As the fourth quarter of Wednesday night’s Class AA South girls’ basketball semifinal played out at Cross Insurance Arena and Scarborough went longer and longer without making a field goal, Coach Mike Giordano told his team not to panic.

“You know what? Our moniker all year has been defense. I told the girls in one of the late timeouts in the fourth quarter that we’re going to win the game on (the defensive) end. And we did. We did just enough,” Giordano said.

The Red Storm scored just three points in the fourth quarter, all on free throws in the final 38 seconds, but strong defense kept South Portland from ever completely erasing Scarborough’s big lead. With a 36-31 win, No. 3 Scarborough (15-5) moves on to the regional final Saturday night at Cross Arena. No. 2 South Portland ends the season at 15-5.

Scarborough led 24-10 at halftime, and Caroline Hartley’s 3-pointer early in the third quarter gave the Red Storm their largest lead, 27-10.

“We had a bad first half. We had some good shots, but nothing was dropping. We didn’t execute very well offensively,” South Portland Coach Lynne Hasson said.

South Portland began to chip away, cutting the deficit to 31-22 with 42.8 seconds left in the third on Annie Whitmore’s three-point play. When Emerson Flaker banked home a putback at the buzzer, Scarborough was up 33-22 lead going to the fourth.


The Red Storm had to deal with foul trouble, as Hartley, the team’s lone senior, picked up her fourth with 1:37 remaining in the third quarter. Hartley returned to play the entire fourth quarter, and Giordano went to a 2-3 zone. For her part, Hartley knew she had to play smarter. No drives to the hoop that could result in a charge, no block attempts, and no aggressive play for rebounds.

Giordano didn’t hesitate to play Hartley with four fouls.

“She’s a senior leader, a captain. You’ve got to trust your kids to do the right thing,” Giordano said.

With the offensive struggling, Hartley (10 points) told her team to focus on defense.

“I just kept telling my team, give me your everything. We’re a team built on defense, so we knew if we couldn’t get anything going on offense, we knew we’d have to earn it,” Hartley said.

Caleigh Corcoran made a 3-pointer, South Portland’s only 3 of the game, with five minutes left, cutting Scarborough’s lead to 33-27. It was the last points either team scored until Hartley sank a free throw with 38.9 seconds remaining. Flaker added two foul shots with 27.8 seconds left.


Giordano and Hartley said the Red Riots hammered Scarborough in the low post in their last meeting, a 54-44 South Portland win on Jan. 15. This time, Scarborough focused on containing forward Nyeerah Padgett, who finished with four points.

“We really had to try and pack that area and make it hard inside, and force them to beat us from the perimeter,” Giordano said.

Ellie Rumelhart scored 10 of her 12 points in the first half, helping the Red Storm build their lead.

“Our team had a lot of energy, and that helped me push through,” Rumelhart said.

Destiny Peter led South Portland with 11 points.

“We battled back in the second half, but we ran out of time,” Hasson said.

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