Portland stifles Scarborough

Sport: Basketball (boys)

Posted: January 21st, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Portland stifles Scarborough
By Michael Hoffer
Special to MBR

PORTLAND- The Portland Bulldogs boys' basketball team's season was at a crossroads when it took the court Monday afternoon against the up-and-coming Scarborough Red Storm.

Less than 48 hours after a painful loss at Deering and now without senior standout Justin Powell for the rest of the year, the Bulldogs needed to make a positive statement, get back in the win column and earn some Heal Points.

Did they ever.

Portland broke open a close game with an 18-6 run in the second period, added 23 more points in the third and cruised to a 59-43 victory over the Red Storm, thanks in large part to a season-high 22 points from junior Ed Bogdanovich.

"We moved the ball well and hit our open shots," Bogdanovich said. "It's a big win coming off the Deering game. We knew we had to win it. We didn't underestimate them."

"I'm very proud of the kids," Portland coach Joe Russo added. "They played very well. For three quarters, I think the kids really did a nice job executing the offense, playing good team defense, things we've been looking for. It was fun to coach for three quarters."

The Bulldogs suffered their fourth loss of the season Saturday night at Deering. Portland hadn't lost four games in the regular season in six years. The Bulldogs (who also lost in OT at Thornton Academy and to Cheverus and Windham in close games), needed a victory over a team ranked higher than them in the Western Class A Heal Points standings.

Scarborough is such a team. The Red Storm entered Monday's contest with a mark of 8-4 (which included a win at South Portland). Scarborough gave Cheverus a scare in a 54-42 home loss Saturday and hoped to build on that and beat Portland for the first time ever.

In the first period, Scarborough had ample opportunity to take control, but the Red Storm failed to do so and that eventually cost them.

Five different players scored for both teams in the first period. Three times the game was tied. Portland led twice and Scarborough took three leads, including an 11-8 advantage on a 3-pointer from junior Ian Philbrick and a rebound putback by senior Chris Bernard, but Bogdanovich hit a jumper late in the quarter to make it an 11-10 game after one.

Bogdanovich put his team up 12-11 with a layup early in the second. A jumper from Red Storm senior Logan Oliver gave the visitors their last lead, 13-12. Portland sophomore Koang Thok (coming off a huge game at Deering) then drained a 3-pointer for a 15-13 lead, but Scarborough senior Andy Pogar tied the contest with a layup.

The Bulldogs then went on an 11-0 run to seize control.

A Bogdanovich jumper put the hosts ahead to stay. Sophomore Joe Zukowski followed with a leaner and Bogdanovich hit another jumper for a 21-15 lead. With 1:54 to go in the first half, Thok drained a 3-pointer. With 31 seconds left, senior Nick Hellen converted a layup for a 26-15 advantage.

The Red Storm ended the run and a 3 minute, 52 second scoring drought when senior Chris Hughes made a layup with 13 seconds to go, but Portland senior Jake Longstaff drained a leaner as time expired, sending the Bulldogs to the locker room with a 28-17 lead.

"We were in a good spot, but as soon as they started pressuring us in the second quarter, we didn't respond," Red Storm coach Matt Townsend lamented. "We turned the ball over and didn't execute."

Portland quickly dashed any Scarborough comeback hopes in the third quarter.

Longstaff got things going with a jumper. After Hughes answered with a jumper for the Red Storm, Longstaff made another jump shot for a 32-19 lead. After Philbrick made one foul shot, Bulldogs' senior Anthony Passmore did the same, Bogdanovich scored on a rebound putback and Hellen converted a layup for a 37-20 advantage, just 1 minute, 20 seconds into the second half.

With Powell no longer on the team, Hellen had to step up his play and did so big-time against the Red Storm.

"I was really pleased with Nick Hellen tonight," Russo said. "He stepped in in Powell's absence. I thought he was awesome tonight. He and Dewayne (senior Albertie) will get some time. They're disappointed that (Powell's) not able to play. We know what we brought to the team. There's compassion there, but they're getting over it.

Scarborough got a point back on a Pogar free throw, but Longstaff (sitting on the floor after a steal) fed Bogdanovich for a layup and a 39-21 lead. After Pogar made a bank shot for the visitors, Bogdanovich hit a jumper, then took another pretty pass from Longstaff and scored a layup to push the lead to 20 points, 43-23. The Bulldogs would still lead by 20, 51-31, thanks to a last-second Passmore layup, at the end of the quarter.

"We really turned it on in the third quarter," Bogdanovich said. "It was a pretty close game at halftime and we didn't want to come out flat."

In the fourth, Portland led by as many as 22 points, 55-33, before the Red Storm rallied to within 14, 55-41, with 2:53 to go on a bank shot from senior Abe Snow. But two Bogdanovich layups, sandwiched around a layup by Oliver accounted for the 59-43 final score.

"We feel that Scarborough is a good team," Russo said. "They have a lot of seniors, good players. They needed a big win. We need big wins. We didn't take them lightly. We knew they'd come to play. When they tried to make a run they couldn't. That took the wind out of their sails."

Bogdanovich led all scorers with his 22 points. He also dominated on the boards and had several blocked shots. Longstaff added a dozen points, Thok had eight, Hellen and Zukowski scored six apiece, Passmore had three and senior Mike Harmon two.

"We're all coming together now," Bogdanovich said. "We just need to play like we did in the second and third quarters."

For Scarborough, Philbrick led the scoring parade with 12 points. Hughes added eight and Pogar had seven.

"We broke down in the second half," Townsend said. "There were a few bright spots, but not many. The nine seniors have never beaten a city school and now they'll have to beat them in the playoffs. We still have a chance."

The Red Storm (now 8-5 and fifth in the Western A Heals) are home against Massabesic Friday. Scarborough is still seeking a confidence-building victory against a powerhouse team and will get one more shot at such a win, Feb. 8 in the season finale at Thornton Academy.

"I'm a little scared now," Townsend said. "We need a big win over Thornton Academy. If we win the games we're supposed to win and beat TA, we should stay in the top five and avoid a prelim."

The Bulldogs, meanwhile, now 9-4 and ninth in Western A, have a series of huge tests upcoming, beginning with a game at Westbrook Friday. Portland then has two games versus South Portland, sandwiched around home battles against Deering and Cheverus.

"We have Westbrook, Deering one more time, Cheverus one more time, South Portland twice," Russo said. "Every game is big. The teams we're playing are either with us or ahead of us in the standings."