Cape Elizabeth coach Jim Ray talks to his team during a timeout during the Capers’ 45-38 win over Greely Tuesday night. The victory was the 300th of Ray’s triumphant tenure coaching his alma mater.
Mike Strout photos.
More photos below.
G- 12 11 2 13- 38
CE- 7 9 9 20- 45
G- McDevitt 6-0-13, Twitchell 3-3-9, Normandeau 3-1-8. Soule 2-0-5, Bagshaw 1-0-3
CE- Bowe 3-5-12, Bottomley 4-1-11, Hewitt 3-2-8, Donnelly 1-2-5, Peterson 2-0-5, Guerette 2-0-4
G (4) Bagshaw, McDevitt, Normandeau, Soule 1
CE (5) Bottomley 2, Bowe, Donnelly, Peterson 1
CAPE ELIZABETH—Everything came full circle for Cape Elizabeth boys’ basketball coach Jim Ray Tuesday evening.
Ray, who once upon a time starred in a Capers uniform, guided the defending Class B state champions to victory for the 300th time in his illustrious career with the program in a fashion that epitomized his coaching style.
Cape Elizabeth got pushed by a fierce rival, talented Greely, had to scratch and claw for 32 minutes and with the game on the line, got clutch contributions from everyone on the floor.
It was a quintessential Ray victory.
And a landmark one.
The Capers struggled early and fell behind, 12-7, after one quarter and 18-7 early in the second period, as Rangers junior Matt McDevitt had his way.
Cape Elizabeth drew back within seven, 23-16, at halftime, then put it together in the second half.
The Capers held Greely scoreless for over seven minutes and finally drew even late in the third quarter when senior J Bottomley knocked down a 3-pointer.
Nine seconds into the final period, Bottomley gave Cape Elizabeth its first lead in a long time and after McDevitt tied the score, Bottomley put the Capers ahead to stay for good on a floater with 7:17 left. Three-point shots from junior Marshall Peterson and sophomore Finn Bowe helped open up a 37-30 lead and while the Rangers fought to the end, they got no closer than five points and Cape Elizabeth went on to a 45-38 victory.
Bowe led a balanced attack with 12 points, Bottomley also finished in double figures with 11 points, senior Justin Guerette sparked a staunch defensive effort and grabbed 12 rebounds and the Capers improved to 12-3 and dropped Greely to 12-3 in the process.
“I’ve lasted a long time,” said Ray. “It’s a supportive community and I’ve had great kids. I have a tremendous amount of pride. I’d have a difficult time picturing myself coaching someplace else.”
Ray was a standout player for the Capers in the late 1970s and played basketball at the University of Southern Maine. He coached the school’s girls’ team in 1992-93 and 1993-94, then took over as the boys’ coach for the 1994-95 season, early in the Clinton Administration, just a couple months after Major League Baseball called off the World Series, when Tom Brady was still in high school.
It wasn’t always easy. Early in his tenure, Ray lost four straight times in the regional final. He had to fight to keep his job in a highly publicized affair after the 2002-03 season and he led Cape Elizabeth to the Class B state final only to lose in 2008, 2009 and 2011.
Last winter, Ray and the Capers finally scaled the mountaintop in unthinkably dramatic and delicious fashion, when Ethan Murphy’s buzzer-beating layup capped a late rally and produced a 44-42 victory over Medomak Valley.
Cape Elizabeth started slowly this winter, losing at Greely in the opener, 73-47, then falling in the final seconds at Falmouth, 69-66.
“Those tough games early, no one was really settled in,” Ray said. “We had a pretty good summer, but the guys never heard, ‘Wow!’ come out of my mouth this summer like they did last summer.”
The Capers righted the ship with a 60-43 home win over Morse, then downed visiting Fryeburg Academy (46-33), host Biddeford (61-39), host Traip Academy (66-35), visiting Westbrook (56-42), host Marshwood (64-58) and visiting Poland (67-41). After falling at Lake Region, 52-34, the Capers won at York (68-51), at home over Kennebunk (52-51) and Freeport (56-30) and at Yarmouth in an overtime thriller (50-49) Friday.
