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Greely senior Anna DeWolfe goes up for two of her game-high 21 points in the Rangers’ 67-52 win over Kennebunk in Wednesday’s Class A South semifinal. DeWolfe also had 10 assists and seven steals.
Jill Brady / Portland Press Herald photos.
More photos below.
PORTLAND—Greely’s undefeated, defending Class A state champion girls’ basketball team appeared bound for another easy win Wednesday afternoon at the Cross Insurance Arena when senior Anna DeWolfe’s brilliance and unselfishness helped open up an early 15-4 lead, but the top-ranked Rangers soon found themselves pushed by No. 4 Kennebunk before they made enough plays down the stretch to prevail, 67-52, in a Class A South semifinal.
DeWolfe had 21 points, 10 assists and seven steals and helped Greely improve to 20-0 on the year, extended its two-year win streak to 36 games, end the Rams’ fine season at 13-7 and in the process, advance to battle No. 2 Brunswick (19-1) in the Class A South Final for the third year in a row, Saturday at 6 p.m., at CIA.
“Since we had such a slow start against Fryeburg (in our quarterfinal), we really emphasized starting strong, getting fastbreak layups and playing strong defense and that’s what we did,” said DeWolfe.
Greely won its final 14 games a year ago and captured the Class A state championship with a decisive victory over Hampden Academy.
This winter, the Rangers have been even more dominant, winning their first 19 games, including Monday’s decisive 66-28 triumph over No. 8 Fryeburg Academy.
Kennebunk went 12-6 in the regular season and in its quarterfinal Monday, downed No. 5 Lincoln Academy, 51-33.
The teams didn’t play this year and had played just once before in the playoffs, a 47-42 Rams’ victory in the 1993 Western B semifinals.
Wednesday, Kennebunk was playing in the semifinals for the first time in 19 years, but couldn’ keep up with Greely.
For the second game in a row, the Rangers fell behind, 2-0, as Rams junior Isabelle Okwuosa made a short jumper seven seconds in, but 17 seconds later, DeWolfe set up junior Brooke Obar for a jumper to tie it, then DeWolfe twice fed senior Julia Martel for breakaway layups and a 6-2 lead.
“Julia has speed and on a big court, getting fastbreak layups is a key,” DeWolfe said.
“When Julia scores, it’s a bonus because defensively is where she usually shines,” said Greely coach Todd Flaherty. “She made a few baskets and got us going.”
The early onslaught continued, as DeWolfe scored her first points, a 3-pointer, sophomore Camille Clement made two free throws after a steal and after Kennebunk sophomore Emily Archibald banked home a shot, Clement made a jumper and Martel made two free throws to make it 15-4.
The Rams countered with a 3-pointer from junior Ellen Neale, but senior Madison Scott put home a miss for the Rangers and after senior Delaney Cox made a free throw for Kennebunk, DeWolfe registered her fourth steal and produced her fifth assist, feeding Scott for a layup and a 19-8 lead.
Then, in the final second, junior Katie Fitzpatrick put home a missed shot for a 13-point advantage after eight minutes.
Despite DeWolfe getting in foul trouble, Greely managed to maintain its lead in the second period.
After Okwuosa opened the frame with a putback, Obar made a 3, then on the fastbreak, DeWolfe delivered a dazzling behind the back pass to Clement for a layup. DeWolfe then hit a jumper to make it 28-10.
After junior Alaina Schatzabel answered with a 3 for Kennebunk, senior Jessica Dupler hit two free throws to cut the deficit to 13, but DeWolfe set up Scott for a 3.
Archibald made a foul shot for the Rams, but DeWolfe countered with a pair to stretch the lead to 33-16.
Schatzabel got a point back at the line, but DeWolfe drove for a layup while being fouled, then completed the old-fashioned three-point play with a free throw for the biggest lead of the game, 36-17.
After Dupler knocked down a 3 for Kennebunk, DeWolfe set up Fitzpatrick for a layup, but with 1:17 on the clock, DeWolfe picked up her third foul and had to sit for the duration of the half.
After Archibald hit two free throws, she went back to the line and added another before Okwuosa capped a 5-0 run to end the half with a bank shot to pull the Rams within 38-25 at the break.
DeWolfe stuffed the stat sheet in the first half with 10 points, nine rebounds and six steals.
Six points apiece from Archibald and Okwuosa kept Kennebunk within hailing distance.
The Rams then roared out of the gate in the second half to make things very interesting.
Okwuosa was the spark, driving for a layup, taking a pass from Archibald on the fastbreak and making a layup, then driving past DeWolfe, who didn’t want to risk picking up her fourth foul, and making a layup to cut the deficit to 38-31, forcing Flaherty to call timeout.
