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

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."