Brunswick senior Madeline Suhr, who had a game-high 22 points, and her teammates exult after upsetting Greely, 54-51, in the Class A South Final Saturday night. The Dragons advanced to meet Messalonskee in the state final next Saturday afternoon in Augusta.
Mike Strout photos.
More photos below.
PORTLAND—It wasn’t the “Greely Invitational” after all.
Instead, it became the “Brunswick Coronation.”
Saturday evening’s Class A South girls’ basketball final at the Cross Insurance Arena unfolded as a game to remember, but the for the top-ranked Rangers, it was a result to forget.
While for the Dragons, it was history made.
Brunswick came out strong and led, 11-7, after one quarter, but Greely controlled the second period, going on a 13-2 run to lead, 20-13, at the break after senior Isabel Porter sank an improbable 3-pointer at the horn.
When the Rangers started the second half on an 11-4 run, capped by another Porter 3, to lead, 31-17, it appeared a state final trip was in store, but the Dragons roared back.
The sizzling shooting of seniors Brooke Barter and Madeline Sachs and junior Sabrina Armstrong helped cut Brunswick’s deficit to 36-32 after three periods and Brunswick culminated its rally when Suhr scored on a putback for a 45-44 lead with 2:53 to play.
Greely sophomore standout Anna DeWolfe put her team back on top 11 seconds later and after Dragons senior Aidan Sachs made a jumper, a floater from Rangers freshman Brooke Obar with 1:51 to play made it 48-47 Greely, but Brunswick would finish strong.
With 1:13 to go, Suhr stole the ball in and converted a three-point play to put Brunswick ahead to stay.
Twice in the finale minute, Greely pulled within a point, but two free throws from Barter with 3.3 seconds left put the Dragons on top by three.
The Rangers had one final chance to answer and force overtime, but a desperation 3 from DeWolfe from just inside the midcourt stripe as time expired fell short and Brunswick sprung the upset, 54-51.
Suhr had 22 points, Barter added 14 and Armstrong finished with 10 as the Dragons improved to 18-3, ended Greely’s fine season at 19-2 and advanced to the Class A state final for the first time where they will battle Messalonskee (21-0) for a Gold Ball Saturday at 1 p.m., at the Augusta Civic Center.
“Unfortunately we just came up a little short,” said Greely coach Todd Flaherty. “I thought we had them where we wanted them, but they made shots and we didn’t capitalize. They could have folded, but they came back. Give them credit. It just wasn’t our night.”
Greely rolled through its regular season with just one loss (a close setback at defending Class AA champion Gorham) and as the No. 1 seed, wasn’t seriously tested in the quarterfinals, a 75-36 win over Leavitt. Wednesday in the semifinals against Marshwood, however, the Rangers did get a scare for awhile before pulling away to prevail, 46-35.
Brunswick put together a superb season, losing only to Edward Little (twice) and Greely en route to earning the No. 2 seed in Class A South. After handling No. 7 Kennebunk in the quarterfinals 57-42, the Dragons ousted No. 3 York, 43-35, Wednesday in the semifinals.
The Rangers won the regular season meeting, 65-46, Dec. 15 in Cumberland behind 20 points from DeWolfe and 17 from Porter. Armstrong led Brunswick with 14 points.
Saturday’s encounter was the first ever in the postseason between the teams.
It proved to be a good one.
The Rangers started slowly, taking over three minutes to score its first field goal.
The Dragons got the game’s first hoop, on a 3-point shot from Suhr. After DeWolfe made a free throw for Greely, Barter knocked down a jumper for a 5-1 Brunswick lead, but freshman Katie Fitzpatrick made two free throws before a jumper from Obar tied the game, 5-5.
The Dragons retook the lead on a 3 from Suhr and after DeWolfe hit a leaner, Suhr sank a 3 from the corner for an 11-7 lead after eight minutes.
Brunswick turned the ball over eight times in the frame, but Suhr’s nine points spelled a lead.
The Rangers then dominated the second period to the tune of 13-2 for a somewhat comfortable halftime advantage.