It worked, as with 4:55 to go in the third period, an Obar jumper ended the 11-0 Kennebunk run and a 4-minute, 56-second scoring drought.
Clement added two free throws to restore a double-digit lead, then after an Obar steal, Clement’s layup made it 44-31.
A three-point play from Schatzabel made it a 10-point game, but Scott fed Martel for a layup after a steal and after Schatzabel again pulled the Rams within 10 with a layup, a Martel three-point play allowed Greely to take a 49-36 lead to the fourth period.
There, Kennebunk kept pushing, but the Rangers refused to buckle.
After Schatzabel opened the final stanza with a 3-pointer, Obar countered with one of her own.
“Brooke creates turnovers on defense and scores the ball,” DeWolfe said. “Most importantly, she’s a great teammate.”
Archibald banked home a shot, then Archibald made a layup to cut the deficit to 52-43.
After DeWolfe drove and scored on a finger-roll, Schatzabel made a layup to make it a nine-point game again.
Again, Greely answered, as DeWolfe put home her own miss.
After Archibald scored on a putback, the Rangers dazzled with their passing, working the ball around until Fitzpatrick found Obar for a layup.
With 4:51 to play, a bank shot from junior Emily Hogue pulled Kennebunk within nine for the final time, but 19 seconds later, DeWolfe’s 3 served as a dagger.
Clement tacked on two free throws, then DeWolfe did the same to end the competitive phase of the contest.
Down the stretch, Schatzabel made a free throw and Schatzabel added a layup before DeWolfe scored her final points on two foul shots to account for the 67-52 final score.
“We got amped up, so we had to take a deep breath and focus on our playing,” Obar said.
“Responding the way we did feels good,” Flaherty said. “Seeing a zone like that was good. They’re well-coached. We’ve been a little rusty and we had a drought there, but we responded. We can score in bunches.”
DeWolfe likely would have had a triple-double were it not for her foul trouble, but she still managed to lead all scorers with 21 points, dish out 10 assists and produce seven steals.
“(Anna) was fantastic, especially early,” said Flaherty. “She was at her vintage best in the open court. Very unselfish. She got us going for sure.”
Obar, who missed much of the season with injury, added a dozen points.
“It’s great to be back,” Obar said. “It’s a challenge, but my teammates are super-supportive and have had my back since day one.”
Clement (12 points) and Martel (11 points) also wound up in double figures. Scott added seven points and Fitzpatrick had four.
The Rangers made a stellar 16 of 18 free throws and only turned the ball over nine times.
Kennebunk was paced by 17 points from Schatzabel. Archibald had 12 points, a game-high 13 rebounds and three blocked shots. Okwuosa added 12 points, Dupler had five, Neale three, Hague two and Cox one.
The Rams had a 28-17 rebounding advantage and made 10 of 15 free throws, but 25 turnovers hurt their upset hopes.
Regardless, it was a valiant effort.
“I couldn’t be more proud,” said Kennebunk coach Rob Sullivan. “It’s very hard to prepare for a team like Greely. You can talk about how fast they are, but the girls had to see it. They saw it and recognized it. They recognized it and battled in the second quarter. That made the third quarter relevant and even the first couple minutes of the fourth, we were in it.
“It was our first time in this building in a long while. I’m proud of what the seniors did to get us here. We had been to the Expo a couple years. We wanted to win there and get here and we did that. I’m very happy. We enjoyed it.
“I’m excited for the younger kids to come back. We want to get back here again next year.”
Greely advanced to the regional final for the fifth year in a row and could get its biggest test to date against a squad that has had some success against the Rangers in the past.
Greely handled Brunswick, 67-46, Dec. 28 at the Expo. The teams split two previous playoff meetings, as the Dragons upset the Rangers, 54-51, in the 2017 regional final and Greely prevailed, 66-49, in last year’s Class A South Final.
Brunswick outlasted third-ranked Marshwood in its exciting semifinal, 51-46.
“I’m excited,” Obar said. “I think it will be a grind. We’ll have to focus in practice and come out ready to play.”
“I’m cherishing every moment I have with my best friends,” DeWolfe said. “It’s bittersweet (only having one or two games left), but I’ll go out and play with heart and pride in wearing this jersey. We’ll come ready to play.”
“We won’t take (Brunswick) for granted,” Flaherty added. “We remember two years ago when we beat them handily in the regular season, then lost in the regional final. We’re looking forward to a good game. We’ll have to play well to move on.”
Greely senior Madison Scott goes up for a shot.
Kennebunk junior Emily Hogue is hounded by Greely senior Julia Martel, left, and sophomore Madison Storey.
Greely sophomore Camille Clement is fouled by Kennebunk junior Alaina Schatzabel.