PORTLAND — As the top seed in the Western Class A tournament for the first time since 1994, the South Portland boys’ basketball team learned Friday evening at the Portland Exposition Building that what you did in the regular season doesn’t guarantee anything come tournament time.
The Red Riots were pushed and pushed hard by No. 9 Sanford in a quarterfinal round tilt, but South Portland’s players — especially battle-tested seniors Tanner Hyland and Conner MacVane — had the answers to every challenge and the Red Riots went on to a 60-47 victory, advancing to face No. 4 Portland in the semifinals Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
South Portland (16-3) never trailed, leading 9-8 after one period before opening the second stanza on an 11-0 run to seize control. Sanford (11-9) pulled within 29-21 at halftime, and carried play much of the third period, making it a 34-33 game with 1:25 to go in the quarter on a pair of Ryan Camire free throws, but MacVane converted an old-fashioned three-point play, then took a pass from Hyland and hit a baseline jumper to make it 39-33 at quarter’s end.
In the fourth, the Spartans got as close as 41-38, but Hyland set up senior Trevor Borelli and sophomore Jaren Muller for layups and the Red Riots never looked back.
In addition to Hyland’s 23 points, Muller had 14 and MacVane had 12.
Sanford was paced by Camire’s 15 points, along with 11 rebounds from Alex Shain, the football Fitzpatrick Trophy finalist.
South Portland and Portland (15-4) split in the regular season with each winning at home. Last year, the Red Riots upset the Bulldogs in the quarterfinals.