Greely girls punch ticket to regional final with win over Leavitt

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Greely junior Moira Train launches a 3-pointer during the Rangers’ 58-36 win over Leavitt in Wednesday’s Class A South semifinal. Train had 17 points as Greely advanced to meet top-ranked, undefeated York in the regional final Saturday night.

Jason Gendron photos.

More photos below.

BOX SCORE

Greely 58 Leavitt 36

L- 8 11 8 9- 36
G- 12 16 17 13- 58

L- Gilbert 8-3-19, Belaire 3-0-8, Eels 2-2-6, Goulette 1-1-3

G- Porter 3-9-17, Train 6-0-17, DeWolfe 4-2-11, Chapin 2-0-6, Felkel 1-0-3, Cyr 1-0-2, Scott 0-2-2

3-pointers:
L (2) Belaire 2
G (11) Train 5, Chapin, Porter 2, DeWolfe, Felkel 1

Turnovers:
L- 15
G- 14

Free throws
L: 6-16
G: 13-17

PORTLAND—When the defending Class B state champion Greely girls’ basketball team started the season without reigning Miss Maine Basketball Ashley Storey and dropped two of its first five games, the Rangers appeared vulnerable.

Fast forward two months and everything is right with Greely’s world again, as for the second year in a row, the Rangers are off to the regional final.

Wednesday afternoon in a Class A South semifinal at the Cross Insurance Arena, No. 2 Greely got pushed by sixth-ranked Leavitt, but as they did in a quarterfinal round victory over Marshwood, the Rangers gradually pulled away behind another solid team effort.

The Hornets shot to a quick 5-0 lead, but Greely closed the first quarter strong, as consecutive 3-pointers from junior Moira Train gave the Rangers the lead for good, 12-8.

Leavitt hung around in the second period too, trailing by only two points midway through, but Train hit a 3, junior Isabel Porter made three free throws and senior Sarah Felkel added a 3 for nine points in just over two minutes to stretch the lead to 11.

Greely took a 28-19 lead to halftime and in the third quarter, the Rangers close on an 11-1 surge, thanks to 3s from Porter, Train and junior Molly Chapin, to go up by 18.

The Hornets never got closer than 16 points from there and Greely closed out a decisive 58-36 victory,.

Porter and Train both had 17 points to lead the way, as the Rangers improved to 17-3, ended Leavitt’s Cinderella run at 10-10 and advanced to set up a highly anticipated showdown with top-ranked, 20-0 York in the Class A South Final Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Cross Insurance Arena.

“I was nervous because we’d never played Leavitt before,” Porter said. “I wasn’t sure how we’d do against them. We knew it would be tough. They’re tall and strong. We struggled with rebounding in the first half, but in the second half we did better. Overall, we did pretty well.”

Too deep, too good

Greely, which moved up this winter due to the state-wide reclassification, lost early to York and Gorham, but closed on a 12-1 surge to earn the No. 2 seed in Class A South. Monday, the Rangers had no trouble with No. 7 Marshwood in the quarterfinals, winning, 57-32.

Leavitt was 9-9 during the regular season and wound up sixth, then stunned No. 3 Fryeburg Academy, 46-40, in the quarterfinals Tuesday.

The teams didn’t play during the regular season. 

Greely won both prior playoff meetings, 59-38 in the 2010 Western B semifinals and 42-27 in the 2013 quarterfinals.

This time around, the Rangers won with relative ease again, although it took awhile to seize firm control.

Leavitt got off to a great start, as sophomore Sophia Gilbert made a layup, hit a free throw and made another layup for a 5-0 lead just 2 minutes, 24 seconds in, forcing Greely coach Joel Rogers to call timeout.

Greely then settled in and got on the board with 5:05 left in the first quarter, when Chapin knocked down a 3.

A minute later, Train got a rebound, fed freshman Anna DeWolfe for a layup and DeWolfe, who was fouled on the play, hit the free for the old-fashioned three-point play and a 6-5 lead.

The Hornets retook the lead, 8-6, on a 3-ball from junior Alexandra Belaire, but with 2:42 remaining in the first, Porter saved the ball from going out of bounds, Chapin snared it in midair and fed Train for a 3 and the Rangers were ahead to stay.

“Coach called timeout and he was pretty vocal today,” Train said. “He’s not usually like that, but he got our energy up.”

With 1:05 left in the first, Chapin set up Train for another 3 (this one bounced off the rim and in) and Greely was up, 12-8, heading for the second period.

There, the Hornets continued to give the Rangers fits.

DeWolfe started the frame with a 3, but Gilbert made a layup, made another, then hit a free throw to pull Leavitt within two points, 15-13.

DeWolfe answered, however, feeding senior Maddie Cyr with a fantastic pass for a transition layup. After Gilbert again made it a two-point game with a bank shot, Greely went on an 11-1 run to open it up.

Train got the surge started with a 3. Porter was then fouled while shooting a 3 and hit all three foul shots and Felkel drained a 3 to make it nine points in just over two minutes, pushing the lead to 26-15.

After Hornets senior Chantel Eells got a point back at the line, Felkel set up DeWolfe for a highlight reel reverse layup, but a late three-point play (layup, foul and free throw) from sophomore Elizabeth Goulette pulled Leavitt within nine, 28-19, at halftime.

In the first half, Greely shot 6 of 10 from 3-point land and was paced by nine points from Train and eight from DeWolfe.