Off an inbounds set, DeWolfe set up Porter for a 3 to start the frame. Porter then made two free throws and senior Molly Chapin went coast to coast for a layup and a 14-11 advantage.
With 4:19 left in the first half, a pair of free throws from Armstrong ended a 4 minute, 14 second drought, but DeWolfe made a nice move and finished. Then, Brunswick didn’t come out to defend and Obar held the ball for nearly two minutes before she was fouled and made one free throw.
Then, as time expired in the half, DeWolfe stole the ball and fed Porter, who immediately hurled the ball toward the basket, 30 feet away, and it found its target as the improbable 3-pointer gave the Rangers a 20-13 lead at halftime.
Suhr had nine points to lead all first half scorers. Porter had eight for Greely.
The Rangers then erupted to start the second half and appeared to pull away, but back came the Dragons.
On the opening inbounds pass, Chapin stole the ball and raced in for a layup. After a jumper from Brunswick sophomore Charlotte MacMillan, Porter drained a 3, then converted an old-fashioned three-point play (layup, foul, free throw) to extend the lead to 28-15.
Barter got two points back with a short jumper, but with 6:20 to play in the quarter, Porter’s 3 made it a 14-point game and seemingly put Greely in great shape.
But the Dragons quickly rose off the deck to get back in it.
The rally started with a 3-pointer from Armstrong. Fitzpatrick made a free throw for the Rangers, but Suhr hit a 3 and Armstrong followed with another to suddenly make it 32-26.
After Porter made two free throws, Fitzpatrick scored on a putback to restore a double digit lead, but the final six points of the frame went to Brunswick, as MacMillan hit a jumper, Suhr drove for a layup and Barter scored on a putback, cutting the deficit to 36-30 heading for the fourth quarter.
“At halftime, we talked about playing Brunswick basketball,” Dragons coach Sam Farrell said. “We did that in the first quarter. In the second quarter, we got out of rhythm. At halftime, we had to get to back to what we do.”
In the final stanza, Brunswick completed the upset.
The Dragons started the fourth with a runner from Barter, but DeWolfe made two free throws and Obar set up DeWolfe for a backdoor layup, making it 40-34.
Barter countered with a jumper, but DeWolfe returned the favor, setting up Obar for a layup.
After Sachs made a layup, DeWolfe answered with a floater, but Barter made a layup, Suhr buried a deep 3 from up top and with 2:53 remaining, Suhr’s putback completed the rally and gave the Dragons a 45-44 lead.
“We came back on defense,” Suhr said. “It turned into offensive points. Our press break is stronger than it used to be and that’s a big game-changer.”
DeWolfe raced down and hit a pullup jumper 11 seconds later to put Greely back on top, but Sachs hit a leaner for a 47-46 Dragons advantage with 2:29 to go.
With 1:51 left, the Rangers took their last lead, as Obar hit a floater and after a Brunswick turnover, Greely had a chance to go ahead by more, but Suhr stole a pass, raced in and with 1:13 to play, made a layup while being fouled before hitting the free throw to complete the three-point play to put the Dragons on top to stay, 50-48.
After DeWolfe made one of two free throws with 58.1 seconds to go, the Rangers got a steal from Obar, but Greely turned it right back over.
After Porter and Train nearly stole the ball, Train did get a hold of the ball and raced in for an apparent layup attempt, but instead, Train tried to pass and Barter tipped the ball away, giving Brunswick the ball back.
With 14.5 seconds left, Armstrong went to the line and confidently put two free throws through the net for a 52-49 lead.
DeWolfe was fouled and made both shots with 10.9 seconds to go to cut the deficit to one, but after running valuable time off the clock, Barter was fouled with just 3.3 seconds showing.
Barter made both shots , giving the Rangers one final, fleeting chance.
The ball was inbounded to DeWolfe, who dribbled across halfcourt before launching a prayer from 35 feet at the horn.
The shot was on target, but fell short and Brunswick was able to celebrate its first regional title, 52-49.
