PORTLAND – Bonny Eagler Zach Maturo tallied a game-high 15 vs. Scarborough in the teams’ prelims bout at the Expo on Thursday evening, Feb. 16 – but 15 wasn’t enough, not by a long shot. Despite climbing out of an early grave in the first and even holding a lead briefly in the second, the Scots couldn’t keep their b-ball blood pumping, and fell further and further behind as the Storm spread their shooting around and dominated inside. 51-30 the final.
Bonny Eagle head coach Mike Francoeur commented on what went wrong for his boys: “We took some shots that were makeable shots; we didn’t necessarily knock them down,” he said. “[Scarborough] controlled the backboards, and they did an outstanding job of staying out of foul trouble. They had five fouls in the first period, and we never saw the bonus in the second period – which, high school tournament basketball, to me, a lot of it comes down stopping the clock, being able to shoot free-throws.
“Scoring 30-some-odd points is not going to win you a high school basketball game; that’s the bottom line.”
“You have to credit my team,” said Scarborough head coach Phil Conley. “It was a total team effort today, offensively and defensively…We knew [Bonny Eagle] had two very good shooters in Maturo and Connor Sirois, so we needed to defend them well. And I think we did. The key here is we limited them to one shot and done. We had 19 defensive rebounds, and we boxed out well.”
Scarborough advances to Tuesday the 21st’s AA South semi vs. first-ranked South Portland (15-3). The Storm and the Riots clashed twice in the regular season, South Portland taking the first matchup 82-61 on Dec. 22 and the second 65-52 on Jan. 12.
Both the Scots and the Storm entered the tournament at 6-12; Bonny Eagle earned the four-seed, though, and Scarborough the five. The teams traded Ws earlier in the winter: the Scots prevailed 61-57 on Dec. 20, and the Storm emerged victorious 50-42 on Feb. 9.
“We’ve had a couple nice battles [with Scarborough],” Francoeur said. “We had a tough one earlier at their place, and they just beat us a week or so ago. A lot of things have changed in amongst our team in the last couple weeks, but I thought the game would be a little closer than it was; once they got out on us, we had a difficult time of getting quality shots, or making quality shots. And trying to pressure on the big floor – we have not been an up-tempo, pressure team all season. So when we tried to do that at the end of the game, they scored a lot of easy buckets in transition; [Conley’s] got a couple of really nice guards, trying to turn them over in the front court turned into a couple easy layups for them on the other end.”
For their part, Bonny Eagle were without a key player: Will Hendrix, the team’s standout inside big, who’s sick. Hendrix’s absence hobbled the Scots’ outside-in work and made it difficult for them to match the Storm’s boards game.
Scarborough senior Co-Captain Nick Fiorillo kicked off the scoring with an early three, then followed himself up, soon enough, with another three – Fiorillo, in fact, provided most of the Storm’s offense through the opening quarter. That bottleneck, however, was not a concern for Conley, who has plenty of other weapons at his disposal.
“We knew that, if they were going to take Nick away, that would open up Reece on the block, or another shooter that we have – Morgan Pratt’s a very good shooter,” Conley said. “Someone else would step up. All year, we’ve had pretty balanced scoring.”
Down a quick 6-zip, Francoeur called timeout. Whatever he said to his boys in those 30 seconds dialed them in, because they returned to the court moving the ball more aggressively and accurately. Jackson Hogan knocked down their first points from the line before Fiorillo added two more from the field. 8-2.
“When you play against a team such as Scarborough, or some of the other teams,” said Francoeur, “when they go on an 8-0 run, and we’re trying to fight to get back in it, it’s certainly an uphill battle for us.”
Maturo responded with a successful drive through the paint, but Pratt spoke up too, maintaining his boys’ six-point upper-hand, 10-4. Back-to-back Scots strikes – a Hogan two and a Cam Gardner baseline three – then chopped five off that deficit; Q2 arrived looking like this game might be a game after all.
