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Do you believe in miracles? Thayer, Greely do

Sport: Basketball (boys)  Posted: February 17th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

By Michael Hoffer
Special to MBR


PORTLAND- Every player dreams of draining a shot at the buzzer to win a playoff game.

Saturday afternoon, Greely junior Erik Thayer got to live that dream.

Thayer and his Rangers teammates didn't surrender when they were down 10 to rival Falmouth with 1 minute, 22 seconds to play in the teams' Western Class B quarterfinal at the Portland Expo and embarked on a 10-2 run which gave them one last chance.

With 1.7 seconds to go, Greely senior Ben Andreasen inbounded the ball to Thayer a step behind the 3-point arc and as soon as the ball left his hand, the shooter and everyone on hand knew where it was heading.

Right into the basket.

Nothing but net.

Rangers win 50-49.

"I had the hot hand and I thought I couldn't miss," said Thayer, moments after being mobbed by the Greely student contingent. "When I released it, my fingers tingled. Everyone started jumping up and down. This is a great confidence boost."

Greely advances to meet top-ranked Cape Elizabeth in the semifinals Wednesday at 8:30 p.m., at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

The Rangers and Yachtsmen put relatively inexperienced teams on the floor this winter, but both produced their accustomed stellar records.

Falmouth, behind the sharpshooting of sophomore Stephano Mancini, shook off a 1-3 start and wound up 13-5, good for the No. 5 seed.

Greely, meanwhile, which had graduated all five starters from a regional finalist, got off to a great start, then played inconsistently down the stretch, but still wound up 12-6, good for the fourth spot.

The rivals split this year. In the season opener, Dec. 7, the Rangers rolled to a 63-52 home win. On Jan. 29, Falmouth returned the favor with a 65-56 home victory.

Last winter, Greely beat Falmouth 63-40 in the semifinal round. The teams also met in the playoffs in 2003 (a 62-45 win for the Rangers in the semis).

While Greely got off to a great start Saturday, it appeared for most of the game that Falmouth would be the team moving on.

The Yachtsmen got the game's first hoop, when senior Kevin Smith hit a jumper, but the Rangers would get the next nine points. Senior Spenser Adams made a layup and a jumper. Thayer then hinted at good things to come with his first 3-pointer of the day. Thayer then scored on a driving layup for a 9-2 lead with 5:01 to go in the first. Greely wouldn't score again in the period, while Falmouth could only muster two free throws from senior Michael Doyle to make it a 9-4 game after one.

By halftime, the Yachtsmen had a five point lead.

Mancini found the range to start the second quarter and hit a 3-ball (his lone bomb of the day). After Rangers' sophomore Trevor Tierney made a hook shot, Falmouth pulled even on a pair of shots from Smith (finally recovered from season-long nagging injuries). Greely went back up 13-11 on a runner from Adams, but Smith tied the game with two foul shots, then put his team up 15-13 with two more. With 3:11 to play in the half, sophomore Sam Horning made a 3-ball and that was it for first half scoring.

The third period was nip and tuck.

Tierney got the scoring started with a layup, then followed with a jump shot to cut the deficit to one, 18-17. After sophomore Jahrel Registe made a layup for the Yachtsmen, Rangers' junior Chris Young got in the scoring column with a couple of free throws. Doyle countered with a three-point play, but Adams buried a 3, then made a layup to put Greely back on top, 24-23.

With 3:02 to go in the third, Smith continued to sparkle and made a 3-pointer to put Falmouth back in the lead, 26-24. Doyle then took a pass from Mancini and made a layup and Mancini followed with a floater for a 30-24 lead. A layup by Tierney closed the third period and pulled the Rangers within four.

Falmouth then got the first nine points of the fourth and appeared to salt the win away.

Back-to-back 3's from Smith made it 36-26. Registe made a foul shot and Mancini hit a jumper and it was a 39-26 game with just 5:41 remaining.

Greely answered when Tierney made a pretty left-handed layup, junior Chris Higgins buried a leaner and Adams took a pass from Andreasen and made a layup, cutting the deficit to seven, 39-32, with 3:57 to go.

After Falmouth senior Rudy Babikan made one of two foul shots, Tierney made a layup to make it 40-34. Babikan then took a pass from Smith and made a layup. After Adams answered with a layup for the Rangers, Smith made two free throws. After Young made one for Greely, Doyle made a layup and Horning added a foul shot for a 47-37 lead with 1:22 to play.

Game over?

Not by a longshot (or in this case, three Thayer long shots).

The improbable rally began inauspiciously as Tierney made a layup with 1:10 remaining. With 43.4 seconds to go, Thayer hit a 3-pointer and suddenly those who were going to try and beat traffic by leaving early decided to hang around. Ten seconds later, Andreasen made a layup and the deficit was three, 47-44.

With 20.4 seconds left Babikan made one of two free throws, but after missing on a first attempt, Thayer got a second when Higgins kept the ball alive and he drained a 3-pointer with 7.2 seconds to go and it was a one-point game, 48-47.

With 5.5 seconds left, Doyle had a chance to stretch the lead to three and guarantee Falmouth no worse than overtime, but he missed his first attempt. After making the second, the Yachtsmen were up 49-47 and Greely had to go the length of the floor.

The Rangers rushed into the front court, but the ball was tipped out of bounds with 1.7 seconds left. After a deflection on the inbounds pass (with Thayer standing wide open beyond the arc), Greely tried again.

Andreasen delivered the pass, Thayer launched the shot and the Rangers exulted.

Do you believe in miracles?

"My heart is still racing," Thayer said, long after Greely retreated to its locker room to whoop it up and celebrate. "It's a great feeling that I'll never forget. In a playoff atmosphere, everyone plays tough defense. We had to fight our way back."

"We've probably run that play for 10 years and twice we've tied games, but we'd never won one," Greely coach Ken Marks added. "Erik's our second-best perimeter player. I told him to look for his shot. To be down 10 and come back and have that opportunity is just unbelievable. He was wide open the first time too. It was just a great, great shot."

Falmouth was left shellshocked, similar to the top-ranked 2004 squad which was upset by No. 8 Cape Elizabeth on a buzzer-beater in the quarterfinals.

"He stepped up and made the shot he had to make," longtime Yachtsmen coach Dave Halligan said. "We were focusing on Adams and Young and their open man made the shot. You can only say congratulations. We played well in spurts, but we lost our two guards (Mancini to fouls and junior Jack Wyman to injury) and that hurt. Other guys tried to step up, but they were out of their element. That's high school basketball. Give credit to Greely. A Ken Marks team never quits. They keep coming at you."

Falmouth was led by Smith, who had a sensational 21 points, earning kudos from both coaches.

"Kevin Smith had a terrific game," Marks said. "Falmouth played a terrific game."

"It's probably the first week he's been healthy all year," Halligan added. "He had a great game."

Doyle added 10, Mancini had seven, Babikan and Horning scored four apiece and Registe finished with three.

The Yachtsmen had a tremendous run and also have a very bright future.

"If you would have told me before the season we'd win 13 games, I would have said thank you very much," Halligan said. "We came a long way. We played better than expected, but not as well as we would have liked. Some younger kids found out what it's all about. The seniors had great careers and played in a couple Western Maine Finals.

"We're excited about our program. We feel sorry for the seniors, but they did everything we asked. I'm really proud."

Adams led the Rangers with 15 points. Thayer and Tierney both wound up with 14. Young added three and Andreasen and Higgins had two apiece.

Greely now turns its attention to top-ranked Cape Elizabeth (17-2 and riding a 14-game win streak following a quarterfinal romp over Wells).

The Rangers and Capers split during the regular year with Greely triumphing 60-46 in Cape Elizabeth on Dec. 13 and the Capers winning a memorable 75-71 double-OT game in Cumberland Feb. 8.

Greely has won three of four previous playoff matchups with Cape Elizabeth. The most recent was a 50-37 triumph in the 2003 quarterfinals. The Rangers also eliminated Cape Elizabeth in 1992 (64-50 in the semifinals) and 1998 (62-49 in the semis). The Capers' lone postseason win over Greely came in the 1984 quarterfinals (61-55).

Considering their success against Cape Elizabeth so far, combined with the emotional high Thayer's shot provided, the Rangers love their chances on Thursday.

"We're excited for the rematch," Thayer said. "We lost in OT last time. We had the game in the bag and we feel we can beat them. We'll come out fired out and ready to play. We're hot."

"We love having a rematch with Cape," Marks added. " We're never out of a game. We believe that. We graduated all five starters. To have this group come back and get to this level is really special."

WIZ Words: Big Games and Big Names (Plus WIZ Top 10 Teams- Week # 11)

Sport: Basketball (boys)  Posted: February 17th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

By The WIZ

WIZ Words: Big Games and Big Names (Plus WIZ Top 10 Teams- Week # 11)

Big Games and Big Names

(Plus WIZ Top 10 Teams- Week #11)

Wow! What a weekend folks! Hoops Gone Wild! All over the state! Incredible games and fantastic finishes. The WIZ was at the Expo in Portland covering and broadcasting games with MBR's head man Tom Nolette. The Expo was packed house for most of the games and there was plenty of excitement. Big games and some big names stepped up. Greely's Eric Thayer stepped up big time! With his Rangers team down by 10pts. to Falmouth with 4:30 left in the game Thayer hit three 3's in the last .45 seconds including the game winner at the buzzer to defeat Falmouth 50-49. Wow! An amazing comeback and a big win for the Greely Rangers. In other Western Class B games Cape defeated Wells 72-35 and the Capers will face Greely on Wednesday in the Semi-Finals. Also Freeport beat Mountain Valley 54-47 and Yarmouth had no problem beating Lake Region 64-41 and Yarmouth and Freeport will square of in the other Western Class B semi-Final also on Wednesday.

South Portland's Super Sophomore Sensation Keegan Hyland throws in 30pts. as the Red Riots continue their exciting year as they defeat the Tigers of Biddeford 66-48 and the Red Riots will move on to play Thornton in the Western Maine Class A Semi Finals on Wednesday. Thornton pulled off a close one over the upset-minded Blazes of Westbrook. Thornton's Mr. Clutch Jeff Winnie hits a big 3 with .09 seconds left to give the Golden Trojans the big win 41-40 as the Trojans move to the Semi-Finals to face the Red Hot Red Riots of South Portland. The Stags of Cheverus defeated Windham 50-40 and Portland won their big game over Deering 48-41. The Stags and the Bulldogs will face off in the other Semi-Final game on Wednesday.

Up at the Mecca in Bangor the undefeated Black Bears of Maranacook got a scare from Rockland but the Black Bears pull it off behind Ryan Martins 25pts. as the Black Bears win by just 2pts. 59-57. They will move on to play Mattanawcook in the Semi's of Eastern Class B. Mattanawcook beat Caribou 59-43 to advance to the Semi-Finals. The Camden Windjammers beat John Bapst 73-38 and they will advance to the Semi-Finals to take on Presque Isle on Wednesday as Presque Isle beat Medomak 56-51. Wow! What a final four this will be.

At the ACC in Augusta the Bangor Rams continue to steamroll Eastern Class A as they defeated Brunswick 74-56 to improve their record to a perfect 19-0. The #5 seed Cougars of Mt. Blue pulled off a mild upset by defeating the #4 seed Rams of Cony 50-33. Bangor and Mt. Blue will square off in the Semi-Finals this coming Wednesday. And the Eddies of Edward Little survived a big scare as the Eagles of Messalonskee took the Eddies to overtime but the Eddies held the Eagles to zero points in the overtime as the Eddies go on to win by a final of 51-41. The big upset of the day though was #6 seed the Lawrence Bulldogs knocked off the # 3 seeded Hampden Broncos 49-46 in an exciting game. The Bulldogs advance and they will play Edward Little in the Sem'i-Finals on Wednesday.

In Class D West at the ACC the Richmond Bobcats continue the quest for the Gold as they beat Buckfield in the quarter-finals 67-37. Rangeley beat Seacoast 63-56 to set up a Semi-Final game with Richmond. Valley beat Greenville 64-45 and Forest Hills beat Elan 45-42 to set up their Semi-Final game against Valley.

In Eastern Class D at the Mecca two games are over in the quarter-finals. Woodland beat Easton 56-41 and Deer Isle beat Shead 63-33. The Eastern D quarter-finals will continue on Monday with Central Aroostook taking on Machias and Ashland taking on Fort Fairfield.

Class C West Quarter-Finals get underway on Monday and Class C East will get going on Tuesday.

MBR's broadcasting of games is going over Big Time as we are getting many thanks from people as relatives and fans from out-of-state are listening in from all parts of the country. Game play-by-play by Tom Nolette and color by WIZ and Mike Hoffer has been a sensation so far and the halftime interviews with coaches and gurus are a very big hit as well. MBR will continue live coverage from the Expo and the CCCC covering all the tournament games boys and girls. Plus all the games from Augusta and Bangor are being streamlined through the MBR site so you can listen to any tournament game you want. Simply put; Amazing! Totally Awesome! MBR taking it to higher levels!

Undefeated teams remain at 4 this week.

