Greely junior Zach Brown goes up over Yarmouth junior Noah Eckersley-Ray for two of his game-high 31 points in the Rangers’ 56-46 road victory Monday night. Greely has now won 33 consecutive games.
Mike Strout photos.
More photos below.
G- 17 8 8 23- 56
Y- 9 17 7 13- 46
G- Brown 10-8-31, Kane 2-3-7, Storey 2-0-6, Bagshaw 2-0-5, Miller 1-1-4, DeWolfe 1-1-3
Y- Hagerty 6-4-18, Torres 3-1-8, Eckersley-Ray 2-1-5, Middleton 2-0-5, Haywood 2-0-4, Hickey 1-2-4, Rogers 1-0-2
G (7) Brown 3, Storey 2, Bagshaw, Miller 1
Y (4) Hagerty 2, Middleton, Torres 1
YARMOUTH—The question wasn’t, what can Brown do for you?
Monday evening, the question was more like, what couldn’t Greely junior standout Zach Brown do for his team.
Brown did a little of everything against rival Yarmouth, scoring 16 straight points in one stretch and helping break open a close game to lead the Rangers to yet another victory.
Undefeated Greely, the defending Class A champions, went to a venue where it was pushed to triple overtime a year ago and while just 32 minutes were necessary this time around, the Clippers again made life difficult for the Rangers.
Greely drained four 3-pointers in the first quarter to race to a 17-9 lead, but Yarmouth, behind senior standout Nolan Hagerty, countered in the second period, as Hagerty’s prowess at both ends spelled a 9-1 run to end the half, giving the Clippers a 26-25 advantage at the break.
Neither team had much luck generating much offense in the third quarter, but five straight points from Brown helped forge a 33-33 tie heading to the final stanza.
There, a Brown 3-pointer put the Rangers ahead to stay and by the time his 16-point surge was done, Greely was ahead, 44-35.
From there, Yarmouth could draw no closer than seven and the Rangers prevailed, 56-46.
Brown led all scorers with 31 points as Greely improved to 11-0, dropped the Clippers to 7-4 and in the process, extended its two-year win streak to a whopping 33 games, just one shy of the program record.
“I knew I had to take over,” said Brown. “I just started hitting my shots and (my teammates) just kept giving me the ball. I hit a 3 and I just went from there.”
Greely navigated its 2016-17 schedule without a loss, culminating a 22-0 run with a decisive victory over Messalonskee in the Class A state final, the program’s first Gold Ball in 19 years.
After graduating standouts like Jordan Bagshaw, Ryan Twitchell and Mr. Maine Basketball, Matt McDevitt, the Rangers were expected by many to come back to the pack, but instead, they’ve kept the good times rolling.
Greely started the 2017-18 season with wins at Cape Elizabeth (66-50) and at home over defending Class B South champion Wells (64-46) and two-time defending Class AA South champion South Portland (66-60). After downing host Falmouth (51-40), the Rangers closed the 2017 portion of their schedule with a 66-47 home win over Brunswick. Greely then won at Gray-New Gloucester (65-43) and Gorham (61-29), at home over York (71-46), at Freeport (64-50) and Saturday, at Oxford Hills (51-39).
Yarmouth, meanwhile, began with a 44-42 loss at York, then downed visiting Sacopee Valley (69-19), Freeport (63-49) and Fryeburg Academy (39-29). After a 51-45 home loss to Gray-New Gloucester, the Clippers won at Waynflete (54-53), at home over Wells in a regional final rematch (57-40) and at home over Traip Academy (44-35). After a 48-44 setback at Cape Elizabeth, Yarmouth avenged a loss by prevailing, 46-35, at Gray-New Gloucester Thursday. Saturday’s scheduled home game versus Lake Region was postponed by predicted bad weather.
Entering play Monday, Greely had won 23 of 31 meetings since the start of the 2001-02 season (see sidebar, below) and four straight, including last year’s 82-74 triple-overtime epic in Yarmouth, which was the Rangers’ ninth straight victory in their overall streak.
Monday, Greely dispatched the Clippers again, with a little less drama, for number 33 in a row.
Brown first made his presence felt 25 seconds in, when after a steal, he made a layup to break the ice.
Sophomore Logan Bagshaw added a fastbreak layup, but junior Ashanti Haywood hit a jumper and sophomore Aidan Hickey made a layup after a steal to tie it for Yarmouth, 4-4.
Junior Andrew Storey hit a 3 to put the Rangers back on top, but junior Jonny Torres countered with one of his own to tie the score again.
