PORTLAND—When you’re hot, you’re hot, but Scarborough’s boys’ basketball team took it to another level Thursday evening at the Cross Insurance Arena.

Facing sixth-seeded Thornton Academy, the second-ranked Red Storm kept taking and kept making 3-pointers in the first half, in a notoriously difficult shooting venue mind you, and the end result was a decisive victory and a trip to a place Scarborough hasn’t been in six years.

The Class AA South Final.

The Golden Trojans kept up with the Red Storm for much of the first quarter before a pair of late 3s from senior Liam Garriepy produced a 22-14 advantage after eight minutes.

Scarborough was then unconscious from the floor in the second period, as senior Liam Jefferds and sophomore Carter Blanche drained three 3s apiece to produce a commanding 44-19 lead at the break.

Thornton Academy drew within 18 in the third quarter, but the Red Storm countered, took a 59-37 advantage to the final stanza and went on to a 73-55 victory.


Scarborough placed five different players in double figures, led by Garriepy with 19 points, as it improved to 16-4, ended Thornton Academy’s season at 6-14 and advanced to take on top-ranked Gorham (17-2) in the Class AA South Final Saturday at 8:45 p.m., at the Cross Insurance Arena.

“We’re an unselfish team,” said Garriepy. “When guys drive and the defense collapses, we find the open shooter. If we have an open shot, we knock them down. Our starting five and a couple guys off the bench can score anywhere on the court. We don’t rely on one guy. We just take what’s given to us.”

Role reversal

Scarborough and Thornton Academy had played twice before in the tournament (see sidebar), but that was when the Golden Trojans were the high seed and the Red Storm were hoping to spring an upset.

This winter, Thornton Academy started 4-1, lost 12 straight games, then closed with a victory over Bonny Eagle before upsetting third-ranked South Portland, the two-time reigning state champions, 59-43, in last week’s quarterfinals (see sidebar for links to previous stories).

Scarborough, meanwhile, built on its surprise trip to the semifinals a year ago with a 14-4 campaign, then rolled past No. 7 Bonny Eagle, 73-54, in its quarterfinal.


The Red Storm twice beat the Golden Trojans this year, 62-37 at home Jan. 4 and 53-40 Jan. 19 in Saco.

Thursday, they had to do it a third time, never an easy task, but thanks to an all-time great shooting effort, they did exactly that.

Unlike many tournament games, which feature slow starts, both Scarborough and Thornton Academy came out on fire.

The Red Storm opened the scoring 44 seconds in, as 6-foot-9 sophomore Spencer Booth made a nice drop step move to get past a defender before laying the ball in.

Golden Trojans junior standout Wyatt Benoit answered with a driving layup, then junior Robert Eldred sank a free throw to give them their first lead, but Booth countered by showing his range and burying a 3-pointer.

After Eldred tied the score with a putback, Blanche got a runner to roll in, but with 4:47 to go in the opening stanza, a 3-ball from Eldred gave Thornton Academy an 8-7 lead.


Senior Nate Glidden countered for Scarborough, driving for a layup, getting fouled in the process, then adding the and-one free throw to complete the old-fashioned three-point play.

After sophomore Simon Gellis drew the Golden Trojans even with a jumper with 3:50 remaining, the Red Storm found another gear and closed the frame on a 14-4 run to seize control.

A Booth layup, from Garriepy, got things started and gave Scarborough the lead for good. Blanche then set up Glidden for a backdoor layup, forcing Thornton Academy coach Mike Nelson to call timeout.

It didn’t help, as Garriepy finished a runner with his left hand and after Benoit drove for a layup, Glidden set up Garriepy for a 3 and after Eldred made a layup, from senior Joshua Vallee, Garriepy drained a long, contested 3, just before the horn, and Scarborough was up eight, 22-14, after eight minutes.

“Last year (a 63-37 semifinal round loss to South Portland), we weren’t expected to be here and we took it all in,” Garriepy said. “Today, we just walked in and did what we had to do.”

The Red Storm then opened it up even more in the second quarter, as they continued to rain 3 after 3 down upon the Golden Trojans.


After Glidden opened the frame with a jumper, Gellis made a free throw for Thornton Academy, but Garriepy set up Blanche for his first 3, Blanche found Jefferds for his first 3, then Glidden added two foul shots for a 32-15 advantage with 3:59 left in the half.

Benoit countered with two free throws, but after an offensive rebound, senior Blake Harris kicked the ball out to Blanche for a 3, then Glidden found Blanche for another before Blanche set up Jefferds for a 3 of his own.

With 24 seconds remaining, Eldred spun and made a layup, but as time wound down, Blanche threw a pretty cross-court pass to Jefferds, who, naturally found nothing but net with his 3-point attempt for a commanding 44-19 halftime lead.

“Our offense is just flowing,” Blanche said. “Everyone just finds each other. We just know where the others will be. I just think we all worked together and bonded together in the offseason.”

Scarborough made an improbable 9-of-10 3-point attempts in the half and had five players score at least seven points, led by Blanche with 11.

