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Scarborough girls get defensive, pull away in second half for win over SP

BY MICHAEL HOFFERTHE FORECASTER

BOX SCORE

Scarborough 49 South Portland 40

SP- 10 14 6 10- 40
S- 8 14 16 11- 49

SP- Bello 3-2-10 Boles 2-5-9, Owen 2-3-7, Bradbury 2-0-4, Brown 1-0-3, Lawton 1-0-3, Bryant 1-0-2, Dearborn 1-0-2

S- Fiorillo 6-1-15, E. Rumelhart 5-2-14, LeFebvre 4-3-11, Hartley 1-3-6, Flaker 0-2-2, M. Rumelhart 0-1-1

3-pointers:
SP (4) Bello 2, Brown, Lawton 1
S (5) Fiorillo, E. Rumelhart 2, Hartley 1

Turnovers:
SP- 30
S- 21

FTs
SP: 10-15
S: 12-25


SCARBOROUGH—Scarborough’s girls’ basketball team is becoming a team to be reckoned with.

And Saturday at Alumni Gymnasium, the Red Storm demonstrated what makes them so tough when South Portland paid a visit.

While Scarborough struggled at the offensive end in the first half, its turnover-causing defense kept things close and the Red Storm were only down by two, 24-22, at the break.

Then, in the third period, senior captain Lindsay Fiorillo took over, scoring 12 points, while Scarborough forced a dozen turnovers, and a two-point deficit turned into a 38-30 lead.

The Red Riots got as close as four points early in the fourth quarter, but Red Storm freshman Ellie Rumelhart hit a pair of huge shots, and Scarborough went on to a 49-40 victory.

The Red Storm didn’t just drop South Portland to 2-6 and improve to 5-2 with their third straight victory, they also gave longtime coach Mike Giordano his 299th career victory in the process.

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“It all starts with our defense,” said Giordano. “We’ll go as far as our defense and rebounding will take us and the past couple games, we’ve been pretty good at that. The more shots you have, the more of a chance you have of being successful.”

One more makes 299

Giordano spent 17 years as the South Portland girls’ coach, then came to Scarborough for the 2013-14 season. Giordano won 206 games with the Red Riots and entered play Saturday with 92 victories with the Red Storm.

Scarborough got off to a strong start with winter with a 57-37 victory at Sanford, then took visiting Thornton Academy to the wire before falling, 43-40. After a 49-34 victory at Bonny Eagle, the Red Storm lost at powerhouse Gorham (40-26). Scarborough then defeated visiting Bonny Eagle (30-25) and Thursday, enjoyed its most impressive win to date, 50-31, at Thornton Academy.

South Portland’s season began with a 72-32 victory at Noble, but the Red Riots then lost at home to Windham (54-43), dropped a 49-42 decision at Sanford, then fell at home to Thornton Academy (68-61) and at Massabesic (41-33). After a 51-42 home victory over Sanford Tuesday, South Portland lost at home to Massabesic Thursday, 55-43.

The teams never did play in 2021, as COVID limited Scarborough’s already abbreviated season to just four games. The rivals split a pair of meetings in 2019-20, with the regional title-bound Red Riots prevailing in Scarborough, 45-43, and the Red Storm shocking host South Portland, 46-44.

Saturday, Scarborough beat the Red Riots at home for the first time since Jan. 3, 2017, but it didn’t come easily.

Scarborough senior Elisabeth LeFebvre and South Portland sophomore Ruth Boles go up for a jump ball to start Saturday’s contest. Hoffer photo.

The visitors started fast on a 3-point shot from junior Anna Brown just 39 seconds in, but the Red Storm answered, as sophomore Caroline Hartley made a free throw, then Hartley sank a 3.

South Portland retook the lead on a baseline jumper from sophomore Megan Dearborn, then sophomore Ruth Boles added a pair of free throws.

Rumelhart scored her first points on a baseline jump, but Boles countered with a driving layup.

After senior captain Elisabeth LeFebvre scored on a putback for the hosts, a free throw from Boles put the Red Riots on top, 10-8, after one period.

The second quarter was more back-and-forth, as LeFebvre tied it with a putback, then Red Riots senior Hylah Owen and LeFebvre traded free throws.

South Portland junior Neveah Bello then came off the bench to spark her team to the lead.

First, Bello set up junior Talia Bradbury for a layup, then, after a Rumelhart 3, Bello drove for a layup, then sank a 3-pointer. After freshman Megan Rumelhart made a free throw for Scarborough, Bello hit another 3 for a 21-15 advantage with 2:44 left before halftime.

LeFebvre countered by taking an inbounds pass from freshman Emerson Flaker and making a layup, but Owen converted an old-fashioned three-point play (layup, foul, free throw) for the Red Riots’ biggest lead, 24-17.

The Red Storm then finished the half strong, as LeFebvre hit two free throws and Fiorillo finally got her offense going with a 3 and at the break, South Portland clung to a 24-22 lead.

