Buckle up – tournament time is upon us.

And what a tournament it promises to be.

Five of the six Forecaster Country teams will be chasing Gold Balls in the days to come and here’s how it shakes out:

Red seeking Gold

Scarborough’s Emerson Flaker and South Portland’s Annie Whitmore look to lead their respective teams on Class AA South title runs. File photo.

South Portland’s girls’ basketball team started the season 1-3, won 13 straight, then closed with a 51-32 loss at Sanford (Emma Travis had a team-high nine points), but still wound up 14-4, good for the second seed in Class AA South, the Red Riots’ best showing since going to the state final four years ago.

South Portland hosted No. 7 Bonny Eagle (3-15) in the quarterfinals Thursday (see our website for game story). The Red Riots won both regular season meetings, 64-17 Jan. 4 on the road and 44-24 Jan. 23 at home. South Portland entered 5-3 all-time versus the Scots in the playoffs, with a 58-35 semifinal round victory five years ago the most recent.

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If the Red Riots advance to the semifinals next Wednesday at the Cross Insurance Arena, they will take on either No. 3 Scarborough (13-5) or No. 6 Massabesic (3-15).

Speaking of the Red Storm, they closed the regular season on a five-game win streak. Scarborough hosted Massabesic in its quarterfinal Wednesday. The Red Storm swept the Mustangs this winter, winning 61-23 at home Dec. 23 and 59-34 Jan. 27 in Waterboro. Scarborough was 3-0 all-time versus Massabesic in the tournament, with a 41-29 victory in the 2019 quarterfinals the most recent.

If Scarborough and South Portland meet up in the semifinals, it will mark the third encounter this season. The Red Storm won, 45-40, Dec. 15 on the road, then the Red Riots prevailed in Scarborough, 54-44, Jan. 15. The Red Storm are 5-2 all-time versus South Portland in the tournament, with a 50-34 victory in last year’s quarterfinals the most recent.

Scarborough and South Portland are part of a deep Class AA South field, which also includes top-ranked, two-time defending regional champion Gorham (15-3), No. 4 Sanford (12-6) and fifth-ranked, preseason favorite Thornton Academy (10-8).

“We’re in a five-team race,” said Red Riots coach Lynne Hasson. “It’s a battle. On any given night, anyone can beat anyone.”

“No question any of the top five teams are capable of beating each other and that will make for a great tournament,” said longtime Scarborough coach Mike Giordano.

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South Portland’s Darius Johnson and Scarborough’s Spencer Booth figure to play major roles in their team’s quest for Class AA South supremacy in the days to come. File photo.

Scarborough and South Portland figure prominently in the Class AA South boys’ tournament as well.

The Red Storm capped a 14-4 regular season (their best since the 2017-18 campaign) with a 54-51 home loss to top-seeded Gorham last Thursday. Carter Blanche scored 15 points and Spencer Booth added 14.

Scarborough earned the No. 2 seed in Class AA South and hosted No. 7 Bonny Eagle (3-15) in the quarterfinals Wednesday. The Red Storm won both regular season meetings, 56-51 on the road Dec. 30 and 57-48 (in double-overtime) Jan. 25 at home. The teams split four prior playoff encounters, with the Scots taking the most recent, 71-48, in the 2020 quarterfinals.

“We have a lot to play for,” said Scarborough coach Phil Conley. “We want to take every game and play as well as we can.”

If Scarborough advances to the semifinals next Thursday at the Cross Insurance Arena, it will take on either two-time reigning champion and No. 3 seed South Portland (9-9) or No. 6 Thornton Academy (5-13).

The Red Riots, who overcame an 0-5 start to the season and reached the .500 mark with a 76-46 home win over Sanford in the finale last Thursday. Gabe Galarraga scored 21 points, Manny Hidalgo added 18, Gabe Jackson finished with 17 and Darius Johnson tallied 13.

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South Portland hosted Thornton Academy in the quarterfinals Thursday night (see our website for game story). The Red Riots swept the Golden Trojans this winter, 52-44 Jan. 6 in Saco and 70-62 Jan. 27 at home. South Portland is 8-3 against Thornton Academy in the tournament, dating to 1970, with last year’s 55-44 win in the regional final the most recent.

“We just have to take care of business,” said Red Riots coach Kevin Millington. “It will be a tough quarterfinal. I think we’re playing a lot better than earlier in the year. It’s all about momentum and playing well.”

If Scarborough and South Portland meet in the semifinals next week, it will mark the third meeting this season. The Red Storm won at home (55-52) Dec. 14, as well as in South Portland (54-49) Jan. 15. The Red Riots won two of the three previous meetings, with a 63-37 victory in last year’s semifinals the most recent.

Capers hopeful

Cape Elizabeth’s boys, who started the season 0-6 and were 3-12 at one point, closed with three straight wins to wind up 6-12 and ninth in Class B South.

The Capers went to No. 8 Mountain Valley (9-9) for a preliminary round tournament game Wednesday. Cape Elizabeth edged the visiting Falcons, 52-46, Feb. 3. The teams split two prior playoff meetings with the Capers winning the most recent, 47-31, in the 2018 Class B South quarterfinals.

If Cape Elizabeth advanced, it would meet top-ranked, reigning regional champion Oceanside (18-0) in the quarterfinals Friday evening at the Portland Exposition Building. The teams didn’t meet this year. The Mariners won the lone prior playoff encounter, rallying for a 54-51 win in last year’s quarterfinals.

Cape Elizabeth’s girls wound up 0-18 and did not qualify for the playoffs.

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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