Greely girls ride fast start to win over Brunswick

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Greely senior Julia Martel and Brunswick freshman Logan Brown reach for a loose ball during the Rangers’ 67-46 victory Friday afternoon at the Portland Exposition Building.

Derek Davis / Portland Press Herald photos.

More photos below.

BOX SCORE

Greely 67 Brunswick 46

B- 5 10 11 20- 46
G- 19 23 17 8- 67

B- MacMillan 4-3-14, Guptill 5-2-12, Brown 3-0-9, Larochelle 3-0-8, White 1-1-3

G- DeWolfe 11-2-25, Clement 6-8-24, Obar 4-0-9, Martel 3-0-7, Fitzpatrick 1-0-2

3-pointers:
B (8) Brown, MacMillan 3, Larochelle 2
G (7) Clement 4, DeWolfe, Martel, Obar 1

Turnovers:
B- 21
G- 14

Free throws
B: 6-14
G: 10-11

PORTLAND—In a battle of heavyweights, an early knockout punch is the goal.

And Greely’s defending Class A state champion girls’ basketball team delivered that very thing Friday afternoon against Brunswick in a battle of unbeatens in a countable game as part of the Red Claws Christmas Showcase at the Portland Exposition Building.

Before the game, a rematch of last year’s Class A South Final, was a minute old, the Rangers led, 7-0.

When senior standout Anna DeWolfe hit a shot in the lane with 4:48 to go in the opening quarter, the score was 12-0.

Greely was up, 19-5, after one period and thanks to a series of defense-leading-to-offense layups in the second period, took a commanding 42-15 advantage to the half.

The Rangers would lead by as many as 36 points in the third quarter and took a 59-36 lead to the final stanza where the Dragons, to their credit, played hard throughout, but Brunswick could draw no closer than 21 and Greely prevailed, 67-46.

DeWolfe had a game-high 25 points, sophomore sharpshooter Camille Clement added 24 and the Rangers improved to 6-0 on the season, extended their two-year win streak to 20 games and in the process, handed the Dragons their first setback in six outings this winter.

“We got off to an excellent start,” said Greely coach Todd Flaherty. “I’m definitely pleased with our effort. We gave up a home game to get used to the atmosphere here and that was good for us.”

Early showdown

Greely is the favorite to repeat as champion and started by rolling at Cape Elizabeth, 64-27. After beating Wells, 58-45, in their home opener, the Rangers beat visiting South Portland (66-50), host Poland (77-14) and host Falmouth (75-41).

Brunswick has also been impressive in the early going, defeating visiting Morse (72-28), visiting Mt. Ararat (56-31), visiting Falmouth (50-35), host Lewiston (61-47) and visiting Biddeford (60-37).

Prior to the 2016-17 season, the teams had never played a countable game, but they’ve produced some memories since (see sidebar, below).

Greely won the regular season meeting two years ago, 65-46, but the Dragons sprung a 54-51 upset in the regional final.

Last winter, Brunswick shocked the visiting Rangers, 65-63, on Marley Groat’s buzzer-beater in the regular season, but Greely, which hasn’t lost since, was too strong in the regional final, prevailing, 66-49, en route to a state championship.

Thursday, in practice, Greely suffered a blow when junior standout Brooke Obar suffered an ankle injury.

Friday, Obar had to cheer on her teammates from the bench and they came up big for her.

“I think we had it in the back of our minds to play for (Brooke) today,” DeWolfe said. “It stinks to look over and see her (on the bench), but she brought some positive energy. That helped us a lot, seeing her cheer for us.”

Greely wasn’t fazed a bit by the big court setting, grabbing a 7-0 lead in less than a minute, as Clement buried an NBA-range 3-pointer, DeWolfe sank two foul shots and DeWolfe made a fadeaway jumper, forcing Brunswick coach Sam Farrell to call timeout.

It didn’t help, as Clement sank another 3 and DeWolfe made a jump shot in the lane for a 12-0 advantage.

“I really like playing here on the big floor,” said Clement. “We have an advantage because we can run. We knew they were a really strong team, so if we didn’t get out to a fast start, it could be a hard game.”

With 4:32 left in the frame, junior Alexis Guptill made a layup to get Brunswick on the board. Guptill added a foul shot, but DeWolfe countered with a jumper in the lane.

After Guptill made a layup, DeWolfe hit a jumper in the lane and senior Julia Martel buried a 3-pointer for a commanding 19-5 advantage after the first period.

DeWolfe had 10 points and Clement added six to help the Rangers take control.

“It was not a real energetic practice after (Brooke got hurt) yesterday,” Flaherty said. “The girls were down, as was I, but we rallied. We communicated that every girl had to step up and I thought they did that today.”

Little changed in the second period, other than Greely getting several easy baskets after turnovers.

A DeWolfe 3 got things started. After senior Rosalie White scored on a putback and senior Charlotte MacMillan made two free throws to cut the deficit to 22-9, DeWolfe made a layup after a steal, Clement hit a leaner in the lane, Martel made a layup after a steal, DeWolfe made a layup after a steal, junior Katie Fitzpatrick made a layup after a Martel steal and with 3:45 left in the half, Martel stole the ball again and made a layup, extending the lead to 34-9 and forcing Farrell to take another timeout.

