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Brunswick junior Caleb Cost (middle) is congratulated by juniors Corban Teel (33) and Christian Glover after hitting a shot late in the game to ice Wednesday’s 65-52 win over Greely in a Class A South semifinal. The Dragons sprung the upset and advanced to face Falmouth in the regional final Saturday night.
Mike Strout photos.
More photos below.
B- 12 11 16 26- 65
G- 13 4 13 22- 52
B- Cost 8-2-19, Devereaux 6-0-16, Hanson 3-7-14, Souza 3-0-6, Dorr 1-2-4, Glover 2-0-4, Teel 1-0-2
G- McDevitt 6-3-17, Bagshaw 4-6-14, Normandeau 4-2-11, Soule 2-0-5, Twitchell 1-2-4, Brown 0-1-1
B (6) Devereaux 4, Cost, Hanson 1
G (4) McDevitt 2, Normandeau, Soule 1
PORTLAND—Everything we thought we knew about Class A South boys’ basketball was torn asunder Wednesday evening.
After Falmouth held off Cape Elizabeth in the first semifinal, visions of a third Yachtsmen showdown versus Greely in the regional final, with the winner going on to face seemingly unbeatable Hampden Academy in the state game were running through the heads of most.
Well, except those wearing the orange and black of the Brunswick Dragons and their legion of fans who made the trip to the Cross Insurance Arena for the team’s semifinal versus top-ranked Greely.
Form appeared to hold early, as the Rangers shot to leads of 9-0 and 12-2, but fourth-seeded Brunswick settled in and flipped the switch and put on a tremendous show.
By the 1:04 mark of the first quarter, the Dragons held pulled even and after Greely took a 13-12 lead to the second period, Brunswick went ahead to stay when junior Christian Glover made a layup with 5:06 to play before halftime.
Just before the break, senior Thomas Hanson scored on a putback and Brunswick ran to the locker room with a 23-17 lead and was thinking upset.
Greely wasn’t going to make it easy, however, and behind junior Jordan Bagshaw, who sat much of the first half with foul trouble, the Rangers crept back within a point on two separate occasions before the Dragons opened it up again, taking a 39-30 lead to the fourth quarter when junior Caleb Cost buried a 3-pointer at the third period horn.
Greely tried to rally down the stretch and got as close as four points, 44-40, when junior Matt McDevitt made a layup after a steal with 4:51 remaining, but instead of trying to run out the clock, Brunswick stayed in attack mode and behind the heroics of Cost, senior JD Souza, Hanson and junior Jesse Devereaux, pulled away and put the finishing touches on an inspirational 65-52 victory.
The Dragons got 19 points from Cost, 16 from Devereaux and 14 from Hanson as they improved to 15-5, ended Greely’s season a 16-4 and advanced to battle 16-4 Falmouth in the Class A South Final Saturday at 9 p.m. at the Cross Insurance Arena, where the winner won’t face defending Class A champion Hampden Academy in the state final, but instead giant-killer Oceanside or Medomak Valley.
“This is the tough thing about the tournament and it’s what makes it great,” said Rangers coach Travis Seaver. “At the end of tonight, two teams were happy in this building, Unfortunately, we’re not one of them. The kids are disappointed, but I can’t tell you how proud I am of these guys.”
“Our goal was to get better throughout the season and I think we’re hitting our stride now,” said Brunswick coach Todd Hanson.
Greely had never met Brunswick in a playoff game prior to Wednesday.
In fact, the first time the teams had squared off in a countable game came on Dec. 11, when the host Rangers beat the Dragons, 62-49, behind 20 points from McDevitt.
That was part of a superb 15-3 regular season for Greely, which lost only by a point in overtime on a buzzer-beater at Gorham, at Marshwood and at Cape Elizabeth en route to the top seed in Class A South. Friday, the Rangers ousted No. 8 Marshwood, 63-50, to advance.
As for Brunswick, it went 13-5 to earn the No. 4 seed, then ousted rival and No. 5 seed Mt. Ararat, 61-52, in its quarterfinal Friday.
Wednesday, Greely looked like it was headed for an easy victory before the Dragons roared back and made it a very entertaining contest.
