SCARBOROUGH—The young but promising South Portland girls’ basketball team has arrived.

To the tune of eight straight victories.

The latest over yet another top contender in Class AA South.

Monday morning/afternoon at Alumni Gymnasium, the Red Riots took on a Scarborough squad which beat them last month, but this one would be a different story.

An entertaining, back-and-forth first period saw 10 lead changes before the Red Storm clung to a 20-18 edge behind nine points from senior standout Caroline Hartley.

Hartley then got in foul trouble in the second quarter and South Portland took advantage, getting several easy layups from sophomores Caleigh Corcoran and Nyeerah Padgett en route to a 31-27 halftime advantage.


The Red Riots then capped an 18-2 surge in the third period when freshman Mya Lawrence sank a 3-pointer and when sophomore Destiny Peters made a late layup, they were seemingly in command, up, 46-33, heading for the final stanza.

But there, Scarborough’s defense forced multiple turnovers and when sophomore Avery Murphy hit a 3-pointer with 3:27 still to play, the Red Storm trailed by just four, 46-42.

That’s as close as Scarborough would get, however, as Peter made two more layups, freshman Annie Whitmore sank two free throws, then Padgett fittingly iced it with a layup to produce a 54-44 victory.

Padgett led the way with a double-double of 18 points and 12 rebounds as South Portland improved to 9-3, dropping the Red Storm to 8-4 in the process.

“We’ve just figured out what our roles are,” said Red Riots coach Lynne Hasson. “The kids are playing well. We’ve grown we’re having fun, we’re playing together and we’re winning.”

Coming of age


The teams, which boast one senior (Hartley) between them, have enjoyed their share of success in the first two-thirds of the regular season.

The Red Storm 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), Scarborough held off host Lewiston (58-51) and defeated visiting Massabesic (61-23) before finally dropping a 46-37 decision at Cheverus. After rolling at Bonny Eagle, 60-25, the Red Storm made a powerful statement with an emphatic 59-40 win at preseason favorite Thornton Academy, then lost at Gorham (43-32), beat visiting Edward Little (55-42) and suffered a tough 33-31 setback Friday at Sanford.

South Portland made a statement with a 33-31 win at Gorham in the opener, but it dropped the next three games: 48-28 to visiting Cheverus, 45-40 to visiting Scarborough and 54-43 at Falmouth. The Red Riots then hit their stride and defeated visiting Massabesic (49-27), host Portland (48-37), visiting Edward Little (52-36), host Massabesic (61-38), host Bonny Eagle (64-17), visiting Thornton Academy (55-53) and host Noble (67-27).

Scarborough and South Portland played four times a year ago, including in the tournament, making Monday’s contest the teams’ sixth meeting in just over a calendar year.

The Red Storm hoped to sweep the regular season series, but the Red Riots wouldn’t be denied.

South Portland junior Emma Travis lines up a 3-pointer as Scarborough junior Isabel Freedman defends during the Red Riots’ 54-44 victory Monday. Hoffer photos.

Just 17 seconds in, junior Ellie Rumelhart set up Hartley for a layup and the teams were off and running.


South Portland countered with a 3 from Whitmore, but Rumelhart drove for a layup to put Scarborough back on top.

After Whitmore set up Corcoran for a layup, Rumelhart drove for a layup, then Hartley scored on a putback to make it 8-5 Red Storm.

Padgett then got involved for the first time, converting an old-fashioned three-point play (layup, foul, free throw), before junior Emerson Flaker drove for a layup, then sophomore Helena Bukarac, best known for her 3-point shooting acumen, flashed a nice move, driving for a left-handed bank shot, to give Scarborough a 12-8 lead.

Back came the Red Riots, as junior Emma Travis drove for a layup, Whitmore found Corcoran for a layup, then Lawrence’s free throw put the visitors back in front, 13-12.

The back-and-forth continued with a Hartley layup being countered by a layup from Whitmore.

Murphy then hit a 3, but Lawrence countered with a 3 of her own before Hartley, as time expired, took a pass from Flaker and made a 3-pointer from NBA range to give the Red Storm a slim 20-18 advantage after eight minutes.


The second quarter opened with a 3-pointer from Scarborough junior Isabel Freedman and after Whitmore set up Corcoran for a layup, Hartley sank two free throws with 6:48 left in the first half to make it 25-20 in favor of the home team.

But that proved to be the Red Storm’s highwater mark.

After Corcoran set up Padgett for a layup, Padgett returned the favor, feeding Corcoran for a layup to cut the deficit to one.

With 4:52 remaining in the half, Padgett drew Hartley’s second foul and made one free throw to tie it, then the next time down the floor, 27 seconds later, Padgett got Hartley to pick up her third foul, then made both attempts to give South Portland the lead for good.

With Hartley sitting the remainder of the half, Corcoran fed Travis for a layup and after junior Megan Rumelhart banked home a shot to end the Red Storm’s 5 minute, 35 second scoring drought, Padgett hit a short jumper to put the Red Riots up, 31-27, at the break.

