Greely girls handle Hampden to win repeat title

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With senior Anna DeWolfe (20) raising her arms in celebration, Greely senior Madison Scott, left, and junior Brooke Obar embrace at the conclusion of the Rangers’ 54-42 victory over Hampden Academy in Friday night’s Class A state final. Greely won the Gold Ball for the second year in a row.

Derek Davis / Portland Press Herald photos.

More photos below.

BOX SCORE
Class A State Final
March 1, 2019
Augusta Civic Center

Greely 54 Hampden Academy 42

G-  10 18 12 14- 54
HA- 6 11 15 10- 42

G- DeWolfe 9-7-28, Clement 6-0-14, B. Obar 2-0-6, Fitzpatrick 1-2-4, M. Obar 1-0-2

HA- Donovan 5-7-18, Deans 2-3-7, McLaughlin 2-2-7, Hodgdon 2-0-5, Brillant 2-0-4, Bouchard 0-1-1

3-pointers:
G (7) DeWolfe 3, Clement, B. Obar 2
HA (3) Donovan, Hodgdon, McLaughlin 1

Turnovers:
G-  11
HA- 30

FTs
G: 9-11
HA: 13-18

AUGUSTA—It didn’t come without some anxious moments, and one downright frightening one, but when the dust settled Friday evening at the Augusta Civic Center, Greely’s girls’ basketball team ended up right where everyone expected the Rangers to finish.

Atop the Class A world.

Again.

Greely never trailed Hampden Academy in the teams’ second consecutive state game meeting, but the Rangers could never completely shake the Broncos either as it took 32 minutes to close it out.

Greely senior Anna DeWolfe, who will go down in state annals as one of the finest players, of either gender, ever to lace up a pair of sneakers, set up sophomore Camille Clement for the lead, then added a 3-pointer for a quick 5-0 advantage, but Hampden Academy’s 6-foot-3 senior Bailey Donovan kept the Broncos close and after one quarter, the Rangers were only up by four points, 10-6.

Hampden Academy then twice drew within two early in the second period and compounding Greely’s angst, DeWolfe landed awkwardly with 6:38 to go in the first half and had to leave the game with an ankle injury.

But she would return 81 seconds later and spark an 8-0 run that gave the Rangers a double-digit lead.

The Broncos drew back within five, but a bank shot from sophomore Mollie Obar, two DeWolfe free throws and a DeWolfe layup gave Greely a 28-17 advantage at halftime.

The Rangers tried to pull away in the third period, going up by as many as 13, but Hampden Academy got as close as six points before a late DeWolfe jumper made it 40-32 heading for the fourth quarter.

And there, Greely put it away, making enough plays to pull away and prevail, 54-42.

DeWolfe, who will play at Fordham University in New York City next year, led all scorers with 28 points, Clement, on her 16th birthday, added 14 points and the Rangers forced 30 Broncos’ turnovers as they completed a perfect 22-0 season, extended their two-year win streak to 38 games, ended Hampden Academy’s season at 17-5 and in the process, won Class A for the second year in a row and captured the program’s sixth Gold Ball.

“We were expecting that kind of a game after we watched (Hampden) play Skowhegan (in the Class A North Final),” said Greely coach Todd Flaherty. “We didn’t hit the shots we normally do, so it was a slugfest for sure.”

Golden age

Greely has enjoyed its share of basketball glory over the past four decades, including back-to-back Class B state championships in 1983 and 1984 (see sidebar, below, for previous state game results).

The Rangers also won Class B crowns in 2004 and 2015, but the program has never enjoyed a three-year run like this one.

The 2016-17 squad won 19 of 21 games, but was upset by Brunswick in the Class A South Final.

Last year, Greely started 4-2, but never lost again and rolled to its first Class A Gold Ball, beating Hampden Academy, 54-33, in the state game.

With just about everyone back this winter, the Rangers were heavy favorites to repeat and didn’t disappoint, winning all 18 regular season games with varying degrees of ease (see sidebar, below, for links to previous game stories).

