With fans looking on in disbelief and with Coach Sam Farrell showing his approval, Brunswick’s girls’ basketball team mobs junior Marley Groat after her buzzer-beating 3-point shot beat Greely, 65-63, in a girls’ basketball thriller Friday afternoon.
G- 7 24 18 14- 63
B- 16 8 26 15-65
G- Clement 9-6-28, Obar 5-6-19, Scott 5-0-11, Currier 1-1-3, Spoerri 1-0-2
B- MacMillan 7-0-18, Groat 5-4-17, Armstrong 6-0-15, Larochelle 4-1-13, Guptill 1-0-2
G (8) Clement 4, Obar 3, Scott 1
B (14) Larochelle, MacMillan 4, Armstrong, Groat 3
BRUNSWICK—It was one of the most entertaining high school basketball games in a long time.
A game which featured two up-tempo, sharpshooting and talented teams with something to prove and in the end, those who witnessed the 32 riveting minutes were the biggest winners.
In a rematch of last year’s surprising Class A South Final, Brunswick, the defending girls’ regional champion, hosted short-handed Greely in the teams’ lone regular season meeting, a game which required all 1,920 seconds to determine a winner and one which did nothing but whet everyone’s appetite for a hoped-for rematch in February.
The Rangers, playing without injured junior standout Anna DeWolfe, made just one of their first 13 shots and the Dragons raced to a quick 16-5 lead behind seven points from junior Charlotte MacMillan.
With Brunswick battling foul trouble, Greely then roared to life in the second period, riding the talents of sophomore Brooke Obar and freshman Camille Clement, to close the half on a 26-8 run to lead, 31-24, at the break.
The Dragons returned to full strength to start the second half and quickly retook the lead, before the teams went back-and-forth the rest of the third period. In the final minute, a putback from MacMillan gave the hosts a 50-49 advantage.
There would be no time to breathe in the fourth quarter either, as the hosts went up by four on a 3-pointer from junior Marley Groat, but the Rangers again rallied, tying the score at 56-56 on an old-fashioned three-point play from Clement with 5:44 on the clock.
Brunswick went back up by three on a 3-pointer from junior reserve Emily Larochelle, but the next seven points went to Greely, capped by two Obar free throws with 23.5 seconds remaining, making the score 63-59 Rangers.
But just when all appeared lost, the Dragons saved their best for last, as with 10.6 seconds on the clock, senior Sabrina Armstrong sank a rainbow 3-pointer from well behind the arc and after Greely missed the front end of a one-and-one, Groat raced up the floor and a split second before the buzzer sounded, threw up a prayer of a contested 3-pointer which found its mark and Brunswick survived in epic fashion, 65-63.
The Dragons got 18 points from MacMillan, 17 from Groat and 15 from Armstrong as they improved to 6-0 on the season, dropping the Rangers to 4-2 in the process.
“It’s a great win, a team win,” said Brunswick coach Sam Farrell, who once upon a time, coached at Greely. “This is what girls’ basketball is supposed to be. They hit a big shot, we hit a big shot. They hit a crazy runner, we hit a weird looking runner. It was back-and-forth and it felt like a playoff atmosphere. It’s a tough game and somebody had to lose.”
Prior to last year, Brunswick and Greely hadn’t met in a countable game, but the schools established a rivalry quickly.
After the Rangers won the regular season meeting, 65-46, in Cumberland, the squads squared off again in the Class A South Final, where the Dragons rallied to stun top-ranked Greely, 54-51, to advance to the state final, which Brunswick lost to Messalonskee, 58-33.
There’s a good chance the teams could be on another February course this season.
The Dragons opened defense of their regional title by defeating host Morse (88-17), visiting Mt. Ararat (73-28), host Falmouth (54-27), visiting Lewiston (56-36) and visiting Lawrence (37-31).
The Rangers had no trouble with visiting Cape Elizabeth, winning their opener, 85-44. After a 60-48 victory at Wells, Greely fell at Class AA South favorite South Portland, 63-53. A 63-53 home victory over Poland followed, but it came at a steep price, as DeWolfe injured her ankle (she hopes to be back next week). In the Rangers’ last outing, four days before Christmas, they handled visiting Falmouth, 61-35.
