PORTLAND—Sam Averill turned in a 15-point performance for the No. 5 Scots when they faced off with No. 1 South Portland on Tuesday morning, Feb. 19. Those 15, though, wouldn’t be enough, as Bonny Eagle simply found themselves overmatched vs. the Riots and ultimately fell 58-35.
“They were making their shots and we weren’t,” Scots head coach Scott Regan said. “Tip your cap to them.”
The action, at first, see-sawed: South Portland opened the scoring – Maggie Whitmore did the honors with a three – before Emma Abbott logged the Scots’ first points, a two. Fellow Bonny Eagler Mackenzie Emery then converted a SoPo block/turnover into a long upcourt pass to Averill, who added a two and seized the lead at 4-3. A held ball went the Riots’ way and Whitmore made it 5-3; Averill converted on an end-to-end plunge for 6-5; South Portlander Isabela Cloutier drained a three for 8-6 – 8-6, though, is where the Scots would stumble.
“We felt that if it was an inside game, they would own us,” Regan said. “So we were hoping we could take care of it on the outside. They just made the shots they needed to make.”
The Riots broke into an 8-2 run to close the quarter at 16-8, and continued to crank up their advantage as the game wore on. Scot Emma Abbot contributed a pair of threes in the second quarter, Emery a pair of frees and Averill a two – for a total of 10 – but Whitmore, Cloutier, Jena Leckie and Kaleisha Towle combined to hash 16 and a 32-18 SoPo upper-hand at the break.
“They’re your top defense in AA,” Regan said of the Riots. “32 points per game they allowed all season. It’s not like a bad team we just lost to.”
“They’re 19-1 now for a reason,” Regan continued. “They played well, they did the little things they needed to do; they made, it seemed like, a ton of shots at the big times.”
The second half looked much like the first. By the end of the third quarter, the Riots had – on the back of 18 by the aforementioned girls, as well as Ashlee Aceto – pulled ahead 50-28. Bonny Eagle got its points in that time from Averill (with a two and a three), Taylor Johnson (a three) and Emery (two frees). Both teams slowed down in the fourth, and the final buzzer tolled on a 58-35 result.
“They’re just such an athletic group, it’s hard for us to match up with them anyway,” Regan said of South Portland.
Among the obvious keys to the Riots’ success was their completely shutting down the Scots’ Emily Bartash, a long sophomore who’s come a long way this year and is more than capable of scoring heaps for the team.
“She’s still learning how to play physical,” Regan said of the willowy Bartash, who SoPo bumped around quite a bit. “She has a hard time with that.”
Abbott finished with eight for the Scots, Emery seven, Johnson three and Spring Parsons two.
Bonny Eagle retires till next winter at 13-7. The Scots bludgeoned No. 4 Noble 56-35 at Noble in the quarterfinals to earn their bout with the Riots.
BE also fell to South Portland at the very outset of the regular season, 59-28.
Regan remarked on the winter as a whole, which turned out to be something of a happy surprise for the team, given the rebuilding it planned on having to do. “We were 2-4, we started this year,” Regan said. “And we won 11 out of our last 14 games, including this one. I thought we had a great season.”
The Scots say goodbye to three seniors: Averill, Emery and Johnson. “They gave everything they had to this program,” Regan said of the trio. “Sam and Kenz, three out of four years, they’re making it to the semi-finals. That’s huge. Our program hasn’t had that for a while. They’ve established the bar of what our expectation are for our program, and I can’t thank them enough.”
Adam Birt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @CurrentSportsME.
Sam Averill led the Scots with 15.
Mackenzie Emery is going to get her points in most any game, but South Portland did a good job defending her, and held her to just seven.
The Scots confer on the sidelines during a break in the action.
Avianna Rath surveys her pass options.
Emily Bartash ascends toward the net vs. South Portland on Tuesday.
Scot Meaghan Champagne drives forward late in the game.