PORTLAND—Scarborough’s girls’ basketball team was excited to play in Saturday evening’s Class AA South Final.

Gorham expected to win it.

That’s because the top-ranked Rams almost always capture the regional title and despite getting pushed by the third-seeded Red Storm, they never trailed and added another piece of hardware to the school’s trophy case.

Gorham started fast, scoring eight of the game’s first 10 points and after Scarborough rallied, the Rams took a 10-8 lead after one quarter on a putback from junior Vanessa Walker.

Gorham then scored the first eight points of the second period and held a 20-13 advantage at the half.

The Rams opened it up even further in the third quarter, making three 3s for a 34-20 lead.


The Red Storm, who were able to score points consistently against every foe not named Gorham this winter, showed some life in the final stanza, getting as close as five points, 39-34, on a putback from junior Emerson Flaker with 2 minutes to go, but Rams senior standout Ellie Gay slammed the door with a 3-pointer and two free throws and Gorham went on to a 46-37 victory.

Gay led the way with 18 points, as the Rams three-peated as regional champion, improved to 18-3, set up a state final showdown versus Cheverus (20-0) next Saturday at 7:05 p.m., at the Cross Insurance Arena, and in the process, ended Scarborough’s fine season at 16-5.

“Anytime you play on this night for a championship, it’s pretty special, but Gorham’s the gold standard,” said Red Storm coach Mike Giordano. “They’re well-coached and have a tremendous feeder program.”

Championship poise

In a season which saw five different teams in the mix for the regional title at various times, it was Gorham and Scarborough emerging as the two best (see sidebar for links to previous stories).

The Rams, who lost to Oxford Hills in last year’s final game, went 15-3 this year, closing on a 13-1 tear, losing only to South Portland (twice) and Edward Little. Gorham earned the top seed in Class AA South and after dominating No. 8 Noble in the quarterfinals (87-14), pulled away in the second half to defeat No. 4 Sanford in Wednesday’s semifinals, 52-34.


The Red Storm, meanwhile, started on a 5-0 tear, then lost five of eight games before closing with five more victories, good for the No. 3 seed in the region.

Scarborough dispatched No. 6 Massabesic, 59-27, in the quarterfinals, then held off No. 2 South Portland, 36-31, in Wednesday’s semifinals.

Gorham won both regular season meetings, 43-32 at home Jan. 6 and 53-35 in Scarborough Jan. 19. Gay led the way with 20 points in the first win, then went off for 24 in the second.

The teams split four prior playoff encounters (see sidebar), with the Rams taking the most recent, 49-26, in the 2022 regional final.

Saturday, Gorham did it again, but Scarborough made the Rams work for it.

Gorham struck first 27 seconds in, when senior Kalin Curtis took a pass from senior Summer Gammon and made a layup.


Scarborough drew even on two free throws from Flaker, but the next six points went to the Rams, as Curtis hit a short jumper, which rolled home, junior Vanessa Walker made two free throws, then Gammon hit a jumper.

Senior standout Caroline Hartley then brought the Red Storm back with six quick points. first making two foul shots, then hitting a jumper before taking a pass from junior Ellie Rumelhart and making a layup to tie the score.

With 22 seconds remaining in the first quarter, Walker scored on a putback and Gorham had the lead for good, 10-8.

The Rams then got some separation in the second period.

After not making a 3 in the first eight minutes, Gorham got two in 53 seconds, the first from Gay (set up by sophomore Lauren Dunbar) and the second from junior Julia Reed (set up by Curtis).

When Gay made a layup after a steal with 4:20 on the clock, the Rams were ahead by 10, 18-8.


Scarborough snapped the 10-0 run and a 5 minute, 18 second scoring drought when Hartley made a bank shot in traffic with 4:02 remaining, then sophomore sharpshooter Helena Bukarac added a 3, but with 51 seconds to go, Curtis found Dunbar for a layup and a 20-13 halftime advantage.

Gay led a balanced attack for Gorham with five points. Hartley kept the Red Storm close with eight points, three rebounds and two steals.

In the third quarter, Scarborough tried to rally, but the Rams kept answering the challenge.

After Curtis opened the second half with a 3-ball, Rumelhart took a pass from her sister, junior Megan Rumelhart, and made a layup, but Curtis set up Gay for a layup at the other end.

After Ellie Rumelhart drove for another layup, Gay scored on a contested leaner, Reed added a free throw and Reed set up Gammon for a corner 3 and a 31-17 lead.

Ellie Rumelhart countered with another layup, but Dunbar found sophomore Logan Doughty for a 3 and while Hartley made a late free throw, Gorham was in command heading to the fourth period, up, 34-20.


But the game wasn’t over yet.