A free throw from Bagshaw opened the scoring 15 seconds in. Senior Calvin Soule and McDevitt then hit 3s and with 5:01 to go in the first, junior Ryan Twitchell set up McDevitt for a layup and a quick 9-0 lead, forcing Hanson to call timeout.
Brunswick got on the board on a jumper from Devereaux with 4:51 left in the first, but Normandeau countered with a transition 3 for the corner and a 12-2 advantage.
The Dragons then came to life, as Devereaux hit a 3, Cost scored on a putback, Devereaux hit another 3 and Glover took a pass from Thomas Hanson on the fastbreak and just like that, with 1:04 remaining in the frame, the game was tied, 12-12.
“We had to get our legs under us,” Coach Hanson said. “It was the first time in this building for all these kids. I was very confident we’d get our feet set. I called a timeout to settle the guys down.”
With 3.3 seconds to go, freshman Zach Brown made a free throw and Greely was up, 13-12, heading for the second period.
There, Brunswick continued to surge.
With 6:28 left in the half, Souza drove the baseline for a layup and the Dragons’ first lead.
A runner in the lane from McDevitt put Greely back on top, but after a block from Cost, Glover made a layup to put his team ahead to stay, Souza set up Cost for a layup and with 3:35 remaining before halftime, Thomas Hanson’s 3 put Brunswick up six, 21-15.
The Rangers answered, as Brown set up Soule for a layup, but they wouldn’t score the remaining 3:17 of the half and as time expired, Hanson scored on a putback to make it 23-17 Dragons at the break.
Brunswick got eight points from Devereaux, while McDevitt led Greely with seven. The Rangers only made 6 of 23 shots in the first half.
In the third period, Greely did its best to rally, but the Dragons kept answering.
Bagshaw heated up early in the frame, hitting a leaner, getting fouled and adding the free throw for the old-fashioned three-point lay and after Brunswick junior Corban Teel spun and left a defender in his wake before making a layup, Bagshaw scored on a putback.
With 5:08 to go, Normandeau scored on a leaner while being fouled and went to the line with a chance to tie the score, but he missed his free throw.
“We could have tied it, so that was huge,” Seaver said. “If we made that, who knows what might have happened from that point on?”
Devereaux then hit a floater and after Bagshaw again cut the deficit to one with a floater of his own, Devereaux canned a 3 and junior Josh Dorr made two foul shots for a 32-26 advantage.
Normandeau countered with a jumper, but Dorr hit a leaner on the baseline and Cost weaved through the defense before making a layup for a 36-28 lead with 1:38 remaining in the third.
Seaver called timeout and Twitchell responded with his first points, a layup off a pass from Normandeau, but as time wound down in the quarter, Cost, from well behind the arc, rattled home a 3 and Brunswick had a nine-point advantage, 39-30, with eight minutes to play.
In the final stanza, the Rangers tried to rally, but couldn’t get the job done.
The Dragons turned the ball over on their first four possessions of the fourth period and Greely cut four points off the deficit as first Bagshaw, then Twitchell, made a pair of foul shots.
After Bagshaw missed a shot to draw the team closer, Devereaux hit a clutch 3 with 6:09 to go.
Normandeau hit two free throws and Bagshaw drove for a layup to make it 42-38 with 5:21 left, but Hanson answered with two free throws.
After McDevitt intercepted a pass right in front of the basket, he made a layup with 4:51 to go, but 25 seconds later, Cost hit a leaner in the lane and with 3:59 remaining, Souza drove for a layup and a 48-40 lead.
McDevitt got a point back at the line, but after passing up an open shot, Cost got a pass from Glover, made a layup, was fouled and completed the three-point play for Brunswick’s biggest lead to that point, 51-41, with 2:54 remaining.
McDevitt kept hope alive 12 seconds later with two free throws, but with 2:15 left, Cost again converted a three-point play to make it 54-43.
McDevitt struck again with 1:55 to go, draining a corner 3, but Hanson made two free throws.
After Normandeau scored on a leaner, Cost broke away for a layup and with 1:37 left, the Dragons were up, 58-48.
McDevitt continued to try and keep Greely alive with a scoop shot on the run, but Souza drove for a layup, Hanson made a free throw, Hanson hit two more and Cost set up Hanson for a layup with 17 seconds to go to end Brunswick’s scoring.
