The lead was gradually slipping away, like air leaking slowly out of a balloon.

And then, with one well-timed eruption, the Gorham girls’ basketball team was on its way back to the Class AA South final.

Ellie Gay scored 21 points, Zoe Dellinger had nine and kickstarted a game-deciding shooting surge near the end of the third quarter, and No. 1 Gorham beat No. 4 Sanford, 52-34, in a semifinal Wednesday night at Cross Insurance Arena.

It’s the third straight regional final appearance and sixth in eight seasons for Gorham (17-3), which will play Scarborough on Saturday. Sanford, which was led by 10 points from Paige Sevigny and eight from Julissa McBarron, finished 13-7.

“We came in prepared, we knew it was going to be a tough game,” Gay said. “We beat them twice in the regular season, but neither were easy games. I think just winning the toughness battle and doing the little things, that was our main goal.”

Gorham seemed in control with a 21-12 lead early in the third quarter, but then went roughly five minutes without a point. Sanford chipped away and cut the deficit to 21-19 on a McBarron drive.


The decisive run was sparked by an unexpected source. Sophomore Zoe Dellinger came in off the bench and knocked down a 3-pointer with 2:22 left in the third, and then hit another 36 seconds later to make it 28-20.

“She’s fearless,” Gorham Coach Laughn Berthiaume said. “She doesn’t mind taking it into the lane, and she’s certainly not scared of taking a big shot. … We talk about that. When you step on the floor, try to do something positive to help your team out.”

Dellinger said she knew the team needed a spark.

“Once I hit the first 3, I was just like ‘I need to do this again,'” she said. “Coming off the bench and being able to do that, I feel like it’s a good thing to have. I’m happy I could do that for the team.”

The Rams were just getting started. Logan Doughty made a 3 on the next possession, and then Gay swished one on the next possession. In a span of just 1:18, Gorham’s lead went from three to 12, at 34-22 with 1:04 left in the third.

Gorham finished with eight 3s, breaking the Class AA South tournament record of seven set by South Portland in 2020.


“They got hot, and all you can do is tip your cap,” Sanford Coach Rossie Kearson said. “They got hot at the right time. … We did our best to try to get back into it, but it was just too many 3s.”

Gay hit another 3 early in the fourth to push the lead to 15, and Gorham never led by fewer than 12 the rest of the way. Gay, a senior, added to her impressive postseason resume by scoring seven fourth-quarter points to bring her total to 21. She reached 20 points for the third time in four Cross Insurance Arena playoff games.

“(The key is) coming in with confidence,” Gay said. “I think it’s just the experience, and coming in knowing that it’s just the same court and it’s not much different than a regular game.”

Gorham jumped in front early with the help of strong rebounding. The Rams had a 32-20 edge off the glass, led by Kalin Curtis with 13 rebounds.

“Rebounding was the biggest thing today. Every time we play them, we often let up a bunch of rebounds, but this game, we really pushed to get every single rebound we could,” Curtis said. “That was definitely the difference-maker.”

Berthiaume praised Curtis for her effort on the boards.

“I was really proud of the way Kalin rebounded the ball for us,” he said. “I thought she was a beast on the boards.”

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