“We’ve shot the ball really well all year,” said Red Storm coach Phil Conley. “Even our bigs shoot the ball well. We started out tonight shooting the ball incredibly well. Making nine 3s in the first half was quite a display. It’s fun to watch as a coach. The guys put the time in. We do a lot of shooting in practice and it’s paid off for us.”


Thornton Academy, which has fought hard all season, tried to get back in the game when the second half began.

After Gellis scored on a spinner, Booth countered with a reverse layup, but Eldred converted an old-fashioned three-point play (basket, foul, free throw), senior Shiloh Thao sank a free throw, then with 6:24 to go, Eldred knocked down a 3 to make it 46-28.

But that’s as close as the Golden Trojans would get and by the end of the third quarter, Scarborough essentially put it away.

After Garriepy sank two free throws, Booth hit one, then Booth set up Glidden for a layup to stretch the lead back to 23.

After Benoit drove and banked home a shot with his off hand, Garriepy drove for a layup at the other end.

Eldred converted another three-point play, but Blanche scored on a floater in the lane.


After Eldred scored on a leaner, Garriepy sank two free throws, then Harris did the same and while Benoit got two points back at the line late, the Red Storm took a 59-37 advantage to the fourth period.

Benoit started the final stanza with a layup after a steal, but Blanche scored on a leaner, then Jefferds sank Scarborough’s first and only 3 of the second half for a 64-39 lead.

Eldred answered with a 3, but Booth got free and elevated for a slam dunk.

After Thao converted a leaner, Gellis set up Eldred for a reverse layup, but Garriepy converted a three-point play and Garriepy made a layup to make it a 25-point contest again.

Down the stretch, Benoit hit a 3 and senior Adam Donovan added a layup and after Harris made a layup for Scarborough’s final points, senior Pablo Nieto scored on a putback and senior Rayon Carty made a layup to account for the 73-55 final score.

“We came in with the mentality that we weren’t going to be fazed by anything,” Blanche said. “We treated it like any game in any gym and we played like we were capable. We knew anything could happen in the playoffs, so we had to take it seriously.”


“We knew it was going to be a battle,” said Garriepy. “They threw a lot of things at us, but we worked on our game plan last week and got the result.”

“What I’m most proud of is we had to match their physicality,” added Conley. “We beat them twice in the regular season, but they’re well-coached and we knew they’d be physical and we boxed out well and our transition game got us some easy looks. We might be a big, tall team, but our kids can move. They’re athletic and can run the floor well. It’s important to try and get easy baskets in transition like we did tonight.

“This means the world to me. It’s my eighth year at Scarborough. I’ve had outstanding support from Mike LeGage, our athletic director, and our kids have bought in. The culture we have in our program right now is second to none. It has to do with our eight seniors and the younger guys see it and we’ll keep it rolling.”

Garriepy had a team-high 19 points, as well as 10 rebounds and three assists.

Blanche finished with 15 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals.

Booth had 12 points, as well as six rebounds and a couple blocked shots.


Jefferds also had a dozen points, while Glidden added 11 (to go with three assists) and Harris had four.

The Red Storm made 10 3-pointers to the Golden Trojans’ four, had a slight 29-25 rebounding advantage, only turned the ball over 12 times and hit 11-of-13 foul shots.

Thornton Academy was paced by Eldred, who had a game-high 26 points, as well as four rebounds. Benoit also wound up in double figures with 15 points (to go with six rebounds, three assists and three steals). Gellis had five points, Thao three and Carty, Donovan and Nieto (six rebounds) two apiece.

The Golden Trojans only turned the ball over eight times and made 9-of-12 free throws, but couldn’t keep up with the smoking-hot Red Storm.

“They just shot well,” said Nelson. “We talked about not leaving them and not giving them any space. The shots they hit, I think we were right there with a hand in their face, so you have to give them credit. We know they can shoot it. They’re so well-balanced. They have an inside game with Spencer, a penetration game with Liam Garriepy and they have the outside game with the guys who can shoot it. Even Glidden is really good at driving the ball and he hit some tough pull-ups. They hit tough twos and tough 3s tonight.

“I’m disappointed we lost, but it wasn’t an effort or execution thing. We didn’t give up. We played hard to the last possession. I’m proud of the guys. We talk about sports being akin to life and what do you do when times get tough. You can give in or work harder and we worked harder and the guys can take that with them the rest of their lives.”


One more big step

Scarborough last played in a regional final in 2018, when it defeated South Portland.

The Red Storm lost twice to Gorham this season, 58-51 on the road Jan. 6 and 54-51 at home Feb. 8. The teams have split six prior playoff meetings, with Scarborough’s 59-58 victory in last year’s quarterfinals the most recent.

“Gorham has gotten us twice this year, but we’ll be ready and we want it more than anything,” Garriepy said.

“We’re going to take it like any other game,” said Blanche. “(Gorham’s) a great team, so we have to come in and play our best game.”

“The (previous) games were close,” Conley added. “(Gorham’s) a very good team. They have scorers. We have to defend them and keep them in check. We look forward to the challenge. The guys are dialed in. They’re a great bunch to coach. We’re excited.”

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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