Undefeated Teams:

Bangor----------19-0

Maranacook----19-0

Calais-----------16-0

C. Aroostook---18-0

As we head to this weeks WIZ Top 10 Teams there are no changes as all the top 10 teams that played won their games and some (3 teams Class C) have not played their tournament games just yet.

WIZ Top 10 Teams- Week # 11:

1.Bangor----------19-0 The Rams stay perfect! They crushed Brunswick! In the quarter-Finals! 74-56! Can they be stopped! I don't think so! Up next! Semi-Final! Wednesday 8:30pm! ACC! Cougars of Mt. Blue! Could be interesting! They win and it's off to the Eastern Maine Final on Friday! 700pm! ACC Baby!

2.Maranacook---19-0 Black Bears on a Mission! Black Bears stay perfect! Just Barely though! Big Scare! They get by Rockland 59-57! Wow! Crazy! Move on to Semi's! They get Mattanawcook! At the MECCA! Wednesday! 3:35pm! Watch Out! Derek Libby and the Lynx! May have something to say! If Black Bears win they will play on Saturday! At the MECCA! Eastern Maine Final! 3:45pm! Can they GO-ALL-THE-WAY! I don't know! Bigger fish are coming!

3.South Portland---15-4 Red Hot still! Red Riots beat Biddeford! In Quarter-Final! 66-48! Hyland drops 30! How far can they go! Up next! Golden Trojans! Semi's! Wednesday night! CCCC! 5:30pm! Congrats! Coach Conley! First year Head Coach! Amazing! A Win and off to the Final! Saturday! CCCC! 9:00pm!

4.Thornton--------17-2 Golden Trojans! Golden Win! Gets by upset-minded Westbrook! 41-40! A Thriller! Jeff Winnie is The Man! Cans the Big 3! To win it! Up next! Rematch! Wants Revenge! They get the Red Hot Red Riots! In the Semi's! At the CCC! Wednesday! 5:30pm! Wowzer! Someone moves on! Someone goes home! A win would move them to the WM final! Saturday night! 9:00pm! CCCC Baby!

5.Camden--------19-1 Jamming Windjammers! Jammed Hermon in the Prelim's 82-71! Took care of John Bapst! In Quarter-Final! 73-38! Jammers can smell it! Jammers can Taste it! Will they get it! Maybe! Up next! Simi-Final! Wednesday! At the MECCA! Presque Isle! 2:05pm! Will Jammers move on! I think so! They win! They move to Eastern Maine Final! Saturday 3:45pm! Could they see Maranacook! Wowzer! We shall see!

6.Calais----------16-0 Week off for the Blue Devils! They start Tuesday! Quarter-Final! They get Dexter! At the MECCA! 8:35pm! Win moved to Semi's on Friday! MECCA! 3:35pm! Win! Got to Finals! On Saturday! 8:45pm! Streak is at 60! Can they keep it going! I think so!

7.Cape Elizabeth---17-2 Capers on Fire! No match in Quarter-Final! Beat Wells! 72-35! Big game up next! Semi-Final! CCCC! Wednesday! 8:30pm! Greely! Win and it's off to the Finals! Saturday! CCCC! 3:45pm! Can the Capers do it! Is this their year! I think so!

8.Cheverus--------17-2 Stags playing well again! Beat Windham in Quarter-Final! 50-40! Coach Brown has his hands full! Can their pressure D carry them! Big courts! Bigger area to cover! We shall find out! Up next! Semi's! They get the Red Hot Bulldogs of Portland! Wednesday Night Main Event! 7:00pm! CCCC! Biggest event at the CCCC since Marvin Haggler! Winner moves to Western Maine Final! Saturday! 9:00pm! CCCC!

9,Edward Little----15-4 Eddies get the win! Barely! Beat the stubborn Eagles of Messalonskee! 51-41! In Overtime! Wow! What a game! No early exit this year! How far will they go! Up next! The Upset Specialist! The Lawrence Bulldogs! Semi-Final game! ACC! 8:30pm! Wednesday! Winner goes to EM Final! Friday! ACC! 7:00pm! How far can the Eddies go!

10. Two way tie:

10.Dirigo----------17-1 Cougars had the week off! Their tourney starts Monday! ACC! 8:30pm! Quarter-Final Game! NYA! Win and off to Semi's! ACC! Thursday! 8:30pm! Win and off to WM Final! ACC! Saturday! 8:45pm! Can Thomas Knight and the Cougars get it done! We shall find out!

10.Winthrop-------17-1 Ramblers had the week off! They are rested! They are ready! They can taste it! But will they get it! Sam The Man! Up next! Quarter-Finals! ACC! Monday! 4:00pm! They get Hyde! Win and move to Semi's! Thursday! ACC! 7:00pm! Win! And off to WM Final! Saturday! ACC! 8:45pm!

Teams Knocking on the Door:

Portland---------14-5

Traip-------------16-1

Boothbay--------17-2

C. Aroostook----18-0

Presque Isle------17-3

Yarmouth--------16-3

Mattanawcook---16-4

Richmond---------16-1

Freeport-----------14-5

Mt. Blue----------13-6

Lawrence---------12-7

Greely-------------13-6

Deer Isle----------18-2

Til' Next week: Holy Smokes! This is crazy! How Hot can it get! No sleep! Little eats! Are you sick of wienners yet! Good luck to all!

The WIZ

South Portland rides Hyland's brilliance to win over Biddeford

Sport: Basketball (boys)  Posted: February 17th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

South Portland rides Hyland's brilliance to win over Biddeford

By Michael Hoffer
Special to MBR

PORTLAND- The South Portland boys' basketball team is coming off a regular season which saw it accomplish amazing feats.

The thing is, the Red Riots aren't content with what's come before. They're living in the moment and are bound and determined to be a major postseason factor

They certainly looked good in their first step.

Saturday evening, at the Portland Expo, South Portland displayed all of its weapons as it gradually pulled away from Biddeford to win the teams' Western Class A quarterfinal round game, 64-46.

Sophomore standout Keegan Hyland had 30 points. Senior Nick Wright grabbed 17 rebounds and the Red Riots set the tone on both ends of the floor as they advanced to take on Thornton Academy in a semifinal round contest Wednesday at 5:30 p.m., at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

"Biddeford's a very good team and they're well coached," said South Portland first-year coach Phil Conley. "I knew they'd be scrappy. In playoff basketball, you have to play your best and I think we played a good game offensively and defensively. I'm proud of my guys."

The Tigers were the No. 11 seed. They advanced to the Expo by virtue of an upset win at No. 6 Scarborough in the preliminary round.

The Red Riots, meanwhile, began the season with five straight victories, dropped close decisions to Deering and Scarborough, then won six more in succession. After an agonizing home overtime loss to Cheverus and a setback at Portland, South Portland wrapped up the regular season with wins at Cheverus and Deering and at home over Portland to wind up 14-4, good for the No. 3 seed.

The Red Riots hadn't won a quarterfinal game in eight seasons, but were not to be denied Saturday.

A layup from senior Will Fubush started the scoring, but the Tigers answered with a 3-ball from junior Abdirahman Mohamed. After senior Nick Gaddar made a 3-pointer for South Portland, Mohamed hit another for Biddeford to give the underdogs a 6-5 lead. A jumper from Furbush and a bank shot by Hyland made it 9-6. Red Riots. After the Tigers got a rebound putback from senior Audie Murphy, Hyland made another bank shot. Senior Dan Jamieson answered with a layup for Biddeford, but Hyland made a layup for a 13-10 advantage. Senior Mohamed Mohamed converted an old-fashioned three-point play, then made a layup to put the Tigers back on top, 15-13. A free throw from sophomore Connor Hasson pulled South Portland back within one, 15-14, as the first period ended.

By halftime, the Red Riots were in control.

Jamieson got the scoring started in the second with a layup. Furbush answered with a 3-ball and the game was tied at 17-17. After Wright made a free throw following an offensive rebound, junior Robin Wilson made a floater for Biddeford to give the Tigers their last lead, 19-18. A 3-pointer from sophomore Matt Lee put South Portland ahead to stay. Hasson added two free throws, Lee hit another 3 and Hasson made one more foul shot to cap the 9-0 run and give the Red Riots a 27-19 advantage. After junior Cameron Neumann made a 3-pointer for Biddeford, Hyland hit a baseline jumper, then Hyland made two free throws for a 31-22 lead. With just under a second to play, however, Murphy was fouled and made one foul shot to make it a 31-23 game at the break.

"It was important to come out and make sure we set the tone and show we wanted to play our game," Wright said.

South Portland quickly went up 12, 35-23, when Wright made a layup, then scored on a rebound layup. After Neumann got three points back with a bomb, Hyland scored on a layup after a steal. Neumann made a layup, but Hyland scored on a driving layup for a 39-28 lead. After Murphy made a layup for the Tigers, Wright scored on a rebound layup to push the lead back to 11. Neumann made one of two free throws, but Hyland drained another jumper. With 1:28 to go in the third, Jamieson hit a 3-ball, but senior Josh Mackie made a jumper and Hyland buried a 3 for a 48-34 lead. A layup by Neumann in the waning seconds made it 48-36 heading for the fourth.

There, the Red Riots finished it off.

Hyland opened the quarter with a 3-pointer. Wright and Furbush followed with one free throw apiece for a 53-36 advantage. After Neumann hit a jump shot for Biddeford, Hyland made two free throws. Murphy made a layup and Jamieson hit another 3 for the Tigers, cutting the deficit to 12, 55-43, but Hyland restored order with a short jumper. After Abdirahman Mohamed made a layup, Hyland scored on a driving layup, Furbush made a free throw and Hyland made another layup for a 62-45 lead. Neumann got two points back with a layup, but Gaddar buried a foul shot. Sophomore Trevor Parker got Biddeford's final point on a foul shot with 54.7 seconds to go. In the waning seconds, South Portland got a free throw from sophomore Spencer Bowring and a layup from senior Chris Biskup to account for the 66-48 final score.

"I told the guys it would come down to who rebounded better in the second half," Conley said. "I thought we rebounded extremely well. Nick Wright was amazing. Keegan Hyland came up huge. He was just tremendous on the drive and on outside shots. He had a terrific game. He's a sophomore, but they were all nervous. They had to settle in. Once we hit our first shot, we settled down and relaxed.

"Our defense helps us with our offense. I thought we played a good zone defense tonight. It got us some easy baskets."

Conley also praised the vocal sea of red that dominated much of the Expo.

"I thought our fans were tremendous tonight," he said. "They were our sixth man. We had one side full of South Portland students and community members. I'm thankful for that support. It really helped the team out."

Hyland led all scorers with 30 points. He had 20 in the second half.

"I just got the ball and they gave me some different looks," he said. "I took it to the hoop at first, then shot jumpers. It just started to flow. We wanted to get to the Civic Center. We knew even though they were an 11 seed we had to play our game and not look past them."

Wright finished with eight points, but was most conspicuous on the offensive and defensive glass, where he reigned from start to finish.

"I knew we had to box out," he said. "Against Scarborough, Biddeford won because they got a lot of second chance opportunities. I knew I had to rebound. The ball just bounced my way. I made sure they didn't get second chance opportunities."

Furbush had nine points. Lee finished with six. Hasson and Gaddar had four points apiece. Biskup and Mackie both had two. Bowring wound up with one.

Biddeford was led by 17 points from Neumann (12 in the second half). Jamieson also wound up in double figures with 10 points. Abdirahman Mohamed had eight, Mohamed Mohamed and Murphy both had five, Wilson finished with two and Parker added one.

The Red Riots stuck around afterwards and watched as No. 2 Thornton Academy saved its season with a late rally for a one-point win over No. 7 Westbrook.

As a result, South Portland and the Golden Trojans will do battle in one Western A semifinal (Cheverus and Portland meet in the other). Back on Jan. 12, the Red Riots earned their then-biggest win to date with a 52-49 home decision over then-unbeaten Thornton Academy.

In 2005, South Portland beat the Golden Trojans 60-45 in the preliminary round. The teams also met in 1970 (a 81-57 Red Riots' win in the semifinals), 1972 (a 64-56 win for Thornton Academy in the semifinals) and 1992 (a 75-54 triumph for South Portland in the semis).

The Red Riots are up for the challenge.

"I feel like we're playing the best we've played all year," Wright said. "I know we can play with anybody and beat anybody. We'll play our game against Thornton. They're a good team. We know we can beat them. We'll go for it.

"I'm not scared of the Civic Center at all. It won't take away from our game. We'll get to the line and hopefully do better. I hope we play a great game.

"This has been the goal of the seniors since we've been freshmen. The sophomores have matured over the year. For the seniors, it's our last shot. We still have a couple more steps, but I feel we're playing really good basketball."

"I think we have to come out really strong and have good intensity," Hyland added. "We have to play good defense and rebound well. Thornton can beat anyone and we know that.

"I've wanted to play (at the Civic Center) forever. Hopefully I'll get some shots to fall. If not, I'll take the ball inside."

Conley could only sit and wonder what's next for a special team in the midst of a magical season.

"It's a storybook run," he said. "I'm so pleased for the kids. They've worked so hard all year. We're peaking at the right time. I think this is a close group in there. They get along great. That helps on the floor. Everyone looks to pass.

