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Remember Lakers' coach for more than just one game

Sport: Basketball (Girls)  Posted: March 1st, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Remember Lakers' coach for more than just one game
There's no denying the success Paul True has had at Lake Region, despite the lack of a state title.

By MATT DIFILIPPO, Blethen Maine News Service March 1, 2008

You notice those eyes when you talk to Paul True. He's one of those people who has sad eyes even when he's smiling. On Friday night, those eyes looked a little red.

True, who graduated from UMaine-Farmington and coached the Skowhegan girls basketball team for seven seasons, now coaches the Lake Region girls. In four seasons, he has brought the Lakers to the Class B state championship game three times.

In a quiet hallway at the Bangor Auditorium, True talked about the things he didn't want to talk about: Why his team lost, what turned the game for Waterville in the second quarter, why the foul trouble his team got into was so important.

Lake Region lost to Waterville 54-35. The Lakers lost to Waterville in the state title game last year, and to Presque Isle the year before that.

It's too bad -- and I'm sometimes guilty of this myself -- that we will remember a team like Lake Region for its failure to win the state title instead of its dominance of Western B. We don't think of the Buffalo Bills as beating all comers in the AFC; we think of them as the team that lost four Super Bowls. It's natural -- we remember the last game, it's the most important one.

In this case, Paul True deserves better. Someone who had seen both teams told me before last night's game that if Lake Region lost by less than 25 points, it would be an upset. The Lakers came out and led by nine in the first quarter, but then they got into foul trouble for the first time all season, and Waterville was a better team to begin with.

The Lakers lost by 19, and that's the only Lake Region game score that will be in the tournament program next year.

"We're still winning the West," True said. "Bringing the Class B runner-up plaque home to our school is nothing to be ashamed of. Would I like to win one of these? Absolutely. But it doesn't take anything away from my experience with the kids."

True's players speak of him as a motivator. His teams always seem to be undersized, but they always play hard. And if his final legacy is that he turns out to be one of the top coaches never to win a state title? Well, there are a lot worse things to be, and few people better to coach your kids.

IN THE last 13 years, a Western B team has won the state title just twice -- Gorham in 1999 and Greely in 2004. While a lot can happen in a year, Waterville should make it 12 out of 14 in the East. As long as the Purple Panthers don't break school rules and stay injury-free, they should again be the favorite next season.

Waterville returns four starters in Morgan Frame, Paige Gardiner, Jen Nale and Steph Whitten. No one in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B has an answer for Frame, and no one has a point guard as good as Whitten.

About the only thing the Panthers could benefit from adding is another strong inside player. Kayla Smith, Waterville's only graduation loss from this year's team other than Sarah Given, is only 5 foot 7, but rebounded like she was a few inches taller. The Panthers will miss her.

But that's quibbling. Next year at this time, Waterville will be loaded again, and if it loses, that will be much more of an upset than winning by less than 25 on Friday night.

SINCE WATERVILLE has proven that it is a pretty good team, and it's sitting on 44 straight victories, can the Panthers get some fans between now and next season?

I went to the Eastern B semifinal between Waterville and Erskine. OK, it was an 8:35 p.m. start, but still, there were maybe 200 people in the stands on the Waterville side of the court. Not all of those were Waterville fans, either. I don't know what the exact word is for that kind of fan support, but "pathetic" is a good guess.

Two hundred fans for an undefeated team? It's not like girls or women's basketball isn't watchable in this area -- the University of Maine women draw around 2,000 people a game, and that's not close to being a good team yet.

Maybe it's something to do with Waterville. I went to a Waterville football game a few years back -- at a homecoming game, no less -- and there were less than 300 fans there, total.

Whatever the reason, hopefully it changes soon, because the Waterville girls would be hard-pressed to be putting a better team on the floor for their fans.

Matt DiFilippo -- 861-9243

mdifilippo@centralmaine.com

Copyright © 2008 Blethen Maine Newspapers

Maranacook perseveres, wins title

Sport: Basketball (boys)  Posted: March 1st, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Maranacook perseveres, wins title
BoysClass-B-final4-JCR.jpg.jpg
 Cape Elizabeth's Thomas R. Ray gets ready to pass to teammmate Alex Bowe (left) while flanked by Maranacook's Ryan Martin (#5), and Will Bardaglio during their Class B final at Bangor Auditorium Friday. (Bangor Daily News/John Clarke Russ)


By Ernie Clark
Saturday, March 1, 2008 - Bangor Daily News

BANGOR, Maine - The pace of the game may have belonged to Cape Elizabeth, but the gold ball belongs to Maranacook.

The Black Bears, held in check offensively for most of the night, made three key 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to take the lead for good, then preserved that cushion at the free-throw line to earn their second Class B boys basketball state championship in three years with a 56-46 victory over the Capers at the Bangor Auditorium on Friday night.

The win capped off an undefeated season for Maranacook of Readfield, which was motivated throughout the winter by the memory of being ousted as the No. 1 seed in last year's regional quarterfinals.

"It feels great," said senior guard Ryan Martin, who scored a game-high 26 points. "After what happened last year, we knew we had to take it one game at a time this year, and that was really the game plan going into every game.

"We did that, and that’s what got us here, and we played another good game tonight."

The Black Bears (22-0) needed to play a good game, because a Cape Elizabeth team making its first appearance in a state final since 1988 simply wouldn’t go away.

The Capers (19-3) trailed throughout by a narrow margin until sophomore forward Andrew Dickey scored after grabbing an offensive rebound to give his team a 34-32 lead with 5:22 left in the third quarter.

Junior forward Alex Bowe followed with a baseline jumper to extend the margin to four points, but Maranacook point guard Mike Poulin set up inside baskets by Conrad Gilman and Ben Johnson to tie the game, and Cape never led again.

Will Bardaglio, a key player in Maranacook’s 2006 title run but sidelined by mononucleosis during last year’s tournament loss, struck the biggest basket of the game, a 3-pointer from the right wing that gave the Black Bears the lead for good at 43-40 early in the fourth quarter.

It was one of Maranacook’s few transition baskets of the night — in stark contrast to its high-scoring ways of its Eastern B semifinal and final, when the Black Bears averaged 86.5 points per game.

"I wasn’t getting open that much in the halfcourt because they were denying me the ball," said Bardaglio, "but I saw that I had an opening and I just took it, and luckily the shot went down."

After Cape Elizabeth’s Shaine Burks countered by scoring with the rebound of his own miss, Bardaglio fed Poulin for another 3-pointer as Maranacook slowly extended its lead.

Dickey and Maranacook’s Mike LaChance swapped baskets before Bowe scored from the lane to pull Cape Elizabeth within 48-46 with 3:57 left.

The Capers never scored again.

Martin then gave the Black Bears some breathing room. The 5-9 Martin drove into the lane against considerable defensive pressure from the 6-2 Burks, but when Martin passed to Gilman on the wing, Burks fell down.

Martin retreated to the 3-point line, got the return pass from Gilman and drilled Maranacook’s seventh 3-pointer of the night for a 51-46 Black Bears’ lead.

"We were up four, and we make two defensive mistakes and they capitalize on them," said Cape Elizabeth coach Jim Ray. "They’re that good, they can drill those open shots."

Martin finished his high school career shooting 8 of 15 from the field overall, 4 of 5 from beyond the 3-point arc and 6 of 6 from the free-throw line, while Bardaglio added 13 points and five rebounds and Poulin chipped in with seven points and steady floor play.

The Black Bears also got solid production from their two big men, the 6-5 Gilman and the 6-7 Johnson, who worked in tandem during the second half to take away much of Cape Elizabeth’s inside offense while matching the Capers on the backboards. That duo combined for eight points and seven rebounds.

"We just needed to control the inside a little more, and Ben came down with some big rebounds," Martin said.

Bowe led Cape Elizabeth with 15 points, while Dickey had 13 points and a game-high eight rebounds.

"I thought our guys did a heck of a job defensively, but we’ve got to play both sides of the basketball," said Ray. "I don’t think we played as intelligent a game as we needed to on our offensive end, and you have to give [Maranacook] a lot of the credit for that."

Panthers repeat as 'B' champs

Sport: Basketball (Girls)  Posted: March 1st, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Panthers repeat as 'B' champs

030108_Waterville.JPG
Waterville Senior High School teammates, Morgan Frame holds their Maine Class B girls championship trophy high after they defeated Lake Region High School for the Maine Class B basketball title at the Bangor Auditorium Friday night. (Bangor Daily News/John Clarke Russ)


By Jessica Bloch
Saturday, March 1, 2008 - Bangor Daily News

BANGOR, Maine - The Waterville girls basketball team knows what it takes to make a rally work. Last Saturday the Panthers rallied from a three-point halftime deficit in the Eastern Maine Class B final against Mattanawcook of Lincoln.

Waterville also needed a comeback Friday night against Lake Region of Naples in the Class B state championship game. One key defensive switch and a couple of made baskets later, the Panthers were right back in it and rolling.

Once again this season, junior Morgan Frame led the way as Waterville earned a 54-35 triumph over the Lakers at the Bangor Auditorium for the program’s second straight state crown and undefeated season.

"We had to play like champions, and we did it," said Sarah Given, the only senior in Waterville’s starting lineup, who scored 11 points and had seven rebounds.

It was the 44th straight win for the Panthers.

Lake Region, which has won three Western Maine titles in a row, finishes at 19-3. The Lakers have been unable to win a state title in that run.