South Portland sophomore Ruth Boles defends Scarborough senior Lindsay Fiorillo during second half action. Hoffer photo.

Fiorillo then took over in the third quarter and Scarborough got a little breathing room.

Fiorillo opened the second half with a steal, made a layup while being fouled and followed with the and-one free throw.

The Red Riots countered with a pair of Boles foul shots for her team’s final lead, but with 5:59 to go in the frame, off an inbounds set, Ellie Rumelhart set up Fiorillo for a layup and the game’s seventh lead change proved to be the last as the Red Storm went on top for good, 27-26.

“It was a rough start for me, then I made a shot,” Fiorillo said. “I have to give all the credit to my teammates. They helped me, they screened for me.”

“South Portland was trying to take (Lindsay) away and make things difficult on her, but she settled in and became the leader we expect and she got it done when we needed it,” Giordano said.

Fiorillo then got a 3-pointer to rattle home and after a layup from Boles, Ellie Rumelhart passed to LeFebvre for a layup.

With 2:04 to go in the quarter, Bello set up Owen for a layup, but Hartley passed to Fiorillo for a layup, Fiorillo stepped back and hit a jumper and after a LeFebvre steal, Rumelhart’s bank shot made it 38-30 Scarborough heading to the fourth period.

There, the Red Storm closed it out.

South Portland started the final stanza strong, as Brown passed to junior Ava Bryant for a layup, then Bello made two foul shots with 6:38 remaining to make it a four-point game, but Scarborough restored order.

Courtesy Rumelhart.

First, after a missed shot, Rumelhart soared in, got the rebound and laid it in.

Then, with 4:22 on the clock, Rumelhart got the ball in the corner and drained a 3 for a 43-34 lead.

“It was scary, but my teammates helped set me up,” Rumelhart said. “I get pushed a lot in practice which helps a lot in the games. The upperclassmen definitely push me to where I’m supposed to be. I definitely like the corners. That’s my spot. That shot felt good.”

“Ellie had a great game off the bench,” said Fiorillo. “I’m so proud of her for stepping up. She helped us a lot.”

“That was Ellie’s biggest game so far,” Giordano added. “We’ve been bringing her along. We saw what she’s capable of this summer and boy, she stepped up today and really helped us.”

Bradbury answered with a long jump shot, but Hartley made a free throw.

After a foul shot from Owen, Rumelhart hit a free throw, then Flaker added one before hitting another to make it 48-37.

Freshman Brooke Lawton sank a 3 for the Red Riots’ final points, before a Hartley foul shot brought the curtain down on the Red Storm’s 49-40 victory.

“It was a team effort,” Fiorillo said. “We all did something good. We did a really good job moving the ball in the second half. We got a lot of momentum off our press. I think our press has its perks. We got them rattled a little bit in the second half and that led to good things on offense.”

Fiorillo led all scorers with 15 points. Rumelhart added 14 points, to go with nine rebounds, two assists and a blocked shot. LeFebvre also finished in double figures with 11 points (to go with eight rebounds and three assists). Hartley finished with six points and four rebounds, Flaker had two points, seven steals and six assists and Megan Rumelhart added one point.

Scarborough made just 12 of 25 free throws and turned the ball over 21 times, but was able to overcome.

South Portland was paced by Bello’s 10 points. Boles added nine points (to go with five rebounds, three blocks and two steals), Owen had seven (to go with five rebounds and three steals), Bradbury four, Brown and Lawton three apiece and Bryant and Dearborn two each.

The Red Riots, who held a 35-32 rebounding advantage, made 10 of 15 foul shots, but didn’t help themselves, turning the ball over a whopping 30 times.

“We could so easily be the opposite of our record,” said South Portland coach Lynne Hasson. “We’re beating ourselves. I told the kids that there isn’t a team that’s beaten us. We can’t keep making the same mistakes over and over and over. I don’t know where the panic comes from. We have all the tools in our toolbox, but at some point, we have to stop beating ourselves. We’ve had chances in every game we’ve lost.”

Big week ahead

South Portland hopes to bounce back Tuesday when its hosts undefeated Gorham. The Red Riots then welcome Bonny Eagle Friday.

“Maybe at some point, we’ll figure out that we’re good enough to beat anyone,” Hasson said. “We’ve got to attack the rim and finish. We have some things we can build on.”

Giordano will go for his 300th victory Tuesday when Noble pays a visit. Scarborough then has tests at Massabesic Friday and at home versus Gorham Jan. 17.

“I think we’re all getting along as a team and it takes the whole team to win games,” Fiorillo said. “We just have to keep pushing each other in practice and I think we can do it.”

“I like what I’m seeing,” Giordano said. “We’re building and gaining confidence. There’s no one on the schedule we don’t think we can’t compete with and we’ve competed with everyone so far. We played Gorham earlier at their place and other than a bad third quarter, we competed, and we’ll get them again at our place.

“We respect everybody and fear no one.”

Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.