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Greely senior Jack Kane, right, sophomore Logan Bagshaw and junior Zach Brown celebrate at the final horn after the Rangers escape with a 49-47 win over rival Falmouth in Wednesday evening’s Class A South semifinals. Greely will face Westbrook in the regional final Saturday.
Joe Carpine photos.
More photos below.
F- 5 10 18 14- 47
G- 17 10 13 9- 49
F- Pitre 7-0-17, Marcotte 3-1-9, Hester 3-0-7, Bryant 2-2-6, Douglas 2-0-4, Manganello 2-0-4
G- Bagshaw 8-2-20, DeWolfe 3-2-9, Kane 2-3-7, Brown 3-0-6, Storey 2-0-4, Miller 1-0-3
F (6) Pitre 3, Marcotte 2, Hester 1
G (4) Bagshaw 2, DeWolfe, Miller 1
PORTLAND—Survive and advance.
Nothing else matters.
Greely’s powerhouse boys’ basketball team, the undefeated, defending state champions, earned zero style points Wednesday evening in a Class A South semifinal at the Cross Insurance Arena, but once the final horn sounded, the Rangers and their followers could breathe a sigh of relief because even though they were pushed to the very brink by rival Falmouth, their season will continue and their title dreams live on.
Thanks to clutch performances from many sources and perhaps a little good luck mixed in.
Top-ranked Greely looked like it would run away with this one when it embarked on a 17-0 run which saw the fourth-ranked Yachtsmen go without a point for over eight minutes.
The Rangers led, 17-5, after one quarter, thanks to nine points from senior Shane DeWolfe, and went up by as much as 15, 22-7, on a 3-pointer from sophomore sharpshooter Logan Bagshaw midway through the second period, but undermanned and proud Falmouth refused to roll over and it would rally and push the game to the final second.
The Yachtsmen were down by a dozen, 27-15, at halftime and still trailed by 10 midway through the third quarter before freshman revelation Nicco Pitre sparked a comeback which cut the deficit to three before Greely got late baskets from junior Andrew Storey and Bagshaw to take a 40-33 lead to the fourth quarter.
There, a Bagshaw floater made it 46-37 with 4:21 to go, but Falmouth wasn’t done and when senior Jack Bryant converted a three-point play with 2:02 on the clock and Pitre buried an NBA-range 3-pointer with 1:15 remaining, the Yachtsmen had closed within a single point, 48-47.
The Rangers missed two front end of one-and-one free throw attempts, but senior Jack Kane grabbed offensive rebounds to keep possession and after Kane added a foul shot with 20.1 seconds on the clock, Greely led, 49-47.
Falmouth had a chance to tie or go ahead, but after Pitre drove into the lane, he was called for a charging foul with 5.4 seconds remaining, leaving the Yachtsmen on life support.
Falmouth would get one final chance, however, as DeWolfe missed two foul shots and the Yachtsmen, who have been decimated by injury and were given no chance to make a deep playoff run this winter, had an opportunity to shock the world, but they couldn’t manage a shot before time expired and the Rangers held on to win, 49-47.
Greely got a game-high 20 points from Bagshaw as it improved to 20-0, extended its two-year win streak to 42 games, advanced to meet No. 3 Westbrook (14-6) in the Class A South Final Saturday at 8 p.m., and in the process ended Falmouth’s season at 10-10.
“It’s fun this time of year,” said Rangers coach Travis Seaver. “You never know how games will go. We had a pretty good lead, but Falmouth came out and played well and shot the lights out. We held on. I’m proud of the kids. They did what they needed to do down the stretch.”
Prior to the season, if someone suggested that Falmouth and Greely would meet in the regional semifinals, no one would have argued, but when the Yachtsmen lost senior Nikko DePatsy and sophomore Michael Simonds to season-ending injuries, that prospect faded.
But Falmouth has persevered and behind arguably the finest performance in longtime coach Dave Halligan’s career, the Yachtsmen managed to go .500 in the regular season, earn the No. 4 seed and Friday, hold off No. 5 York in a double overtime thriller, 62-56, in the quarterfinals to advance.
Greely went 22-0 last winter, won the Class A state title, then picked up where it left off this season, winning all 18 regular season games to set a new program mark for consecutive victories before earning the top seed in the region and pulling away from No. 8 Fryeburg Academy, 68-53, in the quarterfinals Friday (see sidebar, below, for links to previous game stories).
Greely beat the Yachtsmen in the regular season meeting, 51-40, Dec. 21 in Falmouth.
The Rangers won all four prior playoff meetings, including a 47-26 triumph in last year’s regional final.
Wednesday, Greely found a way to prevail again, but what appeared to be a runaway victory turned into a grueling down-to-the-wire instant classic.
The Yachtsmen got off to a fast start when junior Nik Hester sank a 3-pointer 17 seconds in.
Greely’s first points came on a pair of free throws from DeWolfe with 5:42 to go in the first quarter, but sophomore Brady Douglas countered with a putback for Falmouth.
