Cape boys hold off furious Westbrook rally

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Cape Elizabeth junior Finn Bowe shoots over Westbrook sophomore Kyle Champagne during the teams’ contest Thursday night. Bowe’s 33 points helped the Capers hold on to prevail, 64-55. 

Mike Strout photos.

More photos below.

BOX SCORE

Cape Elizabeth 64 Westbrook 55

CE- 16 10 17 21- 64
W- 6 10 11 28- 55

CE- Bowe 8-14-33, Peterson 3-1-9, Hartel 3-1-7, Hewitt 3-0-7, Spicer 2-1-5, Hare 1-1-3

W- Manoogian 6-8-24, Sjoberg 3-2-9, Loureiro, 2-2-6, Alado 2-0-5, Champagne 2-0-5, Hanifi 0-4-4, Haggerty 0-2-2

3-pointers:
CE (6) Bowe 3, Peterson 2, Hewitt 1
W (7) Manoogian 4, Alado, Champagne, Sjoberg 1

Turnovers:
CE- 18
W- 17

FTs
CE: 18-24
W: 18-22

WESTBROOK—The early phase of the 2016-17 season hasn’t been kind to Cape Elizabeth’s boys’ basketball team, but the Capers have persevered and brighter days are ahead.

Not only is Cape Elizabeth a young team with a lot to learn, but the Capers were without a home for the better part of a month as their gym floor had to replaced on the eve of the season.

Cape Elizabeth dropped two of its first three games, but Thursday evening at Westbrook, the Capers showed just how much promise they have and that they’d better be taken seriously going forward.

In Cape Elizabeth’s first ever countable game on the Blue Blazes’ floor, sharpshooting junior Finn Bowe’s five quick points helped the Capers take a 7-0 lead they would never relinquish.

Cape Elizabeth was on top, 16-6, after one quarter and took a 26-16 advantage to halftime, as Bowe had 19 points, including a long 3-pointer just before the horn, and the Capers held Westbrook junior standout Zac Manoogian to a mere three points.

When the visitors extended their lead to 43-27 after three quarters, thanks to a late layup from senior Quinn Hewitt, it appeared they’d cruise to victory, but the Blue Blazes saved their best for last and almost pulled off an improbable rally.

After being held in check for 24 minutes, Manoogian heated up in the final stanza, scoring 19 points, as Westbrook roared back.

With 41.5 seconds left, Blue Blazes junior Landon Sjoberg made two free throws to cut the deficit to a mere two points, 57-55, but down the stretch, Bowe made four straight foul shots, senior Nat Spicer made a clutch layup and Cape Elizabeth held on to win, 64-55.

Bowe had a game-high 33 points as the Capers evened their record at 2-2, dropping Westbrook to 2-2 in the process.

“This was a huge game for us,” said longtime Cape Elizabeth coach Jim Ray. “Our guys were ready tonight. We were much more mentally prepared to play hard. I was pleased with that. It’s good to survive and get a little experience.”

Budding rivalry

Until last year, Cape Elizabeth and Westbrook were in different classes, but both squads are now Class A South contenders.

The Capers lost to Falmouth in last year’s semifinals and got off to a slow start this winter, losing at Greely (62-44) and after prevailing at Morse (62-22), falling at home to Biddeford (59-36).

The Blue Blazes, who were ousted by Falmouth in the quarterfinals a season ago, lost at home to South Portland in the opener, 59-50, then beat visiting Mt. Ararat (59-32) and host Fryeburg Academy (39-36).

Last year, Cape Elizabeth defeated visiting Westbrook 56-42.

Thursday, the Capers did it again, but it didn’t come easily.

Just 12 seconds in, a leaner from sophomore Andrew Hartel put Cape Elizabeth on top to stay.

Bowe then made his presence felt, burying a 3, which forced Blue Blazes coach Dan LeGage to call timeout, then hitting a baseline jumper for a quick 7-0 lead.

With 5:10 to go in the first quarter, the hosts got on the board, as senior Nemieceo Loureiro made two free throws, but Bowe countered with a floater, Hartel hit a hook shot and after a block from senior Marshall Peterson on the defensive end, Bowe took a pass from junior David Hare in transition and made a layup for a 13-2 advantage.

After Nemieceo answered with a driving layup, a Bowe layup produced a 16-4 lead before Nemieceo’s layup cut the deficit to 10 after eight minutes.

Bowe had 12 points in the first period as the Capers got off to a good start.

“I was shooting badly against Biddeford, so I was due to have a better shooting night,” Bowe said.

Manoogian’s first points came 57 seconds into the second quarter, as he drained a pair of free throws, but Peterson countered with a 3-ball.

After Manoogian made a free throw, sophomore Jeremiah Alado made a 3 and Alado went coast-to-coast for a layup, cutting the deficit to 19-14 with 3:43 to go in the half.

The visitors finished strong, however, as after LeGage was called for a technical foul, Bowe sank the two free throws, then made two more and after Blue Blazes senior Jack Haggerty hit two foul shots, Cape Elizabeth held for the last shot of the half and Bowe buried a long 3 to make it 26-16 Capers at the break.

“It felt good,” Bowe said. “It wasn’t the play we drew up, but it felt good when I let go of it.”

Bowe had 19 first half points and Cape Elizabeth opened up its lead in the third period.

After Peterson started the second half with a bank shot from a tough angle, Manoogian made two free throws and Sjoberg scored on a putback to make it 28-20.

The Capers answered, as Hewitt sank a 3 and off an inbounds set, Bowe passed to Hare for a bank shot and a 33-20 lead.

The Blue Blazes got two points back on free throws from senior Hamza Hanifi, but Peterson sank a 3. After Hanifi made two more foul shots, Hare countered with one.

