Greely denied by York again in regional final
That's the lament of the Greely girls' basketball team after Saturday's Western Class B Final at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
The third-ranked Rangers hoped to snap a five-game, three-year losing streak to top-ranked York, their nemesis, but couldn't do so, falling 50-38 ,as their season came to an end at 18-3.
Greely was shutout in the first period and dug a deep hole. In the second half, despite the shooting dramatics of senior Nicole Faietta, the Rangers could get no closer than six points and had their season end in agonizing fashion.
At the hands of York.
“We just made some mental and physical mistakes,” said Greely coach Billy Goodman. “(York) pressured us and we knew it was coming. We just made mistakes. I don't know if we were nervous. They have good pressure defense. All the credit to them. They played great.”
York beat Greely, 49-30, in last year's regional final. This winter, the senior-laden Rangers excelled and won 16 of 18 contests, but the two losses came to the Wildcats, 51-43 in York on Jan. 8 and 32-27 at home Jan. 16. Greely wound up third in the region and advanced with easy wins over No. 6 Mountain Valley (52-24) and No. 2 Leavitt (59-38).
York, meanwhile, completed a second straight perfect regular season (the Wildcats lost to Waterville in last year's state game) to earn the top seed for the tournament. York advanced by virtue of a 40-20 win over No. 8 Falmouth and a 41-27 triumph over Lake Region.
Greely hadn't beaten York since a 54-40 triumph in the 2007 quarterfinals.
Saturday, the Rangers fell short again and dug an enormous hole that proved too steep.
The Wildcats broke through first. After freshman Marquis MacGlashing missed the first shot, junior standout Nicole Taylor snared the rebound and put it home. A minute later, junior Stephanie Gallagher scored on a layup and with 5:36 left in the first period, Gallagher hit a long jumper, forcing Goodman to take a timeout.
It didn't help as Gallagher added two free throws to give York an 8-0 advantage.
After five turnovers and a blocked shot on their first six possessions, the Rangers got a 3-point look from senior Abby Young, but it fell short. At the other end, after a miss, the ball came to a wide-open Gallagher on the left wing and she knocked down a 3-ball to make it 11-0, inducing Goodman to call another timeout.
This time, Greely was able to tighten up on defense (a nice block by Young on a Taylor layup attempt was a spark), but the offense just wasn't there. In the period, the Rangers went 0-for-5 from the floor (two shots went in-and-out) and Greely (which had seven turnovers) was whitewashed, 11-0. Gallagher had nine of the 11 points. Taylor had five rebounds.
Early in the second quarter, Taylor was called for a charge and the Rangers got some life.
With 7:16 left, senior Karlee Biskup drove to the hole and made a left-handed layup to end an 8 minute, 44 second drought and an 11-0 Wildcats' run. York answered, however, when junior Chelsea Morley hit a jumper, but a layup from Faietta got Greely back to within nine, 13-4, with 5:37 to go in the half.
The Rangers had three good looks to cut into the deficit, but after the third miss, Taylor grabbed the rebound and went cost-to-coast for a layup. With 3:18 to go, sophomore Caroline Hamilton buried a 3 to make it 15-7. Gallagher answered with a layup, but Young hit a jumper at the other end and it was 17-9 with 2:37 left
After two offensive rebounds, Morley was fouled and made a free throw with 2:12 to go. Sophomore Addison LaBonte added a jumper before Young made two foul shots to make it 22-11. After a Greely steal, Young had a chance to draw her team closer, but her 3-point attempt was short, keeping the deficit 11 at the break.
Greely had 10 first half turnovers and forced eight giveaways, but had put itself in a precarious position.
In the third quarter, senior Megan Grondin got on the board with a free throw to get things started. Taylor answered with two foul shots, then, with 5:07 left in the period, Taylor got an offensive rebound, was fouled and hit two more free throws for York's biggest lead, 26-12.
Faietta answered with a 3, but senior Emma Clark drove for a layup to make it 28-15, before Faietta sank another 3-ball with 3:29 to go to cut the deficit to 10. The Rangers had chances to draw closer, but Hamilton was off on a 3 and they turned the ball over the next time down the court.