“The defense stepped up and we made some big shots,” said Farrell, a one-time Greely coach. “Madeline was awesome. Brooke had a heck of a fourth quarter. They played so well together. Some of the kids just didn’t come off the floor. We might not have the most talent on paper, but we play so well together. Brooke entered the starting lineup halfway through the season and that changed everything. The senior leadership is such a big deal, having seniors who can contribute.
“Some of these girls, I’ve been coaching since second grade. The seniors since fifth grade. They’ve been a huge part of this program. They’re amazing kids. Super committed. They want me to get on them tougher. They came to me earlier in the season and said, ‘Coach, you’re not being tough enough.’ Not a lot of high school kids ask for that. You could see tonight that nothing fazed them.”
Suhr led all scorers with 22 points. She also had 10 rebounds, three blocked shots, two steals and an assist.
Barter had 14 points (to go with six rebounds and four assists), Armstrong 10 (as well as six rebounds, four blocks and four assists) and MacMillan and Sachs four apiece.
The Dragons had a 32-27 rebounding advantage, made 20 of 41 field goals (including 7 of 15 3-pointers), 7 of 13 foul shots and overcame 27 turnovers.
Brunswick and Messalonskee didn’t play this year. The Eagles come in with a perfect record after going 18-0 in the regular season before downing Gardiner (67-56), Hampden Academy (70-31) and Nokomis (55-39) to advance.
The Dragons are hoping to punctuate their season with a historic Gold Ball and it this point, it would be silly to bet against them.
“This is incredible,” Suhr said. “It’s the best feeling ever. We have to keep playing how we’ve been playing.”
“We’ve never been to the state final on the girls’ side,” Farrell said. “We talk about building the tradition. We played Messalonskee a lot in the past few years in the summer or preseason. We have great respect for them. I don’t know how it will go, but I do know that the girls will work hard and we’ll have a lot of fun.”
Greely was led by Porter, who bowed out with a terrific 18-point, eight-steal performance.
“Isabel gets lost in the shuffle, but she had a great season,” Flaherty said. “She’s a wonderful competitor.”
DeWolfe had 16 points, four assists and four rebounds. Obar had seven points, Fitzpatrick six (as well as three steals) and Chapin four (to go with seven boards).
The Rangers made just 16 of 52 field goals, including 4 of 18 3-pointers, hit 15 of 21 free throws and turned the ball over 18 times.
“It’s saying something that we’re upset about losing in the regional final,” Flaherty said. “It’s a bitter pill for us. We had a higher goal and it just didn’t happen. To have this opportunity is all you can ask for.
“We didn’t execute and make shots we usually make. They made mid-range shots, then pounded us inside when they needed a basket. They’re a great halfcourt team. We had them on the ropes and had opportunities to get the game up to 20 and the game would be in good shape, but we made mistakes. As a coach, I should have been able to find the girls five or six points, but I couldn’t do it.”
Chapin, Porter, Train and Hannah Stewart will graduate, but Greely will reload next winter behind DeWolfe, Fitzpatrick and Obar and will look to finish what this group started.
“It’s always tough to lose seniors,” said Flaherty. “It was a great class. I miss them already. Having Anna is a good start. Brooke had a great freshman year. It won’t be long and the girls will be in the gym. They’ll be motivated.”
Brunswick senior Aidan Sachs looks to shoot as Greely freshman Brooke Obar, left, and senior Moira Train defend.
Greely senior Molly Chapin defends Brunswick junior Sabrina Armstrong.
Greely senior Isabel Porter drives on Brunswick senior Brooke Barter.
Greely senior Moira Train shoots over Brunswick senior Aidan Sachs.
Greely sophomore Anna DeWolfe shoots over Brunswick junior Sabrina Armstrong.
Greely freshman Brooke Obar shoots over Brunswick senior Aidan Sachs.
Brunswick senior Madeline Suhr knocks the ball away from Greely sophomore Anna DeWolfe en route to a layup that puts the Dragons ahead to stay.
Brunswick seniors Brooke Barter (24) and Aidan Sachs celebrate after cutting down the nets.
Brunswick’s captains receive the championship plaque.