Sjoberg sank a corner 3 for Westbrook to make the score 37-27, but Spicer scored on a backdoor layup (off a nice pass from senior Jacob Allen), Allen set up Hewitt for a layup and just before the horn, Hewitt drove for a lefthanded layup and a seemingly safe 43-27 advantage.

The Blue Blazes were far from finished, however.

After Sjoberg started the fourth period with a layup, Bowe countered with a layup after a steal.

Westbrook sophomore Kyle Champagne sparked the comeback with a 3 and Manoogian made two free throws, then made a layup after a steal to cut the deficit to 45-36 with 4:42 to play.

Allen set up Hartel for a layup 25 seconds later, but Manoogian sank a long 3.

The Capers then broke the press and Hewitt hit Bowe with a long pass that led to a layup and Hartel added a free throw for a 50-39 advantage with 3:24 to go.

The next five points went to the Blue Blazes, as Manoogian buried a 3, then hit a jumper in the lane to make it 50-44 with 2:57 left.

Bowe got two points back at the line ,but Manoogian sank an NBA-range 3-pointer, cutting the deficit to 52-47 with 2:31 remaining.

Again Bowe made two free throws, but Manoogian was fouled while shooting a 3. He only made one and when Bowe added two foul shots with 1:24 left, Cape Elizabeth led, 56-48.

Westbrook kept fighting, as Champagne hit a driving leaner and with 59.9 seconds showing, Manoogian made another long-range 3, suddenly making it a one-possession contest, 56-53. 

“Those were deep shots,” Ray said. “Oh boy. I should have changed up sooner. He hit some bombs.”

After Peterson sank one of two free throws, Sjoberg hit two with 41.5 seconds to go, pulling the Blue Blazes within two, 57-55.

They would draw no closer.

Bowe was immediately fouled and made both free throws and after a Westbrook turnover, Bowe hit two more foul shots for his final points, extending the lead to 61-55 with 31.5 seconds to play.

“I want the ball at the end,” Bowe said. “I’m confident.”

After a Hare steal, Peterson fed Spicer for a layup and with 2.7 seconds left, Spicer added one free throw and Cape Elizabeth went on to a 64-55 victory.

“It got scary,” Bowe said. “Zac was going off. He didn’t score too much in the first half, but once he got going, it was hard to stop. We’re young and have a lot to learn, but I think we played better tonight.”

“We’re a lot more tired at the beginning of the season than normal,” Ray said. “(Not having a gym) does wear on you. We got it handed to us by Biddeford the other night. Good for them, they’re up and coming and they deserved it. We got outworked. When I got home, my wife said, ‘I’ve never seen one of your teams get outworked tonight.’ We didn’t get outworked tonight.”

Bowe went off for 33 points. He also had six rebounds and two assists.

“(Finn) did a good job making foul shots,” Ray said. “That was key. He’s a pretty cool customer.”

Peterson scored nine points, Hartel and Hewitt had seven apiece, Spicer added five and Hare had three (to go with four assists).

The Capers overcame 18 turnovers and made 18 of 24 free throws in a hostile environment.

Westbrook was led by Manoogian, who had 24 points (19 in the fourth quarter). Sjoberg added nine points, Loureiro had six, Alado and Champagne five apiece, Hanifi four and Haggerty two.

The Blue Blazes made 18 of 22 free throws, but committed 17 turnovers.

“The kids battled until the end,” LeGage said. “We knew going into the game we had to stop Bowe and Hewitt and we only did 50 percent of that. We did a good job on Hewitt, but Bowe got going. He got his confidence up, he made shots and he was awesome from the free throw line. We struggled to score early because we didn’t have good ball movement. We couldn’t get in a flow. I thought we played with more intensity in the second half. We played with better energy and enthusiasm. Once the shots started dropping, we came back. We have to play four quarters like that.”

Rebounds were even, 18-18.

New year, new challenges

Westbrook has two games remaining in the old year and neither will be easy. The Blue Blazes have a playoff rematch with Falmouth Tuesday in a game that will be played at the Portland Exposition Building. On Dec. 30, Westbrook is at Scarborough.

“We didn’t quit and that’s something to build on,” LeGage said. “As a coach, I have to build on the positives. We’ll keep going forward. I’ve done this long enough to know that game four is way too early to worry about things. We’ll have to keep grinding and getting better. Hopefully, we’ll play four quarters with that intensity and better execution. It’s a work in progress.”

Cape Elizabeth hopes to bounce back Thursday of next week when it meets Falmouth in a countable game at the Expo. The Capers then return to action Jan. 3 at Fryeburg Academy.

“I look forward to playing Falmouth,” Bowe said. “It’s been awhile. It’ll be a fun game. I think we have a lot of potential. We have to work hard. We have to make better decisions down the stretch, but I think we can be very good.”

“Falmouth’s good and they’re progressing very quickly,” Ray said. “They play well. We still have a lot to learn. We need game experience. We don’t have a lot of depth right now. That’s what makes it fun though.”

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

Cape Elizabeth sophomore Andrew Hartel contests the shot of Westbrook junior Zac Manoogian.

Westbrook sophomore Jeremiah Alado goes up for a layup as Cape Elizabeth junior Finn Bowe defends.

Westbrook junior Zac Manoogian goes up for two of his 24 points. 

Cape Elizabeth senior Quinn Hewitt goes up with the left hand as Westbrook junior Deng Jany defends.

Cape Elizabeth senior Nat Spicer and Westbrook senior Bailey Sawyer fight for a loose ball.

Westbrook junior Landon Sjoberg goes to the basket as Cape Elizabeth senior Quinn Hewitt defends.

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