PORTLAND—It was only a matter of time.

A matter of time until Cheverus senior standout Maddie Fitzpatrick got in foul trouble and her teammates would have to figure out a way to win a big game against a good team without her doing the heavy lifting.

Thursday evening at Keegan Gymnasium, that moment arrived when the Stags hosted Scarborough in a compelling battle of unbeaten girls’ basketball teams.

The Red Storm proved immediately that they’d come to play, taking a 10-6 lead after one quarter, as they weren’t fazed by Cheverus’ normally smothering press defense, thanks in large part to their speedy junior point guard Emerson Flaker.

Early in the second period, Fitzpatrick picked up her second foul and her time was limited the rest of the half, but Scarborough couldn’t open up a lead bigger than four points and Fitzpatrick returned just before the break to convert an old-fashioned three-point play to put the Stags in front, 22-21.

The Red Storm managed to tie the score, 24-24, early in the second half before a 3-point shot from senior Megan Dearborn gave Cheverus the lead for good.


Fitzpatrick couldn’t stay on the floor, however, and Scarborough crept within two before an 8-0 Stags’ run, highlighted by a clutch 3-point shot from junior Rachel Feeley, pushed the lead to 39-30 heading for the fourth period.

There, Fitzpatrick was whistled for foul number four with 5:46 remaining and when senior standout Caroline Hartley scored on a runner with 1:47 to go, the Red Storm were within four, but Hartley then fouled out and Fitzpatrick helped ice it with four quick points and Cheverus went on to a hard-fought 46-37 victory.

Fitzpatrick managed to produce a double-double of 14 points and 14 rebounds, Dearborn, senior Ruth Boles and  sophomore Anna Goodman combined for 22 points and the Stags improved to 6-0 on the season, handing Scarborough its first setback in six outings in the process.

“I think it’s just incredible,” said Fitzpatrick, who will play at the University of Maine next year. “(The other girls) all work so hard, so to see them step up and have their moment makes me proud. I feel kind of like a Mom.”

A big test passed

For a team that was largely an unknown commodity entering the season, Cheverus has certainly turned heads. The Stags opened with decisive wins at South Portland (48-28) and reigning Class AA champion Oxford Hills (76-47), then really impressed with a 53-40 home victory over preseason favorite Thornton Academy. After downing host Portland (72-35), Cheverus rolled at Deering (61-27) in its last countable outing.


Scarborough, meanwhile, started with a decisive 82-28 home win over Noble and followed that up with a 40-35 home victory over Windham. After downing host South Portland (45-40), the Red Storm held off host Lewiston (58-51) and defeated visiting Massabesic (61-23) for their best start since 2016-17.

Last year, host Cheverus enjoyed a decisive 67-40 victory over Scarborough.

Thursday, in front of a large and vocal crowd, the Stags got pushed from the opening tip, but like the champions they aspire to become, they rose to the occasion.

Cheverus senior standout Maddie Fitzpatrick didn’t have much room to breathe Thursday evening, as evidenced on this play when she was hounded by Scarborough junior Isabel Freedman, left, and junior Megan Rumelhart. The Stags managed to prevail in a battle of undefeated teams, 46-37. Hoffer photos.

It looked like Cheverus might be off to the races when Goodman sank a 3-pointer from the corner just seven seconds in, but the Stags soon discovered that they were in for a struggle.

After Fitzpatrick was called for her first foul with 7:22 left in the opening quarter, Hartley drove for a layup to get the Red Storm on the board.

Boles scored her first point of the game at the line, but Hartley tied the score with two foul shots, then with 4:45 to go, Hartley drove for a layup to give Scarborough its first lead.


After sophomore Rachel LaSalle tied the score with a jumper, junior Ellie Rumelhart drove for a layup, then she took a pass from Flaker after a turnover and made another layup and the Red Storm held a 10-6 advantage after eight minutes.

Hartley had six first quarter points, while Fitzpatrick was held scoreless. She did have four steals, however.

There would be little separation in the second period.

