Greely’s bench players react to a dunk from senior Jack Kane during the Rangers’ 68-53 win over Fryeburg Academy in Friday’s Class A South quarterfinal. Defending state champion Greely advanced to meet rival Falmouth in the semifinals Wednesday.
Mike Strout photos.
More photos below.
FA- 7 15 19 12- 53
G- 18 18 7 25- 68
FA- Saunders 4-7-17, LeBrun 4-0-10, Knapp 3-0-9, Bowles 2-2-6, Buzzell 2-0-4, Parker 2-0-4, Hewes 1-0-3
G- Brown 7-0-17, Kane 6-4-16, Bagshaw 5-0-14, Storey 4-2-11, DeWolfe 1-6-8, Miller 0-2-2
FA (8) Knapp 3, LeBrun, Saunders 2, Hewes 1
G (8) Bagshaw 4, Brown 3, Storey 1
PORTLAND—The top-ranked, defending state champion Greely boys’ basketball team was expected to roll to an easy victory in its Class A South quarterfinal against No. 8 Fryeburg Academy Friday evening at the Portland Exposition Building, but with eight minutes to go, the Raiders had all the momentum and the Rangers appeared to be on the ropes.
Until they flipped a switch and pulled away to do what they’ve done exclusively the past two winters.
Greely appeared en route to a decisive triumph when senior Zach Brown’s 11 points sparked an 18-7 lead after one period and sophomore Logan Bagshaw drained four 3-pointers in the second quarter to stretch the advantage to 36-22.
Back roared Fryeburg Academy in the third period, however, and when senior Ryan Hewes drained a late 3-pointer, the Raiders were only down by a basket, 43-41, heading to the final stanza.
The Rangers then dug deep into their reservoir of championship heart to score the first eight points of the final frame to gain some breathing room and a pair of resounding dunks from senior Jack Kane helped Greely go on to a 68-53 victory, its 41st in succession.
The Rangers improved to 19-0, ended Fryeburg Academy’s season at 9-11 and advanced to the semifinals where they will meet rival Falmouth (10-9) Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., at the Cross Insurance Arena.
“We’ve preached to the guys that seeds don’t matter,” Greely coach Travis Seaver said. “We’ve done a good job getting to where we want to be, but it comes down to playing 32 good minutes every night.”
For years, Greely couldn’t get over the hump, consistently advancing deep in the tournament only to be disappointed.
That all changed last winter when the Rangers went 22-0, capped by a decisive victory over Messalonskee in the Class A state final.
Greely then graduated Mr. Maine Basketball, Matt McDevitt, as well as standouts Jordan Bagshaw and Ryan Twitchell, and as a result, it was expected to come back to the pack this season, but instead, the Rangers remained unbeatable (see sidebar, below, for links to previous game stories), going 18-0 in the regular season, winning by an average of 17 points per game and in the process, breaking the previous program record of 34 straight victories.
Greely won by less than 10 points just three times: 66-60 at home over two-time defending AA South champion South Portland Dec. 16, 49-41 at Fryeburg Academy Jan. 19 and 55-47 at York Feb. 6.
As the top seed in Class A South, the Rangers awaited their quarterfinal opponent, which wound up being Fryeburg Academy after the eighth-ranked Raiders downed No. 9 Marshwood, 61-45, in Tuesday’s preliminary round.
In addition to their eight-point victory at Fryeburg, the Rangers also handled the visiting Raiders, 53-34, in the regular season finale Feb. 8.
The teams had met three previous times in the playoffs, with Greely taking all three, including a 71-51 decision in the 2013 Western B preliminary round, the most recent.
Friday, Greely took care of business, but it wasn’t easy.
The Rangers raced to a quick 7-0 lead, as senior Shane DeWolfe hit a runner, Brown added a 3 and Bagshaw threw a long pass to Kane, who slammed the ball home for his first of three slam dunks on the night.
Fryeburg Academy got on the board with 4:59 to go in the opening quarter when junior Oscar Saunders hit a pair of free throws, but Brown countered with a 3 and Kane made a layup while being fouled and added the free throw for the old-fashioned three-point play and a 13-2 advantage.
Saunders added two more foul shots, but a corner 3 from Brown gave Greely its biggest lead of the first half, 16-4.
Brown started the game with a plastic mask on his face after suffering a cheekbone injury in practice, but it didn’t affect his shooting ability.
“It was just a little incident in practice where I ran into one of my teammates,” Brown said. “I couldn’t really see that well, but I started getting used to it. I started feeling my shot in warmups and it carried over to the game.”
Junior Nathan Knapp countered with a 3-ball for the Raiders before a Brown bank shot gave him 11 points in the quarter which ended 18-7 Rangers.
Greely tried to put the Raiders away in the second period, but couldn’t do so.
A jumper from senior Joe LeBrun started the frame for Fryeburg Academy. After junior Andrew Storey made a jumper for the Rangers, LeBrun hit a 3 and senior Scott Parker made a layup after a steal to cut the deficit to six, 20-14.
Bagshaw then began to heat up, draining a 3, then after a turnover, hitting another to make it a 12-point game.
Junior Tucker Buzzell hit a jumper for the Raiders, but Storey answered, finishing a feed from Bagshaw with a layup before Bagshaw made another 3 to make it 31-16.
Two free throws and a reverse layup from junior Caleb Bowles pulled Fryeburg Academy within 11, but Bagshaw made his fourth 3 of the quarter and Kane scored on a putback before a layup from LeBrun pulled the Raiders within 36-22 at the break.