Friday, in a matinee played in front of a vocal crowd, both teams put on an exhibition of shooting and clutch play and by game’s end, all anyone wanted to talk about was a possible rematch.
The Dragons came out sizzling, as just 24 seconds in, MacMillan sank a 3 and 27 seconds later, Armstrong knocked one down as well for a quick 6-0 advantage.
Greely got on the board with 6:11 left in the first period, when Obar hit a 3, but it would be over six minutes before the Rangers drained another field goal.
A short jumper after a steal by MacMillan, a foul shot from Groat, a leaner from Armstrong and a pair of free throws from Groat made it 13-3 Brunswick with 2:35 to go in the frame.
A pair of Clement free throws seven seconds later ended a 7-0 run, but MacMillan answered with a short jumper in the lane and Groat added another foul shot.
Then, just before time expired, Clement managed to bank a shot home from a tough angle, but that only pulled the Rangers within nine, 16-7, at quarter’s end.
In the first eight minutes, Greely only made 2 of 14 field goal attempts.
The Rangers would then flip the switch for the second period and roared into the lead.
Obar started the frame with a 3, but Groat countered with a longball of her own for a 19-10 lead.
Clement then sank her first 3, Obar made a layup and after Armstrong was whistled for her third foul and had to sit, Greely junior Madison Scott made a runner in the lane and Obar sank two free throws with 5:03 to go in the half to forge a 19-19 tie.
Brunswick retook the lead on a layup after a steal from Groat, but Obar was fouled by Dragons junior Rian Sachs (her third) and tied the score with two free throws and with 3:03 remaining, Scott then got a runner to roll in, giving the Rangers their first lead, 23-21.
Fourteen seconds later, Larochelle countered with a 3 to give Brunswick the lead, but Scott made a 3 to put Greely on top, junior Emma Spoerri added a putback, Clement sank two free throws and senior Kelsey Currier made one of her own for a 31-24 Rangers’ lead at halftime.
“Greely got us out of what we do and we didn’t look good,” said Farrell. “They went to the hoop and were aggressive.”
Greely closed the half on an 8-0 run and had a surge of 26-8 dating back to the very end of the first period.
Obar led the way for the Rangers in the half with a dozen points, while Clement added nine and Scott contributed seven.
The Dragons were paced by nine points from Groat, whose finest moment was yet to come.
With its starters back on the floor, Brunswick ran off eight straight points to start the third period to retake the lead, as sophomore Alexis Guptill scored on a putback and MacMillan made consecutive 3s for a 32-31 advantage.
Clement countered, taking a pass from Spoerri and making a backdoor layup, and Obar stepped back for a 3-pointer and a 36-32 Greely lead.
Back came the Dragons, as consecutive layups from Armstrong tied the score and a long Armstrong 3 with 4:22 remaining put Brunswick ahead, 39-36.
Clement then scored six quick points, hitting a 3-pointer, then driving for a layup while being fouled and adding the free throw to complete the old-fashioned three-point play for a 42-39 lead.
It didn’t last, as the Dragons got a 3 from Larochelle to tie the score.
After Currier hit a jumper and Clement added a long 3 for a 47-42 Rangers’ lead, Larochelle sank a 3 and MacMillan drilled another from the corner for a 48-47 Brunswick advantage.
In the final minute of the frenetic third period, Obar hit a runner, but MacMillan countered with a putback and after 24 minutes, Brunswick clung to a 50-49 lead.
The fourth quarter would be just as riveting and came down to a memorable finish.
A Clement leaner put Greely back on top, but Groat made a layup, then sank a 3 with 6:33 to play for a 55-51 Dragons’ advantage.
Scott countered with a leaner for the visitors, but a Larochelle free throw made it 56-53.
The Rangers then drew even as Clement banked home a shot while being fouled and added the free throw with 5:44 left, but 13 seconds later, Larochelle sank a 3 from the corner.
Scott countered with a putback with 3:55 on the clock and after both Sachs and MacMillan missed the front end of one-and-ones, Obar inbounded the ball to Clement, who buried a corner 3 with 1:52 to go for a 61-59 Greely lead.
At the other end, Groat missed and Scott got the rebound.