"We wanted to get to the Civic Center floor and we'll take it from there. We're looking forward to it Thornton Academy is a very good team. We know we'll be in for a battle and we'll have to play great."

Portland survives and advances

Sport: Basketball (boys)  Posted: February 16th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

By Michael Hoffer
Special to MBR

PORTLAND-Portland coach Joe Russo is legendary for molding a team during the course of a season and having it championship-worthy by February.

This year's work might be his piece de resistance.

After winning 10 of 12 to end the regular season, the Bulldogs opened tournament play Friday night at the Portland Expo with a compelling quarterfinal round showdown against fierce rival Deering.

While the game was far from a masterpiece, the fourth-seeded Bulldogs overcame a very sluggish start and had just enough down the stretch to hold off the fifth-ranked Rams 48-41, ending Deering's season at 12-7.

Portland (14-5) moves on to battle top-ranked Cheverus in the semifinals Wednesday night at the Cumberland County Civic Center. The Stags (now 16-3) had little trouble with No. 9 Windham in a 50-40 preliminary round victory.

For much of the 2007-08 season, the defending regional champion Bulldogs were seeking their identity. Portland was 3-3 at one stretch before erupting for 10 wins in its final 12 games to finish 13-5 and earn the No. 4 seed.

Deering got off to a splendid start, but ultimately was done in by injuries and off-the-court issues and dropped its final three regular season contests to wind up 12-6, good for fifth.

The teams split during the regular season (the Rams won 59-50 at home Jan. 19 before the Bulldogs returned the favor 53-47 Feb. 4) and were meeting for the third time in four years in the playoffs (with the Rams winning the previous two: 57-54 in the 2005 semifinals and 70-64 in the 2006 regional final).

Friday's game would be very slow to start. Deering had a great chance to bury the Bulldogs early, but failed to do so. That came back to haunt the Rams when Portland came to life in the second half.

Deering couldn't have asked for a better beginning when junior Ronald Abwoch took a pass off the opening tip and laid it in for a 2-0 lead just two seconds in. The Bulldogs tied the game on a layup from sophomore Koang Thok, but Rams' senior standout Kyle Donovan (the Most Valuable Player of the Southern Maine Activities Association this winter) hit a pair of foul shots and sophomore Eddie Tirabassi made a rebound layup for a 6-2 advantage. After Thok hit a bank shot, Tirabassi made a foul shot and junior Khader Abbas did the same to make it 8-4. With 1:33 to play in the first, Portland junior Ed Bogdanovich made a short jumper, but Abwoch answered with a 3-pointer and Deering had an 11-6 lead after one period.

The Rams would stretch their lead in the second, but couldn't deliver the knockout punch.

After Bogdanovich got the quarter's scoring started with a jumper, senior Chris Smith made a layup for Deering and Abwoch followed with a jumper. Bulldogs' sophomore Joe Zukowski momentarily stemmed the tide with a pair of free throws, but a leaner by Abwoch and a layup from Donovan gave the Rams a 19-10 lead with 3:21 to play in the half. After Thok made two free throws and a layup after a steal, Deering ripped off six straight for its biggest lead. Abwoch fed senior Guillaume Ramonas for a layup, Abwoch hit a pretty spinning layup and Abbas added two foul shots for a 25-14 advantage. A layup by senior Dewayne Albertie gave Portland a little momentum prior to the half, but the Bulldogs were still down by nine, 25-16.

Russo wasn't concerned.

"We missed a lot of layups," he said. "We missed a lot of easy layups. We played soft and we weren't getting to the rim. We didn't have to get it all back in one quarter. The plays were there, but we were missing open shots. We had to stay positive. We didn't get away from those shots. We regrouped. We had to perform."

The Bulldogs showed much more life in the third period, but the Rams still clung to their lead by period's end.

Senior Jake Longstaff made a jumper for Portland to start the second half, but Smith answered with a free throw. Senior Anthony Passmore then made a layup and senior Mike Harmon made a leaner to cut the deficit to four, 26-22. Deering senior Tim Conley and Albertie traded layups to make it 28-24. Tirabassi made a layup, but sophomore Walter Stover countered with two foul shots and the Rams' lead was still four, 30-26. With 2:01 to go in the quarter, Abwoch hit a short jumper in the lane. It looked like Deering would take its 32-26 lead into the fourth, but with 3.1 seconds to go in the third, Bogdanovich made a layup and the Bulldogs were once again within four, 32-28.

In the final stanza, it took a mere 1 minute, 23 seconds for Portland to go ahead for good.

Bogdanovich made another layup to start the fourth and Thok made two foul shots to make it a 32-32 game. Harmon then buried a 3-ball and the Bulldogs were up for the first time, 35-32.

Tirabassi scored on a rebound layup for the Rams, but Thok made two more free throws, Longstaff hit one of two foul shots, Bogdanovich fed Stover for a layup, and Harmon went coast to coast for a layup which made it 42-34 Portland with 2:24 to play.

"The second half was the turning point," said Harmon, who transferred to Portland from Bonny Eagle this school year. "We came out soft, but coach's speech at halftime got us going. We came out and jumped on them and they couldn't match our intensity. We made our foul shots and played on defense."

To its credit, Deering made one last push.

An old-fashioned three-point play by Donovan gave the Rams some life. With 54.2 seconds to go, Donovan scored on a finger roll and suddenly it was 42-39. One second later, Longstaff made two free throws for a 44-39 advantage, but eight seconds after that, Abwoch scored on a rebound layup and once again Deering was within three, 44-41.

Passmore was then fouled, but missed both attempts. Bogdanovich grabbed the rebound and attempted to score, but was denied by Donovan. The Rams then had a chance to draw even, but turned the ball over.

"We've been plagued with turnovers," Deering coach Dan LeGage lamented. "We don't really have a true point guard. I won't take anything away from Portland. Their pressure defense did a nice job causing turnovers. I wish we had a magical play not to turn the ball over, but we don't. We had a chance, but couldn't pull away. We couldn't extend the lead past eight or nine points. We got in foul trouble and they made shots."

In the waning seconds, Harmon and Stover both made one free throw and Passmore delivered the coup de grace with two more with 2.4 seconds to play and Portland held on for the 48-41 victory.

"It's typical Bulldog basketball this time of the year, but it's also the Deering-Portland rivalry, which is awesome," Russo said. "You've got to have that. That's what makes basketball fun. We never give up until the horn goes off. That's how we live life. We live to play another game. These kids deserved to go to the Civic Center. I'm happy for them."

"I'm really proud of the guys and the character they showed and the effort they gave me until the final buzzer," LeGage said. "As a coach, all you ask is to give everything you have every night. You can't win every game or every year. We limped along the last half of the season. Turnovers wound up being our Achilles' Heel. We gave the fans a heck of a first game."

Deering was paced by 15 points from Abwoch.

Donovan had nine in his final game in a Rams' uniform.

"He's going to be tough to replace," LeGage said, of his star whom many feared wouldn't play this year because of injury. "Not only is he an outstanding player, but he's an outstanding person. He is a top student. Outstanding in the community. People don't understand the magnitude of the high school career he had. Most kids can't do that. He's led by example. He's a great player and put in so much time and effort. The younger kids know if they want to be a great player, they have to act like him."

Tirabassi added seven, Abbas and Smith had three apiece and Conley and Ramonas both had two.

The Rams will lick their wounds and give it another shot next season.

"Injuries to (Regan) Flaherty and (Parker) Dodd leaving the team hurt us," LeGage said. "Everything happened at one position. We got hammered there and it just killed us. We did what we could. We've set a precedent for the program and expect to challenge every year. We've established ourselves. I told the kids to look at their body of work.

"We had five freshmen on varsity who got a valuable lesson. They got to go through a varsity season even though they didn't play much. Our message to them was to take the offseason to get better. Next year will be a learning year, but in the future, we'll be exciting to watch.

"We get Abwoch, Abbas and Tirabassi back, but we'll be small. There will be a lot of sophomores on the team. There's some talent there. If people stick with us, we'll be fun to watch as the kids develop. People will start hearing names like Dennis Ross, James Ross, Nick Colucci, Jackson Frey and John Hardy. People will talk about how they're really good as they develop."

For Portland, Thok led the way with a dozen points. Bogdanovich and Harmon had eight each.

"(The transition's) been very, very tough," Harmon admitted. "It took awhile, but the team has jelled. They took me in. It's all worked out. I think we can still get better, but we're one of the best teams now."

Longstaff and Stover both wound up with five. Albertie and Passmore had four apiece and Zukowski added two.

"Mike Harmon, the second half of the season, has been playing awesome," Russo said. "He now has a role. We found a spot for him. When he gets the call, he plays. He came into a nice role. Longstaff's a senior, he missed a free throw, but came back and made the biggest one. Kong has really improved. Eddie surveyed the situation a bit, but he asserted himself in the fourth quarter."

The Bulldogs lived to play another day and will take their chances with Cheverus.

Portland lost 68-62 at Cheverus on Dec. 21 and beat the Stags 37-31 at home Feb. 5. The Bulldogs have also eliminated Cheverus from three of the past four postseasons, winning 68-52 in the 2004 Western A Final, 55-44 in the semifinals two seasons ago and 62-44 in last year's regional final.

"Cheverus is a very good team," Russo said. "They pose a different look than Deering. Deering's got a big guy. Cheverus' big guy is on the perimeter. (Portland, Deering and Cheverus) match up with each other. We're all good teams. Unfortunately, we're all matched up on one side of the bracket. This is the year for the other programs to take advantage.

"We're getting better every game. I'm hoping to keep getting better. We can't take a half to get going."

Cheverus soars early, holds off Windham

Sport: Basketball (boys)  Posted: February 16th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Cheverus soars early, holds off Windham
By Michael Hoffer
Special to MBR

PORTLAND- The top-ranked Cheverus Stags came into Friday night's Western Class A quarterfinal round game with upstart No. 9 seed Windham hoping to deliver a quick haymaker.

They would do just that. The more experienced and deeper Stags took command of the game in the second quarter and stretched their lead to as many as 20 points. The Eagles wouldn't quit, however, and fought to the bitter end, cutting Cheverus' final victory margin to 10 points, 50-40.

Cheverus wound up with the top seed for the tournament for the fourth time in six years, but it wasn't easy. After winning their first 14 games (capped by an epic come-from-behind OT win at South Portland), the Stags lost to Thornton Academy and South Portland at home, then fell at Portland, before righting the ship with a victory at Deering to wind up 15-3.

In Friday night's second quarterfinal, Cheverus drew a 10-9 Windham squad which had upset Gorham in the preliminary round. During the regular season, the Stags crushed the Eagles, 82-49 at home Dec. 18, but in the title game of non-countable Maine Mall Holiday Tournament 11 days later, Cheverus only beat Windham 39-35.

The Stags were meeting the Eagles for the second time in three years in the postseason (Cheverus won 52-27 in the quarterfinals two years ago) and didn't waste any time taking control.

Windham opened the scoring when senior Travis Guerrette made a tough angle bankshot, but a layup from sophomore Indiana Faithfull drew the Stags even. After the Eagles took their second and final lead on a layup from sophomore Jon Sangillo, Cheverus junior Ian Barwise made a layup and senior Doug Alston followed with a floater to put the Stags on top to stay. Faithfull then made three of four free throws for a 9-4 lead. After Eagles' junior Ryan MacQuestion made a jumper, Faithfull hit two more foul shots and it was 11-6. Windham sophomore Jackson Taylor hit two free throws of his own with 2:25 to play in the first, but Alston converted a three-point play and junior Peter Foley made a layup for a 16-8 advantage after one quarter.

Barwise opened the second with a layup, junior Mick DiStasio added one of his own, then DiStasio made a free throw to cap a 10-0 run. Sangillo ended the Eagles' 6 minute, 8 second scoring drought with a jump shot. Sangillo and MacQuestion both made one of two free throws to make it a 21-12 contest, but two free throws from Alston, a three-point play from junior Dan Foster and two free throws from Barwise gave Cheverus a 28-12 lead. Taylor stemmed the tide with two foul shots, but senior Chris Hendrix made one of two free throws with 50.8 seconds to go to give the Stags a commanding 29-14 lead at the break.

The lead would stretch to as many as 20 points in the second half, before Cheverus went flat and Windham, to its credit, made things interesting.

Barwise opened the second half scoring with a layup. Faithfull added a jump shot for a 33-14 advantage. After Sangillo sank a 3 for the Eagles, Alston made a jump shot and DiStasio added a layup to make it a 37-17 game. A floater by Windham sophomore Garrett Clemmer was answered by a Faithfull layup. After MacQuestion made two free throws, DiStasio scored on a driving layup for a 41-21 lead. A 3-ball and a pair of free throws from MacQuestion ended the third and got the Eagles back within 15, 41-26, heading for the fourth.

While Windham never got close enough to make Cheverus sweat, Stags' coach Bob Brown was visibly chagrined with his team's lack of a killer instinct and called several timeouts down the stretch.

The fourth started with a free throw by Foley and a rebound layup from Barwise, but Guerette made two free throws and Sangillo made a jump shot. After Alston made a layup and a pair of free throws for a 48-30 lead with 4:25 to play, the Eagles went on a 10-2 run to close things out.