Gilbert kept the Hornets competitive with 12 points, but Leavitt made just 1 of 15 3s.

The Rangers finally got some separation in the third quarter, thanks to beautiful ball movement.

Eells started the second half with a free throw and DeWolfe matched it. Train and Gilbert traded free throws before Train drained a long 3 for a 34-22 lead with 4:40 to go in the quarter.

Gilbert made a layup and Belaire scored on a putback, but the Hornets would draw no closer.

With 2:15 to go in the third, Porter started a game-clinching run by hitting a 3. The shot came as a culmination of a sequence of crisp passes, as Chapin set her up. After Gilbert made a free throw, DeWolfe set up Chapin in the corner for a 3, Cyr passed to Train for a 3 and with a second left, Porter’s putback gave Greely a 45-27 advantage.

The Rangers then closed it out in the fourth period.

After Gilbert scored on a putback, the Leavitt bench was assessed a technical foul and Porter made both free throws. Porter then hit both ends of a one-and-one for a 49-29 lead with 6:53 to go.

Belaire countered with a 3 for the Hornets, but Porter hit two foul shots, DeWolfe faked a pass and finished at the rim and Porter made another 3 to push the advantage to 56-32 with 4:42 left.

Eells made successive layups for Leavitt’s final points before Greely got two free throws from freshman Maddie Scott to bring the curtain down on its 58-36 triumph.

“We were unsure at the beginning of the season without Ashley and we had a completely new offense, but it’s coming together and working for us,” Porter said.

“I knew they’re a really good team with really good players,” Train said. “We knew we had to have our best game to stick with them.”

“It was almost a repeat of Presque Isle from last year (an early 5-0 deficit in the state final), then we decided to take off,” Rogers added. “Leavitt’s a good team, they never quit. They like to shoot the ball deep and get long rebounds.”

Train stuffed the stat sheet with 17 points, 13 rebounds, three steals, three blocks and two assists.

“When Anna isn’t hitting her shots, which is rare, she’ll find girls who are open and that opens up opportunities for everybody else,” Train said.

“Moira has been coming on,” Rogers aid. “She puts the ball on the floor and gets to the rim and shoots floaters. I challenged her at halftime to be more physical. She went after the ball. She’s unbelievably athletic. She still doesn’t understand how good she is. D1 schools are looking at her because they see the upside she has.”

Porter also had 17 points, getting the job done from behind the 3-point arc and at the foul line.

“I don’t know what it was, I just shot well today,” Porter said.

“The second game at York, Isabel was supposed to start because she earned it,” Rogers said. “I talked to her before the game and she didn’t want to break up the chemistry. She absolutely deserves to start, but she’s unselfish. To have her be able to come off the bench and do what she does, that’s what helps us.”

DeWolfe was limited to 11 points, but grabbed five rebounds, had three blocks, two steals, dished out four assists and played strong defense.

Chapin added six points (as well as six rebounds, five assists and three blocks), Felkel had three and Cyr and Scott two apiece.

Greely made 11 of 24 3-pointers, hit 13 of 17 free throws and overcame 14 turnovers.

“We shot 3s well and were very good from the free throw line,” Rogers said. “It’s about Molly, Moira and Maddie on the baseline and rebounding. We moved the ball around well in the second half. We had great sets and great passing.”

For Leavitt, Gilbert led all scorers with 19 points. She also had six rebounds. Belaire had eight points and five rebounds, Eells six (to go with eight rebounds) and Goulette three (as well as seven boards).

The Hornets finished with a 38-35 rebounding advantage (they grabbed 22 on the offensive glass), but made a below average 14 of 62 shots from the floor, missed 26 of 28 3-pointers, made only 6 of 17 free throws and turned the ball over 15 times.

Heavyweight bout

Greely and York have seemingly been a regional final collision course all season.

Way back on Dec. 9, the Wildcats came to Cumberland and handled the Rangers, 78-64. Greely played better in the rematch at York Jan. 15, but the Wildcats won on a 3 at the buzzer, 69-66. Greely hasn’t lost since and of course, York hasn’t lost at all (advancing by virtue of wins over No. 8 Westbrook and fifth-ranked Morse).

The teams have split eight playoff meetings dating back to 1983. The most recent was a 44-28 Greely win in the 2012 semifinals.

“We’re ready,” Porter said. “We want to beat them. They’re undefeated and they probably expect to go all the way. We want to be the team to bring them down. I like our chances.”

“Our energy will be a big thing,” Train said. “We need to be ready in the first half this time.”

“Some teams are happy to be here, but we have bigger aspirations,” Rogers added. “I heard (retiring York coach) Rick Clark got a rocking chair. We hope he’ll get to use it a little earlier than when he wants. I think it’s great that the two top teams from the Western Maine Conference will go at it. It’s a privilege to coach against Rick, who’s a legend. We’ll work on a few new things in practice. We have to figure out how to keep them under 55 (points). If we do, I like our chances a lot. I believe, on the big court, they’ll have trouble with us, because we’re quicker. I think we match up well. Sometimes it’s all about matchups.”

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

Greely senior Lexi Faietta races up the floor.

Greely freshman Anna DeWolfe soars to the basket.

Greely junior Moira Train fights Leavitt sophomore Elizabeth Goulette for possession.

Greely freshman Anna DeWolfe lines up a 3.

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