Greely started with a 64-27 victory at Cape Elizabeth, then got a pair of home tests, which it passed (58-45 over Wells and 66-50 over South Portland). The Rangers closed out the 2018 portion of their schedule by romping at Poland (77-14) and Falmouth (75-41) and beating Brunswick, 67-46, in a game played at the Portland Exposition Building as part of the Red Claws Christmas Showcase. The new year began with a pair of close calls, wins at eventual Class B South champion Gray-New Gloucester (53-45) and three-time defending Class AA South champion Gorham (57-51). After handling visiting York (65-28) and host Freeport (79-41), Greely got taken to the wire by visiting Oxford Hills, the eventual Class AA North champion, before holding on, 69-67. The Rangers then returned to their dominant ways with an 86-41 home win over Yarmouth, a 78-41 victory at North Yarmouth Academy and a 75-31 home win over Westbrook. After surviving one final test, 53-48, over visiting Gray-New Gloucester, Greely closed with a 74-46 home win over NYA, a 71-33 victory at York and a 75-41 win at Fryeburg Academy.

The Rangers were never seriously tested in the Class A South tournament, overcoming a slow start to handle No. 8 Fryeburg Academy, 66-28, in the quarterfinals at the Expo, riding a fast start to a 67-52 semifinal round victory over No. 4 Kennebunk at the Cross Insurance Arena and leading from start to finish in a 54-33 regional final win over second-seeded Brunswick at CIA.

Hampden Academy wasn’t expected to be the team Greely would face on the big stage. The Broncos went 14-4 in the regular season, losing twice to Skowhegan and once apiece to Lawrence and Bangor. They went just 3-3 down the stretch and finished second in Class A North. Hampden Academy then saved its best for last, eliminating No. 7 Erskine Academy, 44-26, in the quarterfinals, downing No. 3 Lawrence, 50-36, in the semifinals, then upsetting previously undefeated top-seed Skowhegan, 32-28, in the regional final to reach the state game for the second year in a row.

Last year, then-sophomore Brooke Obar had 17 points, DeWolfe 16 and Clement 10 as Greely overcame an early 6-0 deficit with a mindboggling 27-2 run and never looked back en route to a 53-38 victory.

Friday, Hampden Academy sought its second Gold Ball, and its first since 1976, but the Rangers weren’t about to be denied.

Both teams struggled with nerves early and combined for 16 first quarter turnovers, but Greely settled down enough to grab the lead.

After three misses, the Rangers opened the scoring with 6:46 to play in the opening stanza, as off an inbounds set, DeWolfe passed to Clement for a layup.

DeWolfe then added a 3, but the Broncos battled back behind a pair of layups from Donovan, the second of which featured a pretty spin move.

DeWolfe added a foul shot and after DeWolfe set up Clement for a layup after a steal, DeWolfe hit a baseline jumper to make it 10-4.

With 1:05 remaining in the frame, junior Amelia McLaughlin hit a leaner for Hampden Academy to pull the Broncos within four, 10-6, after eight minutes.

DeWolfe had six points and three steals in the frame, while Hampden Academy turned the ball over 11 times, but the Rangers couldn’t put them away.

In the second quarter, despite an extremely scary moment, Greely was able to open up a double-digit lead.

McLaughlin started the stanza with two free throws, but junior Katie Fitzpatrick countered with two for Greely.

After Donovan made another layup with 6:54 remaining in the half, the Rangers’ side of the arena had to hold its breath 16 seconds later when DeWolfe stepped on a Hampden Academy defender’s shoe and landed awkwardly, then clutched at her left ankle (she missed time as a junior due to an ankle injury) and had to leave the floor.

Neither team scored over the next minute-and-a-half before DeWolfe made her return.

“It’s happened before, but this was my last game and what went through my mind was to play for my team, my family, my community and go out there and have fun,” DeWolfe said. “It was a scary moment, but I got back in.”

Those who know DeWolfe best weren’t surprised to see her return so quickly.

“I got a little nervous,” said Greely senior captain Julia Martel. “All of us had a nervous look on our faces, but I know her pretty well and I knew she’d come back.”

“I wasn’t really worried,” Clement said. “It was her last game and I knew nothing would hold her back from going back on the floor.”

“I had substitution patterns, but there is no substitution pattern for Anna DeWolfe going down,” Flaherty added. “When I saw her put some weight on it, I thought she might be alright. She was going to try, it was whether or not I’d have to make a decision, but she got cleared. She was pretty much herself, but she’ll be sore tomorrow.”

DeWolfe made her presence felt immediately by setting up Clement for a 3. After a steal at one end of the floor, Clement added a transition jumper at the other end and with 3:49 remaining in the half, DeWolfe stepped back and buried a 3-pointer to make it 20-10.