After MacQuestion hit a 3-ball, Barwise made a layup with 3:52 to play for Cheverus' final points. Windham then got a jumper from MacQuestion, a layup from Sangillo on an inbounds pass and finally a 3 from senior Paul Robbins to make the final score 50-40 in favor of the Stags.

"We played well in the first half and didn't play well in the second half," Brown said. "We didn't play together as a team. We got people open in the first half, ran offense, did what we're good at, played as a team."

The Eagles (10-10) were led by 15 from MacQuestion and 12 from Sangillo.

Cheverus was paced by 13 points from Alston, who credited the win at Deering for turning the Stags' season around.

"(That win) was huge," he said. "We wanted to go into the playoffs on an upside and show teams that we could still do it.

"Team basketball is our main goal. We distribute the ball and make sure everyone gets a touch. Windham played hard. It was a tough win. Momentum and team basketball can do things."

Barwise added 12 and Faithfull had 11. DiStasio finished with seven, while Foster and Foley had three apiece and Hendrix added one.

The Stags (now 16-3) face No. 4 Portland (14-5) in the semifinals Wednesday at 7 p.m., at the Civic Center. The teams split during the regular year (a 68-62 win for the Stags at Cheverus on Dec. 21 and a 37-31 triumph for Portland at the Expo Feb. 5).

The Bulldogs have also eliminated Cheverus from three of the past four postseasons, winning 68-52 in the 2004 Western A Final, 55-44 in the semifinals two seasons ago and 62-44 in last year's regional final.

In light of those prior disappointments, rest assured the Stags are quite hungry for revenge.

"They knocked us out the last two years and I went to middle school with a lot of those guys," Alston said. "I want this game more than anything. They're a great team. I think we matchup well. They're physical. We have to physical right back at them. They'll try to intimidate us. We have to take it at them."

"We beat them the first time, they beat us the second," Brown added. "If we play well, we can beat them, if not, they can beat us."

Cape Elizabeth shows why it's No. 1, whips Wells by 37

Sport: Basketball (boys)  Posted: February 16th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

By Michael Hoffer
Special to MBR

PORTLAND- When a team enters the tournament with the top seed, it wants nothing more than to squeeze all hope out the underdog right from the get-go.

Cape Elizabeth did just that Saturday afternoon in a Western Class B quarterfinal. The Capers took a 20-10 lead after one period, a 40-20 advantage after two, a 52-26 lead after three and cruised to an emphatic 72-35 victory over the eighth-ranked Wells Warriors.

The win allowed Cape Elizabeth to advance to the semifinal round where it will meet an inspired Greely Rangers squad, the fourth-seed, Wednesday evening at 8:30 p.m., at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

The Capers won their final 13 games this winter and hit their stride long before senior Shaine Burks rejoined the team. Burks' return made Cape Elizabeth even stronger and deeper and the Capers took their 16-2 record into the Portland Expo to face a Wells squad they had downed twice during the regular year (79-36 at home Jan. 15 and 54-45 on the road 11 days later).

Wells eliminated the Capers in two previous playoff meetings: 59-56 in the 1984 Western B semifinals, and 63-58 in the quarterfinals three years ago, while Cape Elizabeth beat the Warriors 63-49 in the 2003 preliminary round.

This one was over quickly.

Wells did hold the lead twice, 2-0 and 4-3, but three free throws from sophomore Andrew Dickey gave the Capers a 6-4 advantage. After the Warriors drew even on a bank shot from senior Demitrios Gatzogiannis, Cape Elizabeth junior Johnny Messina made a layup, junior Alex Bowe hit a floater, senior Tommy Ray scored on a layup after a steal, then Ray made another layup for a 14-6 lead. Senior Vander Forbes stemmed the tide with a layup, ending an 8-0 run and a 4 minute, 6 second Wells drought, but senior Woody Tabery answered with a layup to make it 16-8. After Gatzogiannis made a bank shot, Tabery ended the quarter with two free throws and a layup to give the Capers a 20-10 bulge.

By the 4:38 mark of the second, Cape Elizabeth's point total read 34, while the Warriors were still stuck on 10.

Burks made an immediate impact by tipping home a missed shot, scoring on a reverse layup, then converting a conventional layup. Ray added a jumper and Burks hit an amazing shot from the baseline, draining it while falling out of bounds.

"We were pretty confident," Burks said. "We knew what to do. We were focused. I like coming off the bench. These guys have worked hard. I feel comfortable coming off the bench."

"(Shaine's) had his best practice this week," added Capers' coach Jim Ray. "He looked ready."

A layup from Bowe and another by Messina capped the surge.

After Gatzogiannis ended the 18-0 run and another long drought (4:47 this time) with a floater, Ray answered with a layup and a 36-12 lead. Gatzogiannis made a foul shot and a layup to make it 36-15, but Ray made another jumper. After Wells got a layup from senior Josh Tufts, Dickey hit a floating shot. A three-point play by Forbes brought the first half to a close with the Capers ahead by 20, 40-20.

"We've been in the No. 8 spot before," coach Ray said. "I told the kids to come out to play to win. I thought our guys responded well. We didn't look by them and came to play. I was very pleased."

Any Wells comeback hopes were quickly dashed in the third.

Capers' senior Ian Place made a layup 43 seconds into the period. After Gatzogiannis answered with a layup, Burks hit a fadeaway jumper, Bowe made a layup, Dickey hit one of two free throws, scored on a layup after a steal and Ray converted a three-point play for a 52-22 advantage. The Warriors got it back to 52-26 at the end of three, but Cape Elizabeth had the game in hand.

The Capers extended their lead as the fourth progressed and fittingly scored the final seven points to put the final touches on the 72-35 win.

"I was pleased with the team's effort," coach Ray said. "Everyone played hard. I was pleased with everybody. To a man, they all looked confident. We had the depth and the ability to put a lot of pressure on. We couldn't afford to let them get comfortable in the half court and go to their big kid."

Cape Elizabeth put 11 players in the scoring column. Tommy Ray led the way with 13. Messina (12 points) and Burks (10) also scored in double figures. Bowe and Dickey had eight points apiece. Tabery finished with six. Sophomore Conor Moloney had five. Junior Andrew Guay added four. Sophomore William Pierce contributed three, junior Sean Anderson finished with two and junior Joe Atkins tallied one.

"I was pleased Tommy took some initiative offensively," coach Ray said. "Johnny Messina hit some 3's. It's easier when a bunch of guys put the ball in the basket."

Wells (8-12) was led by 15 from Gatzogiannis. Tufts finished with 10.

Cape Elizabeth will meet a confident Greely team in the semifinals. One that is flying high after coming from 10 points down to shock Falmouth on a 3-pointer from Erik Thayer at the horn.

During the regular season, the rivals split, with each winning on the other's floor (the Rangers taking a 60-46 decision Dec. 13 and the Capers returning the favor 75-71 in double-OT Feb. .

Greely has won three of four previous playoff matchups. The most recent was a 50-37 triumph in the 2003 quarterfinals. The Rangers also eliminated Cape Elizabeth in 1992 (64-50 in the semifinals) and 1998 (62-49 in the semis). The Capers' lone postseason win over Greely came in the 1984 quarterfinals (61-55).

Cape Elizabeth is certainly wary.

"They're coming off an emotional high," coach Ray said, of the Rangers. "They've got players at every position."

The Capers are also confident.

"We're ready for Greely," Burks said. "It was close last time. Hopefully this time won't be as close. We have momentum now with 14 straight."

The survivor gets the winner of the other Western B semi, Freeport-Yarmouth, in the Western B Final Saturday at 3:45 p.m. That game is also at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

The Class B Final is Friday, Feb. 29 at the Bangor Auditorium.

Reed, Greenlaw step down from MA baseball, football posts

Sport: Football  Posted: February 12th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Reed, Greenlaw step down from MA baseball, football posts
By Ernie Clark
Wednesday, March 12, 2008 - Bangor Daily News

LINCOLN, Maine - The coaching staff at Mattanawcook Academy will sport a different look beginning this spring with the retirements of two veteran coaches from the system.

Greg Reed, the Lynx’s varsity baseball coach for the last 28 years, has decided not to return to that post this spring. He’ll be replaced by former Lee Academy coach Dave Hainer.

And Art Greenlaw, head football coach at MA for the last three years after an earlier 18-year stint at Stearns of Millinocket, also has decided to step down. No replacement has yet been named to fill that vacancy, according to Mattanawcook Academy athletic administrator Rick Sinclair.

Reed, who retired from a 33-year career as an English teacher at Mattanawcook last June, had planned to return as the school’s baseball coach until recently.

He now works in an academic support capacity for postgraduate students at Lee Academy and cited the fact that he wasn’t at MA during the day and during the offseason as making it more difficult to develop and maintain relationships with his players.

"It just makes things a lot harder when you’re not in the school," said Reed, who also was a longtime golf and basketball coach at Mattanawcook.

In addition, Reed began to grow weary of the travel required of the job.

"Since we’ve been reclassified [to Class B], with some of the travel it gets to be a lot of time involved," said Reed.

Reed also acknowledged the changing complexities of coaching since he began guiding the Lynx on the diamond as varsity coach in 1979.

"It’s very different," said the 57-year-old Reed. "Not to say it’s good or bad, but it’s hard for someone from my generation to be in coaching these days."

Reed’s baseball coaching tenure at Mattanawcook was highlighted by two regional championships, an Eastern Maine Class B title in 1991 and an Eastern C crown in 2001.

Hainer was a sophomore second baseman and No. 2 hitter in the Mattanawcook Academy lineup on that 1991 championship team, and he’ll return to his hometown school’s baseball program after three seasons at neighboring Lee.

"I had a great experience at Lee," said Hainer, who guided the Pandas to a 38-18 record and the 2006 Class D state championship. "I have nothing but great things to say about the whole community. They really get behind their teams, they’re very supportive."

Hainer already works in the Lincoln school system as SAD 67’s health coordinator, and he also serves as an assistant football coach at MA.

"I wasn’t looking to leave Lee, and I probably wouldn’t have taken another job, but this was the opportunity to coach my alma mater," he said.

The Mattanawcook baseball team finished with an 8-8 regular-season record last spring, and Hainer hopes the Lynx’s returning pitching depth will be the catalyst for a solid 2008 campaign.

"I think we’ve got some talent," he said. "But I think we’ve also got a very tough schedule."

Greenlaw guided the Mattanawcook football team to a 23-9 record and three postseason appearances as varsity coach after coming out of retirement as an assistant with the Lynx in 2004 under former head coach Mike Bisson.

"I still have a love for the game and a passion for coaching," said Greenlaw, a retired educator who lives in Millinocket. "But I really feel the program needs somebody who’s in the [school] building for more hours during the off-season than I can give."

That’s of particular importance, he said, in order to develop a training regimen during the winter and spring months that is pivotal to success in the fall.

"The easy part is from mid-August to whenever the season ends in November," said Greenlaw.

Mattanawcook advanced to the Eastern Maine Class C championship game under Greenlaw in both 2005 and 2006 and qualified for the regional semifinals last fall before dropping a 15-14 decision to John Bapst of Bangor.

Greenlaw was the head coach at Stearns from 1976 to 1990 and from 1995 to 1997. He guided the Minutemen to a 111-59-5 record, with state championships in 1982, 1984, 1987 and 1995 and LTC titles in 1982, 1984, 1986, 1987 and 1995.

A former president of the Maine Principals’ Association, Greenlaw continues to serve as a part-time consultant to the University of Maine’s Sports Done Right initiative.

Assabet's Ware finds mix of grace, power

Sport:   Posted: February 10th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Assabet's Ware finds mix of grace, power

By Brendan Hall  |  February 10, 2008

S he is a star at a Division 3 vocational high school, not the perfect setting for generating any extra exposure. Samantha Ware has also not helped her profile in deciding against playing for an AAU basketball team.

Ware has propelled Assabet Valley Regional to a 14-2 mark this season, yet none of the area polls will bite hard on the Aztecs. And, with no disrespect to the Colonial Athletic League, she hasn't faced some of the area's premier high school competition.

But the Westborough resident does have this going for her - high praise from a New England basketball legend.

The past two summers, Ware attended the basketball school run by 1950s Holy Cross star Togo Palazzi at Assabet's outdoor courts in Marlborough. There, she has been put to the test against some top-flight players from across the region.

Palazzi, the Boston Celtics' No. 1 pick in 1954 and coach of the Holy Cross women in the 1980s, reports being impressed with Ware's maturity.

"You could see she was a player, very determined, extremely agile, just the way she walked on the floor, the way she played," said the Southborough resident. "She's aggressive. She has all the things a player needs."

Swinging between the guard and forward spots, the 5-foot-9-inch Ware indeed puts on a show when the Aztecs hit the floor. Averaging 15 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals per game, she has proven adept at any spot one through four - whether it's driving, dishing, boxing out, or running the break.

"She's such a raw talent. She's the most talented player I've coached," says Assabet Valley's coach, Frank Ferreer, whose coaching resume spans more than 20 years and includes stops at Ayer, Windsor, and Trinity Catholic.