In the first half, Padgett had 10 points and seven rebounds, while Corcoran added eight points and while Hartley led all scorers with 11 points, her team was down four.


South Portland then came out and built on its lead in the third period.

Scarborough junior Emerson Flaker defends South Portland freshman Annie Whitmore.

Padgett picked up where she left off, making a layup 34 seconds into the second half, then Corcoran set up Padgett for a layup before Lawrence’s 3 with 5:43 on the clock extended the lead to 38-27.

Thirteen seconds later, an Ellie Rumelhart 3 ended the 18-2 run, but Padgett answered with a layup to keep the advantage in double digits.

After Megan Rumelhart set up Ellie Rumelhart for a 3, Whitmore broke away for a layup, then Travis banked home a shot in traffic before Whitmore found Peter for a layup with 35 seconds to go to send the Red Riots to the fourth quarter with a 13 point lead, 46-33.

Nothing came easily for South Portland down the stretch, however, as Scarborough made things most interesting, forcing seven turnovers in the frame.

Hartley started the final stanza with two free throws, then she added two more before banking home a shot after a spin move with 5 minutes remaining to make the score 46-39.


Then, with 3:27 to play, Murphy sank her second 3 of the game and the Red Riots’ lead was just four.

Twenty seconds later, Peter took a pass from Corcoran and made a layup to end a 5:28 drought and a 9-0 Red Storm surge, but with 2:32 remaining, Hartley made a runner after a steal to make it a four-point contest again.

Again, South Portland answered, as Corcoran fed Peter for a layup and after Hartley missed a shot, Whitmore was fouled with 48 seconds left and made both attempts to essentially clinch it.

Finally, with 16 seconds to go, Whitmore fed Padgett for a layup and that brought the curtain down on the Red Riots’ 54-44 victory.

“I think it was just hard work and teamwork,” said Corcoran. “There are times we don’t know what we’re doing out there, but we bring it back and finish strong. We really wanted this one, especially since they’re so highly ranked. We wanted to get on a higher standing.”

“(Scarborough) had a run and I called timeouts and we pulled it back together,” Hasson said. “The kids didn’t worry and kept their composure. It’s a really unselfish team. No one cares who gets the glory. We’ve got athletes and size and kids who can shoot. The more we win, the more confident we get. ”


Padgett led the way with 18 points and a dozen rebounds.

“I think we have great team chemistry,” Padgett said. “Our communication and us working together and our passing is what worked. My teammates found me and I just had to make layups.”

“Nyeerah’s working really hard,” Hasson said. “She’s only a sophomore. She’s a big, strong kid. She doesn’t just catch and turn and score. She has some moves too. She’s a really good post player.”

Whitmore added nine points, to go with eight assists and four rebounds. Corcoran finished with eight points, six assists and five rebounds. Lawrence had seven points, Peter six and Travis six.

The Red Riots made 7-of-13 free throws and overcame 16 turnovers.

Scarborough got 19 points from Hartley, who also grabbed six rebounds, but spent key moments off the floor due to fouls.


“(Caroline’s) our leader and when she comes out of the game, we have to ask the younger kids to step up and I don’t think that happened today,” said Red Storm coach Mike Giordano.

Ellie Rumelhart also finished in double figures with 10 points, to go with six rebounds and two blocked shots. Murphy had six points, Freedman three and Bukarac, Flaker (six rebounds, four assists and two steals) and Megan Rumelhart two apiece.

Scarborough enjoyed a 31-29 edge on the glass, but made just 6-of-14 free throws, turned the ball over 14 times and gave up well over its season average of 37 points per contest.

“We gave up way too many easy baskets,” lamented Giordano. “We scored 45 over there and 44 here. It was the same offensively, but when we lack defensive intensity we’ll struggle against a good team. That’s what it came down to. The kids never quit on me. They work hard. We just ran out of time.”

Every game matters

Scarborough, currently ranked second in the Class AA South Heal Points standings, is back in action Friday with a huge home showdown versus Gorham. Sanford pays a visit next Tuesday.


“It won’t get any easier for us with Gorham and Sanford coming up,” Giordano said. “We have to find a way to bring our defense, which has been pretty consistent most of the year, back and then find a way to get some balanced scoring. When we do that, I think we’re as good as anybody. No question any of the top five teams are capable of beating each other and that will make for a great tournament.”

South Portland, which is sitting in the top spot in the region, is idle until next Tuesday, when it hosts Bonny Eagle.

“We’ll keep doing what we’re doing and keep our heads in the game,” Corcoran said.

“I’m pleasantly surprised,” Padgett said. “We just need to keep working hard.”

“I felt like we had the potential to do this, but I knew we were young and I wasn’t sure how quickly it would come together,” Hasson added. “There are still times we don’t execute, so we still have a lot of room to grow, which is encouraging. We need to take care of the ball a little better and do a better job using our size and taking care of the glass.

“We’re in a five-team race. It’s a battle. On any given night, anyone can beat anyone. We’re on a little bit of a run here and we’ll see if we can keep it going.”

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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