The Rangers then erupted for 17 straight points.
First, Bagshaw set up Storey for a layup.
DeWolfe then fed Bagshaw for a layup and the lead for good.
With 2:27 left in the first, after blocking a shot at the defensive end, Bagshaw threw a long pass ahead to DeWolfe for a layup, forcing Halligan to call timeout.
It didn’t help, as things went from bad to worse for the Yachtsmen.
Pitre, the hero of the quarterfinal, came into the game wearing jersey number 25 instead of his usual 22 and since it wasn’t recorded that way, a technical foul was called and Bagshaw sank both attempts.
“He picked the jersey out of his bag and put on the wrong jersey,” Halligan said. “That’s on me, not him.”
Bagshaw then banked home a runner, DeWolfe hit a 3 and DeWolfe drove for a leaner to give Greely a 17-5 advantage after eight minutes.
In the first quarter, DeWolfe led the way with nine points, while Bagshaw had six and Falmouth failed to score for the final 5 minutes, 19 seconds of the frame.
That drought continued into the second period as the Rangers threatened to run away and hide, but the Yachtsmen stayed within hailing distance at the half.
After Bagshaw started the new quarter by going backdoor and making a layup off a feed from DeWolfe, Douglas scored on a putback with 4:42 remaining before halftime, snapping the 8:37 drought and ending Greely’s run at 17-0.
Bagshaw countered with a 3, but Bryant scored on a putback and Pitre banked home a runner high off the glass.
After a 3 from Rangers senior Luke Miller, Falmouth senior Alex Marcotte countered with a 3 and in the final minute, Kane and Bryant traded free throws to make it 27-15 Greely at the half.
Bagshaw led all first half scorers with 11 points, while DeWolfe had nine. Douglas paced the Yachtsmen with four points and eight rebounds.
In the third quarter, the Rangers saw their lead diminish.
A putback from Falmouth junior Sam Manganello started the second half.
After Bagshaw knocked down a 3, Pitre did the same and after Storey set up Kane for a layup, Pitre drained another 3.
With 6:06 left in the frame, Brown set up Kane for a layup and a 34-23 lead, but 10 of the next 12 points would go to Falmouth.
A 3 from Marcotte got things started.
After a floater from Bagshaw, Marcotte converted an old-fashioned three-point play (layup, foul, free throw), Bryant set up Manganello for a layup and Hester drove for a layup to cut the deficit to 36-33 with 2:12 to go in the third.
Greely would finish the frame strong, however, as Storey tipped home a missed shot and junior Zach Brown fed Bagshaw on the fastbreak for a layup. When Manganello’s 3 at the horn was just off the mark, the Rangers took a 40-33 lead to the fourth quarter.
Where they couldn’t exhale until the final horn sounded.
Pitre started the final stanza with a leaner in the lane, but DeWolfe fed Brown for a backdoor layup.
“I thought Falmouth did a nice job taking (Zach) away, but he’s unselfish and he doesn’t need to score although it’s nice when he does,” Seaver said. “He finds guys who can put the ball in the hoop.”
Pitre made a layup after a steal, but again Brown answered, this time with a leaner in traffic in the lane for a 44-37 lead.
With 4:21 left, Bagshaw hit a floater in the lane, but Pitre countered with a jumper in the lane and with 2:46 on the clock, Pitre got back into the lane, drew the defense and passed to Hester for a layup to cut the deficit to 46-41.
Twelve seconds later, at the other end, DeWolfe set up Brown for a reverse layup, but with 2:02 remaining, Bryant hit a bank shot while being fouled and added the and-one to make it very interesting, 48-44.
After Bryant fouled out, Greely tried to milk the clock but turned the ball over and with 1:15 to go, Pitre buried an NBA-range 3 to pull the Yachtsmen within a single point.
After the Rangers ran the clock down to 22.3 seconds, junior Mike Coppersmith was fouled, but he missed the front end of a one-and-one.
In soared Kane to save the day with a rebound and he was fouled.
With 20.1 seconds to go, Kane made his first attempt, but missed the second.
Then, he grabbed that rebound too.
“Without those rebounds, they would have gotten more possessions and who knows how that would have worked out,” Kane said. “Those were critical.”
“Jack uses his body well,” Seaver said. “With missing the free throws, the offensive rebounds were the game. Otherwise, Falmouth would have had two more possessions.”
The ball then came to Coppersmith, who was fouled again with 16.8 seconds remaining and Coppersmith missed the free throw, giving Falmouth a chance to tie or take the lead.
Pitre drove into the lane and went up for a shot which Kane blocked, but it was a moot point as Pitre was called for the charge on both Miller and Coppersmith with just 5.4 seconds to play.
“(Nicco) came running down the court and we all crashed down in,” Kane said. “We got in front of him and we did what we needed to do.”
