Basketball tournament comes to an abrupt end for local teams

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(Ed. Note: For the complete Cape Elizabeth-Yarmouth boys’ and Scarborough-Deering and South Portland-Cheverus girls’ tournament game stories, please see

Local basketball teams found their tournament stay to be short and not very sweet last week as the season came a surprisingly quick end.

Cape Elizabeth, the lone boys’ team to reach the quarterfinals, lost a heartbreaker to Yarmouth in the quarterfinals.

After Scarborough’s girls were ousted at Deering in the preliminary round, South Portland was upset by Cheverus in the quarterfinals.

Down to the wire

Cape Elizabeth earned the No. 5 seed in Western B after 11-7 regular season.

Saturday at the Portland Exposition Building, the Capers squared off against fourth-seeded Yarmouth. Cape Elizabeth lost both regular season meetings against the Clippers, but the third time was almost the charm.

Cape Elizabeth was behind almost the whole way, but refused to buckle. Yarmouth threatened to pull away early in the game, when it went up, 12-5, late in the first half, when it took a 24-16 lead, and late in the third period, when it grabbed a 37-30 advantage, but each time, the Capers answered and refused to go away.

Then, in the fourth quarter, Cape Elizabeth completed a 10-2 run and took its first lead since the early moments of the game when Justin Guerette made a baseline jumper with 3:47 to play, making it 40-39.

After Yarmouth went back on top, 42-40, back roared the Capers, as Eddie Galvin set up Jack O’Rourke for a 3 and the underdogs were on the brink of the upset, but they couldn’t hold on.

With 1:07 left, off an inbounds set, Yarmouth’s Ethan Gage passed to Nate Shields-Auble in the lane and Shields-Auble finished the short shot to put his team on top for good.

Cape Elizabeth’s Ethan Murphy then had a good on the baseline at the other end, but missed. The Capers got the ball right back thanks to an O’Rourke steal, but Murphy missed a runner.

After a missed Clippers’ free throw, the Capers’ hopes came down to unheralded Marcus Donnelly, who had a good look at a 3 from the wing, but his shot was no good. Guerette managed to come down with the rebound, but Yarmouth’s Adam LaBrie stole the ball away and with 4.6 seconds showing (an awful lot of time as it would prove), went to the line for a one-and-one. LaBrie’s first free throw was true, but he missed the second.

The rebound was tipped out to LaBrie, who passed to teammate David Murphy, who only needed to cradle the ball until the buzzer sounded, but instead, Murphy tossed it up in the air underhanded.

Problem was, he didn’t throw it high enough and it came down to Guerette near midcourt and as the buzzer sounded, Guerette sent a desperation heave toward the basket.

Had it gone in, the ending would have been Sportscenter-worthy, but the Capers would not prevail in fairy tale, buzzer beating fashion (as they did in upsetting top-ranked Falmouth in the 2004 quarterfinals or Greely in improbable fashion in the 2009 semifinals).

This time, the miracle bid was barely off target and at last, the Cape Elizabeth’s season ended at 11-8 with a 45-43 setback.

Cape Elizabeth was led by O’Rourke, who had 13 points, five rebounds, two steals and a pair of assists. Galvin had 11 points, six boards, three assists, a steal and a block before fouling out. Ethan Murphy, who also left early, had nine points, while Guerette added seven (to go with a game-high 10 rebounds).

The Capers outrebounded the Clippers, 29-27, committed only 10 turnovers and made 6 of 11 foul shots, but it wasn’t enough.

“We played tough,” Cape Elizabeth coach Jim Ray said. “We just didn’t have the necessary composure. We missed some foul shots throughout and missed contested layups. You have to make those. It was better than the first two times we played them, but it’s disappointing. It would have been nice to move on and play another game, but someone has to lose. It was a good high school basketball game.”

The Capers’ record might not reflect it, but they came a long way over the course of the season.

“We struggled figuring out how to win games in the summer, but we figured out who had confidence,” Ray said. “Hats off to every single one of the guys for coming and working hard. They showed a lot of commitment. Most of these guys will be back, but we have to work hard to get better. We won’t just get better.”