10-9, Scarborough, but Maturo drained a three to begin the stretch, inching his boys ahead. Alas: Bonny Eagle wouldn’t lead again. Fiorillo hit a two, tying things at 12-all, and Stormer Reece Lagerquist stuffed Maturo bigly, forcing a turnover that culminated in two Jaquan Seme frees.
“I like the way [the boys] responded when we were up that first period,” Conley said, “and then Bonny Eagle came up, and they were up by a basket or a point. We responded. And that’s a credit to the kids’ hard work.”
Scarborough rumbled forward. Lagerquist alone added eight further points before the break, while the Scots’ lone bucket belonged to Maturo – it was a three, and a pretty one at that, but still, it was their last strike before the intermission.
In the uphill minutes, first Fiorillo, and then Lagerquist, had spearheaded the Storm’s scoring; in the downhill stretch, the team changed things up. They balanced their attack and stressed their inside game. The approach worked: They outscored Bonny Eagle 15-6 in the third and 14-9 in the fourth for the wide-open result.
“Our inside game,” said Conley, asked for further specifics about the Storm’s late-game success. “Going into the game, we knew we were much bigger on the blocks, and I think we utilized that well tonight. That was key.”
Beyond Maturo’s 15, Hogan finished with eight, Gardner and Sirois with three each and Nick Thorne with one. Fiorillo pulled down 14, Lagerquist 12, Pratt nine, Emmett Peoples eight, Dominic Joy and Anthony Griffin three apiece and Seme two.
Francoeur talked about Maturo’s role on the Scots, and their reliance on his output. “We don’t have much else other than him – and I say that with all due respect. Zach has had a great freshman season. He was put into a situation, as a freshman, onto a team that was very young, and given the reins to run a team as a freshman high schooler. That doesn’t happen very often.
“Usually, when you put a freshman in that situation, he has a surrounding cast of characters that can support him. There were times this season when Zach did his thing, and we didn’t necessarily give him as much support around. As he looks back at his career, I think this is going to be a big learning step for him.”
Bonny Eagle may’ve bounced in the first round this year, but consider them a team on the rise nonetheless. Their ending record, 6-13, is a sharp improvement over ’15-’16, when they finished 2-16 and missed the postseason by a mile. The say goodbye to just one senior in June, Hogan.
“This year we competed at a pretty high level, for a young team,” said Francoeur of the season overall. “I take [reaching the tournament] as something encouraging. We have seven freshmen, three sophomores, four juniors and a senior. So I don’t think is going to be the last people are going to see of Bonny Eagle here.”
Scarborough, it’s worth noting, began the season on an epic skid, dropping their first 10 games. To their great credit, they never called it a day, merely hammered out their strategies and sharpened their skills until the battles started favoring them. They’ve won seven of their last nine.
“This team has gotten better,” Conley said, stressing that final word. “And it’s because of their work ethic. They never gave up; they never gave up on their teammates, they never gave up on their coaching staff, they just continued to work hard. They played hard tonight.”
Adam Birt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @CurrentSportsME
6-foot-8 Anthony Griffin powers to the net for Scarborough; Scot Jake Esty harangues him from behind.
Jackson Bean drives along the baseline for the Scots vs. Scarborough.
Towering Stormer Reece Lagerquist stands his ground as Bonny Eagle dynamo Zach Maturo makes for the boards.
Jake Esty does what he can to interrupt Morgan Pratt’s ascent to the net.
Cam Gardner lofts up a three attempt for the Scots.
Jack Hogan lays up a shot for the Scots vs. the Storm.
Stormer Emmett Peoples sets up at the top fo the lane.
Bonny Eagler Connor Sirois gets rid of the ball under tight coverage near the sideline.
Scarborough’s Reece Lagerquist looms over Bonny Eagler Christian Napolitano, on his way to the net.
Nick Thorne backs through the paint, Jaquan Seme in his way.