After Greely senior Jack Kane made a free throw, Storey made another 3 and Brown did the same to push the lead to 14-7.
Haywood countered with a putback, but with 43.7 seconds on the clock, senior Luke Miller drained a 3-ball to give the Rangers a 17-9 advantage after one period.
While Greely made four 3-pointers in the first eight minutes, the Clippers missed five of their six attempts.
Yarmouth would get its offense going in the second quarter, as Hagerty put on a show.
Junior Jake Rogers opened the frame with a bank shot for the hosts, Hagerty made two free throws and off an inbounds set, junior Noah Eckersley-Ray fed Hagerty for a layup, pulling the Clippers within two, 17-15.
The Rangers countered, as Brown fed Kane for a layup, but Hagerty hit a jumper.
Brown then sank a 3 and Kane tipped home a miss for a 24-17 Greely lead with 2:30 to go before the break, but the rest of the half would belong to Yarmouth.
After Torres drove for a layup, Eckersley-Ray made a free throw, Hagerty spun and made a shot while being fouled before adding the free throw for the old-fashioned three-point play and after a Hagerty free throw, Torres set up Eckersley-Ray for a layup and the Clippers’ first lead.
Brown hit a free throw with under a second on the clock, but Yarmouth took a 26-25 advantage to the break.
In the first half, Hagerty had 10 points, four blocked shots and three rebounds, while Brown had nine points for the Rangers.
Hickey opened the third period with two free throws, but senior Shane DeWolfe made a free throw, then managed to get the ball over Hagerty and off the glass and in to tie it, 28-28.
With 3:40 left in the quarter, Hagerty set up Eckersley-Ray for a layup and the lead, but after being fouled after a steal, Brown tied the score with two foul shots.
A 3-ball from junior Caden Middleton with 2:07 to go gave the Clippers their final lead, but Brown made a layup, then hit a free throw to send the game to the fourth period tied, 33-33.
There, Zach Brown became a one-man band and led Greely to victory.
With 7:01 to go, Brown scored on a putback to give the Rangers their first lead of the half.
Forty seconds later, after a Hickey steal, Torres made a layup to tie it for the seventh and final time.
But with 5:56 remaining, Brown buried a 3 and Greely was on top for good.
Twenty seconds later, after Middleton missed a 3-pointer to tie it, Brown banked home a shot to make it 40-35, forcing Yarmouth coach Adam Smith to call timeout.
It didn’t help, as Brown took a pass from DeWolfe and made a layup, then he finished a feed from Kane for another layup and a 44-35 advantage with 4:35 to play.
“I made some adjustments in the second half,” Brown said. “Nolan is a great defender and he blocked me a lot. Me and Shane have a lot of experience from last year. We bring a lot of leadership and we know how to close out games.”
“Zach struggled a little bit at Oxford Hills Saturday, but he’s a great player,” Greely coach Travis Seaver said. “Guys have confidence in him and he has confidence in himself. He made great plays down the stretch and that’s what great players do. He can get to the rim, shoot from the outside. He’s tough to guard.”
With 3:41 left, Bagshaw drained a 3 (Brown assisted) to end Brown’s long scoring run.
After Torres made a free throw, Kane countered with two and Miller made another for a 50-36 lead with 2:50 on the clock.
Middleton countered with a floater and with 1:24 to go, Hagerty had a dunk to cut the deficit to 50-40, but Brown countered with a bank shot to stem the tide.
With 57.8 seconds remaining, Hagerty buried a 3, but Brown made a free throw.
With 21.5 seconds to go, Hagerty made another 3, but would be the Clippers’ last hurrah, as Brown made two free throws, then for good measure, sank one more to give Greely a 56-46 victory.
“Yarmouth keeps getting better and they made us play a different style,” Seaver said. “They did great defensively. They took us out of what we wanted to do. We wanted to get back to playing up-tempo and putting pressure on them and controlling the boards. The second half, especially the fourth quarter, we got every defensive rebound.”
Brown was the offensive story, scoring a game-high 31 points. Brown also had seven rebounds and five steals.
Kane finished with seven points and four rebounds and helped hold Hagerty in check.
“Nolan is a good player and Jack did a good job keeping him away from the basket,” Seaver said. “He showed his range, but that was a fun battle to watch between two very good basketball players.”
Storey added six points (and six rebounds), Bagshaw had five, Miller four and DeWolfe three (to go with four assists).
The Rangers enjoyed a 32-28 rebounding advantage, only committed 12 turnovers in a hostile setting and made 13 of 20 free throws.
