 41-35 advantage.

Whitmore then drove to the hoop, but again, Hartley stood tall and blocked the shot.

“It’s so hard for me because I just can’t let a layup happen,” Hartley said.

With 53 seconds to play, Hartley scored her only points of the second half, sinking two free throws.

“I’d like to say I’m comfortable in that spot,” Hartley said. “I’ve been there before and I’ll be there again.”

Fourteen seconds later, the Red Riots drew within five for the first time since the first quarter, as freshman Mya Lawrence buried a 3, but eight seconds later, Flaker essentially ended it with two free throws.


“Emerson hit some big free throws,” said Giordano. “She struggled the past couple games with free throws, but she didn’t struggle tonight and she dogged Annie all night on defense.”

Peter scored on a putback as time wound down, but the Red Storm ran out the clock and celebrated their 45-40 victory.

“I think our team is based off our relentless defense,” Hartley said. “It’s been that way all four years I’ve been here. The difference was the grit that we have.”

“We beat a good basketball team tonight,’ said Giordano. “It’s a good stepping-stone for us. We held them off on their court. We had a very difficult preseason and we did that for a reason, so we’d be prepared. We’ve answered all three calls so far.”

Hartley finished with a game-high 13 points, as well as four assists, three rebounds and two blocked shots.

“That’s who she is,” Giordano said, of Hartley. “She did what leaders have to do in big moments.”


Hartley plans to play at Colby College next year. The same Colby College once coached by her grandfather (and current Scarborough assistant) Dick Whitmore, for whom the college’s court is named.

“I don’t think there’s a better way for me to end my career than on my grandfather’s court,” Hartley said. “I think I always knew deep down that’s where I wanted to go.”

Flaker also finished in double figures with 11 points, to with three steals. Freedman had nine points and four rebounds, Bukarac added six points, Rumelhart had four (to go with four steals and four rebounds) and Conant finished with two.

The Red Storm made 10-of-16 free throws and overcame 17 turnovers.

For South Portland, Whitmore led the way with 13 points, as well as six rebounds, four assists and a steal.

“I thought Annie handled the pressure well even though she was exhausted,” said Red Riots coach Lynne Hasson. “Annie’s so competitive. She wants to win.”


Corcoran had seven points, as well as six boards and two steals, Peter scored five points and grabbed eight rebounds, Travis tallied four points, Henderson, Lawrence and Wright each added three and Padgett finished with two.

The Red Riots enjoyed a 32-16 rebounding advantage, but turned the ball over 22 times and only made 10-of-20 free throws.

“Free throws are something we’ll have to work on,” Hasson said. “It cost us the game. We’re usually a pretty good free throw shooting team. Foul shots win and lose games.

“It was a nice comeback. We had a chance. We’ll take that away from this game. I thought we played great defense on Hartley. Emma did a great job defending her and she got some great help. We didn’t play well in the first quarter. We couldn’t take advantage of our size because it hurt us too much on the defensive end.”

Long way to go

South Portland looks to bounce back when it goes to Falmouth Tuesday. The Red Riots then host Massabesic Thursday before playing at Portland two days before Christmas, when Hasson goes up against the team coached by her daughter, Abby Hasson.


“We’re battling,” Lynne Hasson said. “We’ve talked about being mentally tough and that it won’t be any easier. We can’t collapse when things get hard and we have to battle through and I think we did that tonight. I think we’re going to be OK. We can get so easily discouraged, but we just have to stay positive. We want to be our best at tournament time.”

Scarborough, meanwhile, is back home Tuesday to face Bonny Eagle. After visiting Lewiston next Thursday, the Red Storm welcome Massabesic next Saturday.

“I like our team,” said Hartley. “We’ve grown a lot and we’re working really hard. It comes down to endurance and conditioning and taking care of the ball. We have to effectively run our offense and our defense.”

“We have a busy week next week,” Giordano said. “It will be difficult. We have to be more consistent offensively. If we can score 50 (points), we’ll be very difficult to beat. The league’s tough. There are a lot of tests to be had. We have a Murderer’s Row stretch of tests after the break. Those are the games we want to be ready for.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at For game updates and links to game stories, follow him on Threads: @foresports2023

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