Seeing red

On the girls’ side, Scarborough earned the No. 9 seed in Western A after a 7-11 regular season and had to go to No. 8 Deering last Wednesday in the preliminary round. The Rams won the regular season meeting by five, while the Red Storm won the only previous playoff meeting (in the 2010 regional final).

Scarborough was minus injured junior standout Ashley Briggs, an all-conference shoo-in, who was eighth in the league in scoring and tied for second in assists. Briggs was sidelined by shin splints and despite hopes of returning for the playoffs, wasn’t able to answer the bell.

The Red Storm played well regardless and led, 6-3, after one quarter and were tied, 19-19, at halftime, but Deering went up by as many as eight points in the third quarter and gradually pulled away to prevail, 49-36.

Scarborough got another stellar effort from super frosh Brooke Malone, who had a team-high 11 points and a game-high 15 rebounds.

“Brooke makes coaching fun,” Red Storm first-year coach Mike Giordano said. “When you have a 5-6, 5-7 kid, who’s outmatched in size and physicality, finish fourth in the league in rebounding, that’s just a pleasure to coach.”

The Red Storm gave the ball away 16 times and made 12 of 23 free throws.

“We played well,” said Giordano. “(The girls) gave me everything they had. We competed. We felt good at halftime, but they just wore us down in the second half. We needed one more scorer tonight and she was sitting on the bench. You can’t make up for her absence. Look at the stat sheet. You can’t replace that, but I thought we replaced it with heart tonight.

“Our goal every year is to get to the tournament. Obviously our goal is to get to the quarters where everybody is watching. We were very young, but they were committed. They worked hard. It was a great year.”

Scarborough only graduates Mackenzie O’Brien, which suggests it will be even more in the hunt in 2014-15.

“We return everybody but  one and we have a nice eighth grade class which will be freshmen, so the future is bright in Scarborough,” Giordano said.

South Portland had a fabulous regular season, going 15-3 and earning No. 3 seed, but the Red Riots met their match in the quarterfinals Monday against a sixth-ranked Cheverus squad they swept in the regular season.

This time, South Portland went up early, 4-2, but Cheverus took the lead for good behind an 8-0 run and led, 14-8, after one period. The Stags extended that advantage to 28-14 at halftime, but based on what happened in the teams’ last meeting, no one in the building thought it was safe.

This time, however, Cheverus never let South Portland make a serious run and extended its lead to as many as 18 points, 37-19. The Red Riots did make things interesting when they pulled within 39-29, 41-31 and 44-34 late in the third period, but the Stags opened the fourth period with four straight points and that proved to be too much to overcome. Cheverus gradually extended its lead from there and went on to a most impressive 61-42 victory.

For South Portland, senior Brianne Maloney capped her solid high school career with 12 points. Junior Holly Black added 10. 

The Red Riots, who made just 17 of 30 free throws and turned the ball over 15 times, were left heartbroken.

“I think the big difference was that we didn’t do a good job on rebounding at either end,” said South Portland coach Lynne Hasson. “Hats off to Cheverus. I thought they played great defensively. We struggled all night. I don’t have a lot of answers as to why. I think it was a combination of taking bad shots and having some kids who were nervous and played nervous and weren’t looking to score. We really struggled offensively and we weren’t boxing out on the defensive end. We gave them second opportunities. Every time we made a run, they answered. There’s only so many times you can come back from a big deficit against a good team.

 I’m proud of the kids. The disappointment will take a few days to get over. It’s hard to say it was a great season after losing in the tournament. It was a great season, but it doesn’t make us feel any better right now. The seniors were just great. You want integrity, positive attitudes and hard work from kids and we were really lucky. They’ve given their heart and soul. I couldn’t ask for any more from those kids. They gave us everything they had. They’ll be hard to replace.”

Look for even better results from this crew next winter.

“I hope we can go further,” said Hasson. “This program needs to get to the quarterfinals. It’s been a goal and it will continue to be a goal.”

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

Sidebar Elements

Cape Elizabeth sophomore Jack O’Rourke goes to the basket during the Capers’ 45-43 loss to Yarmouth in the Western B quarterfinals Saturday.

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