Frame finished with 14 points, keeping the Panthers in it from the free-throw line in the second quarter and then scoring three points in a 8-0 run at the beginning of the third quarter. She also had eight rebounds and three blocks.

Lake Region led by nine points twice in the first quarter, but Waterville worked its way back into the game with a switch from man-to-man defense to a 1-3-1 zone.

"We’ve been working on the 1-3-1 a lot in practice and it helps keep the middle compacted so that they can’t penetrate," Given said. "We knew that was what they liked to do. We tried to get out on their shooters as much as we could because they shoot the 3 so well."

The Panthers outscored the Lakers 31-10 in the second and third quarters combined.

Waterville didn’t shoot well in the first half, during which the Panthers went 5-for-21 from the floor. They were much better in the third quarter, however, going 9-for-12, which opened things up for Frame underneath.

"We knew we had to play our game and come out strong," Given said. "The shots finally fell and that’s what made the difference in the game."

Given scored all of her points in the second half. She drained a 3-pointer only 1 minute, 47 seconds into the third quarter to put Waterville ahead 29-20.

Sophomore Jen Nale added 12 points for the Panthers and Stephanie Whitten had eight points — all badly needed offense — as Frame got into foul trouble and spent stretches of the game on the bench.

So did Lake Region senior guard Renee Nicholas, who eventually fouled out but led all scorers with 16 points, nine of which came in the first quarter.

"I think the big turning point was when Renee picked up her second foul," said Lake Region coach Paul True. "She was obviously huge and having her here next to me on the bench was a huge factor for us. And obviously we didn’t shoot the basketball very well."

The Lakers made 14 of their 51 shots.

The game was scheduled for 7 p.m. but tipped off at 7:28 because the Auditorium staff had to deal with a leak in the roof that had water dripping on the floor. The drip was a few inches behind the free-throw line on the home team side of the court.

The teams came out for their warmups but were sent back to their locker rooms before the introductions, which eventually started at about 7:20. Two Waterville students were recruited by school athletic director Doug Frame to wipe the floor when the action was going on at the other end.

"I had to change my socks at halftime," said Given, who was wiping her shoes off on her socks during breaks in action in order to gain more traction. "We were all struggling with the slipperiness."

Brewer, Bapst, Black Hawks face stiff tests

Sport: Hockey (Boys)  Posted: March 1st, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Brewer, Bapst, Black Hawks face stiff tests
By Larry Mahoney
Saturday, March 1, 2008 - Bangor Daily News

The Brewer High School Witches, the John Bapst High School Crusaders and the Houlton-Hodgdon Black Hawks are seeking Eastern Maine hockey championship game berths.

But they will have their hands full with central Maine rivals Monday.

Defending state Class B champ Brewer, 17-4 and the second seed in Class A, faces No. 3 Waterville, 13-7-1, in the 5 p.m. EM Class A semifinal at the Colisee in Lewiston while top seed Lewiston, 17-3-1, faces fourth seed Lawrence of Fairfield, 13-7-1, in the 9 p.m. semifinal.

In the Class B semisat Sukee Arena in Winslow, No. 5 Houlton-Hodgdon (12-9) meets top seed Winslow (14-5-1) at 5 p.m. with No. 2 John Bapst of Bangor (14-5-1) taking on No. 3 Gardiner (13-5-2) in the 8 p.m. contest.

InClass A, Brewer will have to find a way to neutralize Waterville’s high-powered line of John Massey (10 goals, 18 assists) between Zach Jochem (10 & 17) and Ian Rowe (12 & 8) while finding ways to create problems for Panthers goalie Nolan MacDonnell.

"We’ve got to get the puck deep, we’ve got to get shots and we have to protect [goalie Eric White] in front of our net. We’ve got to make sure they don’t get two, three or four shots [in a flurry]," said Brewer coach Bill Schwarz. "If we do that, we’ll be in good shape."

Brewer has the most productive line in Class A in center Dylan Fitzpatrick (33 & 29), Class A’s leading scorer, between Ryan Nadeau (16 & 27) and Nick Risser (21 & 18).

"I’m not going to try to match lines with them," said Schwarz. "I want to make them do what I want to do. Our second line [Mike Kotredes between Evan Nadeau and Tyler Coombs] can play with anybody’s line."

Kotredes has 9 & 6, Coombs has 7 & 6 and Nadeau has 2 & 7.

Schwarz added that his forwards are going to have to be careful with the puck because Waterville is such a good transition team.

"We can’t dangle with the puck in the neutral zone or at the blue line. Turnovers will kill you," said Schwarz. "And we’ll need to play well in our own end. We’ve got to keep them to the perimeter."

The teams split regular-season games.

Prentiss Swett (9 & 14) continues to lead the defense corps after being moved back from forward at the outset of the season.

"He has made a big difference back there. He has helped us a lot. He’s an unselfish hockey player," said Schwarz.

White has a 13-4 record, a 1.94 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage after making 28 saves in the 2-1 quarterfinal win over Brunswick.

Shawn Lee (6 & 9) heads up the Panthers defense corps in front of MacDonnell.

In Class B, John Bapst is seeking its first appearance in an Eastern B championship game but will take on a quality Gardiner team it split with during the regular season.

"We’ve got to play well in the defensive zone and the neutral zone," said John Bapst coach Aaron King. "They have great forwards and we’re going to have to slow them down.

"They’re always looking to attack so we’ve told our kids they’re going to have to commit to defense and take offensive chances when we get them," added King.

Gardiner coach Matt Dineen said the two teams are very similar.

"Bapst will work hard. They’ll play with self-discipline and they are intense about their business," said Dineen. "It’s going to be a battle."

They split regular-season games.

John Bapst is led by the line of Casey Hull (36 points), Andrew Casey (19) and Neil LaFrance (15 points) with linemates Connor Scofield (20) and Nikki Mitchell (19) also having noteworthy season. Chase Huckestein, Tyler Fadrigon and Matt Duplisea have headlined the blue line corps in front of goalie Derek Duff.

Gardiner is led by center Klinton Peckham (53 points), Bass Chadwick (41) and Zoe Fisk (31) along with Pete Caradonna (29) and Kevin May (26). The defense corps features Forrest Chadwick (19) and Bobby Johnson (12). Chris Howe has allowed just two goals a game in net.

Houlton-Hodgdon coach Joel Trickey is hoping for a fast-paced game against a Winslow, a team with which it split.

"Our kids don’t play well unless they’re skating," said Trickey whose Black Hawks are led by center Craig Buxton (20 & 12), LW Mike Epley (12 & 13) and RW Morgan Hall (10 & 8). Trickey feels he has the best defenseman in Class B in Zach Chase (3 & 20), the team’s captain and leader, and Malik Abouleish has had an impressive freshman season (2.04 goals-against average, .910 save percentage).

Winslow is led by snipers Sean Bourgeois and Chad Guptill, and Ben Grant along with defenseman Derek Lizotte. Bourgeois and Guptill both missed the 5-4 KVAC championship game loss to Gardiner.

Old Town, Calais to join LTC C ranks

Sport: Football  Posted: March 1st, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Bangor Daily
By BDN Staff
Saturday, March 1, 2008 - Bangor Daily News

The LTC Class C football ranks will grow to 12 teams next fall with the acceptance of Old Town and Calais-Woodland as new members.

Conference officials met Thursday night in Bangor and voted to accept both teams into the league beginning with the 2008 season, according to Mike Archer, athletic administrator at Orono High School.

The teams come to the Class C level with different objectives, Old Town to preserve its program and Calais-Woodland to compete at the varsity level for the first time.

"We’re excited," said Calais High School assistant principal Matt Clark, a former head coach in the LTC at John Bapst of Bangor. "We think this will help Old Town and help us."

Old Town is a traditional Class B program that has struggled in recent years with frequent coaching turnover and decreased player participation. The Coyotes have just a 12-78 record since their most recent Class B playoff appearance in 1997 and have been winless the last two seasons.

After an internal study conducted by an ad hoc committee last fall, the Old Town school board voted unanimously to have the Coyotes compete in Class C beginning next fall, with a commitment of at least three years.

Under Maine Principals’ Association rules, when a team competes at a level below what its enrollment dictates it is ineligible for postseason play, and with 578 students Old Town is a Class B school by enrollment so it will be ineligible for the playoffs while in Class C. Current MPA breakdowns place football teams with 800 or more students in Class A, 506 to 799 in Class B and 0 to 505 in Class C.

Such a move is not unprecedented. Both Mount Desert Island and Rockland dropped from Class B to Class C at times in the past in order to rebuild their programs. Ironically, both schools qualified for postseason play in 2007, with MDI in Class B and Rockland now a Class C school by enrollment.

"Hopefully this will give us the opportunity to get our numbers up to where they were in years past and to replenish a program with a very, very strong tradition," said Old Town principal Joe Gallant. "We hope this will give us the opportunity to play on a more competitive basis on a week-to-week basis."

Old Town’s plans reopened a window of opportunity for the cooperative Calais-Woodland program, which originally sought varsity status after the 2006 season after its players had experienced considerable success the three previous years in the Canadian-based Fundy Football League.

But that application, and a subsequent appeal, were denied by the MPA because the Calais-Woodland program had not completed two years of Maine subvarsity competition.

According to the MPA football bulletin, "New varsity teams must maintain/participate in a J.V. program (with a minimum number of six games) for a minimum of two consecutive seasons prior to entering varsity competition, based on the two-year classification cycle. If a league wishes to admit a school earlier due to an odd number of teams, it may apply to the football committee."

