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Cape Elizabeth senior Finn Bowe drives on Wells junior Tyler Bridge during the teams’ Class B South Final Saturday. The Warriors repeated as regional champions, denying the Capers, 40-35.
Joe Carpine / 365digitalphotography.com photos.
More photos below.
CE- 13 5 6 11- 35
W- 9 4 14 13- 40
CE- Hartel 6-2-14, Bowe 3-2-11, Carpenter 3-0-8, Hare 1-0-2
W- Sherburne 5-6-17, Bridge 6-2-14, Cousins 3-3-9
CE (5) Bowe 3, Carpenter 2
W (1) Sherburne 1
PORTLAND—Cape Elizabeth’s boys’ basketball team has made tremendous strides this winter and when the Capers took a seven-point third quarter lead over Wells in Saturday’s Class B South Final at the Cross Insurance Arena after a resounding slam dunk from junior Andrew Hartel, it appeared that the season was going to continue for another week.
But while second-ranked Cape Elizabeth was determined, the top-seeded Warriors have the heart of a champion and some veteran players who are bound and determined to finish what last year’s squad started.
Wells, which won the region a year ago, then lost to Mt. Desert Island in the state final, entered the tournament under-appreciated and expected by many to stumble, perhaps even in the quarterfinals, but the Warriors persevered and proved yet again that no one in the region knows how to win a close game quite like they do.
A pair of 3-pointers from senior standout Finn Bowe helped the Capers open up a 13-9 lead after one quarter, but Bowe, who was shadowed all day by big and strong Wells junior Tyler Bridge, would struggle putting the ball in the basket the rest of the game.
Neither team would generate much offense in the second period and Cape Elizabeth, behind eight points from unheralded junior Tanner Carpenter, held an 18-13 advantage at the break.
Then, when Hartel brought the house down with his slam dunk with 6:16 remaining in the third quarter, the Capers were up, 22-15, and were on the verge of pulling away.
Until Wells awakened.
The Warriors didn’t allow another point for four minutes and scored the next 10 points, capped by two free throws from senior Cam Cousins, to go on top for good.
Wells clung to a 27-24 lead heading to the fourth period, where junior Matt Sherburne hit a clutch 3. Cape Elizabeth had ample chances to rally, but couldn’t hit shots and six late free throws from Sherburne helped the Warriors hold on to prevail, 40-35.
Wells improved to 15-6, advanced to meet powerhouse Hermon (21-0) in the Class B state final Friday night at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor and in the process, ended the Capers’ season at 13-8.
“(Wells) just outlasted us,” said longtime Cape Elizabeth coach Jim Ray. “We knew it would be a grind. They’re tough, they’re determined. They ground it out more than we were able to.”
The Capers started the year 7-1, lost six of eight games, then won their final two to go 11-7 and earn the second seed in the region. After ousting No. 7 Mountain Valley, 47-31, in the quarterfinals, Cape Elizabeth raced to a big early lead and eliminated third-ranked Yarmouth, 51-30, in Thursday’s semifinal round (see sidebar, below, for links to previous stories).
Wells was 12-6 this year, but still earned the top seed in the region. After beating eighth-ranked Freeport, 52-45, in the quarterfinals, the Warriors dominated No. 5 Gray-New Gloucester, 54-33, in Thursday’s semifinal round.
Cape Elizabeth lost at home to Wells, 52-47, Feb. 2, despite 37 points from Bowe.
The Capers were 4-3 all-time against Wells in the tournament with a 57-51 win in the 2013 Western B quarterfinals the most recent.
Saturday, for the second game in a row, Cape Elizabeth produced a solid start, but this time, it wasn’t able to pull away.
Carpenter started the game with a 3-pointer 41 seconds in.
After the Warriors got on the board on a Bridge jump shot, Carpenter put back a miss to make it 5-2.
Wells drew even on an old-fashioned three-point play from Cousins (layup, foul, free throw), but the Capers retook the lead when Bowe set up Hartel for a layup.
After Sherburne tied it with a driving layup with 3:42 left in the quarter, Bowe made a 3 43 seconds later.
In the final minute, Bowe stepped back and drained a 3 and while Bridge made a layup late, the Capers had a 13-9 advantage after eight minutes.
Bowe had six points and Carpenter added five in the frame.
In the second quarter, Cape Elizabeth slightly extended the lead, but with the Warriors not scoring the final 6:20 of the half, it missed an opportunity to really open up a healthy advantage.
A layup from Bridge and a putback by Cousins tied the score, 13-13, with 6:20 left, but a pair of Bowe free throws ended a 4:35 drought and gave the Capers the lead for good.
With 3:01 remaining, another Carpenter 3 produced the 18-13 halftime margin.
Bowe and Carpenter each had eight first half points and Cape Elizabeth made 4 of 10 3-pointers.
Bridge had six points and Cousins five in the first 16 minutes, but Wells made just 6 of 22 shots, including a mere 2 of 13 in the second period.
In the third quarter, offense picked up and the Warriors took advantage.
Thirty seconds into the second half, Bridge made a reverse layup to snap Wells’ 6:50 drought. Hartel countered with a hook shot, then, with 6:16 to go, Hartel took a pass from senior David Hare, soared and flushed the ball home.
Everyone on hand stopped for a moment to see if another unnecessary technical foul would be called (as many have been this tournament, drawing criticism from the basketball loving public), but no whistle was blown and the Capers’ lead was a seemingly safe seven points, 22-15.
“I’m extremely surprised they didn’t call a technical based on what’s going on, but thank God they didn’t,” Ray said. “Good for Hartel. He was aggressive.”
Then, the Warriors roared to life.
The run started with a jumper from Bridge and a Bridge layup.
