Michael's top five stories
5) Cape Elizabeth girls come to life
Little was expected from the Cape Elizabeth girls' basketball team this winter. The Capers hadn't won more than three games in a season since 1999-2000 and this year was viewed as more of the same. Guess again. After losing its first three outings, Cape Elizabeth put it together, knocking off Freeport, upsetting three-time defending regional champion Lake Region, then beating Poland to take a 3-3 mark into the new year. The Capers would get that elusive fourth win Jan. 9 with an upset home victory over Yarmouth and would enjoy three more victories before the season was out. Even though its 7-11 mark left it shy of the postseason, Cape Elizabeth was thrilled with its campaign and with virtually everyone returning, will be taken very seriously in 2009-2010.
4) Hyland reigns supreme
South Portland junior standout Keegan Hyland was anything but anonymous this winter. The adoring eyes of his enormous legion of fans followed his every move and he was the focal point of every defense he faced. Even with so many expectations on his shoulders, Hyland sparkled, leading the Red Riots to another stellar regular season. He averaged nearly 30 points per game and enjoyed his finest hour Jan. 13 in Saco when he erupted for 47 points and led South Portland to an upset win over eventual state champion Thornton Academy. The best news is that Hyland has one year left to represent the Red Riots. Everyone from this year's team returns and there will be big-time pressure to excel next winter, but based on his track record, Hyland will rise to the occasion and figures to provide many more jawdropping moments.
3) Red Storm girls make history
Prior to this season, Scarborough had not won a postseason game since joining Class A. The Red Storm were expected to be a top contender this winter, but even they didn't anticipate winning 16 games and being pegged as Deering's top competition entering the tournament. Behind the dominant post play of junior Christy Manning, the nonpareil point guard skills of senior Reegan Brackett, and contributions from countless players on the roster, Scarborough dissected virtually every foe in the regular year and gained more and more confidence by the day. The Red Storm wound up ranked second for the tournament and finally got their first Class A playoff win with a romp over South Portland. The dream of meeting Deering in the regional final was dashed by Biddeford in the semis, but a good chunk of this team returns and Scarborough will seek to finish the job next season.
2) Capers give Camden a scare
The Cape Elizabeth boys' team entered the Class B Final playing with house money. Even so, few gave them a chance against the lone undefeated team in the state, Camden Hills, Feb. 27. Playing at the Cumberland County Civic Center, where they had won the regional crown the week before, the Capers came out confident and poised and seized control. Cape Elizabeth led 25-21 at the half, but foul trouble hindered its chances and the Windjammers turned it up in the second half. Still, the Capers trailed by just a point entering the fourth. There, Camden proved to be too much, slowly pulling away to win 62-49. Cape Elizabeth fell just short for a second year in a row, but no one complained about the memorable ride, which was highlighted by:
1) Dickey's buzzer-beater
The signature moment of the tournament came Feb. 26 in the semifinals. Cape Elizabeth, the No. 4 seed, which had lost at home to top-ranked Greely in the regular season finale, looked to avenge that loss when it raced to an early 11-0 lead. As expected the Rangers rallied and the teams were nip-and-tuck to the wire. Greely went up 45-42 in the final minute and had three free throw attempts which could have sent the Capers home, but the Rangers missed all three. After senior Alex Bowe made a contested shot to pull Cape Elizabeth within a point, the Capers got one final chance and inbounded the ball under their basket with 3.5 seconds left. In a play that will live on for generations in Cape Elizabeth, senior Conor Lawler threw a perfect pass three-quarters down the court, junior Andrew Dickey leaped to wrestle the ball away from a defender, then drove in and after contorting his body to elude Greely's Trevor Tierney, kissed the ball off the glass. The ball bounced on the rim twice, then fell in as time expired. The Capers exulted over their improbable 46-45 win and lived to play another day.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org