The anticipated move of Old Town to Class C would have left both the Pine Tree Conference Class B and LTC with 11 teams in 2008, so Calais-Woodland — which played a subvarsity schedule last fall — applied to both leagues for early acceptance. It ultimately gained entry to the LTC, where it belonged by enrollment.

"We have to look at this as a positive, that we’re adding football in Eastern Maine," said Archer. "We’re here for the kids, and we’ve got to do what’s best for kids to provide them opportunities."

LTC officials did question Calais-Woodland representatives on several issues before accepting the application, particularly in regard to having an adequate playing field and accommodations for opposing teams to film and scout the games, as well as the sustainability of the program.

Clark said Calais-Woodland is working on developing a football facility for the program.

As for player participation, particularly at the youth levels, "they felt their numbers are pretty solid," Archer said.

"I think the best way to continue to build the program is to have that varsity status," added Clark.

One complication arising from the changes is that both the PTC B and the LTC will have to develop new conference schedules for the second year of their current two-year scheduling cycles.

Archer said the LTC has established a six-member committee to devise a new schedule for the coming year. Among questions to be answered are whether the league will use a one-division, 12-team format or be divided into two six-team divisions, and whether to hold four- or eight-team playoffs.

A new two-year scheduling cycle for both conferences will begin with the 2009 season.

Maranacook fights off Cape Elizabeth

Sport: Basketball (boys)  Posted: February 29th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Maranacook fights off Cape Elizabeth
The Black Bears put a cap on their undefeated season with a 56-46 win in the Class B boys' basketball final.
 

Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer
Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer
Alex Bowe of Cape Elizabeth passes to a teammate after beating Maranacook's Ryan Martin to a loose ball Friday night during the Class B championship game at the Bangor Auditorium. Maranacook earned its second state title in three years with a 56-46 win.

 

By TOM CHARD, Staff Writer February 29, 2008

BANGOR — Three key 3-pointers in the fourth quarter gave Maranacook a needed cushion, and the Black Bears pulled away from the foul line to win the Class B boys’ basketball state championship with a hard-fought 56-46 victory over Cape Elizabeth on Friday night at the Bangor Auditorium.

Ryan Martin led the Black Bears (22-0) with 26 points as Maranacook captured its second state title in three seasons.

Maranacook’s ability to hit 3-pointers was the difference. The Black Bears got all they could handle from Cape Elizabeth (19-3), which entered with a 16-game winning streak.

“I thought my guys did a heck of a job,” said Cape Coach Jim Ray. “You have to love our effort.”

The Capers led only once, at 34-32 midway through the third quarter. The game stayed tight until Maranacook got hot again from beyond the arc.

Martin got open off a screen by center Conrad Gilman and drilled his fourth 3-pointer to give his team a 51-46 lead with 3:05 left. The Capers started missing and were forced to foul, and the Black Bears scored their last five points from the line.

Alex Bowe led Cape with 15 points, while sophomore Andrew Dickey added 13.

“After losing last year in the regional quarterfinals, we were determined to go all the way this year,” said Martin, a three-time Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B player of the year.

After Martin made it a five-point game, Cape was called for an offensive foul, then got the ball right back with tight defense, something it did all game.

But the Capers had no luck scoring when they needed to most. Shaine Burks had a 3-pointer go in and out, then missed another.

Cape was called for traveling with 1:07 remaining. That pretty much sealed it, as the Black Bears converted at the line.

Mike Poulin and Will Bardaglio had the other 3-pointers in the fourth quarter for the Black Bears.

The last tie was at 40-40 after a drive by Bowe.

Bardaglio hit his 3-pointer from the side after shaking his defender at midcourt. Burks scored on a rebound to make it 43-42, but Poulin sank his 3-pointer to make it 46-42.

Dickey scored on a drive to keep Cape in it, but reserve Mike LaChance was wide open inside and scored. Bowe scored to make it a 2-point game again, but Martin, as he has done all year, hit the big basket.

“We had some plays that didn’t go our way in the fourth quarter,” said Ray. “We probably weren’t patient enough on offense and the ball got in the hands of people that it shouldn’t have been in.”

Trailing 25-16 in the second quarter, the Capers closed the half with a 9-2 spurt. Burks sparked the run with four points, along with some tight defense on Martin.

Ian Place started the run with a layup. Burks followed with two from line, then added a basket before Martin made two from the line. Andrew Dickey’s 3-pointer made it 27-25 at halftime.

“We wanted to make them work,” Ray said of Maranacook’s scorers. “This is the hardest working team I’ve coached. Unfortunately, there are no more games to play.”

Cape opened with Tom Ray guarding the sharpshooting Martin, then put Burks on Martin, who cooled off in the second quarter. He still finished with 15 points in the half. Burks and Cape center Ian Place had six points apiece.

Staff Writer Tom Chard can be contacted at 791-6419 or at:
tchard@pressherald.com

Two in a row for Waterville

Sport: Basketball (Girls)  Posted: February 29th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Two in a row for Waterville

Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer
Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer
Waterville's Jen Nale passes between Lake Region's Krysti Leach, center, and Abby Hancock during the Class B state championship game Friday night at the Bangor Auditorium. Waterville beat Lake Region for the second straight year, 54-35.
 

The Panthers finish off another unbeaten season, beating Lake Region in the Class B girls' final for the second straight year.

By MIKE LOWE, Staff Writer February 29, 2008

BANGOR — It’s now 44 wins and counting – and two straight state titles – for the Waterville High girls’ basketball team.

The Panthers completed their second consecutive undefeated season Friday night, pulling away in the second half to beat Lake Region 54-35 in the Class B championship game at the Bangor Auditorium.

Waterville (22-0) trailed by nine midway through the first quarter but regrouped to overcome the Lakers in a rematch of last year’s title game, won by the Panthers in overtime.

There was no need for extra minutes in this one, as Waterville – which has four starters returning next year – outscored the Lakers 33-15 in the final two quarters.

Lake Region (19-3) lost in the state championship game for the third consecutive year.

“They hit us with a roundhouse right in the first round and we dropped,’’ said Panthers Coach Ted Rioux, using a boxing term to describe Waterville’s early deficit. “But we were able to gather ourselves and come back. Basket by basket. I told the girls there was no 10-point shot out there.

“This is a great group of girls. We knew we had the talent to come back and they kept their composure.’’

They had to. Lake Region, fueled by senior Renee Nicholas, rattled the Panthers like no other team this season, scoring 16 points in the first four minutes, including 10 off turnovers forced by full-court pressure.

After Waterville grabbed an early 5-2 lead, Nicholas scored six points in 11 seconds – hitting two foul shots, then converting layups off steals – to put Lake Region ahead. Then she hit a 3-pointer, and Abby Hancock stole the inbounds pass, leading to a conventional three-point play, and Lake Region led 14-5 with 4:50 left in the first.

But nine seconds later, Nicholas picked up her second foul – fouls would be a huge factor for both teams – and had to sit down. That’s when Waterville began its comeback.

“I think the big turning point was when Renee picked up her second foul,’’ said Lake Region Coach Paul True. “I mean she was obviously huge ... and having her on the bench next to me was a big factor.

“And we didn’t shoot well.’’

No, the Lakers didn’t. Waterville switched to a 1-3-1 zone after its early deficit and took the Lakers out of their rhythm. Unable to get the ball inside against 6-foot-1 center Morgan Frame, Lake Region settled for 3-point attempts, and didn’t hit many.

“We had good looks,’’ said True. But, as Lake Region senior Erica Webb noted, “Nothing was falling for us.’’

“We’ve got a pretty solid defense,’’ said Waterville sophomore Jen Nale. “And we started playing defense the way we usually do.’’

Still, Lake Region held a 20-15 lead with 4:41 left in the first half after a basket by Nicholas, who finished with 16 points. Waterville, however, ran off the next 14 points.

“We just kept encouraging each other and letting each other know that we could do it,’’ said Frame, who led Waterville with 14 points.

The Panthers took the lead for good with 1:35 left in the second quarter when Frame, surrounded by Laker defenders, turned and found an open Taylor Hart for a layup that made it 21-20, which was the halftime score.

Waterville scored the first eight points of the third quarter, with Sarah Given’s 3-pointer from the left corner making it 29-20.

“Coach (Rioux) always tells us the first four minutes of the second half are the most important minutes of the game,’’ said Nale, who had 12 points. “And we take that to heart. We know how to come out hard as a team, especially in the second half. I think that discouraged them a little, then we were able to play the game we love.’’

Abby Hancock’s 3-pointer pulled Lake Region within six, and a drive by Nicholas made it 33-25 with 4:37 left in the third. But Waterville closed the quarter on a 10-1 run, with point guard Stephanie Whitten running the offensive flawlessly, to take a 43-26 lead.

“The shots just weren’t falling,’’ said Nicholas. “And there’s nothing you can do about that, I guess.’’

The start of the game was delayed 25 minutes because of a leak that dropped water onto the foul line in front of Waterville’s bench every 15 to 20 seconds. Finally, two students from the Waterville section were drafted to wipe the spot every time play went to the other end.

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:

mlowe@pressherald.com

Copyright © 2008 Blethen Maine Newspapers

Memorable run for Knights

Sport: Basketball (Girls)  Posted: February 25th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Fosters

Memorable run for Knights

By MARK QUIRK
mquirk@fosters.com
Article Date: Monday, February 25, 2008
Picture

 

PORTLAND, Maine — From the first day of tryouts, the members of the Noble High School girls basketball team knew they had the potential for something special, and over the past few months they have proven they were right.

