Mackenzie Holmes, center, and Gorham teammates celebrate after defeating Scarborough. (Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald)
PORTLAND — Back in early January, when asked how his Gorham High girls’ basketball team was handling a four-game losing streak, Laughn Berthiaume responded that the only streak that mattered was at the end of the year, in Portland, where the championships are played.
And his two-time defending state champion Rams are showing they still know how to win when it counts.
Fifth-ranked Gorham continued its stunning run through the Class AA South tournament, upending second-ranked Scarborough 47-28 in the regional championship game Friday afternoon at Cross Insurance Arena. It is Gorham’s third consecutive Class AA South championship.
“This is the time of year you play to play again,” Berthiaume said. “The old ‘one game at a time’ seems to be working, so that’s what we’ve been doing. We’ve got a week now where we can take a look at our next opponent, so we’ll get back to work.”
Gorham will play Edward Little — the No. 3 seed in AA North — in the Class AA state title game at 6 p.m. March 2 at the CIA.
“This is special,” said Michelle Rowe, Gorham’s only senior who had four points, four rebounds and four assists. “To be a senior and able to go for it again is pretty great.”
The Rams defeated the fifth, first and second seeds in the tournament, using a long scoring run in each game to take control. On Friday, it was a 21-0 run that lasted 9 minutes, 5 seconds and took Gorham from a two-point deficit in the first quarter to a 19-point lead in the second.
And the way the Rams did it was impressive.
Mackenzie Holmes, Gorham’s standout 6-2 junior center, was negated for the most part by Scarborough’s collapsing defense. She had only eight points in the game — 14 below her regular season average. But the Rams didn’t miss a beat offensively. Freshman Adele Nadeau led Gorham with 12 points (with eight rebounds), while junior Brittany Desjardin had eight and freshman Olivia Michaud had seven.
“We decided we were going to collapse around Mackenzie and make those younger kids beat us,” Scarborough coach Mike Girodano said. “And they did. What happened is, yep, we gave them good looks, but you expect some of those younger kids maybe not to make those. Hats off to them.
“They’ve certainly peaked at the right time. They’re well-coached. They took the game away from us.”
Scarborough had early control, leading 6-2 and 8-6 after a Bella Dickinson jumper with 4:00 left in the first. Then …
Desjardin hit a 3-pointer from the right corner to give Gorham a 9-8 lead. After a Nadeau steal, she hit one foul shot. A missed Scarborough shot led to two foul shots by Holmes, who was awarded the Edward “Red” McMann trophy as the tournament’s outstanding player.
Nadeau hit a 3 from the left corner to make it 15-8. Michaud hit a jumper from the right baseline and Desjardin scored two baskets in the final 37 seconds to make it 21-8 after one.
Michaud and Courtney Brent hit 3-pointers in the second to increase the lead to 27-8. Scarborough would go 0-for-12 shooting during that drought, which ended with 2:55 left in the second when Julia Freeman hit a 3-pointer.
“That was the game,” said Giordano, whose team shot only 17 percent (9 for 53).
The lead would peak at 21 points. Scarborough would get no closer than 14, late in the third, before Rowe scored on a nice cut to regain the momentum.
“I think every game we come in and play for each other,” Holmes said. “We’re confident in ourselves and the work we put in.”
Mackenzie Holmes of Gorham shoots between Scarborough defenders Madison Blanche, left, Kayla Conley and Julia Freeman, right, in the second half of Class AA South final. (Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald)Michelle Rowe of Gorham drives to the basket as Jocelyn Couture, left, Isabella Dickinson and Julia Freeman, right, of Scarborough defend during the Class AA South final. (Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald)Olivia Michaud of Gorham advances the ball past Isabella Dickinson of Scarborough during the Class AA South final. (Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald)Mackenzie Holmes of Gorham celebrates with teammate Courtney Brent as she comes off the floor in the fourth quarter of Class AA South final. (Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald). (Photo by Derek Davis/Staff Photographer)