Greely opened with an emphatic 73-47 home win over Cape Elizabeth, then beat host York (81-67), visiting Brunswick (62-49) and visiting Yarmouth (72-57) before falling from the undefeated ranks at Gorham (57-56, in overtime). Greely bounced back to edge visiting Falmouth in a 57-56 thriller, then downed host Morse (60-31), host Poland (85-56), host Yarmouth (60-48), visiting Biddeford (67-39), host Fryeburg Academy (67-32), visiting York (79-69) and host Gray-New Gloucester (79-39) before falling Friday at Marshwood, 66-52.
Greely’s win back on Dec. 4 snapped a three-game Cape Elizabeth win streak in the series.
Entering play Tuesday, the Capers held a 20-14 edge in games played over the past 15 years (see sidebar, below).
This time around, Cape Elizabeth dug a hole, but fought its way out of it and the night ended in celebration.
The Capers looked tight early and even though senior Marcus Donnelly made an early free throw, it wasn’t long until the Rangers opened up a lead.
Greely got on the board on a driving layup from senior Caleb Normandeau, then made it 4-1 when McDevitt made a layup after a steal.
A free throw from Bowe and a coast to coast layup from Guerette tied the score, but junior Ryan Twitchell answered for the Rangers with an old-fashioned three-point play (layup, foul, free throw), McDevitt banked in a floater and McDevitt blew past the defense for a bank shot and an 11-4 lead.
Donnelly snapped the 7-0 run with a 3, but Twitchell’s foul shot made it 12-7 Rangers after eight minutes.
In the first period, Cape Elizabeth committed seven turnovers and if it wasn’t for seven rebounds from Guerette, the deficit might have been even bigger.
“When the ball’s not going in, you have to do something to make up for it,” said Guerette. “Their shots were falling and ours weren’t. Rebounding kept us in the game.”
“Our defense had to keep us in games,’ Ray said. “Our offense wasn’t good. Some of our shots were halfway down. If those went, it would have changed things a little bit.”
A 3 from McDevitt and another long range bomb from Normandeau pushed Greely’s lead to 18-7 just 74 seconds into the second quarter, but the Capers got their offense going, as Bowe made a jumper, Bowe made a layup after a steal and Peterson drove for a layup to cut the deficit to five.
Senior Calvin Soule answered with a 3 for the Rangers, but junior Quinn Hewitt countered with a three-point play of his own (layup, foul, free throw).
With 1:10 left in the half, McDevitt drove for a bank shot and a 23-16 lead at the break, but those would be Greely’s final points for quite awhile.
McDevitt excelled in the first half with 11 points, four rebounds and two steals.
Cape Elizabeth was clearly a different and better team to start the second half, as its defense forced five turnovers.
A Bottomley 3 sparked the rally. After Donnelly added a free throw, Hewitt drove for a layup to pull the Capers within one, but they couldn’t grab the lead despite several chances.
With 1:52 to go in the third, the Rangers snapped a 7 minute, 18 second drought when McDevitt grabbed an offensive rebound and fed Twitchell for a layup.
Twenty-one seconds later, Bottomley took a feed from Bowe and sank a 3 to tie the game, 25-25, the first deadlock since 4-4, and that’s how things stood heading for the fateful fourth quarter.
Bottomley continued to take matters into his own hands as the final stanza began, driving for a left-handed leaner nine seconds in for Cape Elizabeth’s first lead since 1-0.
“We wanted to calm down and get better shots,” Bottomley said. “We chucked them up quickly in the first half because of nerves. My teammates set me up for good shots.”
A McDevitt leaner tied the score, but with 7:17 to go, Bottomley’s floater made it 29-27 Capers and they wouldn’t relinquish the lead.
Peterson took a pass from Donnelly and sank a 3 from the corner with 6:16 to go, pushing the lead to 32-27.
Greely answered as Normandeau made a floater, but a Guerette jumper with 4:33 left gave Cape Elizabeth a 34-29 advantage.