But it's the style with which the cocaptain performs - graceful yet aggressive - that makes her game stand out. Her passes are two-handed lasers, her drives to the hole are glides.

Ware says it was formed in middle school, where she played for coach Jim Favorito on his travel squad, the Starz. She rounded out a starting five that also featured Westborough High stars Annette Kristiansen, Danielle Coffey, Emily Mongeau, and Laura Keaney.

"I don't know about other players, but when somebody's yelling at me, it pushes me to do a lot better," Ware said. "If I'm not pushing my hardest, he's yelling at me. So I'd always have that in the back of my head."

The intensity rubs off on her teammates - most notably cocaptain and forward Brittany Hisman, junior forward Jackie Perry, senior guard Lauren Ente, and freshman forward Vanessa Joubert - and anchors a stiff defense that is allowing just 27 points per game.

Operating primarily out of a 1-3-1 press and sometimes stretching it across three-quarters of the court, the Aztecs look to trap often. Hosting Hudson Catholic on Tuesday night, they held the Green Wave to a school-record 2 points in the first half en route to a 49-17 win.

But Ware, who considers Division 3 Clark University her top choice, doesn't think she is lacking attention. In fact, she says she's comfortable in this setting.

"I just try playing my best, and people recognize that," she said.

Would she be able to run with some of the big-time programs? Ferreer thinks she'd be a starter on any Division 1 program in Central Massachusetts.

Palazzi concurs.

"I'd recruit her," he said.

Wellesley girls earn wins in practice
The way Wellesley High girls' basketball coach Kristin Cieri sees it, tournament basketball is faster, more physical, and more intense. So she is careful in choosing her five-on-five combinations.

What it has yielded is an atmosphere in practice where players are not afraid to go at their teammates and expose weaknesses, and it has paid off immensely. After needing a big late-season surge to qualify for the tournament last season, the Raiders, at 11-3, are already in, while allowing just 37 points per game.

The Raiders have received solid performances from junior forward Jesse Miller (with team-high averages of 10.8 points and 8 rebounds), junior forward Corlee Stone, senior forward Lanaeya Spencer, and senior center Lyndsey Sydness, who is notching 2.5 blocks per game with the help of a wingspan (6 feet 2 inches) an inch longer than her height. They all bring different skills to the table, but Miller has been the X-factor.

"She's definitely taken her game to another level," Cieri said.

Meanwhile, the backcourt has received upbeat play from sophomore Mary Louise Dixon (4 assists, 4 steals) and freshman Blake Dietrick (4 assists).

"It's obvious they love basketball. You can see it in their faces when they play," Cieri says of the two guards. "They love to push the ball, they love to attack on the fast break. They're not afraid to shoot, but they certainly will pass the ball."

The Raiders are on a five-game win streak since falling to Walpole, 54-50, on Jan. 18.

He makes Lynnfield run

Sport:   Posted: February 10th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

He makes Lynnfield run
Kennedy's scoring ability matched only by his intensity

By Julian Benbow  |  February 10, 2008

In his three years as the boys' basketball coach at Lynnfield High, Scott MacKenzie has developed at least three ways to yell at Mike Kennedy from the sideline.

He will call a zone defense, then watch Kennedy leave his assignment to pressure whoever has the ball in the backcourt.

That one usually gets the somewhat loud, partially baffled, why'd-I even-draw-it-up "Mikey!?!"

Kennedy will try to thread the needle on a no-look pass that ends up being a turnover and two points the other way.

That usually gets the part frustrated, mostly disappointed, Mr. Wilson-to-Dennis Mitchell "Mikey!!!"

Then, MacKenzie will watch as Kennedy runs through screens, locks up his man on one end, forces turnovers, hits a couple of threes in the corner at the other end, buzzes a few no-look passes by his defenders' earlobes, hooks up teammates for easy layups and open jumpers, and pulls the Pioneers back into a game.

That one usually gets the hands-in-the-air, how-did-he do-it, thanks-for-making-me-look-good "MIKEY!!!"

Sometimes MacKenzie will have to scrap everything he drew up on his clipboard just because of Mike Kennedy's intensity. But usually, he says, it's worth it.

"The hardest thing about coaching him is giving up control," he said.

"You have to give up control to let him be him. He oftentimes plays without any rhyme or reason, and you have to let him go - and I'm a control freak, so it's not easy."

It's like having a race car with no steering wheel.

"Michael goes 100 miles an hour all the time and he doesn't know anything else," MacKenzie said. "It's all or nothing. I've never met a kid with a stronger will to win than him."

Kennedy already owns Lynnfield's soccer scoring records. And after a 43-point explosion against Masconomet last Tuesday, in which he scored 30 second-half points in leading the Pioneers back from a 23-point halftime hole, he was within four points of becoming the school's all-time scoring leader on the hardwood. He is leading the Cape Ann League at 26.5 points per game, along with 5.6 assists and 4.1 steals.

But, cliche notwithstanding, he's all about winning. And after winning just 12 games the past two years, that win over the Chieftains pushed Lynnfield to 10-7, clinching the program's first state tournament berth since 2001, when the Pioneers won the Cape Ann League crown.

"Making the tournament is unbelievable," Kennedy said. "Everyone took Lynnfield basketball as a joke, like it's an easy win. But we can play with anybody."

More than anything, that's what drives Kennedy. He loves competing and hates losing.

"When we don't win, he's just a miserable man to be around," MacKenzie said. "It's not about him. It's about the 'W.' "

"I'm the worst loser in the world," Kennedy said. "I hate it. I can never lose. Some weeks just stink because you're thinking about it the whole time.

Weeks?

"Yeah, the whole week," he said. "You're thinking about it the whole week."

It's his disgust for losing and lust for competition that almost bring him to blows during practice with cocaptain Patrick Lamusta, someone Kennedy looks to as almost a brother.

"Mike's a competitor," Lamusta said. "But I wouldn't want anyone else on the team with me, because he wants the ball, he wants to score, he wants to win."

The logic is that if he's intense and somebody else is intense, then it will spread.

"Once one or two guys pick it up, everybody gets going," Kennedy said. "If one or two guys settle down, then everybody thinks it's OK to settle down. So it takes those one or two guys to get it going."

Everett's Johnson has Tide rising
The Everett boys host Cambridge Ringe and Latin Tuesday in the season finale against the team that handed the Crimson Tide its only loss, Greater Boston League or otherwise.

The difference, besides the location, is the personnel.

After sitting out the first 10 games of the season to focus on his academics, Isaac Johnson returned to take over point guard duties for the Crimson Tide.

"We waited to the end of the quarter for grades," head coach John DiBiaso said of Johnson, who is headed to Boston College to play football next fall.

The 5-foot-11-inch point guard has averaged 11 points a game in his return, but DiBiaso said his biggest impact has come on the boards and with ball distribution.

Johnson is also averaging close to double digits in rebounds and assists.

With an 80-53 win over Waltham Tuesday, Everett moved to 6-0 with Johnson in the lineup, beating teams by an average of 21 points.

And even though Johnson's presence sends a starter to the bench, DiBiaso said, "all the kids on the team wanted him back."

The game carries a little less weight since Rindge and Latin suffered a 63-58 overtime loss to Somerville. Everett (16-1, 8-1 GBL) now has a comfortable lead over Rindge and Latin (12-4, 7-3) in the GBL, with the league title all but wrapped up.

Norwell relies on chemistry, knowledge to get the job done

Sport:   Posted: February 10th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

With patience comes victory
Norwell relies on chemistry, knowledge to get the job done

By Monique Walker  |  February 10, 2008

Norwell High players (from left) Michael Genatossio, James Long, and Tom Quinn. Norwell is 14-0, but players say they aren't looking to go undefeated. Norwell High players (from left) Michael Genatossio, James Long, and Tom Quinn. Norwell is 14-0, but players say they aren't looking to go undefeated. (Robert E. Klein for The Boston Globe)

Thirty minutes remained in practice last week for the Norwell High boys' basketball team, and head coach John Willis was eagerly running through half-court drills.

Willis interrupted more than once when the play was not executed to his satisfaction. Again and again the Clippers threw passes from player to player, like they were playing hot potato. Finally, an open shot appeared and the play was complete.

For Willis, this is what his team does best. Norwell is not likely to be the team sprinting down the court to take the quick shot. They are patient and deliberate.

"I don't think we're a particularly flashy team, but we're solid," said Willis, now in his 14th season.

The method works. Norwell started the week 14-0 and had earned at least a share of the South Shore League.

"We're an old-fashioned 'slow it down' kind of team," Norwell senior forward James Long said. "We don't have the big 6-9 kid that can dunk. We have good team offense and good team defense."

The teamwork is effective in a squad filled with seniors, many of whom have grown up together. The chemistry and their basketball knowledge have allowed Willis to throw in an array of plays. Senior guard Michael Genatossio said the team's success starts with a strong defense.

The Clippers' scoring is spread among Long (averaging 16 points and 12 rebounds per game), and forwards Cam Evans and Tom Finkenstadt, who each average 12 points a game. Senior Tom Quinn is back in the lineup after breaking his leg during football season.

Genatossio is contributing quite a bit more on offense this season. Last season, he shot 17 percent from the free throw line and averaged 1 point per game. During the summer he improved his mechanics and is now shooting 80 percent from the charity stripe while averaging 9 points per game.

Brandon Wooten is a solid contributor off the bench, and there are others who make Norwell better by the way they practice, Long said. "We have younger guys who know they might not play and they come out and bust their butt every day."

The Clippers may have carried an undefeated record into last week, but that is not their focus. "We're not looking to go undefeated," Long said. "As we saw [during the Super Bowl], being undefeated doesn't really mean anything."

Winning Walpole finds 10 is enough
The Walpole girls' basketball team is 10 players strong, and coach Stacy Bilodeau said that is the perfect number for her team this year. The Rebels, packed with juniors and seniors and one sophomore, was 14-1 through 15 games, including a 13-1 mark in the Bay State Conference's Herget Division.

The last time Walpole carried this fine a record this deep into the season, in 2004, the Rebels captured the Division 2 title, in Bilodeau's second year as head coach.

Bilodeau utilizes at least eight players in every game, and there have been at least four games in which 10 players have scored. Multiple players have scored in double figures in five games.

"I knew we would compete and be a pretty good team, but we've definitely surpassed where I thought we would be at this point," said Bilodeau.

Ten players may seem like a small team, but Bilodeau said her focus is quality. If a player needs time to develop, she would rather see her learning from game situations at the junior varsity level.

Bilodeau said the 10 players can start at any time based on matching up with an opposing team's size or quickness. "I try to rotate everyone around and give everybody a chance," she said.

The program is rich in tradition. Bilodeau was a member of the 1994 state championship team under Sue Brainard and returned to the area after starring in goal for the James Madison women's soccer team. She was an assistant and later took over the program in 2002-2003 season.

Walpole has won three of the last four Herget Division titles.

The Rebels have been led by senior forward Caroline Stedman and junior guard Sydni Salvatore, who both are averaging 14 points per game. Stedman also chips in an average of 5 steals and Salvatore picks up an average of 4 assists. Junior guard/post Michaela Cosby adds an additional average of 10 points and 6 rebounds a game.

Senior forward Courtney Gouthro has improved her rebounding and often defends the opposing team's strongest post player. Junior guard Lauren Baryski also has moved in and showed her ability to shoot outside and guard.

Silver Lake pushes toward excellence
After the Silver Lake girls' basketball team defeated then-unbeaten Rockland earlier this season, a player asked Laker coach Dick Steele, "Are we good yet, coach?"

Steele replied, "No, not yet."

Steele's answer was meant to inspire his squad to look for ways to be better, win or lose. His team has heard the message; and after every game, the Lakers and Steele have the same question and answer routine, but Steele said the time will come when he can answer "Yes."

Silver Lake is 13-2 and 7-1 in the Patriot League, the best record the program has had at this point in the season since 1988, when the Lakers ended the regular season 18-2 and lost in the South semifinals. It was Steele's second season as head coach.

Silver Lake has made the state tournament in 15 of the past 20 years. But this season, wins like the victory against Rockland helped establish the team as a competitor, Steele said. "That game showed that we belong where we are."

Silver Lake has been led by captains Samantha Ford and Allison Mulvey, who averages 11.8 points a game. The senior guards are providing leadership that the Lakers will need down the stretch.

Steele said the team misses Christine Waterhouse, a senior guard who tore her anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee just one season after working her way back from a torn ACL in her right knee. But players have picked up in her absence.

The Lakers do not have one dominant player, but several who are contributing. Senior forward Chelsea Shaughnessy is a key returner, and freshman Nicole Conboy is averaging 9 points a game.

Senior guard Taylor Massmann is showing her ability to hit the 3-point shot along with Talia DeChaira, who had 20 points in a win against Hingham.

Mismatched pair leads the Billerica High girls

Sport:   Posted: February 10th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Long and short of it
Mismatched pair leads the Billerica High girls

By Sapna Pathak  |  February 10, 2008

Billerica's Brittney McGinness looks for a way around two Central Catholic defenders.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Billerica's Brittney McGinness looks for a way around two Central Catholic defenders. (David Kamerman/Globe Staff)



Their physical makeup and on-the-court personalities are quite different. So, too, have been their high school basketball careers.