It was a historic season for the Knights. According to coach Kyle Keenan, they earned the second most wins in school history with 16 and for the first time ever they made it to the Western Maine Class A Championship, where the road came to an end on Saturday with a loss to top-seeded Deering at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

Despite the loss and the season ending a game earlier than they would have wished, it was a great season for the No. 3 Knights, one they always knew was possible and made happen.

"We've had high expectations all year long," Keenan said. "Right from Day 1 we knew we had a special group. We've talked about playing in (the Western Maine Class A Championship) all season."

It all started with a basketball camp over the summer at Boston College. That was when the team started to bond, and during the season it just became more solidified with each game.

Early in the year the Knights visited McAuley on "Banner Night," a game during which McAuley unveiled its 2007 championship banner. Noble went on to win that game, which was just one sign for senior captain Alyssa Stokes that this team was destined for great things.

"At that moment I was like 'We've got a good chance this year,'" Stokes said.

The wins started to pile up and late in the season, in the middle of their playoff push, the Knights visited Westbrook, another squad heading for the postseason. The game was tied after three quarters, but then Westbrook pulled ahead by seven points with five minutes remaining.

It was gut-check time for Noble, and the team responded with a one-point win.

"I really think that was kind of our moment," Keenan said. "The kids responded to not let that game get away from us."

That victory came on the heels of a big loss to Scarborough and sparked an eight-game win streak that extended all the way into the tournament.

"It showed me how resilient they are," Keenan said. "That has been our theme all year."

And that theme continued into the playoffs with a close win over rival Marshwood, the No. 6. seed in the quarterfinals and then a thrilling comeback victory against second-seeded South Portland in the semifinals on Friday night.

Noble trailed the Red Riots 22-8 at halftime. Sloane Sorrell kept her team in the game by scoring all eight of the Knights' points in the first half and finished with a game-high 26, but then it was Stokes who had the last-second heroics. She hit an off-balance runner as time expired to give Noble a 40-38 win and send it into the title game.

"I'm just glad to be a part of it," Stokes said about the great season. "We played as a team and that's really key."

The Knights looked like they might be able to mount a similar comeback against the Rams on Saturday. They trailed Deering 32-16 at halftime, but cut the lead to nine points after a surge in the third. This time it wasn't meant to be, however. Deering survived the run by Noble and was solid from the line in the fourth quarter, ending a great season for Noble that will go down in the books as one of the best ever.

"We really knew this group was what we need," senior captain Maggie Burns said. "And we did it. We made it pretty far."

Vikings rally for first title

Sport: Basketball (Girls)  Posted: February 25th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Bangor Daily News

By Ernie Clark
Saturday, February 23, 2008 - Bangor Daily News

AUGUSTA, Maine — Three weeks ago the Oxford Hills girls basketball team was almost an afterthought in the Eastern Maine Class A tournament spectrum, the result of injuries that had sidelined multiple starters.

But those starters returned just in time for a postseason run never before seen in school history, as the Vikings of South Paris claimed their first regional title Friday with a 52-49 victory over four-time defending champ Cony of Augusta.

"When we had three starters out at one time, I felt like why does everything bad have to happen to us," said Oxford Hills senior guard Kari Pelletier. "But they came back, and now we’ve won the Eastern Maine title."

Fifth-ranked Oxford Hills (15-6) knocked off No. 4 Bangor, No. 1 Lawrence of Fairfield and No. 3 Cony to earn its crown, and a date in the state final at 3 p.m. next Saturday at Portland’s Cumberland County Civic Center.

Cony, which had won nine consecutive playoff games at the Augusta Civic Center since the Eastern A tourney was moved there from Bangor in 2006, ends its season with an 18-3 record.

Megan Joyce, who gained medical clearance to return to the Oxford Hills lineup on the day of its quarterfinal win over Bangor after suffering a pelvis injury 17 days earlier, led the Vikings with 15 points and eight rebounds.

The 6-foot sophomore center also gave Oxford Hills a 50-49 lead — the last of five lead changes within a 1 minute, 14 second span — on a post move with 43 seconds remaining.

Each team then missed the front end of a one-and-one from the free-throw line before Cony was forced to foul Pelletier with 5.9 seconds left.

Pelletier, who set a Eastern A tournament record with 31 free throws, calmly knocked down both ends of her one-and-one to give Oxford Hiils a three-point lead.

"I knew they were going in," said Pelletier, a 74 percent free-throw shooter during the regular season who shot 86 percent (31 of 36) from the line during the tournament.

Cony had one last chance, but a 3-point shot from the left wing by Courtney Dufour missed the mark as time expired.

Junior forward Melanie Cloutier added 13 points for Oxford Hills, while Pelletier scored 12 and sophomore forward Lindsay Fox — who missed time late in the season with a concussion — had eight, including two key fourth-quarter baskets as Oxford Hills rallied from a 45-40 deficit with three minutes remaining.

Oxford Hills entered the game with a fairly strong measure of confidence, the result of a regular-season win at Cony.

But when Cony scored 16 unanswered points in response to a 6-2 start by the Vikings, that confidence was tested.

"These girls knew they could beat them," said Oxford Hills coach Nate Pelletier. "They knew it wouldn’t be easy, and it wasn’t easy, but down the stretch it was just the girls stepping up and making big shots."

Oxford Hills rallied within 27-19 by intermission despite 10 second-quarter points by Cony guard Shelby Pelkey, as the Vikings focused their defensive attention on Rams’ star center Rachael Mack.

Pelkey added eight points in the third period, but Oxford Hills still stayed within 39-33 by the end of the quarter.

The Vikings twice pulled to within one point, the second time at 41-40 on a left-handed drive by Pelletier with 5:35 to play.

Then Pelkey turned playmaker, twice driving into the lane to set up two layups by Kayla Belanger to restore Cony to a five-point lead before Oxford Hills mounted its final comeback.

"There are many teams that have been down 10 to Cony and just given up because they don’t have the energy to battle back," said coach Pelletier. "I said to the girls, ‘you aren’t one of those teams, you guys can battle back ,’ and they showed it."

Pelkey finished with a game-high 24 points for Cony, while Mack had 12 points and seven rebounds and Belanger scored 10 points.

eclark@bangordailynews.net
990-8045

Calais claims regional Class C prize

Sport: Basketball (boys)  Posted: February 25th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Bangor Daily News

By Ernie Clark
Monday, February 25, 2008 - Bangor Daily News

BANGOR - It’s difficult enough to defeat the Calais boys basketball team when it’s playing just an average game.

But when the Blue Devils execute offensively like they did in Saturday night’s Eastern Maine Class C championship game —forget about it.

Senior forward Rod Tirrell scored 23 points and senior guard Sam Bell added 21 points and seven assists as top-ranked Calais shot 66 percent from the field to earn its third straight regional title with a 77-54 victory over No. 2 Lee Academy at the Bangor Auditorium.

"Our big-time players came to play tonight," said Calais coach Ed Leeman. "Sammy stepped up and led us, and then everybody else followed on his coattails. He made some tough shots for us, and then everybody started playing with confidence."

The win was the 63rd straight for Calais, which will take a 19-0 record this season to next Saturday night’s state final in Augusta against Winthrop in search of the program’s third consecutive gold ball.

Lee, which got 16 points each from Hakeem Rodriguez and Jarred Bingham and 11 from Luis Medina, finished with a 15-6 record.

These teams had had two highly competitive regular-season meetings with Calais rallying in the fourth quarter for a six-point win in its season opener and then edging the Pandas by seven in late January.

But in the meeting that mattered most, there was no late-game drama.

With Bell making 10 of 14 shots from the field, Tirrell 8 of 9 overall and 4 of 5 from 3-point land and junior forward Cal Shorey making all six of his field-goal attempts en route to a 13-point night, Calais made 33 of 50 shots — including 20 of 27 after intermission.

"Once we got behind, we had to go after them," said Lee coach Randy Harris. "We struggled enough guarding them in the 42-foot half-court, and in the full-court they attacked the middle, made good passes and got themselves good shots."

Bell was the catalyst, hitting two jumpers and a follow-up shot in the game’s first six minutes as Calais built a 13-4 lead.

"I was looking to get some shots early, and tonight I was able to make them and maybe that spread the defense for the other guys," he said.

Calais then scored 10 unanswered points to extend its lead to 23-5 midway through the second quarter. Freshman Cam Shorey beat the first-quarter buzzer with a tip-in and followed an inside move by Tirrell with a fast-break basket before junior point guard Jordan Leeman fed Sean Cavanaugh for a layup and Cal Shorey for a baseline jumper.

But Lee, which trailed 16-1 in its second regular-season meeting against Calais before mounting a vigorous comeback, was not without a rally this time either.

Medina hit a 3-pointer, Rodriguez made a fast-break layup and four free throws and Bingham hit an NBA-range 3-pointer during a 12-1 run that pulled the Pandas within 24-17.

But Tirrell countered with a 3-pointer, and Bell hit a pull-up jumper from the lane and then fed Cam Shorey for a layup as Calais scored seven straight points to close out the half with a 31-17 cushion.

After the break, the Blue Devils didn’t miss enough shots to give Lee a chance to come back again, and when the Pandas did muster the thought of a rally, Calais answered with a champion’s response.

