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Greely junior captain Zach Brown waves the net in celebration after the Rangers’ 60-50 win over Westbrook in Saturday’s Class A Final. Greely will look for a repeat state title when it battles Hampden Academy Thursday evening.
Mike Strout photos.
More photos below.
W-10 12 10 18- 50
G- 11 17 16 16- 60
W- Manoogian 13-6-35, Manyiel 3-1-7, Alado 2-0-5, Sjoberg 1-1-3
G- Storey 6-0-14, Brown 4-3-13, Kane 6-0-13, Bagshaw 3-0-9, DeWolfe 3-0-6, Coppersmith 2-1-5
W (4) Manoogian 3, Alado 1
G (8) Bagshaw 3, Brown, Storey 2, Kane 1
PORTLAND—Wednesday evening, Greely’s boys’ basketball team learned a valuable lesson.
In a tournament setting, once you get a team down, you must finish it off.
The undefeated, top-ranked, defending Class A champion Rangers nearly let a big lead slip away against rival Falmouth in the semifinals, but survived by two points and when they took on No. 3 Westbrook in Saturday’s Class A South Final at the Cross Insurance Arena, Greely didn’t make the same mistake twice.
The Rangers rode the early defensive energy put out by senior shot-blocking machine Jack Kane and held an 11-10 lead after one period.
Greely tried to pull away in the second quarter, but Blue Blazes senior standout Zac Manoogian kept them in it with 16 first half points and the Rangers held a 28-22 advantage at the break.
Greely then flipped the switch and this time, didn’t let its opponent hang around and gain confidence.
A strong effort from multiple players helped the Rangers extend their lead and when Kane made a desperation 3-pointer from well beyond the NBA-arc at the horn, Greely was up by a dozen points, 44-32.
While Manoogian was close to unstoppable down the stretch, Westbrook couldn’t make a serious run and the Rangers closed out their 60-50 victory.
Greely won its 43rd consecutive game, improved to 21-0, repeated as regional champion, ended the Blue Blazes’ season at 14-7 and in the process, advanced to take on Hampden Academy (20-1) in the Class A Final Thursday at 8:30 p.m., at the Cross Insurance Arena.
“(Falmouth) was a learning experience,” said Rangers coach Travis Seaver. “It changed some things we did. We focused on taking one quarter at a time and making it a full game. That goes back to the resilience of the kids and their unwillingness to lose.”
Greely won all 18 regular season game sand earned the top seed in the region and pulled away to beat No. 8 Fryeburg Academy, 68-53, in the quarterfinals, before holding on for dear life against fourth-ranked Falmouth, 49-47, in the semifinals.
Westbrook, meanwhile, posted a 12-6 regular season mark and as the No. 3 seed, eliminated sixth-ranked Kennebunk, 53-32, in the quarterfinals and rallied from 18-points down to stun No. 2 Biddeford, 52-44, in overtime, in the semis.
The teams met Jan. 24 in Cumberland, where Greely prevailed, 61-47, to set a new program record for consecutive victories at 35.
That streak continues.
The teams had no playoff history and Saturday, the Blue Blazes did the best they could to hang with the defending champs, but the Rangers had too much firepower and advanced to their second consecutive state final.
Greely needed just 13 seconds to score first, as senior Shane DeWolfe set up junior Andrew Storey for a layup.
Westbrook’s first points came on a driving layup from Manoogian, but junior Zach Brown made two free throws and Brown set up Kane for a layup and a 6-2 lead.
The Blue Blazes answered, as junior Abier Manyiel made a layup and Manoogian hit two free throws, but junior Mike Coppersmith entered the game and converted an old-fashioned three-point play (runner, foul, free throw) and drove for a layup for an 11-6 advantage.
Back came Westbrook to draw within one, as Manyiel made a layup and as time expired, Manoogian put home a miss.
Kane had a whopping five blocks in that frame.
“Our whole team focuses on digging in and playing good defense,” Kane said. “Blocks get everyone amped up.”
“Jack is a huge presence for us,” Seaver said. “Even if he doesn’t block shots, he changes shots. He’s smart. He’s athletic and he takes up space.”
In the second quarter, the Rangers looked to run away and hide, but the Blue Blazes stayed within hailing distance.
The frame began with DeWolfe setting up Kane for a layup and Kane tipping in a miss. After DeWolfe banked home a shot, Brown sank a 3 and the lead was 10, 20-10.
Manoogian countered with a floater, but Storey buried a 3.
After Blue Blazes junior Jeremiah Alado drove for a layup, Brown made a layup as well.
A Manoogian 3 was answered by a 3 from sophomore Logan Bagshaw before Manoogian hit a 3 and banked home a floater in the final minute to pull Westbrook within six, 28-22, at the break.
In the first half, Manoogian had 16 points to keep his team alive, while Brown led Greely with seven points and Kane had six points, six blocks and five rebounds.
In the third period, the Rangers finally got some separation.
After Manoogian opened the second half with a jumper to pull Westbrook within four, Bagshaw drained a 3.
Senior Landon Sjoberg made a free throw for the Blue Blazes, but DeWolfe fed Storey for a layup, Storey set up Kane for a layup and with 2:18 left, a bank shot from Brown extended the lead to 37-25.
Manyiel made a layup for Westbrook, but Brown made a foul shot and after a Manoogian leaner, Bagshaw drained another 3.
Manoogian added a floater and Manyiel added a foul shot, but as time expired, Kane, from well beyond the NBA 3-point line, threw up a prayer with one hand and it found its target for a 44-32 advantage heading for the fourth quarter.
