PORTLAND—Some people appreciate music or fine art.
To the eye of Cape Elizabeth boys’ basketball coach Jim Ray, nothing is more beautiful than smothering defense and unselfish, balanced offense.
With that in mind, the Capers put forth a virtuoso performance during Thursday evening’s Western Class B semifinal against Lincoln Academy at the Cross Insurance Arena.
No. 2 Cape Elizabeth rode a seven-point first quarter performance from senior Eddie Galvin as it raced to a 15-5 lead that it would never relinquish.
Six different Capers scored in the first half, including freshman Finn Bowe, who hit a couple clutch 3s, and after 16 minutes, Cape Elizabeth was on top, 32-19.
A 12-0 run late in the third quarter ended all doubt and the Capers put the clamps on the sixth-ranked Eagles until the very end as they prevailed, 57-39.
Nine different players scored, with Galvin’s 13 points leading the way, as the Capers improved to 17-3, ended Lincoln Academy’s season at 13-7 and advanced to meet No. 4 Lake Region (15-5) in the Western B Final Saturday at 3:45 p.m. at CIA.
“We moved the ball very well,” Ray said. “We got contributions from a lot of people. Defensively, we did a good job tonight because we made them uncomfortable. The guys are feeling confident. They’re starting to believe in each other. They love playing on this floor.”
Cape Elizabeth struggled early in the season, but did it ever finish strong, winning 11 of its final 12 to lock up the No. 2 spot in Western B. The Capers then proved to be too much for rival No. 7 seed Greely in the quarterfinals, 68-51.
Lincoln Academy went 12-6 in the regular season and sprung a 53-48 upset win over No. 3 Morse in its quarterfinal.
Entering Thursday’s tilt, the teams had met six previous times in the playoffs (see sidebar) with Cape Elizabeth winning all six, including the 1956 Class C state final and a 56-43 victory in the 2002 Western B semifinals, the most recent encounter.
This time around, the Capers did it again.
As was the case in the quarterfinals, Cape Elizabeth started sluggishly, then caught fire.
Lincoln Academy struck first on a putback from senior Brady Leeman. After nearly three scoreless minutes, the Capers’ first points came on a driving layup from Galvin. A putback from sophomore Cody Tozier gave the Eagles their final lead, 4-2, but a layup from sophomore Quinn Hewitt tied it and with 3:38 to go in the first quarter, an old-fashioned three-point play by Galvin (a layup after a steal, foul and free throw) put Cape Elizabeth ahead to stay.
Leeman got a point back with a free throw, but the Capers closed the quarter on an 8-0 run.
First, Hewitt set up Galvin for a layup. Bowe then came in off the bench and added a 3. A pair of free throws from senior Ethan Murphy and one from Hewitt made it 15-5 heading for the second period.
There, Cape Elizabeth kept the pressure on.
A layup from Tozier ended the 8-0 run, but Hewitt made a free throw. After senior Devin Scherer put home a missed shot, Bowe buried another corner 3 to push the lead back to double digits, 19-9.
“It’s exciting,” said Bowe, the younger brother of former Capers boys’ standouts Alex and Theo Bowe and current girls’ player Maddie Bowe. “It was a little nervewracking at first, but I got used to (the floor) once I played on it. This is a special place to play. I just try to play good defense, not make any mistakes and shoot when I’m open. When the first one goes in, it helps with the rest of the night.”
“(Finn’s) incredible,” Murphy said. “He knows exactly what his role is. He only takes good shots and he works his butt off on defense.”
Tozier got two points back at the line, but Murphy made a layup. After Tozier scored on a putback, Galvin made a layup and Murphy drove for a layup while being fouled and added the free throw to make it 26-13.
Senior Sawyer Pinkham hit a bank shot, but junior Marcus Donnelly’s 3 pushed the lead to 29-15. The Eagles appeared to get a little momentum as Tozier scored on a putback and hit two free throws, but as time expired, junior Jack O’Rourke hit a clutch 3 to make it 32-19 Capers.
In the third quarter, the teams went back and forth, but Cape Elizabeth held its lead.
Galvin started the scoring by making an off-balance layup. Leeman countered with a bank shot. Capers junior Justin Guerette was then fouled and made one of two free throws, but Leeman made a layup and Tozier hit a free throw to cut the deficit to 35-24.
Back roared the Capers, as O’Rourke made a 3, Guerette hit a jumper, Hewitt finished after a pretty spin move, Hewitt made a layup after another nifty move while being fouled and hit the free throw and Donnelly drove for a layup to blow it open.
A putback from Tozier with 33.1 seconds left ended a 4:51 drought, but Cape Elizabeth was firmly in control, up, 47-26, with eight minutes to play.
“One of the best things about our defense is we keep coming at you,” Murphy said. “We won’t relent. Teams slowly will break down and that’s when we break things open.”
“I see guys getting on each other, demanding they get better,” said Ray. “We tried to keep them to their weak hand.”
Lincoln Academy wouldn’t go quietly in the fourth period, but its deficit was too steep to overcome.
