Scarborough senior Sophie Glidden and Windham junior Tara Flanders dive for a loose ball on the floor during the Red Storm’s 64-45 victory Saturday afternoon.
Mike Strout photos.
More photos below.
SCARBOROUGH—Scarborough’s girls’ basketball team has come to life and as a result, the Red Storm are establishing their claim to top contender status in the state’s most challenging region.
Saturday afternoon, Scarborough hosted dangerous Windham in a matinee and for 24 minutes, the Red Storm couldn’t shake the Eagles, but Scarborough cranked up the defense and went on to yet another victory.
In the first period, two of the best sophomores around, Windham’s Hannah Talon and Scarborough’s Madison Blanche, each put on a show, as Blanche had seven points and Talon produced nine, including a pair of late free throws for a 17-15 Eagles’ lead.
The game remained taut in the second quarter, but a Blanche 3 put the Red Storm ahead to play and they clung to a 32-30 advantage at halftime, thanks in large part to Blanche’s 15 points, which negated 13 from Talon.
Scarborough then cranked up the defense in the second half, holding the Eagles to just seven points in the third period, but it remained a six-point contest, 43-37, heading to the fourth quarter.
There, the Red Storm finally put it away, as they got key contributions from myriad sources, especially sophomore “sixth-man” Julia Freeman, and pulled away to prevail, 64-45.
Blanche led all scorers with 21 points, senior Sophie Glidden added 13, Freeman had a dozen and sophomore Bella Dickinson also finished in double figures with 11 points as Scarborough won its seventh game in a row, improved to 9-3 and in the process, dropped Windham to 6-6.
“We knew in the locker room at halftime that our defense had to be better,” Blanche said. “We couldn’t give them second chance opportunities.”
While South Portland, two-time defending champion Gorham and Maine Girls’ Academy have gotten the lion’s share of attention in Class AA South so far this winter, Scarborough has quietly put together a solid season of its own.
The Red Storm started with wins at Sanford (63-23) and at home over Falmouth (46-33) before stumbling at home to Bonny Eagle (45-34) and South Portland (40-32) and at Gorham (67-53). The Red Storm then prevailed at Edward Little, 41-18, Noble, 57-43, and Cheverus, 50-48, at home over Deering (53-37) and Biddeford (41-28) and Friday at Massabesic, 52-27.
Windham opened with a 46-43 home win over Cheverus, then lost at Portland (49-40) and at home to Bangor (50-46). After downing host Noble (56-41) and visiting Massabesic (44-26), the Eagles dropped a 47-43 decision at Edward Little, lost at home to Maine Girls’ Academy (68-62) and South Portland (50-28) before getting on track with wins at Sanford (50-41) and Bangor (51-44) and at home over Westbrook (50-26).
Last year, Scarborough held on for a 44-40 home victory.
Saturday, the Red Storm were tested for third quarters, but finished in style to extend their win streak.
The teams went back and forth in the first period.
A layup from Glidden 44 seconds in broke the ice. Windham’s first points came on a Talon 3 and after Glidden made a pair of free throws, Talon countered with a putback for a 5-4 Eagles’ lead with 5:50 to play.
The Red Storm retook the lead 40 seconds later on a putback from junior captain Josie Couture. Blanche then added two free throws and a left-handed runner to make it 10-5.
After junior Tara Flanders hit a long jumper for Windham, Scarborough got a runner from Freeman and a 3 from Blanche to stretch its lead to eight points, 15-7, but the rest of the quarter belonged to the Eagles.
Junior Mikayla Baiguy got the rally started with a pair of jumpers, Talon drove for a layup, Flanders hit a spinner to tie it and with 12.6 seconds left, two Talon free throws made it 17-15 Windham after eight minutes.
Talon had nine first quarter points for the Eagles, while Blanche posted seven for the Red Storm.
The second period was even more entertaining and remained competitive.
Thirty seconds in, Dickinson hit a runner to tie it for Scarborough and in the process, end Windham’s 10-0 run.
The Eagles went back ahead when junior Meghan Hoffses got a runner to rattle home, but Blanche hit a 3, then stole the ball and made a layup for a 22-19 Red Storm lead.
Hoffses set up Flanders for a layup, but Freeman countered with a 3.
After Talon made two free throws, Scarborough senior Lindsey Kelley drove and banked home a shot, but a free throw from senior Taylor Files and a putback from Hoffses pulled Windham within a point, 27-26, with 2:26 on the clock.
Blanche restored order for the home team when she got a runner to bank in while being fouled and added the free throw for the old-fashioned three-point play with 1:38 left.
Play was then stopped for several minutes with 1:02 on the clock, as after being fouled, Kelley stayed on the floor until she was ultimately helped off by the training staff.
Kelley wasn’t able to shoot the ensuing free throws, so Dickinson came on and hit them both.
The Eagles then closed strong, as Flanders hit a jumper and Talon drove for a layup to cut the deficit to 32-30 at halftime.
Blanche helped the Red Storm lead with 15 points, but 13 from Talon kept Windham close.