Bell scored the Blue Devils’ first seven points of the second half to stretch the margin to 38-21, and while Bingham made three 3-pointers in the third quarter, Tirrell countered two of them with 3-pointers from the left corner and Bell answered the third with a drive through the lane as Calais took a 54-37 lead into the final eight minutes.

"The good part was when they hit 3s, we answered with 2s or 3s," said coach Leeman.

"We shot the ball well tonight, and when you can shoot the ball well, it makes up for a lot of deficiencies."

eccark@bangordailynews.net

990-8045

 

Gerrity is Maranacook's unsung hero in tournament run

Sport: Basketball (boys)  Posted: February 25th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

http://bangornews.com/news/t/highschoolsports.aspx?articleid=160729&zoneid=19

 

By Ernie Clark
Monday, February 25, 2008 - Bangor Daily News

Devin Gerrity wasn’t a prolific scorer during the regular season for the Maranacook of Readfield boys basketball team.

Seniors Ryan Martin, Will Bardaglio and Mike Poulin were counted on to handle that part of the game, while Gerrity was content to play nearer the basket and take scoring opportunities as they arose.

They arose often during Maranacook’s victorious run through the Eastern Maine Class B tournament, and the 6-foot-2 junior made the most of them.

Not only did Gerrity set an Eastern B tournament record with 11 3-pointers in three games, he shot an astounding 79 percent (11 of 14) from beyond the arc.

"He’s been our unsung hero lately," said Black Bears senior guard Ryan Martin. "Everyone knows about me, Mike and Will because this is our fourth year now. When they key on us, Devin’s open and when Devin’s feet are set he’s one of our best shooters."

Gerrity wasn’t nearly as prolific from long range during the regular season as he has been at the Bangor Auditorium.

He estimated he averaged just two 3-point shots per game during Maranacook’s 18-0 run to the No. 1 ranking in Eastern B, and he took just two long-range shots — making both — during the Black Bears’ 59-57 quarterfinal survival of No. 8 Rockland.

But in a semifinal free-for-all against Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln when the teams combined for 44 3-point tries and Maranacook made a tournament-record 12 of its 23 attempts, Gerrity found his own 3-point comfort zone.

"I’d have to say the second 3-pointer I made versus Mattanawcook was the first time I really started getting going," said Gerrity, who shot 5 of 6 from beyond the arc in Maranacook’s 89-70 victory over the Lynx.

Gerrity followed up that effort with an 18-point performance in Maranacook’s 84-72 win over Camden Hills of Rockport in Saturday’s regional final.

He went 4 of 6 from 3-point range against the Windjammers, including back-to-back shots from deep in the left corner during the third quarter that helped to quash any Camden Hills comeback hopes.

"We’ve been running a spread offense all year and that’s been my favorite spot," said Gerrity, "so I figured if I get it there I might as well shoot it."

For Maranacook coach Rob Schmidt, Gerrity’s 3-point proficiency is a welcome addition to an already potent offense.

"He’s a really good shooter when he gets his feet set," said Schmidt. "He’s technically a four man [forward] for us, but he has the green light to go outside for us and shoot the 3’s.

"When you play against good defensive teams, you have to find other ways to score. He’s not a real big four man, so he’s not going to post anybody up. But we have confidence in his shooting ability, so when he popped out there we gave him the ball and he really came through."

Bardaglio glad to be back

One player especially happy Maranacook is headed back to the Class B state championship game for the second time in three years is Black Bears’ guard Bardaglio.

The 6-foot-4 senior was a pivotal player in Maranacook’s run to its first-ever state championship in 2006, but his junior season was cut short by a bout of mononucleosis, which left him unable to play in the tournament as the top-seeded Black Bears suffered a stunning 58-50 quarterfinal loss to No. 8 Maine Central Institute of Pittsfield.

"It was tough watching from the bench last year, knowing I couldn’t do anything to help them except cheer," said Bardaglio, who scored 20 points in this year’s regional final against Camden Hills. "In the off-season I worked on my game because I didn’t want that to happen again, and I’ve been healthy this year, which is fortunate for me."

Last year’s loss has served as a constant reminder not just to Bardaglio but to the entire Maranacook team not to take any game for granted.

"That’s a big motivation for us," said Martin. "Last year I think we all just skipped to the state championship game. It happened our sophomore year so we figured we could just do it again last year, but that didn’t happen.

"This year we’ve taken a different approach, trying to take it one game at a time, and so far it’s working."

 

 

Gold Balls Are Waiting(Plus WIZ Top 10 Teams- Week # 12)

Sport: Basketball (boys)  Posted: February 24th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

http://www.mbrbasketball.com/images/wordsfromthewiztitle.gif

Gold Balls Are Waiting (Plus WIZ Top 10 Teams- Week # 12)
02/24/08

Wow! What a week folk's! Maine high school basketball went crazy from Bangor, to Augusta and all the way down to Portland. Regional Championships were decided in all four classes' boys and girls. 8 brand new shiny Gold Balls are waiting to be handed out and that will happen next weekend. The WIZ traveled up to Augusta last Monday to catch the boys Class C quarter-finals and he spent the rest of the week broadcasting games from Portland with MBR's head man Tom Nolette and Michael Hoffer from the Forecaster. MBR targeted the Portland area tournament as there is coverage in Bangor and Augusta but none in Portland. Days were very long and very tiring but well worth it as all the action was superb and broadcasting the games was a lot of fun. MBR just continues to get bigger and better as we got many thanks from people listening to the games.

In Eastern Class A the Bangor Rams remain undefeated as they swept right through the tournament beating Mt. Blue in the Semi's 44-21 and beating a very stubborn Edward Little Eddies team 61-54 to win the Eastern Maine Championship. Bangor will represent the East as they will play the Cheverus Stags for the Gold Ball this coming Saturday night 7:00pm at the CCCC.

In Western Maine Class A the Cheverus Stags got it done. The Stags beat Portland in the Semi-Finals 63-49 and then used a stifling defense to get by a very good Thornton Academy team 40-31 to claim the Western Maine crown. The Stags will face Bangor for the Class A State Championship this coming Saturday night.

In Eastern Class B the Maranacook Black Bears remain perfect at 21-0 as the Black Bears beat Mattanawcook in the Semi-Finals 89-70 and then in the big anticipated match-up with Camden the Black Bears take home the Eastern Maine trophy by beating the Windjammers by a final of 84-72. The Black Bears will represent the East and they will play for the Class B State Title this coming Friday night as they will face the Capers of Cape Elizabeth at the Mecca. Starting time will be around 9:00pm.

In Western Maine Class B it was the Cape Elizabeth Capers who come out on top. It's the first Western Maine Championship in twenty years for the Capers. Cape beat Greely in the Semi's 48-39 and the handled Freeport in the Western Maine Final 57-50. Cape moves on to the State game this coming Friday night in Bangor as they will face the undefeated Maranacook Black Bears.

In Eastern Class C the Calais Blue Devils make it three straight Eastern Maine Championships. The Blue Devils continue their winning streak which now stands at 63-0 over the past 3 years. The Blue Devils beat Dexter in the Quarter-Finals 59-32. Beat Houlton in the Semi's 65-51 and took down the Pandas of lee 77-54 to claim the Eastern Maine Crown. Calais will play Winthrop for all the Marbles this coming Saturday at the ACC.

In Western Class C the Winthrop Ramblers come out on top. The Ramblers beat Hyde in the Quarter-Finals 81-71. Beat Traip in the Semi-Finals 59-46 and the Ramblers beat a very tough Dirigo Cougars team in the Western Maine Final 51-45. The Ramblers improve to 20-1 and will take on the undefeated Calais Blue Devils in the State game this coming Saturday at the ACC.

In Eastern Class D the Central Aroostook Panthers come out on top as they defeated Machias in the Quarter-finals 82-52. Then went on and beat Ashland in the Semi's 75-61. Then in a Battle Royal the Panthers needed overtime to get by Woodland 67-59 to claim the Eastern Maine Title. The Panthers will face off against the Richmond Bobcats in the State Championship this coming Saturday at the ACC.

In Western Class D it's the Richmond Bobcats that take the Western Class D Title. The Bobcats beat Rangeley in the Semi's 68-45 and they had to use a big comeback to get by a very tough Valley team 61-57 to claim the Western Maine Title. The Bobcats move on to the State game and they will face the Panthers of Aroostook this coming Saturday at the ACC.

Broadcasting games:

MBR's broadcasting of games in the Portland area for the tournaments has become a huge hit as relatives of players and fans that live out of state are tuning in and listening to their favorite teams. Many people have stopped by to say thank you with many stories of relatives and fans listening to the games for many different reasons as to why they can't make the games in person. From what I understand many listened in this past Friday because of the weather as traveling conditions were not good. MBR keeps taking it to another level.

Undefeated teams remain at 4 this week:

Undefeated Teams:

Bangor---------21-0

Maranacook---21-0

Calais-----------19-0 (63 straight wins)

C. Aroostook---21-0

As we head into this weeks WIZ Top 10 Teams Bangor remains the top team as they have had that # 1 spot the whole year. Maranacook stays at # 2 and the rest gets shaken up a little bit as Cheverus with their big win jumps up to # 3. Cape with their big win jumps up to # 4. Calais takes Eastern C and moves up a notch to # 5. Thornton with their loss drops from # 3 to # 6. Edward Little gave Bangor a game and they move up 1 slot to # 7 this week. The Eddies are good but with 5 losses they can't go any higher. Camden Hills lose to Maranacook and they drop from # 5 to # 8. The South Portland Red Riots lose to Thornton and Thornton beat Cheverus and the Riots with 5 losses drops to #9. The Winthrop Ramblers take Dirigo and they take the # 10 spot this week as Dirigo drops out of the top 10. Only two teams remain knocking on the door they are Central Aroostook and Richmond. Which ever one wins the Gold will make The WIZ Top 10 next week.