But Brittney McGinness and Marisa Dellanno have both developed into pivotal players for the Billerica High girls' basketball team, and now they will have an opportunity to play at the next level.

"They've both come a long way," said Billerica head coach Mike McCarthy, whose team dropped to 9-7 with a 52-35 loss to Central Catholic Tuesday night. "We have five seniors in the starting lineup, and those two are integral parts of our game plans. Brittney has turned into one of this year's best offensive players in the league, and she's getting attention from colleges. Marisa is a great story who had a lot of people doubting her, but she's garnering college interest too."

A 5-foot-9-inch power forward, McGinness is the leader of the attack and entered the matchup against Central Catholic ranked second in the Merrimack Valley Conference Large in scoring, her 15.4 points per game trailing only Lowell senior Ashley Rivera. A two-year varsity player and first-year starter, McGinness netted 19 points in her first matchup against Lowell and poured in 21 against Central Catholic in early January. Her best output was a 28-point effort against Notre Dame of Hingham.

"I knew I was going to be a starter this year because last year I was backing up a senior," said McGinness. "So I developed my shots with my dad. We worked on my hook shot, I'm always using that one, my foul shooting is much better, and my elbow jumper has developed. I had no idea I'd have this kind of season and be getting attention from colleges."

Dellanno, a 5-foot senior captain who starts at the point, is McCarthy's floor leader.

"She's usually the smallest girl on the floor," said McCarthy. "She's an exaggerated 5 feet tall, and most people thought schools wouldn't look at her because of the height. She is a steal-and-assist machine and a great leader out there. It's great she's got a chance to play next year."

Joining McGinness and Dellanno in the starting five are forward Rachel Herbert, a senior captain, and center Jamie Jacobs. Senior guard Selina Collins is a 5-6 defensive stalwart usually given the task of guarding the opposition's best player.

With one win needed to clinch a playoff berth, McCarthy said the task was easier said than done. After playing conference leader Lowell on Friday night, Billerica's rugged schedule continues this week with a matchup against Andover, second behind Lowell in the MVC standings, and two nonleague games.

"We were one game out of the playoffs last year," said McCarthy of the 10-11 finish in 2007.

"We only need one more win, but it'll be hard. But if they're going to be confident about their abilities, I sure am glad it's come right now. The girls have really matured and improved this season, all of them really."

Wildcats reverse a slow start
It was a night that was special for both the boys' and girls' basketball teams at Wilmington High, and it became the Amy and Zach Fahey show.

While her brother, Zach, dropped in a season-high 32 points to help the Wildcat boys' team clinch a playoff berth, sophomore Amy was busy pouring in 31 points put the girls' team into the postseason.

Amy led the Lady Wildcats to a win over Manchester on Jan. 25, securing the team's third playoff appearance in as many years. Under third-year head coach Jay Keane, Wilmington is trying to improve on the finish of last year's 20-4 team, which reached the Division 3 North finals at Tsongas Arena.

It was the best finish in program history. More important, Keane has no hesitations about his girls' ability to have an even better finish.

"It was an outstanding year [2007], but it's nice to have new faces mix with some of the veterans," said Keane, who has led Wilmington to an 11-5 overall record so far. "We have three seniors who start, one junior, and Amy, who brings a lot as our youngest starter."

Fahey (14.5 points per game) is fifth in scoring in the Cape Ann League, but the team's balanced scoring has been a key ingredient in reversing a 2-4 start with a 9-1 run, including a seven-game winning streak.

Senior captains Stephanie Sauve and Alyssa Brown, starters since their sophomore years, provide experience. Junior guard Kristin Brown and senior forward Lauren Hitchins round out Keane's starting five. Sophomore Jessica Stukey and forward Stephanie Woods help anchor the Wildcats' defense.

"It's a really good mix," said Keane. "Everyone has the opportunity to score. They're very unselfish and not concerned with who has a big night. It can be any given night that's a good night for one person, as long as we get the win."

WIZ Words: Up Next The Big Dance (Plus WIZ Top 10 Teams- Week # 10)

Sport: Basketball (boys)  Posted: February 10th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

http://www.mbrbasketball.com/images/wordsfromthewiztitle.gif
    
WIZ Words: Up Next The Big Dance (Plus WIZ Top 10 Teams- Week # 10)
By The wIZ
02/10/08

Wow! What a week! The trip down
Tabasco Road was unbelievable. What a finish! So many big games, so many exciting finishes. "The Big Dance" starts this coming Friday night but before we get to the "Big Dance" some teams have to play in "The Little Dance" which is the prelim games. If they win their prelim game then and only then they get invited to the "Big Dance". This years Tournament is going to be very wacky and very wild!

In Class A the Bangor Rams remains undefeated and remains the favorite for Eastern Class A. Edward Little may be the only team in the East that may have a shot at the Rams. Hamden, Cony, Mt. Blue and the rest are considered very long shots, but who knows this is why we play the games. When the tourney starts it's a brand new season baby!

Over in Western Class A what a finish! South Portland is the hottest team right now as they beat Deering and Portland this past week after knocking off Cheverus the week before. Thornton loses their last game of regular season play to Scarborough. Portland is coming on strong and peaking at the right time as we get ready to head to "The Big Dance". The Bulldogs Beat Cheverus and Deering this past week and dropped their last game to the Red Hot Red Riots in maybe the best game of the year so far. But this baby is wide open folks! There are about 6 teams that could steal the whole show.

In Class B Maranacook in the East finished a perfect season at 18-0. The Black Bears did lose in the KVAC Championship to Camden in a game that doesn't count but that just sets the stage for an exciting tournament in Eastern Class B where anyone of 5 teams could come out on top. This will be fun as The WIZ believes this will come down to Maranacook and Camden in the final game for the East but Presque Isle Caribou and Mattanacook may have something to say about that before it's all over.

In B West the Capers of Cape Elizabeth take the top spot heading into "The Big Dance". What a year for Coach Jimmy Ray and the Capers. Cape the hottest team in the West are the favorite heading into the tournament but there are 5 teams that could pull it off. Yarmouth, Mountain Valley, Greely, Falmouth or Freeport could possibly take the whole show!

In Class C East the Blue Devils of Calais finish out the season with another perfect record of 16-0 to continue their winning streak which now is 60 straight wins. Wow! Calais is the clear-cut favorite to come out of the East but Lee Academy or Schenck could look to pull the upset and steal the whole show.

In Western Class C the Dirigo Cougars just edge out the Ramblers from Winthrop for the top spot. This tournament is going to be a "Dog Fight" between the top 4 teams. Dirigo, Winthrop, Traip and Boothbay will battle it out to see who will represent the West for the Gold Ball game.

In Class D East the Panthers of Central Aroostook take the top spot with a perfect record of 18-0. The Mariners from Deer Isle will be the top threat to steal it all and Easton, Woodland and possibly Ashland will look to pull the surprise but I think the Panthers will take the East.

In Western Class D the Bobcats of Richmond take the top honors with a record of 15-1. The Bobcats are the clear-cut favorite here but Valley, Forest Hills, Elan, Seacost Christian and Rangeley are all long shots but all look to pull off the upset.

Broadcast Games:

MBR will be broadcasting all the games from the Expo and the CCCC. MBR will also be streamlining all the tournament games throughout the state. So check the site to listen to your favorite team. MBR kicking it up another notch!

Link to playoff brackets:

http://www.mpa.cc/pdf/basketballboysladders.pdf

Link to tournament schedules:

http://www.mpa.cc/tourneyinfo.html#Basketball

Undefeated Teams:

This week the undefeated teams stay at 4 with all 4 teams finishing the regular season with a perfect record.

Bangor----------18-0

Maranacook----18-0

Calais-----------16-0 (60 straight)

C. Aroostook---18-0

As we head into this weeks WIZ Top 10 teams there are a few changes as I have said in the past you have to figure in strength of schedule but also you have to figure in at this time of year which teams are hot heading into the tournament. Thornton loses to Scarborough they drop from # 2 to # 4. Maranacook finishes at 18-0 and they move up to # 2. South Portland is Red Hot with their big wins over Deering and Portland they move up to # 3. Camden, Calais and Cape all win and stay at 5, 6, and 7. Cheverus another loss but they bounces back to beat Deering by 18pts. stays at # 8. Edward Little stays at # 9 and Dirigo and Winthrop are tied at # 10. Presque Isle and Yarmouth both had a loss and drop from that tie spot at # 10 for now.

WIZ Top 10 Teams- Week # 10:

1.Bangor--------18-0 The Rams complete the perfect season at 18-0! Congrats Roger and the boys! Crushed Brewer 54-35! Totally annihilate Mt. Blue 81-48! Can anyone touch this team! Rams are the favorite! Can they do it! Up next! The Big Dance! They will play Saturday Night! 9:30pm! At the ACC! Against the winner of Brunswick/Skowhegan prelim game.

2.Maranacook---18-0 Black Bears stay perfect! 18-0 Baby! They beat Gardiner 73-50! Crushed Waterville 76-34! Then Mr. Martin throws in 56 big ones! They destroy Oak Hill 97-60! Wow! Impressive! Lost KVAC Championship game to Camden! But the game don't count! Up next The Big Dance! Black Bears will take on the winner of Rockland/Gardiner! At the Bangor Auditorium! Saturday Morning! 11:05am! Wowzer! 19-0 Baby!

3.South Portland---14-4 Red Riots Red Hot! Two huge wins! Beat the Rams of Deering 45-42! Beat the Bulldogs of Portland! In a thriller! 67-57! Congrats to Coach Conley! What a season for the Riots! Up next! The Big Dance! At the Expo! They will take on the prelim winner of Scarborough/Biddeford game! 7:30pm!Saturday night!

4.Thornton--------16-2 Golden Trojans! What a year! Beat Kennebunk 46-37! Slip to Scarborough 47-40! Might be good though! Fire up this team! Coach Davies will have them ready! Up next! The Big Dance! They will meet the winner of Westbrook/Bonny Eagle game! Saturday night! 9:00pm! At the Expo!

5.Camden Hills---17-1 The Jammers crushed Lincoln 82-43! Crushed Rockland 86-53! 17-1 Baby! Beat Maranacook in KVAC Championship fun game! But it don't count! Up next for the Windjammers! The Little Dance! Prelim game! Tuesday night! At Camden! Take on the Hawks from Hermon! Then off to Bangor Audi! The Big Dance! To take on the winner of Old Town/Bapst game! Friday afternoon! 3:05pm!

6.Calais------16-0 Blue Devils do it! Another perfect season! 16-0! Baby! The streak continues! 60-0! Wowzer! How long will it last! Beat Houlton 65-54! Crushed Machias 80-55! Can they do it! Up Next! The week off! Then the Big Dance! Tuesday 2/19! At the Audi! Take on the Washington Acad./Dexter winner! Could be a good one! But it looks like 61-0 Baby!

7.Cape Elizabeth---16-2 Capers are Red Hot! Beat a good Yarmouth team! 55-46! Takes Greely to two overtimes! But they win! 75-71 Burks is back! Cape is fired-up! # 1 in the West! Up next! The Big Dance! Off to the Expo! Saturday afternoon! 4:45pm! Take on the winner of Wells/Oak Hill game. Cape moves to 17-2 Baby!

8.Cheverus-------15-3 Stags lose their 3rd straight! Lose to Portland 36-31! A great defensive game! Stags Re-Group! Stags Re-Fire! Stags crush Deering! 66-48! Stags Back-On-Track! Stags grab the # 1 Seed! Can They-Go-All-The-Way! Up Next! The Big Dance! Stags take on the winner of Gorham/Windham prelim game! Expo! Friday night! 8:30pm!

9.Edward Little---14-4 Eddies finish strong! Annihilate Leavitt 73-32! Crush Lewiston 76-56! Coach Adams will have the Eddies ready! Can they steal the whole show! Up next! The Big Dance! At the ACC! Take on the winner of Messalonskee/Morse prelim game! At 5:30pm! Saturday! Looks like the Eddies move to 15-4!

!0. Two-way tie!

10.Dirigo---------17-1 Great year for these Cougars! One game this past week! Showed Mt. Abram who is # 1! 69-20! Wow! How far will the Cougars go! Congrats Coach Kane! Great year! Up next! The week off! Then it's off to the ACC! Tuesday 2/19! 8:35pm! Take on the winner of NYA/Wiscasset prelim game!

10.Winthrop------17-1 Ramblers had 3 games this past week! Crushed Madison 79-40! Crushed Carrabec 85-43! And Blows out Telstar 84-48! Draws a bye! Gets the week off! Then it's off to the ACC! On Tuesday 2/19! 11:05am! Take on the winner of Hyde/St. Doms prelim game! Can the Ramblers do it! Can they Go-All-The-Way! We shall see!

Teams Knockimg on the Door:

Portland-------13-5

Traip-----------15-1

Caribou--------16-2

Boothbay------16-2

C.Aroostook---18-0

Presque Isle---15-3

Yarmouth------15-3

Mtn. Valley----15-3

Mattanawcook-14-4

Richmond------15-1

Til' Next Week: Hang on Tight! This ride to the Gold is going to be Wild!

