CUMBERLAND—The Greely girls’ basketball team labored through “one of those nights” Saturday when that one big basket or crucial moment to seize opportunity routinely presented itself and then just as quickly disappeared unfulfilled in another frustrating setback to the York Wildcats in a game between Western B powers who can just about count on seeing each other again down the road with far more on the line.
Top-ranked York got a team-high 12 points from senior forward Nicole Taylor, put together a pair of 6-0 runs to close out the first and third quarters and held off the Rangers late when sophomore Andrea Mountford went 3-for-4 from the line over the final minute to help the Wildcats slip out of town with a 32-27 victory and remain unbeaten on the season at 12-0.
Greely was led by the terrific play of senior forward Megan Grondin, who dropped a game-high 14 points on a variety of spinning left-handed layups in traffic to keep this one close until the final seconds. Grondin scored eight points in the second half, six in the fourth quarter, but didn’t get much help with hoops at a premium as the Rangers fell to 10-2, both losses courtesy of the Wildcats.
“What’s important is that we never gave up,” said Grondin. “It was a tough game against a good team. We’re used to playing with a big lead and tonight we could never get ahead. But whether we win by 15 points or lose by two we have to work just as hard to get better. We know we’ll get to see them again and we’ll be ready.”
Just eight days prior, York handed Greely its first loss of the season when Taylor went off for 24 points and posted double-digit rebounds in a 51-43 win at home. By sweeping the season series, the Wildcats strengthened their grip on the No. 1 spot for the playoffs for the second straight year. York ruled the West last season when they won 20 straight and advanced to the state title game. The Wildcats handled the Rangers twice during a 20-1 campaign, once in Cumberland in December and then on the big stage with a 49-30 decision in the regional championship.
Greely’s struggles continued Saturday with costly turnovers in key situations combined with an off-night from the floor. The Rangers’ normally potent 3-point attack produced only one all game while the offense was victimized by 18 turnovers, including maddeningly ill-timed ones late in the game as they searched for that big play that never did materialize. Despite the loss, Greely was hardly outmatched and if these stars do collide again it should be one doozy of a final.
“My teamed showed toughness tonight,” said Greely coach Billy Goodman. “They didn’t give up and that’s all I can ask for this time of year. York has a very good team, but our season isn’t over. They made a few more plays than we did, give them credit. But I liked our toughness. We’ll keep playing until they tell us our season’s over.”
The Wildcats ripped off six straight points in the final two minutes of the first quarter they won 11-6, and scored the first four points of the second to take their biggest lead of the game at nine, 15-6, midway through the second.
Greely responded with a 5-0 run to close out the half trailing 15-11, then answered a bucket by Taylor to start the third with six more unanswered points to tie things up at 17-17 on a clever ball-fake and step-by for two from senior Abby Young with 5:32 left in the third quarter. Young, a gifted 6-foot center who entered the game averaging 13 points each time out, scored all six of her points against York in the second half on a pair of layups in the third quarter and two foul shots in the fourth. She also had seven rebounds and four blocks.
Suddenly in a tie game, the Wildcats called timeout, slowed things down and executed in the halfcourt set on three straight possessions to grab a six-point lead at 23-17 to start the fourth. York junior guard Stephanie Gallagher ran the baseline to perfection, using screens to get free for a pair of layups to go with a pretty jumper that swished through as she scored all six of her points in the mini-run on set plays.
Grondin began the fourth with some playground-style improv to sneak a left-handed scoop shot up and in that cut the deficit to 23-19 and set the stage for the intense finish still up for debate with 15 seconds remaining.
Remarkably, Greely did not attempt a foul shot until Grondin hit a pair with 5:49 left in the game, then hit three more down the stretch as the Rangers pulled within two points on three different occasions in the last three minutes of the game, including 29-27 with one minute to go after Grondin’s last foul shot.
York went a combined 8-for-19 from the line in the game, just 5-for-14 in the fourth quarter, but a series of miscues and misfortune plagued Greely down the stretch each time they came within one basket of pulling even. The Rangers made it 26-24 with three minutes left and 28-26 after Young iced two foul shots at the two-minute mark.
Greely then fouled Mountford with 1:37 on the clock and she promptly stepped up and missed both. But after her second miss, Taylor slapped the rebound from – and off of Grondin – and it trickled out of bounds to give York another chance.
The Rangers were forced to foul again and York senior Emma Clark missed the front-end of a one-and-one, but this time the rebound ended up in a jump ball and once again went back to the Wildcats with 1:23 left.
With York coach Rick Clark complaining about perceived hard fouls by Greely (he and Goodman had words after the game), Mountford was selected again and hit 1-of-2 to make it 29-26.
Greely got the rebound after Mountford missed the second shot and Grondin was fouled on the other end and hit one, before Mountford was fouled once more and again made one of her two tries to make it 30-27.
The Rangers came down with time to still go for two points and foul again with 37 seconds left, but when senior guard Karla Biskup (three points) found Young alone on the block, the open space surprised her into traveling and turning the ball back over to York with 19 seconds left.
Hack-a-Mountford continued and she sank a pair as York narrowly prevailed in the regular season rematch with a 32-27 win over a Rangers team still hopeful they’ll get one more chance for redemption come tournament time.
“We knew that York was going to bring it,” said Young. “The last time we played them we came out too pumped up so this time we wanted to be more patient and play our game. They executed better than we did tonight. It was a little bit frustrating, but we won’t let it get in our head. They have a good team and we can’t wait to play them again.”
Greely has now dropped five straight countable games to the Wildcats.
Greely (third in the latest Western A Heals behind York and Leavitt) will have ample time to recover with its next game not scheduled until Friday at Cape Elizabeth. Greely beat the Capers 56-37 at home back on Dec. 19. The Rangers will play again the very next day at Falmouth, a team they handled easily, 63-39 at home on Dec. 15.
Greely senior Megan Grondin battled York sophomore Stephanie Gallagher for possession during the hard-fought affair.
Greely senior Abby Young found some rare room under the basket during her team’s showdown with defending Western B champion York Saturday night. Despite a valiant effort, the Rangers lost to their nemesis Wildcats for the second time in nine days, 32-27.