After Sherburne made a leaner while being fouled, he missed the and-one attempt, but Cousins was there for the putback and Wells’ first lead, 23-22.
Two Cousins free throws then capped the 10-0 run.
A Hartel layup snapped the 4 minute Capers’ drought, but a late left-handed layup from Sherburne made it 27-24 Warriors heading to the fourth quarter.
There, after more than two scoreless minutes, Sherburne, who struggled getting shots to drop all night, buried a 3 from a corner to stretch the lead to six with 5:53 to play.
Twenty seconds later, Hartel put back his own miss to end a 4:43 drought, but Sherburne got into the lane and hit a leaner.
After Hare set up Hartel, two Bridge foul shots with 3:47 left restored a six-point lead, 34-28.
Nineteen seconds later, Hare made a leaner in the lane and at the other end, Hare stole the ball, but first Hare, then Bowe missed 3s which could have made it a one-point game.
After a Bowe steal, junior Dylan Whitney stole the ball back for the Warriors and with 52.5 seconds remaining, Sherburne was fouled.
He calmly sank the front end of a one-and-one, then buried the second as well to make it 36-30.
With 41.6 seconds left, Hartel hit two free throws, but seven seconds later, Sherburne was fouled again and he again hit both ends of a one-and-one.
Bowe restored hope with 16.4 seconds on the clock, when he drained a long, contested 3 for the final points of his illustrious high school career, but with 7.9 seconds remaining, Sherburne made one final appearance at the line and he sank two more foul shots to ice it and Wells closed the door on its 40-35 victory.
“”I’m very proud of these kids,” said Warriors coach Troy Brown. “I have a bunch of warriors who never give up. Today, it was just guys who refused to lose. Cape played their hearts out. I have so much respect for Cape. We want to be a team like that, always in the discussion. I can’t say enough about how hard (Jim’s) kids play and how they play the right way. They’re very good sportsmen. We couldn’t have come up against a better team in the final.
“Defense got it going. It’s been defense throughout the whole season for us. We play very good man-to-man defense.”
Only three Warriors scored, but they all had a seismic impact.
Sherburne led the way with a game-high 17 points. He also had four rebounds and two steals and made all six pressure free throws with the game on the line.
“We tried to get it out of his hands, but a good point guard like that won’t give it up,” Ray said. “He did his job.”
“We knew where we wanted the ball to be at the end of the game,” said Brown. “The kid has icewater in his veins. I’ll go to war with him anytime, anywhere.”
Bridge added 14 points, 11 rebounds and he helped slow Bowe with a terrific defensive effort.
“Bridge did a great job on Bowe all day long,” Brown said. “He made it tough on him to score.”
“(Finn) was very well defended,” Ray said. “They were tough and physical with him. You allow him to play in space, he’s much better. Take away the space and it’s tough for him.”
Cousins had nine points and collected nine rebounds.
“Cam Cousins is a warrior on the floor and a gentleman off the floor,” Brown said.
Wells had a 29-26 rebounding advantage, overcame 14 turnovers and made 11 of 12 free throws.
The Warriors now turn their attention toward winning their first Gold Ball since going back-to-back in 1983 and 1984 against one of the most highly touted teams in the state, regardless of class.
“I know nothing about Hermon, but we’ll get some time to think about that,” Brown said. “Obviously, we’re an underdog. We’ll have to go up there and play the game of our lives.”
Hartel led Cape Elizabeth with 14 points and eight rebounds. Bowe bowed out with 11 points. He also had six rebounds, three steals, two assists and two blocked shots. Carpenter (five rebounds) added eight points and Hare (three assists) had two.
The Capers only committed 11 turnovers and hit 4 of 6 free throws, but only made 13 of 46 shots from the floor.
“They were bigger and stronger, but our guys did a great job on the defensive side,” Ray said. “We didn’t function as well as we’d like on the offensive side of the ball, but that’s been a problem all year. We saw a different style of defense the other night (against Yarmouth). Everyone got shots in space. (Wells) made us handle the ball and beat guys off the dribble. That’s not easy to do.”
Cape Elizabeth had its fits and starts this year, but by the end of the season, the Capers were as formidable as anyone.
“We weren’t the most talented team around,” Ray said. “We had a lot of guys have to do a lot of things to make us successful. Every day, these guys came to work. I couldn’t be more proud.”
Cape Elizabeth graduates six players, with Bowe, one of the great players in program history and every bit the player his older brothers, Alex and Theo, were, being the biggest loss.
“(Finn’s) such a role model to the little kids,” Ray said. “He’s a special person. It’s cliche, but he’s a better person than he is a basketball player. He’s the whole package.”
The 2018-19 Capers will look to contend again behind the likes of Carpenter and Hartel, junior Matt Conley, freshman Nate Mullen and likely some new players who will make a quick impact.
(Assistant coaches Kevin Fogg and Connor Hasson) do a great job with the sub-varsity guys,” Ray said. “We’ll get them to play hard.”
Cape Elizabeth junior Andrew Hartel slams the ball home in the second half.
Cape Elizabeth junior Tanner Carpenter tries to get rid of the ball as Wells senior Cam Cousins defends.
Cape Elizabeth freshman Nate Mullen goes to the basket as Wells junior Matt Sherburne defends.
Cape Elizabeth junior Tanner Carpenter goes up for a shot. Carpenter scored eight early points.
Cape Elizabeth senior David Hare handles the ball.
Wells junior Tyler Bridge denies the drive of Cape Elizabeth senior Finn Bowe.
Cape Elizabeth’s raucous student section tries to cheer the Capers on to victory.
Wells celebrates the victory at the final horn.
The dejected Capers leave the floor after the loss.