Capers come back, crush Clippers

Sport: Basketball (boys)

Posted: January 12th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Capers come back, crush Clippers
By Michael Hoffer
Special to MBR
01/12/08

CAPE ELIZABETH- When the starkissed Yarmouth Clippers boys' basketball team began Friday night's Western Class B showdown at Cape Elizabeth on an 11-0 run, it had to feel confident that win No. 10 in its dreamlike season was right around the corner.

Instead, the Clippers soon found themselves in a nightmare.

Cape Elizabeth roared back with a vengeance, seized the lead for good in the third period, then closed the game on an emphatic 28-8 run to win a foul-plagued game, 71-50.

It was Yarmouth's first loss against nine wins, while the Capers improved to 8-2 on the year.

"We gave it all we had right off," Clippers' coach Adam Smith said. "We just ran out of gas, patience, scorers and rebounders. We were a MASH unit out there tonight."

"It's definitely our biggest win so far," said Cape Elizabeth senior captain Tom Ray, son of Capers' coach Jim Ray. "I'm proud of the guys. We started off slow, but we never give up. That's something my dad always teaches us."

While Yarmouth has been stealing headlines this winter by winning games over tough league foes in heartstopping fashion, Cape Elizabeth has quietly put together a solid campaign of its own.

The Capers entered Friday night with just a pair of losses and those setbacks (at home versus Greely and at Freeport on a buzzer-beater) could have gone either way.

The Clippers (still playing without senior standout Joe Dilworth, out with a broken hand) entered the game on a high after Tuesday's stirring 50-48 home victory over Freeport. That win wasn't secured until senior Ben Groves hit a reverse layup with 0.9 seconds showing on the clock.

Friday's game, which started late since both the freshman and JV games went to overtime (the Clippers won both), was all Yarmouth in the early going. Cape Elizabeth turned the ball over on its first four possessions and the Clippers capitalized.

Yarmouth senior point guard Lucas Denning got things going with a 3-pointer. Junior sharpshooter Johnny Murphy followed with a jump shot, then buried a 3-pointer of his own. When Murphy canned another 3, the lead was 11-0 with 4:47 to play in the first period.

"(The Clippers) really get after it," Coach Ray said. "I built that up in practice. I said when I took a timeout, 'I don't know if I psyched you out because everything we talked about in practice, you forgot about.' I just let them work through it and they did. They played tough."

The hosts slowly climbed back into the game.

With 3:51 to go in the first, the Capers got in the scoring column when junior Alex Bowe hit a jump shot. After Yarmouth answered at the other end on a jumper from senior Robb Arndt, Cape Elizabeth senior Woody Tabery hit a foul shot and Bowe converted a rebound layup. A long jumper from Arndt put the Clippers up 15-5, but Ray made a free throw and sophomore Andrew Dickey scored on a rebound putback to make it 15-8 after one.

Cape Elizabeth sophomore Conor Moloney started the second quarter with a fastbreak layup, but Yarmouth senior Joe Laverriere answered with two free throws. A rebound layup and a free throw from Bowe pulled the Capers within four, 17-13, but Laverriere countered with a rebound layup to push the lead back to six, 19-13.

After Bowe hit a 3-ball, Laverriere made another layup, but Dickey responded with a 3-pointer and Ray hit a baseline jumper to tie the game at 21.

The Clippers took the lead back on a Murphy jump shot and a layup from Groves, but Capers' junior Johnny Messina answered with an old-fashioned three-point play. After Murphy canned another jump shot, Bowe drained a 3 to make it 27-27.

In the final minute, however, Yarmouth got a baseline jumper from Murphy (14 first half points) and a pair of free throws from Arndt, sandwiched around one foul shot by Ray, making it 31-28 Clippers at halftime.

"I think we knew at halftime that we had them, only being down three," Tom Ray said. "We practiced the run and jump. We were ready for it. We just came out a little rattled. First time really playing in front of a big crowd this year. We settled down and got the job done."

The third quarter began with Yarmouth pushing its lead back to six points, 34-28, on two Laverriere free throws and another by Murphy. Bowe answered with a long jump shot. Groves then made a free throw for a 35-30 lead, but moments after Laverriere fouled out, Dickey scored consecutive baskets to get the Capers within one, 35-34.

Twice more Cape Elizabeth would get within one (37-36 and 39-38) before finally taking the lead.

That happened with 3 minutes to play in the quarter when Dickey converted a three-point play for a 41-39 advantage.

The Capers wouldn't trail again.

With just under a minute to go, Messina hit a bank shot, making it 43-39. Murphy answered with a 3-pointer, then the pivotal moment in the game arrived.

With 1.1 seconds remaining, Ray was fouled by Murphy, who responded in frustration by bouncing the ball high off the floor. He was whistled for a technical foul and Ray calmly sank all four free throws for a 47-42 lead after three.

"When something like that happens it's a momentum changer," Jim Ray said.

Things promptly deteriorated in the fourth. For most of the quarter (most of the game really), it appeared as if the officials were being paid by the foul as play was stopped constantly.

The closest Yarmouth would get was five points (51-46 was the final time that happened). The Capers began pulling away and went up by 11, 59-48, when Ray hit a driving layup with 4:37 to go.

The Clippers only got two points the rest of the way and Cape Elizabeth capped its stirring comeback with a 28-8 run and a 71-50 victory.

"We went to the hole," Tom Ray said. "Everyone stepped up tonight and played big. We moved the ball well for the most part. We got the ball to our cutters and hit our foul shots at the end."

Ray led the Capers with 19 points. Bowe added 17 and Dickey had 14. Messina and Tabery both had seven points, while junior Conor Lawler contributed four points, Maloney had two and senior Ian Place had one.

"Woody had a huge game off the bench," Coach Ray said. "Conor Lawler had a huge game too and did some nice things. I thought we rebounded very well. My guys did a nice job."

The Clippers were paced by 23 points from Murphy. Laverriere had eight in his limited time on the court. Arndt and Denning both had six points. Groves had three points, while senior Jack Champlin and senior Peter Erickson both had two.

Yarmouth is back in action Tuesday when it hosts Poland. The Clippers then have their next huge test when they go to Falmouth next Friday. It's been a long, long, long time since Yarmouth swept the Yachtsmen, so emotions figure to be at a fever pitch for that one.

Look for the Clippers to bounce back.

"I could feel it slipping away a game or two ago," Smith said. "We won together and now we lost together. We'll continue to have a good season. Even if we lose a few more games before Joe gets back, we'll continue to work hard and stay together."

Cape Elizabeth hosts Wells Tuesday and goes to York next Friday. The Capers will now be the focus of everyone's attention.

"This gives us a lot of confidence, but we have to keep playing hard," Tom Ray said. "We can't have a letdown. The league's so balanced this year. We have to play hard all the time."

If you want to mark your calendar, Yarmouth will host Cape Elizabeth on Feb. 5.

"They'll be jacked up when we go to their place," Coach Ray said.