With 2:14 left, freshman Emily Campbell made two foul shots to push the lead back to 12. After a Campbell jumper made it 32-18, Faietta buried an NBA-range 3, but Gallagher answered with a jump shot.
With 1:10 to go, Grondin converted an old-fashioned three-point play to get it back to 10, 34-24, but seven seconds later, Campbell was fouled by Grondin (her fourth) and made both attempts. Junior Chelsea Bridges made a layup for Greely with 46.5 seconds to go and with 10 seconds remaining, Faietta drove the lane, pulled up and hit a leaner while being fouled and added the free throw to draw the Rangers within seven, 36-29, heading for the fourth.
Faietta had 12 points in the quarter to keep Greely's hopes alive.
Those hopes were then dashed once and for all in the final stanza.
After MacGlashing blocked freshman Caton Beaulieu on a drive, Taylor got fouled at the other end and made her two attempts. Faietta answered with a pretty left-handed runner in the lane, but Taylor got an offensive board and scored on a putback. With 5:31 to go, Faietta drained another deep 3 to make it 40-34, the closest the Rangers had been since 6-0, and the closest they would get on this day.
After a blocked shot, Greely could have gotten even closer, but turned the ball over. At the other end,
sophomore Andrea Mountford made one free throw and with 4:18 to go, Gallagher hit a pullup jumper to make it 43-34.
With 3:59 remaining, after a Rangers turnover, Mountford was fouled again and made her first shot to make it 44-34. Greely then turned it over again and after two offensive boards, Taylor scored on a putback for a 12-point bulge.
Young drove for a layup with 3:07 to go to cut the deficit to 10, but after three offensive rebounds, Campbell made a layup to essentially ice it, making it 48-36 with just over two minutes to go.
Gallagher added a free throw with 56.2 seconds remaining, missed the second, but Taylor grabbed the rebound and LaBonte was fouled with 47.6 seconds to go (Grondin's fifth). LaBonte made one shot and Young hit a leaner in the waning seconds to account for the 50-38 final score.
“We ran out of bodies,” Goodman said. “We ran out of fouls. We ran out of everything. We had a lot of girls on the bench. Abby and Megan had four fouls and Karlee had a concussion and couldn't play the fourth quarter. Every time we cut the lead, we turned it over or shots just wouldn't drop. They went in and out early in the game. We couldn't get the lead and I knew we had to do that. I'm so proud of my team. They just never gave up. It's disappointing.”
Ultimately, the rough start and too much Gallagher (16 points) and Taylor (14 points) proved to be the difference. Campbell added eight points, Morley five, Clark three and LaBonte and Mountford two apiece. The Wildcats turned the ball over just 13 times and made 20-of-29 free throws.
York (21-0) will meet Nokomis (a 37-22 winner over MDI in the Eastern B Final Saturday) in the Class B state championship game Friday at 7:05 p.m., at the Bangor Auditorium.
Greely got a game-high 19 points from Faietta.
“I've been saying that Nicole should be an all-star,” Goodman said. “It's amazing she's not. I've been telling her for a month it's OK for her to score more. She's the best defensive player I've got and she's one of the best on offense. She's just a great player. I'm very glad she got her due because she's that good. She led the charge. That's one of the best performances I've seen in my 10 years of coaching”
Young added eight points, Grondin had four, Hamilton three and Biskup and Bridges two apiece.
Greely will graduate six seniors, including stalwarts Biskup, Faietta, Grondin and Young (injured Abby Sue Cornish and Erica Kahn also depart).
“For whatever reason, it just wasn't our time and I feel bad for my seniors,” said Goodman, a former Deering assistant, who chose to stay with the Rangers even after the Deering job came open two years ago. “They're a very talented group and they gave it all they had until the end. It's a shame. Most people would have gone back to Deering. I had been there so long and the job opened up, but a reason I didn't, other than I had committed to Greely, was that I liked these kids. I liked working with them. They hooked me that summer. The commitment was there and they made it fun. It wasn't just that we were going to win, they worked hard and appreciated everything. That hooked me. Two Western Maine finals were pretty good, but two losses weren't.”
The Rangers will have a very different look in 2010-11, but should remain in the hunt.
“My young kids will start working this summer, we'll get it going and hopefully get back here next year,” Goodman said.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com