After going without a point for three minutes, Dearborn snapped the Stags’ drought by banking home a 3-pointer, but Rumelhart set up her sister, junior Megan Rumelhart, for a layup and a 12-9 lead.

With 6:30 to go before halftime, Boles set up Goodman for a 3 to tie it, but with 4:55 remaining, Fitzpatrick picked up her second foul.

It didn’t hurt initially, as freshman Abby Kelly made two free throws 45 seconds later, but with 3:03 left in the half, Hartley set up sophomore Helena Bukarac for a 3, then 40 seconds later, Hartley drained a long 3 to give Scarborough an 18-14 edge.


Fitzpatrick then returned to action and stemmed the tide by scoring her first points of the evening, a 3-pointer, after freshman Sierrah McKenzie kept play alive with an offensive rebound.

After another timely McKenzie offensive rebound, Boles hit two foul shots to put Cheverus in front, but with 33 seconds left, in transition, Flaker set up Hartley for a 3.

Just when it appeared the visitors would take the lead to the half, however, Fitzpatrick had other ideas, scoring on a putback while being fouled with 20 seconds to play, then adding the and-one free throw, to allow the Stags to cling to a 22-21 lead at halftime.

Hartley led all first half scorers with 12 points, while Fitzpatrick and Goodman had six apiece for Cheverus.

Scarborough was able to hang in during the third quarter, but by the end of the frame, the Stags had a little breathing room.

Cheverus sophomore Anna Goodman tries to keep up with Scarborough junior Emerson Flaker as Stags junior Rachel Feeley also defends.

Boles opened the second half by scoring on a putback, then the Red Storm turned the ball over, causing coach Mike Giordano to call timeout.


It worked, as Scarborough got the ball back and junior Isabel Freedman found Hartley in the corner for a game-tying 3.

Cheverus then went in front for good with 6:24 to go in the third period, as Dearborn sank another clutch 3, then Goodman scored on a putback, but with 5 minutes left, Fitzpatrick was whistled for her third foul and had to sit.

Flaker immediately made the Stags play by sinking a 3 off a feed from Hartley in transition, but that’s as close as the Red Storm would get.

First LaSalle made a layup off a pass from freshman Addison Jordan.

After Boles added a free throw, Dearborn hit a jumper, then with 47 seconds to go, Jordan found Feeley for a 3 and just like that, the Stags’ had a double-digit advantage, 37-27.

Ellie Rumelhart answered with a 3 to end a 4 minute, 30 second drought, but at the horn, a Fitzpatrick putback allowed Cheverus to take a 39-30 lead to the fourth quarter.


There, the Stags were able to close it out, but not without some anxious moments.

Thirty seconds in, Fitzpatrick put home her own miss for the biggest lead of the game, but after Fitzpatrick picked up her fourth foul with 5:46 to go, the visitors got back in it.

First, Flaker found Ellie Rumelhart for a 3 with 5:05 on the clock

With 2:01 left, after several misses, the Red Storm drew within 41-35 on a putback from Hartley.

Ellie Rumelhart then had a look at a 3 to make it a one-possession game, but missed.

Then, with 1:47 remaining, Hartley scored on a runner and Scarborough was within four, but 11 seconds later, Fitzpatrick drew Hartley’s fifth foul on an offensive rebound, then Fitzpatrick made both free throws to make it 43-37.


After a Dearborn steal, Goodman was able to set up Fitzpatrick for a layup with 1:06 left to put Cheverus on the brink of victory.

Feeley added one more point, from the line, with 32 seconds to play, and the Stags slammed the door from there and closed out a 46-37 victory.

“We have to understand that we have to go through these things,” said Fitzpatrick. “This was a great learning experience for everybody. I think it’s good for everyone to know they can do big things when there’s another good team out there in front of a crazy crowd. We can stay composed. We kept pushing.”

“We had to stay strong,” said Boles. “Our chemistry is very good. We can calm each other down and we know what to do. Our defense kept us in it. In the second half, Coach (Billy Goodman) pointed out what we needed to do and that flipped the switch. We carried the good things we did in the first half into the second half and put away the flaws. This was a big test. Scarborough’s a very good team. It’s a nice win for us.”