WIZ Top 10 teams Week # 12:

1.Bangor--------21-0 The Rams take the East! They crushed Mt. Blue 44-21! Take care of Edward little 61-54! EM Champions! Congrats Roger and the gang! Gold Ball is waiting! Can they get it! We shall find out! This Saturday night! CCCC Baby!7:00pm! Cheverus Stags! WOW! The Place will be Rock'n!

2.Maranacook---21-0 Black Bears are on a Mission! They take the East! Beat Mattanawcook in the Semi's 89-70! Break a record for 3's made in a game! Beat Camden 84-72! The Beast of the East! Congrats to Ryan, Will and Mike! Plus the rest of the Black Bears! Undefeated Baby! They can taste it! Will they get it! Stay Tuned! This coming Friday Night! Bangor Auditorium! They get the Capers of Cape Elizabeth! Doesn't get any better than this!

3.Cheverus------18-3 Stags back in high gear! Brownie has'em firing On-All-Cylinders! Just in time! Stags take down Portland in the Semi's! 63-49! Beat Thornton in WM Final 40-31! Stifling Defense! WM Champions! Up next! The # 1 Bangor Rams! This coming Saturday Night! It's for The Gold! The Biggest Heavy Weight Match-up of the Year! Cumberland County Civic Center! 7:00pm! Stags will need to be firing On-All-Cylinders! Plus they'll need a Fuel Additive! High Octane Baby! Should be a Beauty!

4.Cape Elizabeth--19-2 Cape is peaking! Great team effort! They take down Greely in the Semi's! 48-39! Take down Freeport in the WMF! 57-50! WM Champions! Congrats Coach Ray! Longtime coming! Been 20 years! Can they Go-All-The-Way! Up Next!

21-0 Black Bears! Of Maranacook! Wowzer! This Friday Night! At the Mecca! The Gold is Waiting! Who will Get It! The Mecca will be Rock'n & Roll'n!

5.Calais---------19-0 The Streak continues! 63-0! Baby! Blue Devils win 3 more this week! Beat Dexter in the Quarters! 59-32! Take it to Houlton in the Semi's! 65-51! Smacks it to Lee in the EMF! 77-54! Eastern Maine Champs! 3 Years In-A-Row! Can they 3-Peat! Won't be easy! They get Sam-The-Man and the Winthrop Ramblers! This coming Saturday! ACC! Place will be packed!

6.Thornton------18-3 Great season for the Golden Trojans! They beat SP in the Semi's! 58-47! Come up short to Cheverus in the WMF 40-31! Trojans are done! But good still enough for # 6! Great year Coach Davies and the gang!

7.Edward Little---16-5 The Eddies Walloped the Bulldogs of Lawrence! 57-29! Semi's! Then lose a tough one! To # 1! Bangor! EMF! 61-54! 5 losses but a great team! They get the # 7 spot!

8.Camden Hills---20-2 Great season for the Windjammers! They beat Presque Isle in the Semi's! In OT! 61-60! Lose to # 2 Maranacook in the EMF! 84-72! Congrats to Coach Hart and the Windjammers! Good enough for # 8 Baby!

9.South Portland---15-5 What a year for the Red Riots! Congrats 1st year coach Conley! Riots come up short to Thornton in the Semi's 58-47! Still a great season! They get # 9! Hyland, Lee and the gang! Will be back next year!

10.Winthrop-------20-1 The Ramblers Rambled over Hyde! In the quarter-Final! 81-71! Rambled over Traip in the Semi-Final! 59-46! Rambled-It-Out over Dirigo in the WMF! 51-45! Wow! What a week! Ramblers Class C Western Maine Champs! Congrats to Sam Leclerc and the gang! Big game next! 63-0 Calais Blue Devils! And It's for the Gold! Can they stop the streak! We shall see! This coming Saturday at the ACC. Should be Wild!

Teams Knocking on the Door:

Central Aroostook---21-0 The Panthers stay undefeated! Crushed Machias in the Quarters! 82-52! Took care of Ashland in the Semi's! 75-61! Needed OT to get by Woodland! 67-59! EM Champions! Wowzer! A Win-Is-A-Win! They move on! They want the Gold! They get Richmond! ACC! This Saturday!

Richmond----------18-1 They did it! WM Class D Champs! Bobcats beat Rangeley! Sem's! 68-45! Big comeback! To take down Valley! WMF! 61-57! Bobcats want the whole thing! The can Smell it! They can Taste it! But will they get it! Find out! This Saturday! ACC Baby! For all the Marbles!

Til' Next Week: Good luck to all the teams in their quest for the Gold! It's been a great season!

The WIZ

Yarmouth bows out after furious rally

Sport: Basketball (boys)  Posted: February 24th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Yarmouth bows out after furious rally
By Michael Hoffer
Special to MBR
02/24/08

PORTLAND- All good things must end.

The 2007-08 Yarmouth boys' basketball team was a very, very good thing, but after a magical season chock full of dramatic wins, the Clippers couldn't pull another rabbit out of their hats Thursday evening at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

Facing a Freeport team it had beaten twice this year, including a 25-point rout on the Falcons' home floor just two weeks prior, Yarmouth got off to a slow start in the teams' Western Class B semifinal round contest and despite a valiant rally down the stretch, saw their season come to an end at 16-4 with a 67-60 defeat.

"The ride's been terrific with these guys," Clippers' coach Adam Smith said. "It's been a good season. We're sad about the loss, but not sad about any of the season."

One year after reaching the quarterfinals and winning 12 games, Yarmouth was expected to be a top contender for the first time in memory. The only question that remained was how the Clippers would deal with the pressure of expectations.

They passed with flying colors.

Yarmouth started the season with six straight victories, went 3-1 in the Maine Mall Holiday Classic just days after losing senior standout Joe Dilworth to a broken hand. Even without Dilworth, the Clippers kept the wins coming in the new year, enjoying stirring home victories over Greely and Freeport before finally falling at Cape Elizabeth. Yarmouth would also lose at Waynflete (upon Dilworth's return) and at home to the Capers, but its 15-3 record gave it the second seed for the tournament.

The Clippers had little trouble with No. 7 Lake Region in the quarterfinals at the Portland Expo, winning 64-41.

That set up the first playoff meeting between Yarmouth and No. 6 Freeport (an upset winner over No. 3 Mountain Valley in the quarterfina1s) since 1964 (a Falcons' win in the semifinals).

Regular season results suggested the Clippers would roll. On Jan. 8, Yarmouth edged the visiting Falcons 50-48 on a buzzer-beater from senior Ben Groves. In the regular season finale, Feb. 7, the Clippers went into Freeport on Senior Night and crushed the Falcons 73-48, as junior sharpshooter Johnny Murphy had five first quarter 3-pointers.

Freeport wasn't about to lose three times to its neighbor and rival.

The contest started auspiciously for Yarmouth when Dilworth made a layup, but that would be the only lead of the night for the Clippers.

A jumper from senior Tom Markelon, a jump shot from junior Jon Klages and a layup from senior Kyle Flash gave the Falcons a 6-2 lead. After sophomore Evan Henry hit a baseline jumper, Markelon made a layup and Klages hit a baseline jumper for a 10-4 advantage. Groves made a rebound layup with 1:11 to go in the first, but senior John Arris answered with a 3-pointer and Freeport took a 13-6 lead into the second period.

"It was very important to get off to a good start," Falcons' senior Reid Christian said. "Last time, Johnny Murphy went off in the first quarter. We knew containing Murphy and Dilworth was a key to the game. We know their team. Last time, we didn't play our game. Coach stressed coming out and playing our game."

Yarmouth got the first five points of the second quarter to pull within two. Murphy got the scoring started with a pair of free throws, then he canned a 3-pointer. The Falcons answered as junior Cody Bartlett made a leaner and Christian added two free throws. Murphy responded with another 3, but Christian made two more foul shots for a 19-14 lead. A steal and a layup by Murphy and a Dilworth runner got the Clippers within a point, 19-18, but Freeport closed the half on an 8-2 run.

First, Christian made a layup. He then hit a bank shot and Flash made back-to-back floaters for a 27-18 advantage. With 3.0 seconds to go, however, Dilworth made a layup and Yarmouth was down seven, 27-20, at the break.

The Falcons' lead would fluctuate between three and nine points in the third.

Henry got the scoring started with a layup. Murphy followed with a jumper and the Clippers were within three, 27-24. Freeport then got jumpers from Christian and senior Bejay Perkins and a layup from Markelon to push the advantage back to nine, 33-24. Yarmouth then ran off six straight as junior Andrew Totta hit a bank shot, Murphy made a layup, then Murphy buried a jumper, making it a 33-30 contest. A Klages 3 and two free throws from Flash gave the Falcons a little breathing room, but in the waning seconds, Groves scored on a second effort layup to make it a 38-32 game heading for the final stanza.

The fourth would feature a bevy of points as the Clippers tried desperately to rally.

When Freeport scored the first seven points of the fourth, however, the game looked over.