For Yarmouth, Hagerty led the way with 18 points, eight blocks and eight rebounds.
“Good athletes get other people involved,” Smith said. “A player can’t dominate for four quarters. Nolan gave us 30 minutes tonight of the most he could give. We needed other guys to step up around him.”
Torres added eight points, Eckersley-Ray (nine boards) and Middleton each had five, Haywood and Hickey (three steals) four apiece and Rogers two.
The Clippers had 14 turnovers and only made 8 of 18 foul shots.
“It was a packed gym against Greely and the effort was there from both teams and that was good,” said Smith. “I thought Zach took it to the rack really well and played with composure. The difference was that four-minute period where they knocked down shots and we did not. That’s what good teams do. They rose to the occasion. We played well for three-and-a-half quarters. We have plenty to build off. This was good for us.”
Yarmouth is still very much in the Class B South hunt. The Clippers, ranked fourth in the Heal Points standings, welcome Lake Region in a makeup game Wednesday, then go to resurgent Freeport Friday. A huge home test against Cape Elizabeth looms Tuesday of next week. After going to Wells, Greely, and Poland, Yarmouth closes at Lake Region.
“We have plenty of potential in our locker room,” Smith said. “There’s still a long ways to go. We’ve gotten better incrementally and we’ll continue to do that. The execution has to get better.”
Greely, which has a stranglehold on the top seed in Class A South for the third year in a row, returns to action Friday at Fryeburg Academy. A win there would give the Rangers a chance to set a new program record for consecutive wins a week from Tuesday when Westbrook pays a visit.
Not that Greely is talking much about it.
At least externally.
“It’s something we want to achieve, but our main goal is a state championship,” said Brown. “It’s in the backs of our minds.”
“Honestly, it’s not even a conversation,” said Seaver, who as a player helped produce the record from 1996 to 1998. “Our focus is just one game at a time. We’re a pretty good team and we talk every day about how we can get better. It’s cool. Obviously it means we’ve had some very good players. It’s a tribute to them. The goal is to win every game and if we do, great, that’s the goal.”
After hosting Gray-New Gloucester, Cape Elizabeth and Yarmouth, Greely goes to York and closes at home versus Fryeburg Academy.
“I think we’re a good team right now, but I still think we have a lot of improvement to go,” Brown said. “We can still take care of the ball better. We haven’t been great on free throws the last few games. We have to work on that.”
“We need to shorten our spurts of not playing good basketball,” Seaver said. “Our message is to put four good quarters together and tonight, we only put one-and-a-half together.”
Yarmouth senior Nolan Hagerty shoots over Greely junior Andrew Storey for two of his team-high 18 points.
Yarmouth junior Jonny Torres goes up for a basket despite being fouled by Greely senior Jack Kane (35).
Yarmouth junior Caden Middleton dribbles through Greely sophomore Logan Bagshaw (3) and senior Shane DeWolfe.
Greely senior Jack Kane blocks the shot of Yarmouth senior Nolan Hagerty.
Greely senior Shane DeWolfe keeps possession of the ball despite being fouled by Yarmouth junior Ashanti Haywood.
Greely sophomore Logan Bagshaw gets by Yarmouth sophomore Aidan Hickey.
Greely junior Andrew Storey shoots a 3-pointer over Yarmouth senior Nolan Hagerty.
Yarmouth sophomore Aidan Hickey drives on Greely sophomore Logan Bagshaw.
Yarmouth 57 @ Greely 53
@ Yarmouth 61 Greely 42
@ Greely 58 Yarmouth 44
@ Yarmouth 60 Greely 53
@ Yarmouth 53 Greely 52
@ Greely 58 Yarmouth 57
Greely 61 @ Yarmouth 53
Yarmouth 53 @ Greely 51
Western B semifinals
Yarmouth 54 Greely 42
@ Greely 57 Yarmouth 49
Greely 54 @ Yarmouth 38
@ Greely 63 Yarmouth 44
@ Yarmouth 49 Greely 46
Greely 56 @ Yarmouth 52
@ Greely 72 Yarmouth 55
Western B quarterfinals
Greely 67 Yarmouth 53
Greely 67 @ Yarmouth 33
@ Greely 65 Yarmouth 37
@ Greely 66 Yarmouth 50
@ Yarmouth 61 Greely 59
Greely 43 @ Yarmouth 37
@ Greely 50 Yarmouth 39
@ Greely 43 Yarmouth 38
Greely 69 @ Yarmouth 52