“We kind of preach that, getting offense off our defense,” Flaherty said. “We want to disrupt other teams’ offenses and we did that well in the first half. Our defense has really become kind of what we’re all about and that’s a good thing because defense doesn’t go away.”

Thirty-five seconds later, sophomore Mollie Obar scored on a putback to complete the Rangers’ 14-0 run.

After Guptill drove for a layup to end Brunswick’s four-minute drought, DeWolfe set up Obar for a layup on the fastbreak and after senior Rosalie White made a foul shot for the Dragons, Clement sank a pair to make it 40-12.

In the final minute, freshman Logan Brown drained a 3 for Brunswick before DeWolfe made a floater in the lane to give Greely a comfortable 42-15 advantage at the half.

In the first 16 minutes, the Rangers got 19 points from DeWolfe and 10 from Clement to effectively end the competitive phase of the contest.

Brunswick, playing without Groat, who is injured, compounded matters by turning the ball over 16 times.

Clement started the third period with a pair of free throws, but Brown countered with a 3-pointer.

After DeWolfe drove for a layup, MacMillan made a 3 for Brunswick.

Greely then returned to its running and gunning ways, as a steal from senior Madison Scott led to a DeWolfe layup and Clement followed with a pair of rainbow 3-pointers for a 54-21 lead.

Guptill countered with a layup, but Obar made a runner, then Obar hit a 3 to give the Rangers their biggest lead of the day, 59-23.

A late 3 from senior Emily Larochelle pulled the Dragons within 33 heading for the fourth quarter.

Down the stretch, Brunswick played its best basketball, but it was far too little, too late.

Two Clement free throws started the final stanza. MacMillan then made a free throw, Guptill made a layup and MacMillan sank a 3 to make it 61-32.

After DeWolfe went coast-to-coast for a layup and her final points, Brown made a 3, MacMillan set up Larochelle for a layup, MacMillan made a turnaround jumper, then MacMillan sank a 3 with 3:04 to go to cut the deficit to 63-42.

Clement answered with a layup after a steal, then with 2:21 on the clock, Clement sank two free throws for Greely’s final points.

A late free throw from Guptill and a 3 from Larochelle accounted for the 67-46 final score.

“(Brunswick’s) a really good team and they always give us a good game,” said DeWolfe. “The way we started really set the tone early. Getting out and running and feeding the ball and having a few different scorers was really important. We’re focusing on setting the tone on defense and having that lead to offense.”

“(Brunswick’s) diminished too without their point guard,” Flaherty said. “(We beat them) a couple years ago too and then they got us in the tournament. We respect them and we know we’ll probably see them again when they’re healthy.”

DeWolfe had another stellar outing, scoring 25 points, while adding five assists, five rebounds and four steals.

Clement sank four 3s and wound up with 24 points, to go with four steals and three rebounds.

“I think Anna and Camille had some chemistry going today,” Flaherty said. “Anna looked for her and Camille getting off to a fast start was big.”

Obar added nine points off the bench, Martel had seven (to go with six boards) and Fitzpatrick contributed two (to go with seven rebounds).

Scott didn’t score, but had four rebounds, three assists and three steals.

Sophomore Madison Storey also didn’t score, but contributed five rebounds and two steals.

The Rangers had a 35-32 edge on the glass, made 10 of 11 free throws and overcame 14 turnovers.

Brunswick got a team-high 14 points from MacMillan, 12 of which came after halftime. Guptill added 12 points (and six rebounds), Brown had nine, Larochelle eight (to go with seven boards) and White three.

The Dragons turned the ball over 21 times and made just 6 of 14 foul shots.

“We haven’t had a lot of adversity over the past few years, except versus Greely it seems like, and you saw that early,” Farrell said. “We came out a little shell-shocked. They shot the lights out. When we didn’t do our jobs, they found the open kids and the ball went in. The second half, we were more physical and worked our inside-out game better and picked up our energy. There’s a ton to build on. I loved what I saw from my seniors, Charlotte and Emily.”

Learning experience

The teams could play again, but it wouldn’t be until the Class A South tournament in February.

Brunswick looks to return to the win column when it resumes Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference play Wednesday at home versus Camden Hills.

“The goal is to see (Greely) again,” said Farrell. “We’ll move forward.”

Greely, meanwhile, has two big road tests upcoming, at Gray-New Gloucester Thursday and at defending Class AA South champion Gorham next Saturday.

“I think the team is really coming together well,” Clement said. “I think we have a similar team to last year, but we have even more experience and we can use that to our advantage to be even better this year.”

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

Greely senior Anna DeWolfe shoots over the Brunswick defense for two of her game-high 25 points.

Greely junior Katie Fitzpatrick is sandwiched by Brunswick senior Emily Larochelle and junior Alexis Guptill.

Greely sophomore Camille Clement goes up for a shot. Clement had 24 points.

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