Markelon scored on a rebound layup, Perkins hit a free throw, Klages made a floater and Perkins made a pair of foul shots for a 45-32 advantage.

Then, finally, Yarmouth roared to life.

Groves made two free throws, Murphy added another and Henry hit a jump shot to make it 45-37. After Bartlett sank two foul shots for Freeport, Murphy buried a 3-ball and the Clippers were within seven, 47-40, with 4 minutes to go.

Christian answered with two free throws, but senior Lucas Denning converted a three-point play to make it 49-43. After Perkins scored on a layup, Murphy hit a runner, then scored on a layup after a steal to cut the deficit to four, 51-47, with 2:40 to play.

Yarmouth had a chance to get even closer, but Murphy missed a 3-pointer. After Markelon missed two foul shots, Murphy got another chance and this time his bomb was good, making it a 51-50 contest with 2:04 still to play.

Thanks to its foul shooting brilliance, the Falcons would hold on.

First, Markelon made two free throws. After Denning got the Clippers back within a point with a layup, Christian hit two free throws, then Flash did the same, making it 57-52 with 1:26 to go.

Two Murphy free throws got Yarmouth back within three, but Bartlett calmly hit two of his own with 1:05 remaining. When Christian made one of two foul shots, then hit two more with 27.9 seconds remaining, the lead was up to eight, 62-54.

"We knew they would keep working hard," Christian said, of the Clippers. "We kept battling. We hit the free throws and I feel very strongly that's what did it for us."

"We've struggled against pressure all year long," Freeport coach Craig Sickels added. "We did some different things in practice to get ready. The most important thing was our heads. They remained calm, cool and collected. I thought we did a nice job of spreading the floor. Jon Klages was huge bringing the ball up. We held our composure a lot better than we have in the past. We're a very good foul shooting team. That's a strength. Thank God we hit them."

With 23.2 seconds left, Denning provided a glimpse of hope with a 3-pointer, but Christian and Flash both made a pair of foul shots for a 66-57 lead with just 13.5 seconds showing. A 3-pointer from senior Robb Arndt accounted for the Clippers' final points and Perkins put the finishing touches on the 67-60 win with one foul shot in the waning seconds.

"It's very difficult to end a season this way," Smith said. "But if I'm looking at next year, I'd take ending my season this way every year if I could.

"They brought more intensity than we did. That's something we take pride in. We didn't overlook them. They got it done tonight, especially in the halfcourt defensive end. Hats off to them. They definitely took care of the foul line. I noticed their defensive intensity and the energy they brought to the game early tonight. It was difficult for us to match that. We got on our heels and not all our guys woke up at the same time.

"We expect to never give up. That's what we did tonight. We just fell short. They weren't going to let it happen. The better team won tonight. It might not have been the better team over the course of the season, but they were tonight. I thought we did a nice job of battling back and scrapping until the end."

Murphy wound up with 29 points. Denning had eight. Dilworth, Groves and Henry all had six. Arndt added three and Totta had two.

Freeport (which would go on to lose 57-50 to Cape Elizabeth in the Western B Final Saturday) got 19 points from Christian, 12 from Flash, 10 from Markelon, nine from Klages and eight from Perkins. Bartlett added six and Arris wound up with three.

The Falcons made 23 of 28 free throws in the fourth period.

"It feels great," Christian said. "Once again, free throws did it for us down the stretch. We played our best under pressure."

"The guys in the locker room believed," Sickels added. "Before the game, I said, 'Other than your families, not a lot of people believe in us.'

"We have a nice balanced scoring attack. Mentally, it was huge to get off to a good start. The game is so much about mental aspects. We survived a couple of their runs. That was huge for our psyche.

"Stopping Murphy was the key. We tried a couple different people on him. We basically played man the whole game and face-guarded him. We made him work for everything he had. I thought we did a nice job on Denning tonight. We played off of him. We had to keep them on the perimeter. The kids made a nice adjustment."

The Clippers meanwhile had to be content with a 16-4 record, knowing they woke up the echoes and restored basketball fever to Yarmouth.

"We enjoyed the atmosphere," Smith said. "It was a great experience to be here. I hope more Yarmouth teams can have the opportunity to play here.

"I just had a long conversation with them in the locker room. I love the locker room. It's a time for us to be together. Joe's been a starter for us for three years. He's been the backbone of the program. I can't say enough good things about him. The younger guys look up to him. It's been a privilege to coach him. When Lucas came back, it was a lift to the program. He carried us with a smile. He made other people better. Ben Groves is a team guy all the way. All he cared about was winning. He never cared about stats. Ever."

The Clippers will be decimated by graduation as Arndt, Denning, Dilworth, Groves, Joe Laverriere (among others) depart.

Of course, Henry, Murphy and Totta return and will look to finish the job next winter.

"If I can get a commitment from the returning guys to play in the offseason, they don't have a long way to go," Smith said. "That would be the difference. If they think they're going to start in November, we're back to square one."

Cheverus earns that elusive regional crown

Sport: Basketball (boys)  Posted: February 24th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Cheverus earns that elusive regional crown
By Michael Hoffer
Special to MBR
02/24/08

PORTLAND- Cheverus' boys' basketball team has been no stranger to the regional final this decade. Advancing to the next round, however, has been a problem.

Since winning the region in 2003, the Stags had lost to Portland in 2004, Deering in 2005 and Portland again last winter in the regional championship game.

Saturday evening, however, Cheverus took the next step, riding an amazing defensive effort to a 40-31 victory over the Thornton Academy Golden Trojans at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

Cheverus got just enough offense to move on.

"It's a relief," Stags' coach Bob Brown said. "Four weeks ago, we were all wondering what we were doing. It was a great turnaround. Credit the kids. They started playing like young men who are teammates."

Cheverus won its first 14 games this year, but a 51-39 home loss to Thornton Academy on Jan. 29 started a three-game slide. The Stags rediscovered their team commitment and beat host Deering in the regular season finale to earn the top seed for the tournament.

After downing No. 9 Windham by 10 in the quarterfinal round, Cheverus enjoyed a decisive win over rival and recent nemesis Portland in the semifinal round to set up a showdown with a Golden Trojans' team which had been one of the most pleasant surprises of the 2007-08 campaign.

The Golden Trojans lost only to South Portland and Scarborough during the regular season and barely survived a mighty upset in the quarterfinals when they edged No. 7 Westbrook on a late 3-pointer from senior Jeff Winnie. Thornton Academy then eliminated South Portland in the semifinals.

The teams met last season in the semifinals (a 53-39 Stags' victory).

It was apparent early on that points would be at a premium. Neither squad scored until the 5:27 mark of the first period when Golden Trojans' senior Dakota Greene made a layup. Cheverus answered on a layup from junior Mick DiStasio, but Greene made another layup for a 4-2 lead. After junior Will White hinted at a big game to come with a 3-pointer, senior Kory Martin made a floater to give Thornton Academy a 6-5 advantage.

A 3-point shot from junior Ian Barwise put Cheverus ahead 8-6 with 2:17 to go in the first. Martin made a free throw at the other end, but as time expired in the opening quarter, White scored on a rebound putback to put the Stags up 10-7.

Greene got the second quarter scoring started with a layup. DiStasio made one of two free throws, but senior Austin Gregory made a jump shot to tie the score at 11-11. After a layup from senior Doug Alston put Cheverus back on top, a jump hook from Martin tied the score again.

DiStasio again made one of two free throws and with 4:11 to play in the first half, Martin made a layup to give the Golden Trojans a 15-14 lead.

The Stags would never trail again.

A 3-pointer from Barwise gave them the lead for good. After junior John Trull made a free throw for Thornton Academy, DiStasio made a layup. With 40.8 seconds to go in the half, Martin made a bank shot, but with time winding down, Barwise buried a long shot from the corner for a 21-18 advantage.

Cheverus looked like it was finally going to take a healthy lead when DiStasio and sophomore Indiana Faithfull made back-to-back layups to start the second half, but Martin made a layup and Greene hit a foul shot, cutting the lead to four, 25-21. After Faithfull scored on a bank shot for the Stags, Golden Trojans' senior standout James Morse buried a 3-ball to make it 27-24. Alston made a runner to push the lead back to five, but Winnie made a layup with 2:05 to go in the quarter and neither team scored again, allowing Cheverus to take a 29-26 lead into the final stanza.

With 6:52 to play in the contest, Martin made a layup to get Thornton Academy back within a point, 29-28, but at the other end, Alston made a clutch jumper. With 4:31 remaining, Morse made one of two free throws, but Barwise answered with a layup to make it 33-29.

Neither team was able to score for almost two minutes.

Then, with 2:09 left, Martin scored on a baseline turnaround and suddenly it was a 33-31 game.

The Golden Trojans wouldn't score again.

With 1:24 to go, Barwise grabbed an offensive rebound and was fouled. He made both free throws for a 35-31 advantage. After a Stags' steal, White went to the line and made two foul shots with exactly a minute to play. After another Thornton Academy turnover, Faithfull made a pair of free throws and with 31.5 seconds left, White put the punctuation mark on the win with another foul shot, giving Cheverus the victory and the regional crown, 40-31.

"I felt pretty confident," said White, who missed much of the season with injury. "It's pretty easy to be confident with all the other guys around me. This shows we have what it takes. I was on the team last year when we lost. It was pretty devastating. This is a great feeling."

