The 2015-16 basketball season was historic and memorable for many reasons.
For starters, the Maine Principals’ Association ushered in five classes for the first time, which, combined with new North/South instead of East/West designations, made for quite a learning curve during the course of the winter.
Play on the floor made quite an impact as well, as six of 10 Forecaster Country teams qualified for the playoffs.
There, drama was constant.
Freeport’s girls lost in the Class B South quarterfinals to eventual regional champion Gray-New Gloucester. Yarmouth’s girls lost in that round as well, to perennial power Lake Region, but the Clippers were sent packing in agonizing, unfair fashion.
Greely, the defending Class B state champion, moved up to Class A this year and continued to excel. Problem was, the Rangers never could solve eventual undefeated state champion York, which beat Greely three times, including in the regional final.
The most triumph came in the boys’ tournament.
In Class B South, Yarmouth enjoyed wins over Spruce Mountain and Maranacook to reach the regional final and the Clippers were going toe-to-toe with top-ranked Lake Region when fouls added up and Yarmouth went down to a tough-to-swallow defeat.
In Class A South, Greely earned the top seed, but after downing Marshwood in a hard-fought quarterfinal, the Rangers were shocked by Brunswick in the semifinals.
That left No. 2 seed Falmouth, which proved to be the best Class A team in the state. After downing Westbrook in the quarterfinals, the Yachtsmen survived defending Class B state champion Cape Elizabeth in the semifinals, in what proved to be their biggest test. Falmouth then did what Greely couldn’t, beat Brunswick, in the regional final and the Yachtsmen crushed Cinderella finalist Oceanside in the Class A state game to become the first team to win Gold Balls in three different classes.
The 2016-17 season can’t get here quickly enough, but in the meantime, here’s one last look back at the most memorable moments from a winter we’ll never forget.
5) Yarmouth boys fall one win shy of state game
The Yarmouth boys’ program remained one of the best in the area this winter, winning 13 games against a daunting schedule. The Clippers, as they’ve done in the past, saved their best for last and beat Spruce Mountain and Maranacook (giving coach Adam Smith his 150th career victory) to reach the regional final against top-ranked Lake Region, a team Yarmouth split with in the regular season and the team that upset the Clippers in the 2015 semifinals. Yarmouth held the lead much of the way, but fouls (several of them hotly disputed) piled up and the Lakers were able to go ahead, then put it away at the free throw line as they prevailed, 53-43, ending the Clippers’ season at 15-6.
4) Greely boys the best…during the regular season
Greely hit on all cylinders during the regular season, losing just three times, while beating rival Falmouth twice. The Rangers earned the top seed for the Class A South tournament and downed Marshwood in the quarterfinals, but despite taking an early 12-2 lead against Brunswick in the semifinals, Greely fell behind and couldn’t catch up as the season came to a disappointing end at 16-4 following a 65-52 loss. With a ton of firepower returning, 2016-17 might be the year the Rangers get over the hump.
3) Yarmouth’s memorable season ends in controversy
Yarmouth’s girls enjoyed their best season in over a decade, but it’s how the year ended that this team and its fans won’t soon forget. The Clippers steadily improved, went 9-9 and earned the No. 2 seed for the Class B South tournament. There, Yarmouth faced a Lake Region squad which won both regular season meetings in close fashion. Any thought that the Clippers might have trouble getting comfortable on the big stage in the quarterfinals was quickly dispelled as they got off to a fast start. Yarmouth still clung to a 31-27 lead in the fourth quarter, when the Lakers rallied to tie. The Clippers then planned to hold for a final shot, only to see Lake Region forced a held ball. The possession arrow should have been pointed Yarmouth’s way, but an error at the scorer’s table gave the ball to the Lakers and once the mistake was realized, it was too late to correct. As fate would have it, Lake Region made a free throw with three seconds left and won, 32-31. Yarmouth was stunned, but handled the disappointment and frustration with heads held high, suggesting even bigger things are in store for this program in the years to come.
2) Freshman phenom leads Greely girls to regional final
No freshman player, boy or girl, had a bigger impact anywhere in the state this winter than Greely’s Anna DeWolfe. Already well-known for her flair for dramatic on a state champion girls’ soccer team, DeWolfe made an immediate impact on the hardwood and led the defending Class B champion Rangers to another stellar season with her ability to run the floor, handle the ball and finish. DeWolfe and several key returners from the championship team posted a 15-3 regular season record and downed Marshwood and Leavitt to reach the Class A South Final against undefeated York. The Wildcats twice beat Greely in the regular season, but DeWolfe did all she could to make sure the Rangers would play on, scoring 30 points, but it wasn’t enough and York advanced, 66-56, and went on to win the state title. We only imagine what kind of heroics DeWolfe has in store for her sophomore campaign, one which will likely extend another postseason round.
1) All A’s for Falmouth boys
Falmouth’s boys’ basketball team was viewed as one of the teams to beat this winter in the newly formed and deep Class A South. The Yachtsmen lost three games by one point and another to Greely to end the season, sending them to the tournament as the No. 2 seed, but Falmouth, behind the standout Coyne brothers, Thomas and Colin, and a supporting cast that rose mightily to the occasion, saved its best for last. After downing Westbrook in lopsided fashion in the quarterfinals, the Yachtsmen survived rival Cape Elizabeth in the semifinals when a potential game-tying 3-pointer fell short at the horn. That night couldn’t have gone better for Falmouth, as top-ranked Greely then was upset by Brunswick and defending Class A champion and favorite-to-repeat Hampden Academy was shocked by Oceanside in the A North semifinals. Instead of trying to beat the Rangers for the first time in three tries in the regional final, the Yachtsmen got Brunswick and led the Dragons to whole way en route to a regional crown. Instead of getting tested by Hampden Academy in the state game, Falmouth got Oceanside and the Yachtsmen ended it early, going up, 15-3, en route to a decisive 59-28 triumph. Thomas Coyne bowed out with 16 points, the unheralded big man tandem of Matt Wuhlbrecht and Sam Skop combined for 24 and Colin Coyne added 11. Falmouth became the first program to ever win Gold Balls at the Class A, B and C levels.
Senior Thomas Coyne and his Falmouth teammates soared above the Class A field this winter, winning the state title in emphatic style.
Greely’s Anna DeWolfe turned heads during a breakout freshman season, helping the Rangers reach the Class A South Final.