Scarborough opened it up a bit in the third quarter, but the Eagles wouldn’t fold, even without a key player on the floor.
Just 20 seconds into the second half, Glidden took a feed from Freeman and made a layup and 31 seconds later, Dickinson buried a 3 to make it 37-30.
Hoffses countered with a 3, but Freeman made a long jumper, then hit a runner in the lane for a 41-33 lead with 5:10 on the clock.
With 3:58 to go, Hoffses was called for her fourth foul, but Windham got a layup from Flanders and after Glidden banked home a shot, Talon drove for a layup to pull the Eagles within two possessions, 43-37, heading for the fourth quarter.
There, Scarborough finally secured the victory.
Blanche scored her first points of the second half, two free throws, to get things started and Freeman set up Glidden for a layup and the Red Storm’s biggest lead of the game to that point, 47-37.
With 4:34 remaining, Talon made two foul shots to end Windham’s 4 minute, 29 second drought, but Dickinson drove for a layup and with 3:08 to go, Couture canned a dagger 3-pointer to make it 52-39.
Flanders countered with a jumper, but Glidden made a free throw.
With 1:55 to play, Talon drove for a layup and Hoffses stole the ensuing inbounds pass and fed Files for a layup, but Blanche made two free throws, Dickinson did the same, Glidden drained a pair and with 42.3 seconds left, Freeman was fouled and she made two free throws, as well as sink one more after Windham coach Brody Artes was called for a technical foul.
Two more free throws from Blanche then brought the curtain down on Scarborough’s 64-45 victory.
“We locked down on defense in the second half and that made the difference,” Blanche said.
“When our team started playing help defense, we did better,” Freeman said. “We stopped the girls we knew could beat us with their shots. The season has been going well. We’re clicking more.”
“Compliments to (Windham), they made shots in the first half,” added Red Storm coach Mike Giordano. “We knew they had three kids who could attack and shoot and they did that in the first half. In the second half, they front-rimmed it and we rebounded better.”
Blanche had a game-high 21 points.
“I try not to think too much and if I have an open shot, I’ll take it,” Blanche said. “My teammates did a great job moving the ball on offense and that’s why I got open looks. In the second half, they were up in my face more and I tried to get penetration and find open teammates.”
“Madison is growing by leaps and bounds every game,” Giordano said.
Glidden had a steady game of 13 points and eight rebounds.
Freeman made the most of her time off the bench, scoring 12 points, grabbing five rebounds and playing solid defense.
“Coming off the bench, I knew in this game specifically, we needed to work on defense and that’s what I tried to do,” said Freeman.
“Julia’s so versatile,” Blanche said. “She can get to the hoop, she can shoot, she can play defense. She really adds to the team.”
“Julia isn’t a typical bench player,” added Giordano. “She gives us instant offense. We could start her, but she gives us such a lift off the bench and she accepts that role. She’s really responded to that.”
Dickinson finished with 11 points and a pair of steals.
Couture had five points, but was a force on both ends of the court with eight rebounds, three steals and a blocked shot.
“(Josie) does all the intangibles,” said Giordano. “Two years ago, she played point guard. This year, she plays post. She has a great basketball IQ and doesn’t need the limelight to be happy.”
Kelley added two points before leaving with injury.
The Red Storm had a 31-30 rebounding edge, only committed 10 turnovers and hit an impressive 21 of 23 free throws.
Talon paced Windham with 19 points. Flanders added 12 points, Hoffses had seven points, five rebounds, four assists, three steals and two blocks, Baiguy ended with four points and Foles added three.
The Eagles were 7 of 12 from the foul line and turned the ball over 13 times.
With the season two-thirds complete, both squads have urgency to earn victories down the stretch.
Windham (now sixth in the Class AA North Heal Points standings) is back in action Tuesday at Lewiston. Friday brings a trip to Deering.
Scarborough (second behind South Portland in Class AA South) hopes to make it eight wins in a row when Sanford pays a visit Tuesday. After playing at Kennebunk, the Red Storm play host to Lewiston, then close with games at Portland and Thornton Academy, before hosting MGA in a pivotal finale.
“It’s going to be a fun tournament,” Blanche said. “We can’t be afraid of anyone. We can’t be nervous. We have to focus on what we do and not worry about the other team.”
“Looking at the Heals, everything is in front of us,” Giordano said. “If we win the games we’re supposed to win, we’ll finish 2 or 3. If not, we’ll drop to the 4-5 game. We don’t need help from anybody and we’ll take it one game at a time. We’re excited. We’ve got it going a little bit.”
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports
Windham sophomore Hannah Talon drives on Scarborough senior Sophie Glidden. Talon led the Eagles with 19 points.
Scarborough sophomore Julia Freeman tries to corral a rebound between Windham junior Meghan Hoffses (2) and senior Taylor Files.
Scarborough sophomore Bella Dickinson is hounded by Windham sophomore Hannah Talon.
Scarborough senior Natalie Taylor gets past Windham senior Taylor Files.