"It was a great game," Barwise added. "We knew it would be. They beat us the first time, but we came ready to play today. Everyone pitched in and helped. It helps to share the ball the way we do. When we share the ball, not many teams are better than us. We were pumped, ready to play. We played the whole game as hard as we could."

Brown was thrilled with his team's effort.

"The first time we played, we couldn't get into our offense and we turned the ball over," he said. "Tonight, I thought we played excellent defense and we didn't make a bunch of mistakes. The offense played together. Everything was team. We made extra passes. Because of that, we got decent shots."

Cheverus was led by 12 points from Barwise. DiStasio (who was named the Outstanding Player/Sportsman of the Western A tournament) and White both had eight. Alston and Faithfull wound up with six apiece.

"Faithfull had a great game," Brown said. "Will made major plays. He's great on defense. He came up with some big rebounds. Barwise hit some shots. He made clutch free throws. We only missed one free throw at the end."

The Golden Trojans got 13 points from Martin, seven from Greene and six from Morse. Winnie was held to just two.

"We tried to control penetration," White said. "That's what killed us last time. We did a good job."

To neutralize Winnie, Cheverus stayed away from its vaunted pressure defense.

"We pressed them once," Brown said. "When Winnie went by us and said, 'hello, hello, goodbye, goodbye,' and made a layup. He shouldn't have done it. We might have stayed in it."
Thornton Academy finished its finest season in many moons at 18-3.

The Stags earned a date with juggernaut defending state champion Bangor (21-0) in the Class A state final Saturday at 7 p.m., at the Civic Center.

The Rams are considered unbeatable in some circles, but Cheverus likes its chances.

"If we play together and we share the ball the way we can, not many teams can beat us," Barwise said. "We don't know much about them and they don't know much about us. It'll be a good game. We're all excited."

"They're 21-0 and only Edward Little has played with them," Brown added. "Edward Little is very athletic. Bangor is bigger and bigger. We'll come to play. Having it here as an advantage."

Lake Region does it again, beats Falmouth for regional crown

Sport: Basketball (Girls)  Posted: February 24th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

 By Michael Hoffer
Special to MBR

PORTLAND- The means weren't always that aesthetically pleasing, but the end once again was a beautiful and triumphant sight for the Lake Region girls' basketball team and its rabid followers.

Saturday afternoon at the Cumberland County Civic Center, the Lakers overcame a lackluster start, went on a 15-0 run which spanned the end of the second period and the start of the third, then held off the Falmouth Yachtsmen down the stretch to win a third consecutive Western Class B championship, 37-33.

"I just couldn't be prouder of my kids," Lake Region coach Paul True said. "Falmouth gave us a battle. Falmouth is a great team. We have a tremendous amount of respect for them and for coach (George) Conant. We knew it was going to be a battle. I thought our kids did a great job gritting it out.

Last winter, Falmouth went 16-2 and made it to its first-ever Western B Final, losing 42-25 to Lake Region.

This season, the Yachtsmen went 16-2 (their only losses came to the Lakers) and finished second in the region to guess who.

Falmouth held off an upset bid from No. 7 Gray-New Gloucester in the quarterfinals, then had to go to overtime to squeak past Greely 47-44 in the semifinals.

Lake Region (which lost only to Fryeburg and Greely this season) got a tussle from No. 9 Wells in its quarterfinal, then defeated No. 4 York in the semifinals.

The Lakers defeated the Yachtsmen twice during the regular season by scores of 51-45 in Naples Jan. 12 and 57-39 at Falmouth Feb. 8.

For most of the first half Saturday, the Yachtsmen appeared ready to take the next step and win their first regional championship.

Falmouth junior Andie Doyle got the scoring started with a jump shot. Junior Haley Jordan followed with a jumper of her own for a 4-0 advantage. With 3:54 to go in the first period, Lake Region finally got on the scoreboard when senior Renee Nicholas made a jumper. The Yachtsmen answered as Jordan found senior Morgan Furman for a layup. After sophomore Morgan McClean made a rebound layup for the Lakers, junior Kelsey Graffam hit a layup and sophomore Alison DerHagopian (the hero of the Greely win) added a runner for a 10-4 lead. Late in the final minute of the period, however, sophomore Chelsea Myers hit a long jumper for Lake Region, making it 10-6 after one.

Falmouth senior point guard Paige Wyman opened the second period with a three-point play, giving the Yachtsmen their biggest lead, 13-6. Sophomore Meghan Craffey answered with a layup for the Lakers, but junior Sara Bachman scored on a putback, making it 15-8. After Craffey hit a 3-ball, Furman gave Falmouth a 17-11 lead with two free throws. McClean answered with a layup, but Wyman countered with one of her own for a 19-13 advantage with 2:13 to go in the half.

Lake Region then seized control and grabbed the lead.

Senior Erica Webb got things started with a free throw. Nicholas followed with a rebound layup. Webb then made a layup and with seven seconds to go in the second period, Craffey hit another 3-pointer for a 21-19 lead at the break.

The Lakers scored the final eight points of the first half and would get the first seven of the second, but couldn't completely put the Yachtsmen away.

Just 27 seconds into the third period, sophomore Abby Hancock made a 3-pointer. Senior Krysti Leach followed with a jumper in the lane and Nicholas did the same for a 28-19 advantage.

"They have kids who can play good defense and they come to play," Conant said. "They won't lose, you have to take it from them. We gave in at the end of the second period. We said in the locker room we knew the first three minutes would be critical. That's the way it goes."

A 3-pointer from Doyle ended the 15-0 run and 7 minute, 34 second scoring drought, but Nicholas answered with a free throw. Graffam hit a leaner for Falmouth, but a Webb foul shot gave Lake Region a 30-24 lead heading for the fourth.

After Nicholas opened the fourth with a free throw, Wyman made a layup and Furman hit two foul shots to make it a 31-28 contest. With 5:51 to play, McClean made a layup for the Lakers, but with 4:18 showing, Furman made two more free throws to keep it a three-point game, 33-30.

Then, neither team would score for almost four minutes as the Yachtsmen had ample opportunities to catch up and go ahead.

Finally, with 24 seconds to go, Nicholas sank two foul shots for a 35-30 lead.

"She's a gamer," True said. "She, in my opinion, hasn't gotten a lot of attention or respect this year. In my opinion, you won't find a better defender. She's a great athlete and we want the ball in her hands down the stretch. Kids like Renee really give it everything they have. It's satisfying for me as a coach to see her knock down shots like that."

With 9.1 seconds to play, Furman sank a 3-ball and Falmouth still had life, down 35-33. Lake Region was able to get the ball inbounds to Nicholas, however, and she was fouled with 6.3 seconds to go. Nicholas, who would win the Mike DiRenzo Award as the regional tournament's top player/sportsman, calmly hit both free throws and the Lakers were able to celebrate their 37-33 victory and a third straight regional title.

"We knew that it was going to be a game of tempo," True said. "I thought Falmouth did a great job early on of slowing the game down to a snail's pace. They played zone. Early on, offensively we struggled. Megan Craffey came in and gave us some energy off the bench and allowed us to put pressure on defensively.

"All three tournament games for us were highly contested and could have gone either way. I think that really helped us. At the end of today's game, we did a good job attacking the basket. We took care of the ball at the end of the game."

The Yachtsmen gave their all and nearly pulled off the upset.

"We fell just a little bit short. Again," Conant lamented. "Lake Region's a great team. I respect them to no end. We only gave them one run. We did the things we needed to do at the start. You have to give the credit to Lake Region. They made us do things we didn't want to do and quicker than we wanted to do. When we did what we wanted to do, we were very successful. We allowed them to take us out of our game. They played great defense. Hats off to them."

Falmouth (18-3) got 11 points from Furman and seven from Wyman. Both standout seniors will be greatly missed next season.

"Eighteen wins isn't too shabby," Conant said. "My heart bleeds for Morgan and Paige. They've worked really hard, but that's the way it goes. We'll be back."

The Lakers (19-2) were led by Nicholas' 12 points. Craffey had eight and McClean finished with six.

Lake Region's recent run of dominance continues.

"The support we get from our community is fantastic and humbling," True said. "Our youth coaches, our middle school coaches, everybody's on the same page. They really should get the credit since they're the ones who prepare our kids.

"We had a lot of personnel changes this year. We could have easily been playing with three starters who didn't end up coming out. It's a tribute to our kids. Our league and the coaches in our league are competitive. It's a lot of fun."

Friday night at 7 p.m., at the Bangor Auditorium, the Lakers will meet undefeated, defending state champion Waterville with a Gold Ball at stake. Last year, Lake Region lost 52-51 to the Purple Panthers in a state final thriller. Two years ago, on the Bangor floor, the Lakers fell to Presque Isle in the final.

Lake Region is hoping that the third time will be the charm.

"This is certainly going to be our biggest challenge by far," True said. "Waterville's an outstanding ballclub. A lot of attention is put on (standout post player Morgan) Frame, but their perimeter players are very solid, very well coached. It's a tough task. We'll play physical. We'll have to make them work for every basket they get. We need to keep Frame off the backboard. We need to shoot the ball well. We'll play hard and hopefully create some turnovers. I'm hoping we'll come out loose. Other than the girls in our locker room, not very many people will give us a chance. It's a great experience for the kids. I'm so happy they'll be able to play in that atmosphere. We'll play hard. Win or lose, I'll be proud of them.

"These opportunities don't come around every day. Our kids have been a little bit spoiled with that. We need to take a step back and enjoy it for what it is."
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