In the first half, Bagshaw had 12 points, while Brown added 11. Fryeburg Academy got seven points from LeBrun, but was hindered by seven turnovers.
The Raiders then roared back in the third period to make things very interesting.
Saunders started the comeback with a jumper and a 3 to cut the deficit to nine.
After a pair of DeWolfe free throws, Parker scored on a putback, Saunders made a foul shot and with 3:57 on the clock, a corner 3 from Knapp trimmed Greely’s lead to 38-33.
Fryeburg Academy then had two good looks to cut the deficit to two, but both LeBrun and Bowles missed open 3s.
Kane then stole the ball, was fouled while hitting a bank shot and added the free throw for the three-point play, momentarily turning momentum back to the Rangers, but the Raiders got a 3 from Knapp and a layup from Buzzell to make it 41-38.
Brown made a layup for Greely, but with 21.2 seconds to go, a corner 3 from Hewes pulled Fryeburg Academy within 43-41, energized its crowd and sent the game to the final stanza still very much in doubt.
Until the Rangers came out like champions and finally put it away.
DeWolfe got things started by drawing a foul and hitting two free throws.
Then, after a Kane block, Storey fed Brown for a layup, Storey scored on a putback and with 6:28 to play, DeWolfe set up Brown for another layup and just like that, the lead was 10, 51-41.
Saunders stemmed the tide with a 3, but Storey countered with one of his own.
LeBrun made a 3 to cut the deficit to 54-47, but Storey sank two free throws and Kane brought the house down again (and not for the final time) with a resounding dunk after a steal.
“We stepped up on defense,” Kane said. “That’s what we pride our team on. They made that pass all night, so I was ready for it.”
Brown then set up Bagshaw for a layup and a 60-47 lead with 3:23 remaining.
Bowles made a layup after a steal for the Raiders, but Kane hit a couple free throws.
After a Saunders floater, Bagshaw lofted an alley-oop pass to Kane, who soared and slammed it home with 1:55 remaining, again drawing a huge reaction from the crowd before being called for a technical foul for hanging on the rim.
Saunders made the ensuing two free throws for Fryeburg Academy’s final points before a pair of foul shots from senior Luke Miller and two more from DeWolfe brought the curtain down on Greely’s 68-53 triumph.
“It was a little surprising and scary that they came back, but we pulled it together and played as a team and got the job done,” Kane said.
“We try to put four quarters together and go from there,” said Brown. “Playoffs are games of runs. We had to keep our composure and keep playing together.”
“(Fryeburg was) tough and scrappy,” Seaver added. “They played well and shot really well. Defensively, we had some lapses. We got beaten off the dribble in the second half. We had to pick up our defensive intensity, not get beaten off the dribble and contain and do the fundamental things. We did better rebounding and getting out in transition.”
Brown’s big first quarter allowed him to lead the Rangers in scoring with 17 points. Brown also had five steals.
Kane was dominant with 16 points, 14 rebounds, four steals and three blocks.
“Every time I step on the court, I have a great time, no matter what,” Kane said.
“Jack is a big defensive presence,” Brown said. “He gets a lot of blocks and rebounds and that helps us get out in transition.”
Bagshaw added 14 points (and five assists), Storey 11 (to go with seven boards), DeWolfe eight and Miller two.
Greely made all 14 of its free throws, overcame 17 turnovers and had a 27-20 rebounding advantage.
Fryeburg Academy was paced by 17 points from Saunders. LeBrun added 10, Knapp nine, Bowles six, Buzzell (four steals) and Parker four apiece and Hewes three.
The Raiders made 9 of 14 free throws and committed 22 turnovers.
Next up for Greely is a Falmouth squad playing with house money after surviving York, 62-56, in a double-overtime thriller in its quarterfinal Friday.
The Rangers won the regular season encounter, 51-40, Dec. 21 at Falmouth behind 17 points from Bagshaw and 13 from Brown.
Greely has won all four prior playoff encounters, including last year’s Class A South Final, 47-26.
After Friday’s scare, the Rangers know nothing will come easily against their ancient rival.
“Falmouth’s coming off a big momentum boost,” Brown said. “We need to play good defense and play our game and we’ll be fine.”
“Big game experience helps a lot,” Kane said. “Everyone on our team is strong enough to play under pressure. We’ll have to play our best game against Falmouth. We have to take pride defensively and we’ll have to push the ball in transition. If we do, I think we’ll be alright.”
“Falmouth played tough tonight,” Seaver added. “We’re both different than last time. It’s always fun to play them. We look forward to it.”
Greely senior Zach Brown shoots a 3-pointer over Fryeburg Academy senior Scott Parker. Brown led the Rangers with 17 points.
Greely senior Shane DeWolfe and Fryeburg Academy junior Nathan Knapp fight for a loose ball.
Greely junior Andrew Storey shoots as Fryeburg Academy junior Tucker Buzzell defends.
Greely senior Shane DeWolfe goes up for a shot in traffic.
Greely senior Luke Miller drives on Fryeburg Academy junior Oscar Saunders.
Greely senior Jack Kane soars to finish an alley-oop dunk late in the victory.
2013 Western B preliminary round
Greely 71 Fryeburg Academy 51
1981 Western B semifinal
Greely 61 Fryeburg Academy 47
1980 Western B quarterfinal
Greely 58 Fryeburg Academy 48