Basketball season brought thrills and triumph-Northern edition

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Yarmouth senior standout Alek Medenica had a terrific season and led the Clippers to the Class B South Final.

Taylor Rinaldi and her Freeport girls’ teammates got to the Class B South quarterfinals for the second year in a row.

Freshman sensation Te’Andre King led North Yarmouth Academy to the Class C South semifinals.

The 2016-17 basketball season now belongs to the history books, but it’s certainly worth revisiting.

From the second weekend in December right through the first weekend in March, local players and teams provided entertainment and thrills.

Four local boys’ teams made the tournament, all four got to at least the semifinal round and one went all the way.

North Yarmouth Academy enjoyed its best season in over a decade and rallied to stun Hall-Dale in a memorable Class C South quarterfinal before losing to eventual regional champion Winthrop in the semifinals.

Yarmouth posted its best-ever regular season record and was the top seed in Class B South, but after a pair of decisive tournament victories, was upset by Wells in the regional final.

Greely and Falmouth were the top two seeds in Class A South and lived up to billing, reaching the regional final where the Rangers prevailed. Greely then dominated Messalonskee in the state game to win its first Gold Ball in 19 seasons.

On the girls’ side, NYA qualified for the Class C South tournament, but lost in the preliminary round.

In Class B South, Freeport won a preliminary round game, then lost to eventual state champion Gray-New Gloucester in the quarterfinals. Yarmouth posted its best record in a dozen years, but was frustrated again by Lake Region in the quarterfinals.

In Class A South, Falmouth was ousted by defending champion York in the quarterfinal. Top-ranked Greely looked like a team destined for the state final, but in the regional final, the Rangers let a 14-point second half lead slip away and were upset by Brunswick.

Michael’s Top Five Stories

5) Youngsters lead Greely girls to greatness

Greely’s girls’ team captured 17 of 18 regular season games this winter and won a couple more in the tournament. The Rangers were bolstered by a strong senior core group (Molly Chapin, Isabel Porter and Moira Train), but the majority of their points came from sophomore standout Anna DeWolfe and fabulous freshman Brooke Obar. While Greely’s Gold Ball dreams were dashed in the regional final, the program’s future is very bright.

4) Yarmouth teams set new standard

Yarmouth’s boys had never won more than 15 games in a regular season, but this winter, the Clippers posted 16 victories and lost just twice to Greely (once in a triple-overtime epic). Yarmouth wasn’t able to produce a happy ending to its season, however, as it suffered a heartbreaking loss to Wells in the Class B South Final. The Clippers girls’ squad, meanwhile, posted its first winning season since 2004-05 and its best record since then, 12-6. Yarmouth beat Lake Region twice during the regular year, but in the third meeting, the Clippers fell short, and lost to the Lakers in the quarterfinals.

3) Falmouth boys overcome, get to regional final

Falmouth’s boys’ team didn’t repeat as Class A state champions, but the Yachtsmen still produced their share of highlights. Falmouth went 13-5 in the regular season and handled Biddeford in the quarterfinals. Then, early in the semifinals against rival Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth lost senior standout Colin Coyne, who suffered a season-ending foot injury, but thanks to key contributions from several unheralded sources, the Yachtsmen dug deep and found a way to win. Falmouth couldn’t keep the magic going in the regional final and lost to Greely, but it was a triumphant, inspirational tournament run nonetheless.

2) NYA boys return to prominence

North Yarmouth Academy’s boys’ team penned one of the most memorable stories this winter. The Panthers, led by standout seniors Haven Cutko and Jake Malcom, and bolstered by the arrival of freshman Te’Andre King, beat rival Waynflete for the first time in eight years en route to a solid 13-5 record. NYA earned a bye into the Class C South quarterfinals in Augusta where they dug a deep hole against Hall-Dale, only to rally for an inspirational victory. In the semifinals against top-ranked Winthrop, the Panthers were done in by turnovers and fouls and their season came to an end, but King’s emergence as a star suggests we’ll be hearing from this squad again.

1) Greely boys golden at last

Greely’s boys’ team was led this winter by a core group of seniors who knew it was now-or-never, Gold Ball-or-bust and the Rangers rose to the occasion in a huge way. Greely was only seriously tested twice in the regular season, but survived in overtime at Falmouth and in triple-OT at Yarmouth to go undefeated and earn the top seed in Class A South. After a decisive win over Kennebunk in the quarterfinals, the Rangers were given a scare by York in the semifinals, the same round Greely was upset (by Brunswick) a year ago. This time, however, the Rangers didn’t buckle and fought off the Wildcats to get to the regional final where Greely overwhelmed undermanned Falmouth to get to the state final for the first time this millennium. There, behind a superb game from senior standout (and Mr. Maine Basketball winner) Matt McDevitt, the Rangers shot to a quick lead over Messalonskee and never looked back and they realized their Gold Ball dreams and cut the nets down for the first time since 1998.

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

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Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.