After Tozier started the frame with another putback, Leeman knocked down a 3 from beyond the NBA line. A leaner from Scherer pulled the Eagles within 47-33 with 6:28 to go, but out of a timeout, the Capers answered when Guerette set up senior Grady McCormick for a layup. Tozier made a free throw, but McCormick passed to Galvin for a layup, Murphy sank two foul shots and Galvin set up McCormick for a layup and a 55-34 lead.
Down the stretch, Lincoln Academy got a pair of free throws from freshman Taylor Holmes, a foul shot from Leeman and after Cape Elizabeth junior Vince Tarpo made a layup, a layup after a steal from Eagles sophomore John Henry brought the curtain down on the 57-39 decision.
“We don’t get worried,” Bowe said. “We know what we’re going to do. We just stick to our game plan. We try to be a team. Whoever is open will get the ball. That’s how we win games.”
“You’d like to come out guns blazing and sometimes it takes a little while, but these guys are willing to grind it out,” Ray said. “I could tell (Lincoln) was tough and scrappy.”
The balanced offense was led by 13 points from Galvin. Hewitt and Murphy (three rebounds and three steals) each had nine points. Bowe (five rebounds) and O’Rourke (five assists) both made two 3-pointers to finish with six points apiece. Donnelly added five points, McCormick had four, Guerette three and Tarpo two.
“We liken ourselves to the (NBA champion San Antonio) Spurs in that nobody cares about how many points they score,” Murphy said. “It’s all about winning the game. A special thing about our team is that everyone has offensive skill. Everyone can put the ball in the basket.”
The Capers only committed 12 turnovers and made 10 of 15 free throws.
Lincoln Academy got a game-high 18 points and 13 rebounds from Tozier. Leeman had 11 points, Scherer added four (to with 10 rebounds and a block) and Henry, Holmes and Pinkham each finished with two apiece.
The Eagles turned the ball over 16 times and made 10 of 19 foul shots.
Cape Elizabeth was fully expecting a showdown with No. 1 Yarmouth in the regional final, but the Clippers were upset by Lake Region, 52-50, in the other semifinal Thursday, meaning the Capers will battle the talented and confident Lakers instead.
Lake Region beat visiting Cape Elizabeth, 51-46, back on Dec. 30 and holds a 4-2 all-time edge in the postseason.
The Capers beat the Lakers in the 1980 quarterfinals (83-60) and the 2010 quarterfinals (53-37), while Lake Region prevailed in the 1981 quarterfinals (62-60, in overtime), the 1983 semifinals (75-64), the 1985 regional final (64-50) and the 2004 semifinals (84-65).
“We want to bring the first championship home to Cape in a long time,” Murphy said. “There’s a little pressure, but we’re not fazed by it. We just play our game and get it done. We just have to play our hardest, give 100 percent and not turn the ball over. If we do that, I think we’ll be alright.”
“After the Greely game, I said, ‘You played your best game of the season tonight,'” Ray said. “Tonight we played our best game and now our next game has to be our best. We have to block out and rebound better. We have to pay attention to more details. (Lake Region’s) a very good team and a very confident team. Whatever happens, I hope it’s a good basketball game. All the kids involved deserve that.”
Cape Elizabeth sophomore Quinn Hewitt appears to break a tackle attempt.
Cape Elizabeth freshman Finn Bowe makes a move.
Cape Elizabeth junior Marcus Donnelly goes in for an easy layup.
Cape Elizabeth senior Ethan Murphy protects the basketball.
Cape Elizabeth sophomore Quinn Hewitt goes up for a layup.
Cape Elizabeth senior Ethan Murphy races up the floor.
Junior Vince Tarpo attacks the basket.
Cape Elizabeth’s starters cheer on the reserves during the waning moments of the victory.
Cape Elizabeth’s fan section had a lot to cheer during Thursday’s win.
Cape Elizabeth senior Eddie Galvin goes up for two of his team-high 12 points during the Capers’ 57-39 win over Lincoln Academy in Thursday’s Western Class B semifinal.
Ben McCanna photos.
More photos below.
LA- 5 14 7 13- 39
CE- 15 17 15 10- 57
LA- Tozier 6-6-18, Leeman 4-2-11, Scherer 2-0-4, Henry 1-0-2, Holmes 0-2-2, Pinkham 1-0-2
CE- Galvin 6-1-13, Hewitt 3-3-9, Murphy 2-5-9, Bowe 2-0-6, O’Rourke 2-0-6, Donnelly 2-0-5, McCormick 2-0-4, Guerette 1-1-3, Tarpo 1-0-2
LA (1) Leeman 1
CE (5) Bowe, O’Rourke 2, Donnelly 1
2002 Western B semifinals
Cape Elizabeth 56 Lincoln Academy 43
2001 Western B semifinals
Cape Elizabeth 53 Lincoln Academy 39
1998 Western B quarterfinals
Cape Elizabeth 75 Lincoln Academy 60
1995 Western B preliminary round
Cape Elizabeth 73 Lincoln Academy 58
1988 Western B Final
Cape Elizabeth 69 Lincoln Academy 51
1956 Class C Final
Cape Elizabeth 76 Lincoln Academy 54