Good luck to all teams!

The WIZ

Red Riots roar in second half, down Portland in finale

Sport: Basketball (boys)  Posted: February 9th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Red Riots roar in second half, down Portland in finale
By Michael Hoffer
Special to MBR
02/09/08

SOUTH PORTLAND- The 2007-08 Southern Maine Activities Association boys' basketball regular season came to an end Friday evening and very little went as planned.

While top-ranked Thornton Academy was shocked at home by Scarborough, arguably the two hottest teams in recent weeks did battle at historic Beal Gym.

The Portland Bulldogs made the trip to South Portland full of confidence after winning nine of their 10 games, including a 15-point home victory over the Red Riots a little over a week ago.

South Portland, meanwhile, had won at Cheverus and Deering in recent days and hoped to complete the city trifecta and lock up the No. 3 seed for the upcoming tournament.

Mission accomplished.

The Red Riots dug an early hole, but took the lead for good with an 11-2 run early in the third period, then held on down the stretch for a 67-57 win over a Portland team which let its emotions get the better of it.

For the hosts, it was just another positive step in what has been a magical season to date.

"Our kids played great tonight, both offensively and defensively," said South Portland's first-year coach Phil Conley, who has to be on anyone's short list for consideration as Coach of the Year. "I thought we did a great job tonight against a great team and a well-coached team. It's a big win for our program. These kids have improved throughout the year. I'm happy for the guys."

It's been 11 years since a Red Riots' squad has won more than 13 games in a regular season, but South Portland had a shot to win its 14th game Friday night against a Portland team, which true to form, had come together in ideal fashion the latter part of the season.

Early on, the visitors looked good.

Just 26 seconds into the contest, senior Anthony Passmore converted a three-point play for a 3-0 lead. After the Red Riots answered on a jumper from sophomore standout Keegan Hyland (the first two of his many points on the night), Bulldogs' sophomore Wally Stover scored on a rebound putback. On five other occasions, South Portland would get within a point, but each time Portland answered to stay on top. Leading 13-12 late in the first, Stover scored on a leaner and junior Ed Bogdanovich (the former Red Riot) made a jumper for a 17-12 lead. As time expired, however, the hosts got some momentum when Passmore fouled Hyland on a 3-point attempt and the sophomore made all three attempts, cutting the deficit to two, 17-15.

Forty-six seconds into the second period, senior Will Furbush took a pass from sophomore Matt Lee and made a backdoor layup to tie the game. Fifty-five seconds later, senior Nick Wright took a pass from Furbush and scored on a layup of his own for the Red Riots first and only lead of the first half, 19-17.

The Bulldogs answered and tied the game on a short jumper from senior Mike Harmon. A jumper from senior Jake Longstaff put Portland back on top, 21-19. After sophomore Koang Thok made two foul shots for the Bulldogs, South Portland senior Josh Mackie buried a 3. Portland sophomore Joe Zukowski responded with a 3-pointer of his own and Bogdanovich followed with a layup for a 28-22 lead.

Furbush went coast-to-coast for the hosts and made a layup, but Thok made two free throws and Harmon hit a jumper for a 32-24 lead, but with 6.1 seconds to go in the first half, Hyland made a jumper and it was a 32-26 lead for Portland at the break.

The Red Riots then came out and made noise in the third period, taking the lead for good.

Hyland hit a jumper and Wright made a layup to cut the Bulldogs' lead to just two, 32-30, but Longstaff answered with two free throws.

With 5:31 to play in the third, Hyland made a layup. Twelve seconds later, the whole complexion of the game changed when Furbush went in for a layup and was fouled by Passmore. Not only did Hyland earn a free throw, but a technical on Passmore turned momentum even further in South Portland's favor.

After Furbush completed the three-point play to put his team on top for good, Lee made both technical free throws. The Red Riots kept possession and culminated a seven-point sequence when Hyland made a layup. Furbush then extended the run to 11-0 with a layup after a steal for a 41-34 lead.

The Bulldogs stopped the run with a 3-pointer from Harmon, but Furbush followed with a pair of free throws for a 43-37 advantage. After Bogdanovich scored on a rebound layup for the visitors, Hyland made another jumper. Senior Dewayne Albertie made a layup for Portland, but after Stover was called for a technical, Furbush made one of two free throws and sophomore Connor Hasson capped South Portland's sensational quarter with a layup for a 48-41 lead.

Early in the fourth, the Bulldogs got back within three on back-to-back layups from Thok. After a Red Riots' timeout, Hyland made a jumper for a 50-45 lead, but Bogdanovich answered with a rebound layup and it was a 50-47 game with 5:47 to play.

After South Portland went back up five on a pair of free throws from Hyland, Bogdanovich made yet another rebound layup. Furbush answered with two free throws after a steal, but Stover made a jumper and it was a 54-51 game with 4:22 to go.

Hyland stepped up just 18 seconds later, draining a baseline jumper and senior Nick Gaddar added a free throw, but Bogdanovich made yet another rebound layup with 2:50 to play and the Red Riots' lead was cut to four, 57-53.

After Hyland made two foul shots for a 59-53 lead, Bogdanovich took a pass from Longstaff and made a layup with 1:56 left, cutting the deficit back to four, 59-55, but South Portland would then pull away.

First, Wright made a layup for a 61-55 lead. With 1 minute to play, Gaddar converted a layup and it was a 63-55 game. After Bogdanovich made a layup with 49.7 seconds left, Gaddar hit two foul shots, Furbush made one and Mackie drained one more to account for the 67-57 final score.

South Portland had made another emphatic statement.

"It feels great," Furbush said. "We've been playing with the best teams in the state. Even when we lost, we took a lot from it. We've gained confidence. It means a lot. We wanted to come out and battle. We started doing some traps on defense. We were ready to play. We kept battling. The sophomores were ready to play and the senior leadership was great. It was just a great win.

"We've won three games in a row against Portland teams," Hyland added. "It feels great. We weren't playing badly in the first half, we just didn't have the intensity. We went to the hoop in the second half and played great D. We started hitting shots. That technical gave us the lead and we didn't look back. I like the ball at the end. I won't hesitate to take the shots."

Conley could only marvel only another stellar and gutsy effort from his charges.

"We hit shots tonight and our defense was huge," he said. "We shot the ball well in the second half. We went a little zone and a little man. You have to credit the kids for how they played defensively and how they rebounded the ball. Hyland came up huge. He hit big-time shots against great defensive pressure.

"We've been in some tight, big games and we've learned from experience. We learned to take better care of the ball and that helped us tonight."

Hyland led all scorers with 27 points. Furbush added 17. Wright had eight and Gaddar seven.

For Portland, Bogdanovich led the way with 16 points. He was the only Bulldog in double figures. Harmon added nine and Longstaff and Thok both finished with eight.

"Early on, SP played like we were the better the team," Portland coach Joe Russo said. "They took advantage in the second half. I wanted someone else to score but Hyland. We had a lot of bad shots in the third quarter.

"I'm disappointed with how we lost our composure and got technical fouls. That's not how we play. I wasn't happy with the calls, but that doesn't give us an excuse to act like that. Instead of playing tougher, we let the calls get to us. You can't do that. I'm kind of embarrassed. When the going gets tough, you get tougher."

The Bulldogs, who were 3-3 at one point this winter, finished up 13-5 and will battle No. 5 Deering in the Western A quarterfinal round next weekend at the Portland Expo. The longtime rivals split during the regular season.

"We'll get Deering again," Russo said. "It's wide open. Whoever gets out of the Expo can win. SP can do some nice things. Cheverus can do some nice things. We can, Deering can, TA."

The Red Riots' 14-4 mark gives them the No. 3 seed and a bye into the quarterfinals, where they will like face No. 6 Scarborough (11-7). Back on Jan. 5, South Portland lost 47-41 at home to the Red Storm.

Of course, the Red Riots were a much different team then.

"With six seniors, no juniors and a bunch of sophomores, we hoped to come out strong this year and we did," Furbush said. "We dropped off a little bit in the middle of the season, but we picked it up and played high quality. We want Scarborough back."

"I knew we had a good core group coming back," Hyland said. "I didn't know about 14-4, but it's pretty good winning games against all three Portland teams. We have momentum going into the playoffs. We want to get to the Civic Center."

"I knew we had a good bunch of guys returning and I knew how hard they worked so I thought anything was possible," Conley added. "We get a week of practice to get ready."

Yarmouth and its gunslinger ruin Freeport's Senior Night

Sport: Basketball (boys)  Posted: February 8th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Yarmouth and its gunslinger ruin Freeport's Senior Night
By Michael Hoffer
Special to MBR
02/08/08

FREEPORT- When Yarmouth junior Johnny Murphy's shot isn't dropping, he keeps firing.

When it is, have pity on the opposition.

Thursday evening, Murphy was simply on fire, as he drained five 3-pointers in the first period alone, helping the Clippers to an early lead and they pulled away to ruin Freeport's Senior Night by the stunning and decisive score of 73-48.

Yarmouth took the lead for good on a Murphy 3 early in the first period, led by 10 at halftime, then was never seriously challenged in the second half.

Murphy finished with 27 points (including seven 3-balls).

"It was surprising," he said. "We haven't necessarily been on the last two games. To come out like that, was a nice surprise. We moved the ball well and shots were open."

The Falcons and Clippers have been two of the feel-good stories of this exciting season. Last year, in the season finale at Yarmouth, Freeport pulled out a stirring overtime win, thanks to a late 3-pointer from then-sophomore Jon Klages, which forced overtime. The Falcons won in the extra session. Both teams made the tournament, but were eliminated in the quarterfinal round.

This winter, the Clippers have stopped and stolen hearts from the get-go. Yarmouth won its first nine games, culminated by a dramatic 50-48 home victory over Freeport Jan. 8 when senior Ben Groves scored on a reverse layup with 0.9 seconds remaining. The Clippers would lose twice to Cape Elizabeth and once to Waynflete in the meantime, while the Falcons were beating everyone but Greely and Cape Elizabeth.

Yarmouth entered the game smarting from Tuesday's 55-46 home loss to the Capers on Senior Night. Freeport was hoping to avoid a similar feat, but Murphy had other ideas.

Just 24 seconds into the game, Reid Christian, one the Falcons' many seniors, made two free throws. The Clippers countered on one free throw from Groves and a layup from sophomore Evan Henry (on a gorgeous crosscourt pass from senior Lucas Denning). With 6:05 to play in the first period, the Falcons took a 4-3 lead on a baseline jumper from senior Tom Markelon.

That would prove to be Freeport's final advantage.

With 5:43 to go in the first, Murphy quietly made a 3-pointer.

There would be many more.

The second came at the 5:14 mark. Forty-five seconds later, Murphy struck again and suddenly Yarmouth was up 12-4.

A layup from Christian ended the 9-0 run and senior Bejay Perkins added two foul shots to make it 12-8, but Groves countered with a free throw. When Klages made a jumper with 2:28 to go in the first, the hosts were within three, 13-10, but Murphy and the Clippers had more damage in store.

Thirteen seconds after Klages' basket, Groves scored on a driving bank shot. Senior Joe Dilworth, who is nearing full recovery from the hand injury which sidelined him for a month, followed with a tip-in, then Murphy closed the period with back-to-back 3-balls for a 23-10 lead.

"The other night with the Senior Night stuff going on, there was so much hype, they were exhausted before the first quarter," Yarmouth coach Adam Smith said, of his team. "We never really produced anything with our energy. We didn't draw it from the crowd, the bench or our starters and we struggled all night.

"Tonight, we came out and just played the game. It helps when we shoot well of course, but I thought we rebounded and defended extremely well too. If (Johnny) missed those shots, I'd still let him shoot and want him to shoot. It's wonderful when his team supports him like they do and keeps going to him."

Murphy concurred.

"Everyone was so nervous because it was Senior Night and wanted to do well and we didn't," he said. "That game caused us to come out like this. We were so mad. We wanted to get this for the seniors. I feel like this is the best way we could have ended the regular season. We're playing great team basketball right now."

Freeport got five quick points to begin the second period when junior reserve extraordinaire Cody Bartlett made a 3-pointer and Klages followed with a layup, but the Clippers embarked on another run, this one 10-0. The unheralded Henry, who has tremendous upside and is a star of the future, got things started with a short bank shot. Dilworth followed with a floater, Murphy made his first two-point shot of the night and Dilworth made consecutive hoops, one on a left-handed floater, the other a layup, for a commanding 33-15 advantage.

The Falcons then came to life, scoring 11 consecutive points of their own.

A 3-ball from Christian ended Yarmouth's run. Perkins then made a jump shot. Klages followed with a layup and Christian made a jumper, then scored on a fourth-effort offensive rebound layup to cut the deficit to seven, 33-26.

A 3-pointer by Denning ended the rally. Perkins hit a jumper with 2:02 to go to get the hosts within single-digits for the final time, but with 1:05 to play in the half, Murphy made a layup and the Clippers had a 38-28 lead at the break.

Any Freeport comeback hopes were quickly dashed in the third period.