The Red Storm tried to rally at the start of the final stanza, as Hartley drove for a layup, then Ellie Rumelhart set up Megan Rumelhart for a layup and with 5:42 remaining, Bukarac buried a 3 to cut the deficit to seven, but at the other end, Walker took a pass from Curtis and calmly drained a 3 to restore a double-digit lead, 37-27.

After junior Isabel Freedman made two free throws for Scarborough, Gay drove and in traffic banked home a shot with 4:05 to go.

Bukarac answered with a 3 at the other end, then Flaker scored on a putback with 2 minutes left and just like that, the Red Storm were within five, 39-34.

But that’s as close as they would get, as with 1:40 left, Gay took a pass from Curtis in transition and her 3 from the left wing found nothing but net.

“We just had great ball movement and we worked together as a team,” Gay said. “We don’t lean on one person. I know my teammates will make the right decisions. We can all shoot. When I’m open, I’m always hoping to get the ball. I knew I had to hit it and I had the confidence to hit it to help my team out.”


“If we could have gotten it to one possession, you never know, but (Ellie) hit that big 3 in the corner,” Giordano said. “I thought our defense kept them off-balance, but you have to take off to Ellie. She made some huge shots when they needed them.”

With 1:17 on the clock, Gay added two foul shots, then she hit two more with 40 seconds remaining.

At the horn, sophomore Avery Bastian made a 3 for Scarborough, but at 8:21 p.m., the contest ended and Gorham was able to celebrate its 46-37 victory.

“It’s not easy to beat that team three teams, especially with that coaching staff,” said longtime Rams coach Laughn Berthiuame. “Between (Dick) Whitmore, (Lisa Blais) Manning and Giordano, I don’t know that there’s a better staff anywhere.

“Every possession was so huge and I thought for us, we had to be strong with the basketball. We lost our composure at times. It was a game that ebbed and flowed. They put pressure on and if you can get past that initial wave, you’re probably going to get a good look and we completed that transition and it gave us some breathing room and we needed it at the end.

“(Regional titles are) all special and unique in their own way. It’s always a new group, even when you have a lot of kids back, so it never gets old.”


Gay, who was named the regional tournament’s MVP, had a game-high 18 points, as well as four rebounds. Gay set a new regional tournament record by scoring 51 points in three games.

“(Ellie) has enjoyed success,” Berthiaume said. “She’s got a lot of confidence and she’s a player when mistakes happen, she moves on quickly and that’s important.”

Curtis (who collected a game-high 10 rebounds and also dished out six assists) and Walker added seven points apiece, Gammon had five points, Reed four, Doughty three and Dunbar two.

“I felt like this was one our most balanced groups,” said Berthiaume. “Ellie is a top scorer, but she averaged 12.5 points a game during the year. We had a number of different high scorers and kids who did big things for us. We had different leaders in different parts of the season. We had a few kids make big shots tonight. Every kid who got on the floor contributed.”

Gorham made seven 3-pointers to Scarborough’s four, had a 28-22 edge on the glass, sank 7-of-10 free throws and overcame 20 turnovers.

Gorham didn’t see Cheverus this year (the Stags dethroned Oxford Hills in its regional final Saturday, 48-38). The Stags beat the Rams, 49-36, to win the 2022 state title and also defeated them, 50-44, in the 2012 Western A preliminary round.


Gorham will be a decided underdog next week, but the Rams won’t be the least bit fazed by the moment.

“Cheverus is a great team,” Gay said. “We’ll work hard in practice, push each other and get the underclassmen confidence. We just have to work on the little things. It’s so exciting. We get another week of practice and another game.”

“I think it’s going to be a similar game where they try to put us under a lot of pressure and we have to be strong with the basketball and move it and make sure we’re in our spots and if kids are open, they have to shoot with confidence,” said Berthiaume. “I don’t know if being an underdog helps or hurts, but we’re happy to be in the game and we’ll come in here and play hard.”

Try, try again

For Scarborough, Hartley’s stellar career ended with an 11-point, four-rebound, three-steal, two-blocked shots effort.

“You just don’t replace kids like (Caroline),” Giordano said. “She’ll always be a part of our program. She’ll have a special place in my heart for how hard she worked.”


Bukarac added nine points off the bench, Ellie Rumelhart had six (to go with four rebounds), Flaker four (as well as four steals and three assists), Bastian three and Freedman and Megan Rumelhart two apiece.

The Red Storm made 7-of-10 free throws and committed 16 turnovers.

“We’ve struggled to score against (Gorham) all year and it happened again tonight,” Giordano said. “They’re more physical than we are. They’re bigger and stronger and the officials allowed us to play, which is fine by me, and that favors a team that’s more physical. We struggled to get open looks, especially around the basket.”

While Hartley departs, everyone else is back and Scarborough could be even stronger in 2024-25.

“We’re excited about next year and hopefully we can get right back here,” Giordano said.

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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