There, Greely ended all doubt and unleashed another celebration.
Brown opened the final stanza with a 3 and after a Manoogian leaner, DeWolfe set up Kane for a layup.
Manoogian got a point back at the line, but DeWolfe scored on a putback.
Manoogian kept trying to rally the Blue Blazes with a 3, but Storey countered with one of his own for a 54-38 advantage.
After a jumper from Sjoberg, DeWolfe drove for a layup.
Manoogian converted a three-point play, but Brown fed Storey for a layup and a 58-43 lead with 2:36 to play.
Manoogian got back to the line and made both free throws, but DeWolfe set up Storey for another layup and the Rangers’ final points.
A 3-pointer from Alado and a last-second layup from Manoogian brought the curtain down on Greely’s 60-50 triumph.
“The third quarter has been where we’ve collapsed the past couple games, but tonight, we wanted to come out and set the tone,” Brown said. “We knew if we won that quarter, we’d win the game.”
“Falmouth taught us we can’t stop playing until the final buzzer and we have to play our hardest every possession,” Kane said. “We dug in defensively. We focused on getting help on Zac Manoogian, because he’s a great player. We made sure we had good offensive possessions and took care of the ball.”
“The kids hit the reset button in November and we changed our mentality and the way we played,” Seaver added. “Give the kids credit, they worked hard from day one. I’m really proud of them for taking it one game at a time.”
The Rangers featured six scorers, three who wound up in double figures.
Storey led the way with one of his best games of the season, 14 points.
“We always tell Drew to just take shots,” Brown said. “We tell him to be confident. We know he belongs out here and he’s one of the best players.”
Brown had a steady 13 points and six assists.
Kane was a beast in the paint, scoring 13 points, grabbing nine rebounds and blocking seven shots.
“Jack has grown into his body,” Brown said. “He’s worked hard on his moves and has gotten better.”
Bagshaw drained three 3s, good for nine points, DeWolfe had six points (and four assists) and Coppersmith added five.
“What makes us tough is that we don’t have to depend on one guy scoring 20 every night,” Seaver said. “If we get three, four guys into double figures, we’re tough.”
Greely hit eight 3-pointers, shot a dazzling 59 percent (24 of 41) from the floor, only turned the ball over a dozen times and made 4 of 8 free throws.
Each team grabbed 20 rebounds.
Westbrook was paced by the regional tournament’s most valuable player, Manoogian, who bowed out with a dazzling 35 points.
“I think Zac had three incredible years,” Blue Blazes coach Dan LeGage said. “It’s been enjoyable to coach a player like that. I appreciate a talented kid who accepts coaching. What’s made him special was not one time was he ever late and not once did he ever complain about playing time. He was always positive. When your best player acts like that, it helps the program. He’s right up there with the best players I’ve coached.”
Consider the Rangers impressed.
“(Zac’s) a tough player,” Brown said. “He makes tough shots. He’s going to get his points, we just couldn’t let other players beat us and that’s what we did.”
“We knew Zac would get his points,” Seaver said. “He played great and hit big shots. Our goal was to slow everyone else down.”
Also scoring were Manyiel with seven points, Alado with five and Sjoberg with three.
The Blue Blazes were 19 of 44 from the floor, made 8 of 11 foul shots, but turned the ball over 20 times.
“Greely shot so well,” LeGage said. “They were contested shots. You just tip your cap. They have multi-talented players and multiple positions. They can get to the rim, shoot, get it inside. They’ve won 43 in a row for a reason.”
Westbrook reached its first regional final in eight years and will fondly remember this season.
“When I arrived, it had been awhile since (Westbrook) had been to a regional final,” LeGage said. “When the kids reflect on the season, they’ll look back on their accomplishments.”
The Blue Blazes say goodbye to six seniors, but hope to be back in the mix next winter.
“Hopefully for the returning guys, they want to be part of something special,” LeGage said. “We’re trending up. Hopefully they’ll take pride in that. We hope to continue to build the desire to be part of the program.”
Greely and Hampden Academy have no history.
The Broncos have been an elite team in recent years, but they haven’t been able to win a state final in Portland.
The Rangers are looking to go back-to-back for the first time in two decades, but they know it won’t be easy.
“It feels good, but our goal is to win states again,” Brown said. “We’ve played together for a long time and I think we just have to play our game. I think we’re the best team in the state. I think we’ll show that.”
“Our motivation is what last year’s seniors left us, going 22-0, and that’s what has sparked us to be great and go 21-0 so far this year,” Kane said. “Hampden is a very good team. They have size, good shooters. We have to play tough defense like we always do and be smart with the ball on every possession, not just some of them.”
“We’ll go to work on Hampden tonight and be ready Thursday,” Seaver added. “This isn’t the easiest place to play. There’s a big difference from Augusta, but at the end of the day, it’ll be settled between the end lines.”
Greely senior Shane DeWolfe shoots in traffic.
Greely senior Luke Miller tries to knock the ball away from Westbrook junior Kyle Champagne.
Greely senior Jack Kane takes a shot.
Greely junior Mike Coppersmith looks to pass.
Greely junior Andrew Storey goes up for two of his team-high 14 points.
Greely sophomore Logan Bagshaw shoots over Westbrook junior Kyle Champagne.
Greely junior Zach Brown goes up for a layup.
Greely senior Jack Kane shoots a desperation 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter. It went in.
After the basket, Kane, right, celebrates with senior Shane DeWolfe (20) and junior Mike Coppersmith.
Greely senior Shane DeWolfe, left, senior Jack Kane, junior Zach Brown and senior Luke Miller receive the regional championship plaque.