The Broncos crept back within five, on a layup from sophomore Megan Deans, a free throw from Donovan and two more foul shots from Donovan with 2:19 remaining.

After DeWolfe got a leaner in the lane to rattle in, Deans made two free throws to again cut the deficit to five, but the Rangers closed the half strong, getting a bank shot from Mollie Obar, two DeWolfe free throws and a driving layup from DeWolfe to take a 28-17 advantage to the break.

DeWolfe led all first half scorers with 15 points and Clement added nine. Nine points from Donovan kept Hampden Academy within hailing distance, but the Broncos were hindered by 16 turnovers.

The third period featured plenty of back-and-forth, as Greely couldn’t deliver the knockout punch and Hampden Academy couldn’t make a major dent in the deficit.

Fitzpatrick opened the second half with a layup (off a feed from Brooke Obar), but Donovan showed her range with a 3-pointer and a pressbreak layup by Deans (off a pass from Donovan) cut the Rangers’ lead to 30-22.

With 3:56 left in the third, Brooke Obar scored her first points, taking a pass from DeWolfe and draining a 3, and after a McLaughlin 3, Brooke Obar countered with another, as DeWolfe got her the ball off an inbounds set.

The Broncos got a left-handed leaner in traffic from senior Alydia Brillant, but DeWolfe countered with a leaner for her first points of the second half, making it 38-27.

Hampden Academy then got a 3-pointer from junior Sydney Hodgdon and a Hodgdon driving layup, but just before the horn, DeWolfe restored some momentum to the Rangers, stepping back and getting a shot to rattle home for a 40-32 lead with eight minutes to go.

And in the final stanza, Greely turned away the Broncos’ last attempt at a rally and wrapped up their Gold Ball.

Deans started the fourth quarter with a free throw, but DeWolfe drained a clutch 3, then, after a Fitzpatrick steal, DeWolfe scored on a leaner in transition to make it 45-33 with 6:02 to play.

Donovan countered with two free throws, but with 5:08 to play, DeWolfe’s two free throws made it a 12-point game.

Donovan sank two free throws 17 seconds later and Brillant made a jumper with 4:18 to go to make it 47-39, but that’s as close as Hampden Academy would get.

Off an inbounds set with 3:18 remaining, DeWolfe set up Clement for a dagger of a 3-pointer.

“I’ve just been told to shoot with confidence and shots will fall,” Clement said.

“That’s an out-of-bounds play we run for (Camille) and she nailed it,” Flaherty said.

After a free throw from Broncos senior Camryn Bouchard, DeWolfe sank a pair, then senior Madison Scott fed Clement for a layup and Greely’s final points.

Donovan added one last layup for the Broncos and the Rangers ran out the clock and at 7:31 p.m., celebrated their 54-42 victory and repeat state title.

“It’s outstanding to win with my best friends and my brother (Shane) made the trip home too and that made it even more special,” DeWolfe said. “Every game, we know everyone would be gunning for us. Hampden came in with a great plan, they were physical and they slowed us down. We had to get in the middle of the zone. That’s what coach told us at halftime.”

“It feels awesome to do this with my best friends,” said Martel. “I was surprised (it was that close), but (Hampden’s) a good team, well-coached. We looked to push, run, shoot, do everything we could to get it done.”

“It feels incredible,” Clement said. “Awesome doing it with all of the girls. It’s great how we support each other and we’re all happy for each other’s success. (Hampden) knew how to play us. They game-planned well. They played a good zone. Credit to them. They had an extra year under their belt. It goes to show that you have to play until the buzzer. We focused on doing it all together and playing solid defense this year. That and rebounding were our main focus. We did a really good job of hustling. It was a team effort tonight.”

“I thought we were outplaying them, but we were only up 10 or 11 points,” Flaherty added. “That’s what happens in these tournaments, but we scored enough and held on. I think the girls bought into playing defense and that kept us in a lot of games. We fought hard on defense and the girls played together. They just want to win.”

DeWolfe finished her career in style, scoring 28 points, to go with six assists and six steals. DeWolfe finished with 1,948 career points and would have easily eclipsed the 2,000 mark had she not sat in the fourth quarter of numerous lopsided victories, or missed four games due to her junior year ankle injury.

Rest assured that her legacy is secure.