“This was good for us,” Billy Goodman added. “They broke our press, but we learned to rotate. We stuck with it. I’m really psyched. Tonight was a tough one.”

Fitzpatrick had to fight through adversity and not surprisingly was able to do so, tallying 14 points, grabbing 14 rebounds and also registering four steals and two blocked shots.


“My teammates definitely kept me in it,” Fitzpatrick said. “I’ve had past experience that has prepared me for this.”

“It was very tough without Maddie,” said Boles. “She’s definitely our leader. When she got double-teamed, it drew away defenders and opened up our shooters.”

“For Maddie to have a double-double between her fouls and them double-teaming her, she’s pretty incredible,” Billy Goodman added.

Dearborn and Anna Goodman both added eight points and four rebounds and Boles finished with six points and a game-high 15 rebounds (seven offensive).

“I really like when I rebound,” Boles said. “It helps the other shooters when I can kick it out.”

“Ruth heard from us at halftime and responded like we hoped,” Billy Goodman said. “She’s one tough kid.”


Feeley (two assists) tallied four points and Jordan (three rebounds, two steals), Kelly and LaSalle (two assists and two rebounds) had two points apiece. McKenzie didn’t score, but had three key offensive rebounds in her limited time on the floor.

“Sierra did well in the JV game,” Billy Goodman said. “She has a job to do on varsity and she does it, rebounding, defense, taking care of the ball. She did a great job.

“We knew other girls would have to step up and they did. Anna, Megan, Rachel Feeley, others. They all did a great job. I asked Maddie to just trust her teammates. She did and we started moving the ball around. We had balanced offense and played good defense. Different girls have stepped up for us in different games.”

Cheverus enjoyed a 51-38 advantage on the glass, only turned the ball over 12 times and made 10-of-15 free throws.

For Scarborough, the Colby College-bound Hartley excelled with 19 points, nine rebounds, four blocks, two assists and two steals, while Ellie Rumelhart added a double-double (10 points, 10 rebounds). Bukarac and Flaker (five rebounds, three assists, two steals) had three points apiece and Megan Rumelhart wound up with two (to go with seven rebounds).

The Red Storm made 2-of-3 free throws, but turned the ball over 21 times. Scarborough launched a lot of 3s and made seven of them, but it wasn’t enough.


“We had good looks,” said Giordano. “That’s what you get out of what they do defensively. We had to slow ourselves down because they wanted us to play fast. We made them when we slowed down and we didn’t when we didn’t slow down.

‘They’re really good and obviously, (Maddie’s) a super player. We just tried to make her a little uncomfortable and I think we were successful for quite awhile. We just tried to throw bodies at her. We knew what she’s capable of, so we wanted to see what their other kids are capable of.

“I told the girls how proud I am with how we competed. It was a four-point game when Caroline fouled out. I love how we competed in front of a great crowd.”

Big aspirations

Scarborough, which is very much in the Class AA South title hunt, looks to bounce back Saturday at Bonny Eagle. Next Thursday comes the Red Storm’s next huge test, when they visit Thornton Academy.

“Tonight was a great effort and hopefully we’ll see (Cheverus) again,” Giordano said. “These are the games that will make us who we are come tournament time. It’s something to build on.”

Cheverus opens the 2024 portion of its schedule Tuesday of next week, at home versus Windham. The Stags then welcome Oxford Hills in another critical showdown Jan. 4.

“This will help us later in the season,” Fitzpatrick said. “We want to go far in the playoffs and we know we’ll have to go through these things to achieve these goals. It’s really exciting what we’ve done so far. It makes us optimistic for the future. We have to stay focused. Teams change over the course of the season. This was a really big win for us, but we have to move forward. There’s a lot of other good teams out there.”

“We’re a humble team,” said Billy Goodman. “We don’t think we’re better than anyone else. We’ve played a bunch of good teams and I’m still learning the kids. There’s not a lot of room for error. We’re in a tough division and we’ll just take it one day at a time.”

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

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