Clement then went for a dagger 3, but it went in-and-out and Guptill got the rebound for Brunswick.
Larochelle then missed a runner and Spoerri got the rebound and got the ball to Obar, who was fouled with 23.5 seconds to go.
Obar then calmly made both free throws for a 63-59 lead and it appeared the Rangers were on the brink of victory, but the Dragons went out and wrested it away.
First, with 10.6 seconds on the clock, Armstrong somehow got a rainbow of a shot from at least five feet beyond the arc to fall to cut the deficit to 63-62.
Clement then went to the line with 5.1 seconds remaining with a chance to extend the lead, but the front end of her one-and-one was short and Armstrong got the rebound.
And then the fun began.
If you were a Brunswick fan.
Armstrong passed the ball to Groat, who raced into the frontcourt. Just before time expired, Groat got to the 3-point stripe and with the defense collapsing, threw up a prayer as the horn sounded.
And the ball rattled in.
Dragons 65 Rangers 63.
“There was just a lot of adrenaline going,” Groat said. “I knew I had to get a last shot off and I just threw it up and it went in. I didn’t think it was going to go in. I heard my teammates counting down and I knew I had to shoot it. It was so crazy. I’m just so happy. We had to work as a team and get it done and we did.”
“I just told them to go, make or miss,” Farrell said. “Take the first good look and there you go. She had a hand in her face and a body on her, you name it. I just watched it go in.
“We talk about the four-letter word, guts. So many times we could have quit, but instead we fought and fought and fought. Sabrina hit that shot from the coaching box, then we pressured them. We made everything hard for them. Both teams remembered last February, so we knew it was going to be a big rivalry match.”
“We almost had her double-teamed,” lamented Greely coach Todd Flaherty. “That part I was OK with. That’s basically what we wanted to do. She just did a nice job.”
Brunswick got key contributions from several players, sparked by MacMillan’s 18 points, six rebounds and three assists.
Groat had 17 points, including the three most important, to go with six rebounds and three assists.
Armstrong had 15 points and Larochelle had 13 key points off the bench, to go with seven rebounds. Guptill added two points, nine rebounds and two steals and Sachs (five boards), junior Rosalee White (four rebounds) and freshman Hannah Fortier also played key roles.
“I was really happy with Emily off the bench,” Farrell said. “She was a big spark. Hannah came in and gave us a spark. That’s what it takes.”
Brunswick made 14 3-pointers, enjoyed a 47-37 rebounding advantage and overcame 15 turnovers and 5-of-11 foul shooting.
Greely was paced by Clement, who led all scorers with 28 points. Clement, the younger sister of former Miss Maine Basketball Allie Clement, who was on hand Saturday, put on a show against her mother’s alma mater.
“Camille is a solid freshman player,” Flaherty said. “She’s tremendous.”
Obar added 19 points and Scott was steady with 11 points and seven rebounds.
Currier had three points and Spoerri finished with two (to go with seven rebounds).
Junior Julia Martel didn’t score, but made timely plays all over the floor, finishing with five rebounds, four steals and a pair of assists. Senior Jen Spencer came off the bench and grabbed three boards.
The Rangers committed 13 turnovers and made 13 of 16 foul shots.
“This was a heck of a Saturday afternoon game,” Flaherty said. “They just made a great play at the end. Now I know we can fight through adversity and that’s something we can build on. I’m really proud of our effort the last three-and-a-half quarters. We have a lot to work with, we just have to sharpen things up. That game was lost in the middle, not the end. When you lose a game like this, I take responsibility because it’s up to me to find those extra points.”
Greely’s tough stretch continues Thursday of next week when Gray-New Gloucester pays a visit. The Rangers then host two-time defending Class AA state champion Gorham, go to perennially strong York and welcome Freeport.
“We look at Brunswick and Marshwood as the favorites and that’s who we’re shooting to beat,” Flaherty said. “I’d love to (see Brunswick) again.”
Brunswick is back in action Tuesday at Camden Hills. The Dragons then travel to Cape Elizabeth Jan. 5.
“We could benefit from playing (Greely) twice, but hopefully we’ll see them again in the tournament,” Farrell said. ” We need to improve our free throws and we can’t take plays off. We know better.”