“It’s been a dream come true,” said DeWolfe. “Growing up, I had older kids to look up to and I worked so hard.”

“It’s been awesome playing with Anna,” Clement said. “I grew up with her and it’s been great to watch her be so successful and to join her. She’s great at encouraging everyone.”

“It’s not  just Anna the player, and she does something every day I’ve never seen before so it’s always exciting and fun, but she’s such a kind person, a good soul,” Flaherty added. “It’s been a pleasure to be around her. We’re already looking at Fordham’s schedule and hoping we can fit some games in next year. Anna’s one of the players in Maine girls’ basketball history who changed the game. Our girls want to play like her, fast and full of skill.”

Greely had several other contributors as well.

Clement added 14 points, Brooke Obar had six (to go with three assists), Fitzpatrick four and Mollie Obar two. Martel didn’t score, but had five rebounds and two steals. Scott (four steals) and sophomore Madison Storey (two steals) also made key contributions.

“Julia played great defense and helped us get transition points,” DeWolfe said. “Brooke, Camille, everyone who was in the game played very well.”

The Rangers made seven 3-pointers, hit 9 of 11 free throws and turned the ball over just 11 times.

Hampden Academy was led by Donovan’s double-double of 18 points and 13 rebounds. Deans (seven rebounds) and McLaughlin each had seven points, Hodgdon added five, Brillant had four and Bouchard one.

The Broncos had a 33-21 advantage on the glass and hit 13 of 18 free throws, but 30 turnovers proved too much to overcome.

“It’s just relentless pressure,” said Hampden Academy coach Nick Winchester. “Whether it’s in the half court or the front court, it’s 32 minutes of constant pressure on the ball, running people at you.

“All I wanted (my girls) to do was battle all game long, and they battled. They weren’t intimidated. They didn’t back down and I’m most proud of that kind of effort.”

2020 vision

Clearly, Greely will have a vastly different look in 2019-20 with DeWolfe, Martel, Scott and Rachel Smith departing, but anyone expecting the dynasty to end will be disappointed.

Next year’s team will be anchored by Clement and Brooke Obar, as Fitzpatrick, Mollie Obar and Storey will all play bigger roles as well.

The quest for another championship will soon begin again.

“It would be unbelievable to win it again,” Clement said. “My sister (2014 Miss Maine Basketball winner Allie Clement) won four (state championships) and I’d love to keep up with her.”

“I don’ think anyone will feel sorry for us next year,” said Flaherty. “Brooke, Camille and Mollie, and the other girls coming back, that’s a great start.”

Press Herald staff writer Glenn Jordan contributed to this story.

Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Greely senior Anna DeWolfe goes up for two of her game-high 28 points.

Greely sophomore Camille Clement lets a 3-pointer fly. Clement scored 14 points on her 16th birthday.

Hampden Academy senior Bailey Donovan (23) and junior Isabelle Soucy battle Greely senior Anna DeWolfe for a rebound.

Greely sophomore Camille Clement drives for a layup.

Greely’s bench players cheer near the end of the victory.

The postgame celebration.

Greely senior Anna DeWolfe waves the freshly cut net.

There were a lot of smiles to be seen after the Rangers cut down the nets.

Greely captains Brooke Obar, left, Anna DeWolfe and Julia Martel run to show off the championship trophy to the student section.

Previous Greely stories

Season Preview

Greely 66 South Portland 50

Greely 67 Brunswick 46

Greely 57 Gorham 51

Class A South quarterfinals
Greely 66 Fryeburg Academy 28

Class A South semifinals
Greely 67 Kennebunk 52

Class A South Final
Greely 54 Brunswick 33

Previous Greely state finals

2018 Class A
Greely 53 Hampden Academy 38

2015 Class B
Greely 56 Presque Isle 39

2004 Class B
Greely 54 Camden Hills 36

2003 Class B
Mt. Desert Island 58 Greely 33

1998 Class B
Orono 51 Greely 42

1997 Class B
Mt. Desert Island 57 Greely 38

1984 Class B
Greely 41 Houlton 39

1983 Class B
Greely 67 Houlton 49

Previous Hampden Academy state finals

2018 Class A
Greely 53 Hampden Academy 38

2011 Class A
McAuley 39 Hampden Academy 23

1976 Class A
Hampden Academy 66 Mt. Blue 65 (OT)

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Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.