Normandeau countered with a free throw, but with 2:56 remaining, Bowe took a pass from Donnelly and made a 3 from the corner to make it a three-possession game, 37-30.
Twitchell got a point back at the free throw line, but again the Capers answered, as Hewitt drove the baseline and made a layup to make it 39-31.
With 1:48 left, Rangers junior Jordan Bagshaw made his lone basket, a 3, to give his team life, but 26 seconds later, Hewitt made a free throw and after Bagshaw missed a 3, Bowe canned two foul shots with 1:01 to go, giving Cape Elizabeth a 42-34 advantage.
Greely again made it a two-possession game when Bagshaw made a layup with 36.8 seconds left, but Donnelly made a free throw to make it a seven-point game.
With 19.3 seconds to play, Soule scored on a putback of a missed Bagshaw 3, but those would be the Rangers’ final points.
With 16.2 seconds remaining, Bowe drained two free throws and that brought the curtain down on the Capers’ 45-38 win.
“I think we outhustled them,” Guerette said. “We knew after they came out and made shots in the first half, we had to get up in their face and close out on shooters. That was the biggest factor. It’s way harder to shoot with someone in your face. It was a combination of teamwork effort and the fans definitely helped. It clicked. We had high energy and told each other, ‘Good job!’ We have a new team with new guys. Last year’s leadership is gone. We have to step up and have new guys take over leadership roles, especially in situations like this.”
“Tonight, we came prepared,” Bottomley said. “We know they’re good. The first time, we were unprepared and we underestimated them. We thought since we beat them last year, we’d beat them this year and obviously, that didn’t happen. Coach always emphasizes high pressure defense. It’s one of his pillars. Tonight, we did a good job with it.”
“The win the other night was the biggest one of the season and now the one tonight is the biggest one of the season,” Ray added. “Our timing and rhythm were better in the second half. We called more timing and sets and that got things working. Greely’s good. You could see they were a year away last year.”
Bowe led Cape Elizabeth with 12 points. Bottomley had 11 (to go with four rebounds and two blocked shots), Hewitt finished with eight, Donnelly and Peterson (two blocks) had five apiece and Guerette added four (to go with a dozen boards).
“Guerette was a man tonight,” Ray said. “He has experience, he has the body. I tell him, ‘You don’t have to score a point. Take what comes your way.'”
The Capers had a 31-27 rebounding advantage, forced 16 turnovers while only giving the ball away 13 times and made 10 of 17 free throws.
Following the game, much to Coach Ray’s chagrin, Cape Elizabeth athletic director Jeff Thoreck gave a speech, then presented the game ball. Afterwards, Ray took pictures with his players, family and friends.
Ray and his players also reflected upon the magnitude of win number 300.
“I have good kids who tolerate me, because I’m not easy to play for,” Ray said. “This honor goes to the guys who dedicated themselves to this program.”
“Coach Ray is our guy,” Guerette said. “It means a lot, especially with him in the New England Hall of Fame. This just speaks to how great a coach he is. This one goes up there with the state championship game last year. We’ll remember this for a long time.”
“I feel honored to be part of his 300th win,” Bottomley said. “He’s a great coach. He’s influenced my life in immeasurable ways. I really appreciate everything he’s done. He does a great job with the program.”
Greely coach Travis Seaver, who was a player for the Rangers against some of Ray’s early Cape Elizabeth teams, also paid tribute.
“It’s a great honor,” Seaver said. “Coach Ray is obviously a great coach and has been a long time. I respect him for what he’s done. Tonight’s a great testament. He gets the most out of his kids every night. That’s something he’s done well.”
Greely got a game-high 13 points from McDevitt, who also had 12 rebounds for a double-double. Twitchell added nine points (and six boards), Normandeau had eight, Soule five and Bagshaw three. The Rangers made 4 of 7 free throws.
“It was a tale of two halves,” Seaver said. “Give Cape credit. They took away things we were trying to do. Honestly, I thought our defense wasn’t that bad. We just couldn’t put the ball in the hoop. We had great looks, but our shots didn’t fall. They played better defense than we did offense.”