Bagshaw hit two free throws with 7.5 second showing and the Dragons ran out the clock from there on their 65-52 triumph.
“This is a great group of kids who are coachable,” Coach Hanson said. “They work hard. (The Rangers) have two prolific scorers. We’ve played teams who have one, so we had to double our efforts and get the help on two guys, not one. We rotated guys to guard McDevitt and Bagshaw and we did a great job.”
Brunswick got 19 points, six rebounds, two steals, two assists and a blocked shot from Cost.
Devereaux had four 3-pointers and finished with 16 points.
Thomas Hanson’s 14 points came with 11 rebounds, giving him a double-double. Hanson also had three assists, two steals and a block.
Souza added six points off the bench (as well as three assists), Dorr and Glover had four apiece and Teel finished with two.
The Dragons shot a sizzling 55 percent from the field, made 6 of 12 3-pointers and 11 of 14 foul shots. They turned the ball over 15 times, but forced 15 Greely turnovers.
The Rangers were led by McDevitt, who had 17 points, 10 rebounds, four blocks and a pair of steals.
Bagshaw was held to just one first half point, but scored 13 in the second half for 14.
“Fouls affected Jordan,” Seaver said. “He’s a shooter. You go through warmups, then you have to sit for awhile. I thought he did a nice job in the third quarter. It was a matchup we could take advantage of, but unfortunately, we couldn’t do it for four quarters.”
Normandeau added 11 points, Soule had five, Twitchell four (to go with nine rebounds) and Brown one.
Despite its sizzling start, Greely only shot 33 percent from the floor, hit just 4 of 16 3-pointers and made 14 of 21 free throws. The Rangers held a 31-24 rebounding advantage.
“We had a great start, but it’s a game of runs,” Seaver said. “We had a great run, then they had a great run and we never really recovered. We hit shots early. Some of those were tough shots. At the same time, we stopped hitting them and we had good looks. We had a tough stretch. Our kids played hard, but at the end, they made shots. They’re a tough matchup. They have height and guys who can shoot. They defend well. They played better than us tonight.”
Greely wound up winning 16 games, but hoped for three more victories this season.
“To get a top seed says a lot for what we did this year,” Seaver said. “It’s tough to win it, even as a one seed. Especially in a field like this. There were tough teams.”
The Rangers graduate starters Normandeau and Soule, but should be right back i the thick of things in 2016-17.
“The seniors were the guys I started four years ago,” Seaver said. “They bought in. This is probably one of the closest, hard working teams we’ve had in a long time. We have guys who will come back next year, but the seniors brought so much to the program will be missed.”
Brunswick has no playoff history with Falmouth, the number two seed, which ousted No. 7 Westbrook and No. 3 Cape Elizabeth in its first two playoff games, but the Dragons did lose at home to the Yachtsmen, 61-51, back on Dec. 17, despite 17 points from Thomas Hanson.
Coach Hanson doesn’t believe that result has much relevance at this juncture.
“We played Greely Dec. 11 and we played Falmouth Dec. 17 and we had three guys who started in a state championship football game three weeks before, so we were in no shape or way ready,” said Hanson.
The Yachtsmen are paced by one of the state’s elite talents in senior Thomas Coyne, a Mr. Maine Basketball semifinalist, and his younger brother, junior Colin Coyne.
Despite Brunswick’s momentum and confidence, it will be tested by one of the state’s perennially elite programs.
“We’re climbing the hill, but we’re not there yet,” Coach Hanson said. “I’m a really big Tommy Coyne fan. He plays the game at a very high level. We’ll have two days to look at some film and come up with a plan of action. It won’t be easy, but we’ll have to play as a team again.”
Greely junior Jordan Bagshaw gets around Brunswick junior Corban Teel.
Greely junior Matt McDevitt blocks the shot of Brunswick junior Caleb Cost.
Greely senior Caleb Normandeau drives on Brunswick senior JD Souza.
Brunswick junior Caleb Cost wrests a rebound away from Greely senior Calvin Soule.
Brunswick senior Thomas Hanson is called for a charge after barreling over Greely senior Caleb Normandeau.
Greely junior Ryan Twitchell leans in for a shot as Brunswick junior Caleb Cost defends.
Brunswick junior Corban Teel drives to the basket as Greely junior Matt McDevitt defends.