“We did our homework and thought there were opportunities to take a charge,” Seaver said. “Guys had the guts to take it.”
A second later, DeWolfe was fouled and he went to the line to ice it, but after missing the first attempt, DeWolfe missed again and Falmouth had a sliver of hope left.
Hester rebounded the ball, passed it to Manganello and as the clock approached 0.0, Manganello tried to get the ball to a racing Marcotte, but his pass was just a little long and the ball went out of bounds as the final horn sounded to end the game.
Greely 49 Falmouth 47.
“It was a little scary,” Kane said. “We did our best to play as a team and lock down on defense. We got a few stops and got a few rebounds. We expected a close game. We were surprised when we ran away as quickly as we did. They fought back.”
“If we work together and we play hard, I’m confident about the outcome,” Bagshaw said. “It was a little nervewracking, but I was confident in my teammates that we could pull it out.”
Bagshaw, in his first protracted experience playing on the Cross Insurance Arena floor, led all scorers with 20 points. He also had three assists.
“I tried to create my own shot,” said Bagshaw. “We spread the court and every shot I took was because of my teammates. I love playing here. I like shooting here. I tried to find a rhythm.”
“(Logan’s) a threat anytime he’s on the floor,” Seaver said. “He hits big shots. He’s never afraid to let it fly when the game’s on the line. It’s a testament to how hard he works.”
DeWolfe scored nine points, all in the first quarter, and also had four assists.
Kane added seven points, 10 rebounds and five blocked shots, Brown had six points, Storey four (to go with five boards) and Miller three.
Greely missed half of its 14 free throw attempts and committed a dozen turnovers.
Both teams finished with 21 rebounds.
Falmouth was led by Pitre, who capped his dynamic freshman campaign by scoring 17 points off the bench.
Marcotte bowed out with nine points, Hester had seven (to go with six rebounds and five blocks), Bryant six before fouling out and Douglas (eight rebounds) and Manganello had four apiece.
The Yachtsmen overcame 12 turnovers, but made just 3 of 8 free throws.
If you told me we’d have the last possession to shoot to win the game, I’d say, that’s great,” Halligan said. “It would have been nice to get a shot off. You never know.
“We lost the game, but we’re not defeated. It was a team effort. We were confident. I didn’t know how the kids would react to the big court setting, but these kids are resilient. They make mistakes, they learn from them and they make adjustments. These guys played together on offense and they played together on defense. They gutted it out.”
Falmouth finished 10-10, but accomplished much and in time, this year’s team will be hailed for getting every ounce out of its talent, thanks to the work of Halligan and his staff.
“I’m as proud of these guys as the guys who won the state championship,” Halligan said. “They exceeded our expectations.”
The Yachtsmen part with Bryant, DePatsy, Marcotte and Emilio Micucci, but they get everyone back, including Douglas, Hester, Manganello, Pitre and Simonds, and they will be a formidable foe again in 2018-19.
“I can’t say enough about our seniors,” Halligan said. “We have 14 guys coming back. They’ll grow and be better for it.”
Greely is due for another stern test in the regional final against a Westbrook squad which somehow erased an early 18-0 deficit to shock No. 2 Biddeford in overtime, 52-44, in Wednesday’s other palpitating semifinal.
The Rangers beat the visiting Blue Blazes, 61-47, Jan. 24, as Brown had 16 points, Kane finished with 15 and DeWolfe added 14.
The teams have no playoff history.
Greely will again be the favorite, but knows that consecutive win number 43 won’t come easily.
“We have to do what we always do, lock down on defense, and the rest will come,” Kane said.
“We try to play every game like it could be our last,” Bagshaw said. “If we don’t win, we’re going home. We’ll play hard and be ready.”
“Come tournament time, I don’t think there’s pressure,” Seaver added. “The regular season doesn’t matter. Everyone has time to prepare and put forward their best game. The deeper you go, you’ll get the other team’s best game.
“I think Westbrook is athletic. They’re playing well. We’ll go to work tonight and hopefully it’ll work out in our favor Saturday.”
Falmouth senior Alex Marcotte goes up for a layup as Greely sophomore Logan Bagshaw looks on.
Greely senior Shane DeWolfe tries to shoot over Falmouth junior Nik Hester.
Falmouth freshman Nicco Pitre soars for a layup. Pitre led the Yachtsmen with 17 points.
Falmouth junior Nik Hester blocks the shot of Greely senior Jack Kane.
Falmouth junior Nik Hester beats Greely senior Jack Kane for a layup.
Greely’s fan section brought its ‘A’ game Wednesday.
The Falmouth student section was on its game as well.
Greely’s bench and fans rejoice and exhale as the Rangers hold on at the end of the game.
2017 Class B South Final
Greely 47 Falmouth 26
2008 Western B quarterfinals
Greely 50 Falmouth 49
2007 Western B semifinals
Greely 63 Falmouth 40
2003 Western B semifinals
Greely 62 Falmouth 45