Just 10 seconds into the quarter, Henry made a layup. Murphy followed with one of his own and it was a 42-28 game. After Klages answered with a leaner, Denning fed Henry for a layup and a 44-30 lead. Perkins made a jumper for the hosts, but Murphy made another 3 and Groves followed with a layup to make it 49-32. After Perkins hit yet another jumper for the Falcons, Murphy made his seventh and final 3-pointer of the night. Klages ended the period with a 3 of his own, but Freeport still trailed 52-37 with eight minutes to play.

Yarmouth ended the competitive phase of the game by scoring the first nine points of the fourth. Dilworth scored three straight layups to get things started. On the first two, he took pretty passes from Denning before finishing. The final basket came off an offensive rebound. Junior Andrew Totta then made a free throw, followed by a jump shot for a 61-37 lead. The Falcons would get no closer than 17, 65-48, the rest of the way. The Clippers got the game's final eight points as Henry made a layup, Denning hit a foul shot, Dilworth made two free throws and a 3-pointer to account for the 73-48 final score.

"A win like this is huge," Dilworth said. "Going into a week-and-a-half break, you want to go in a high note. We couldn't have played any better, even when we had the big lead. To bring that kind of intensity into a game like this means a lot."

"We came out intense," Denning said. "They made a few good runs, but we kept a decent lead. We came out with the same intensity in the second half and we extended the lead even more."

"This shows we can come back from losing to a very good team and come back and blow out a good team on their court," Groves added. "It feels good."

Murphy led all scorers with 27 points, but Dilworth was close behind with 23. Henry finished with 10, Groves had six, Denning four and Totta three.

"We scored 73 points tonight and Ben Groves had six," Smith marveled. "I wouldn't have expected that since he's such a big part of our offense. Joe coming back has been so big for us. I don't know if he'll be 100 percent, but I'll take whatever percent he is. We distributed the ball well. We feel good about what we're doing on the floor."

Freeport was left stunned.

"The key was Murphy's five 3's in the first quarter," Falcons' coach Craig Sickels said. "It's disheartening. It's not like we didn't know who he is. We know. At their place, we held him to two points through three quarters. We just didn't defend tonight. We didn't know where the shooters were and we didn't rotate to where they were. From that point, we were playing catchup.

"We made a nice run, but to start the second half, we just weren't playing intelligent basketball. We've gotten by on talent, but in close games, it boils down to poise, confidence and decisions. We have to get more of that and we don't have time. We've shown spurts, but we need to sustain that kind of play. We're not making senior-type decisions."

Christian led the Falcons with 16 points. Klages added 15 and Perkins had 12. Freeport also got scoring from Bartlett (three points) and Markelon (two).

The Falcons finished the season with a 13-5 mark, their best since moving up to Class B and their best since the 1999-2000 squad went 14-4.

Freeport expects to be the fifth seed when the tournament begins at the Portland Expo Feb. 16.

Sickels hopes his squad will regroup in the meantime.

"I just told them that the regular season's over now and the second season begins," he said. "I'd rather lay an egg now than at tournament time. Now everyone's 0-0. Hopefully, that's a positive thing. We have a week of practice. This hurts our confidence, but I hope we bounce back."

Yarmouth, meanwhile, locked up the second seed for the tournament and improved to 15-3, the program's finest regular season mark since 1988-89.

Not too shabby, considering just two years ago, the Clippers won exactly once.

"I never would have imagined two years that we'd be setting records," Dilworth said. "I can't really describe the change. It's a pretty amazing feeling. The last two years have totally erased the shadow that loomed over Yarmouth basketball. We don't even think about that anymore, but it's kind of fun to look at what we've accomplished."

"It's been so much fun," said Denning, who transferred from Cheverus in time to lead the Clippers to a 12-8 record last winter. "Every day. Practice and games are so much fun. Winning adds to it even more."

"I didn't know how good we'd be truthfully," Groves added. "I'd thought we'd be a top team, but I didn't think we'd be No. 2."

While the sharpshooting Murphy didn't suffer to the degree of his senior teammates, he too is awestruck over the Clippers' growth and success.

"I never saw that coming," he said. "I didn't think we could be this good. As the season has gone on, we've gotten more confident." The more we run, the better we get. We'll come out strong and give our best. We don't really care who we play. At the beginning of the season, we knew we'd make it, we just didn't know where. To go in as the No. 2 seed, I'm proud of it."

Smith is hoping the good times will continue when Yarmouth opens tournament play in a little over a week. After all, the Clippers haven't won a quarterfinal round game since the 1973-74 team went to the regional final.

"Last year, (the guys) really reveled that underdog role and the surprise of it all," he said. "They were trying to convince each other in the locker room that they were pretty good. This year, knowing they had to bring it and that people were going after them, they've continued to bring it night in, night out. The best thing I can say for our program, is that the younger guys know how to practice now.

"We talked about history all year. History is important. Good, bad or indifferent, it's important. These guys are writing history. We're glad to be going back a second time. We expected that all year. Last year, we were glad to make it. This year, we have a different mindset with expectations."

"Whatever the situation is, we've won 15 games, we're seeded second and they should be very proud of that. I don't know how we'll play, but we feel good and we should feel good about we've done this year. The tournament will take care of itself.

Cape spoils Yarmouth's Senior Night, locks up top seed

Sport: Basketball (boys)  Posted: February 5th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Cape spoils Yarmouth's Senior Night, locks up top seed
By Michael Hoffer
Special to MBR
02/05/08

YARMOUTH- With a raucous full house on hand and the No. 1 seed for the upcoming Western Class B tournament up for grabs, the Yarmouth Clippers took the floor Tuesday night, hoping to add yet another triumphant chapter to their special season.

A senior group which has elevated the program to heights not seen in many years looked to make a statement in its final game in front of the home folks, but it wasn't to be.

That's because the Clippers ran up against the hottest team in the conference, the Cape Elizabeth Capers and their senior star, Shaine Burks (16 points), who missed most of the season, but is now rounding into form.

The Capers weren't intimidated in the least and shot to a quick 5-0 lead. Yarmouth responded, but found itself behind virtually the whole way and despite pulling within three points twice in the final period, the Clippers couldn't come all the way back and fell to 14-3 on the season with a 55-46 loss to a Cape Elizabeth squad which has now won 12 straight.

"We were out of sync all night," Yarmouth coach Adam Smith said. "It's a tribute to our boys for hanging tough despite not playing well. Cape certainly played great defense tonight. That said, a couple baskets here or there could have made a difference for us, but we couldn't get it done. They wouldn't let us."

While the Western B quarterfinals are still over a week away, Tuesday's atmosphere had an Expo or Civic Center feel.

After the large group of seniors (and their parents) were honored, senior Wilson Slader sang the national anthem and Smith sent five seniors out to start the game.

The Capers (who rallied from a huge early deficit to hand Yarmouth its first loss 71-50 back on Jan. 11), then stole the show.

A mere eight seconds into the contest, sophomore Andrew Dickey buried a 3-pointer. Less than a minute later, Dickey made a layup after a steal and it was 5-0.

"They didn't have their regular lineup at the start and their timing was a little off," Cape Elizabeth coach Jim Ray said. "We got a couple baskets and that helped confidence-wise."

"They got some open looks early that they made," Smith said. "I can't say we didn't recover from that, but it seemed like it gave them a lot of intensity to carry through the rest of the game. They seemed to ride that wave."

In the span of 18 seconds, the hosts drew even when junior Johnny Murphy took a pass from senior Lucas Denning and made a layup, followed by a Denning 3-ball to make it 5-5. Capers' junior Alex Bowe answered with a layup after a steal and junior Johnny Messina added a 3-pointer, but Yarmouth closed the quarter with hoops from sophomore Evan Henry (on a rebound putback) and senior Joe Dilworth (on a bank shot after a gorgeous spin move), cutting Cape Elizabeth's lead to one, 10-9.

Early in the second, the Clippers took their first and only lead when Henry hit a baseline jumper. Two foul shots from Bowe put the Capers back on top to stay and he followed 41 seconds later with a rebound putback to make it 14-11. After Henry made a rebound layup for Yarmouth, Burks made a pair of foul shots and Dickey hit a layup for an 18-13 advantage. After Denning set up senior Joe Laverriere for a layup and Dickey responded with a driving layup, Dilworth hit two free throws to make it a 20-17 game with 3:29 to go in the half.

Cape Elizabeth then ripped off seven straight points.

Burks got the run started with a rebound layup. After Dickey made one of two free throws, Bowe scored a layup off an inbounds pass and Burks followed with a layup to make it 27-17. Denning ended the run with a free throw with 49.9 seconds to go before halftime and senior Jack Champlin added a layup for the hosts, but with 1.4 seconds remaining, Burks was fouled after grabbing an offensive rebound and he made both foul shots for a 29-20 advantage.

Time after time this winter, Yarmouth has responded when challenged and the Clippers showed signs of going on another run to start the second half when Murphy scored on a layup after a steal and senior Ben Groves converted a three-point play. Cape Elizabeth junior Conor Lawler answered with a jumper in the lane and seconds after Denning was whistled for his fourth foul and had to come out, Messina made a free throw for a 32-25 lead.

A Murphy jumper was countered by a baseline jumper from Lawler and a layup from Dickey. Murphy then made another jumper and Groves hit two foul shots, but with 37.5 seconds to go in the third period, Capers' senior Woody Tabery scored on a rebound putback and the visitors had a 38-31 advantage with eight minutes to play.

The Clippers would make things interesting down the stretch.

Dilworth got things started with a left-handed layup and a free throw to complete a three-point play. Bowe then brought the Cape Elizabeth cheering section to its feet with a stunning behind-the-back pass to Burks, which led to a layup and a 40-34 lead. Murphy answered by canning a 3-pointer, but Tabery calmly hit a 3 of his own at the other end and it was a 43-37 game with 5:47 to go.

After Burks pushed the Capers' lead to eight with two free throws, Henry made a foul shot, Dilworth scored on a reverse layup, then Dilworth took a pass from Laverriere and made a layup to make it a three point game again, 45-42.

Yarmouth got the ball back and had a chance to draw even, but Murphy's 3-point bid was off line. Bowe then fed Burks again for a layup. After Dilworth missed a 3-point attempt, Lawler made a jumper. The Clippers took timeout, but couldn't rally. With 2:04 to go, Burks made two free throws and the lead was back to nine, 51-42.

Yarmouth would twice get within seven (on layups from Groves and Dilworth), but Cape Elizabeth countered with a rebound putback by Bowe and a leaner from Dickey to put the finishing touches on the 55-46 victory.

"We knew when they made a run that we had to go back at it," Burks said. "We knew if they got a lead, it would be tough to come back. We did it in the first game and we knew they could do it too."

"We made a couple more plays than they did," Ray added. "That's what happens in big games."

The Clippers were ultimately done in by too many turnovers (13 in the first half alone), too many offensive rebounds won by their opponent, and an inability to make an abundance of easy shots.

"We had some opportunities to get back in the game, but just didn't make it happen," Smith lamented. "We got a defensive stop, but they would get the rebound and the putback. They outplayed us on our floor. They played much more physical than we did. We didn't rise to the occasion tonight. Cape's been playing really well lately and we saw that tonight. They jumped on us and never really let us up.

"You miss those shots when the other team is physical. You think about who's on your back and who's coming under."

Burks led all scorers with 16 points in his best effort of the season to date.

"He was the best athlete out there on the floor," Ray said. "His real strength is his defensive ability. He's usually an on-the-ball defender for us, but he's trying to work his way back into rhythm. Tonight was a pretty good step toward that. He played big minutes and knocked down some foul shots. He's still a little tentative on offense. That stuff takes time."

"I've been in a turtleshell, just hiding, but tonight I finally broke out," Burks added. "This is by far my best game. The boos were motivation. They made a couple runs, but we finally pulled it out."

Dickey finished with 14 points. Bowe added 10. Lawler had six big points in the second half.
"Conor Lawler was amazing," Ray said. "He had a couple huge baskets. That's what I need these guys to do."

For Yarmouth, Dilworth led the way with 13 points. Murphy was also in double figures with 11 and Groves and Henry each had seven.

The Clippers appear to be set in the second spot for the upcoming tournament, but they'd like to leave nothing to chance and win at Freeport in their finale Thursday.

Yarmouth still has a lot of things to look forward to

Whether we're number two or three or whatever, we can't play like tonight," Smith said. "If we do, we'll have the same outcome as tonight. (Cape's) definitely number one. It's a percentage point race for second. Depends how Greely finishes up.

"I'd love to see (Cape) again, not because I want to play them again, but that it would mean we've gone a long ways. I hope we'd give them a better contest than the first two games."

The Capers (now 15-2) will enter the tournament as the top seed for the first time in six years. First they'll wrap up the regular year Friday night at Greely as they seek to atone for an earlier loss.

"We want to be No. 1," Burks said. "We'll celebrate on the bus ride home, then practice for a tough one at Greely."

"Friday is another tournament-type game," Ray added. "I love the way our schedule ends. We have no gimmes and have to show up every night, just like in the tournament. It's fun. Particularly if you can come away with a win.

"I think we still have a ways to go. I'm pleased with the kids, but we still have times when we have a lack of composure. It isn't easy. The target's on their back. How they react to that will define us as we step into the tournament. Everyone's gunning for us."
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