Greely (now second to Falmouth in the Class A South Heal Points standings) looks to bounce back Saturday when it hosts Westbrook. After playing Kennebunk in the home finale Tuesday, the Rangers close with a huge contest at Falmouth a week from Thursday.
“One thing that’s great about these guys is they compete,” Seaver said. “We had great practices after losing Friday. We have a couple days until we play Saturday and I’m not concerned at all about competing. They’ll work hard.”
Cape Elizabeth (third in Class A South) is back in action Friday when Biddeford pays a visit. After hosting Falmouth Tuesday, the Capers finish at Fryeburg Academy Feb. 4.
Beware, Class A, Cape Elizabeth appears to be rounding into championship form once more.
“We’re getting better every game, practicing hard, being unselfish,” Bottomley said. “We’ll see how we play against Falmouth. We’ll be just as prepared as we were for this one. I think we can make a deep run. It’s coming together for sure.”
“There’s definitely a lot of work to do,” Guerette said. “We want to get better every week. We have to keep taking steps forward.”
“There’s still a lot of work necessary,” Ray added. “Patience and discipline, for us, is what we need. I just want to get in (the tournament) and play our best basketball. Hopefully we’ll be playing our best basketball wherever we end up. I’m looking forward to it.”
Greely junior Jordan Bagshaw drives on Cape Elizabeth junior Marshall Peterson.
Greely junior Jordan Bagshaw grabs a rebound over the back of senior teammate Calvin Soule.
Cape Elizabeth senior Justin Guerette draws a charge on Greely junior Matt McDevitt.
Cape Elizabeth sophomore Finn Bowe goes up for a fastbreak layup.
Cape Elizabeth senior Justin Guerette wrestles the ball away from Greely junior Matt McDevitt.
Greely senior Caleb Normandeau drives past Cape Elizabeth senior J Bottomley on his way to the basket.
Cape Elizabeth coach Jim Ray is joined by senior captains Marcus Donnelly, left, J. Bottomley and Justin Guerette after receiving the game ball recognizing his 300th victory from athletic director Jeff Thoreck.
Michael Hoffer photo.
@ Greely 73 Cape Elizabeth 47
Cape Elizabeth 61 @ Greely 41
@ Cape Elizabeth 61 Greely 39
Western B quarterfinal
Cape Elizabeth 68 Greely 51
Greely 51 @ Cape Elizabeth 47
@ Greely 71 Cape Elizabeth 62
@ Cape Elizabeth 56 Greely 47
Cape Elizabeth 54 @ Greely 46
@ Greely 59 Cape Elizabeth 47
Greely 56 @ Cape Elizabeth 46
Cape Elizabeth 55 @ Greely 41
Greely 68 @ Cape Elizabeth 50
@ Cape Elizabeth 66 Greely 55
Cape Elizabeth 57 @ Greely 46
Western B semifinal
Cape Elizabeth 51 Greely 43
Cape Elizabeth 72 @ Greely 64
Greely 59 @ Cape Elizabeth 46
Western B semifinals
Cape Elizabeth 46 Greely 45
Greely 60 @ Cape Elizabeth 46
Cape Elizabeth 75 @ Greely 71 (2 OT)
Western B semifinals
Cape Elizabeth 48 Greely 39
Greely 62 @ Cape Elizabeth 55
@ Greely 49 Cape Elizabeth 47 (2 OT)
Cape Elizabeth 60 @ Greely 50
@ Cape Elizabeth 48 Greely 47
@ Cape Elizabeth 48 Greely 40
@ Greely 46 Cape Elizabeth 41
Cape Elizabeth 40 @ Greely 36
@ Cape Elizabeth 46 Greely 31
Greely 57 @ Cape Elizabeth 38
Cape Elizabeth 47 @ Greely 37
Western B semifinals
Greely 50 Cape Elizabeth 37
Cape Elizabeth 64 @ Greely 49
Greely 58 @ Cape Elizabeth 54