With the eyes of the Southern Maine media upon him, Yarmouth senior Aleksandar Medenica buries a 3-pointer to send Tuesday evening’s showdown with rival Greely into overtime. One OT wouldn’t be enough, nor would a second, as the undefeated Rangers needed three extra sessions to prevail in an epic, 82-74.
Chris Lambert photos.
More photos below.
G- 8 20 22 7 5 8 12- 82
Y- 23 11 10 13 5 8 4- 74
G- McDevitt 10-6-33, Bagshaw 5-6-18, Coppersmith 1-9-11, Brown 2-5-9, Twitchell 2-4-8, DeWolfe 1-0-3
Y- Medenica 9-2-26, Hagerty 7-1-15, Torres 4-1-10, Harnett 2-3-9, Nikolic 4-0-9, Eckersley-Ray 2-0-5
G (10) McDevitt 7, Bagshaw 2, DeWolfe 1
Y (11) Medenica 6, Harnett 2, Eckersley-Ray, Nikolic, Torres 1
YARMOUTH—The bad news is that the Greely and Yarmouth boys’ basketball teams won’t meet again this winter.
And that’s the only negative that came out of Tuesday evening’s unforgettable triple overtime epic.
In a game that will never be forgotten by two of the state’s best teams and their legion of fans, what seemed to be a Clippers’ blowout win turned into an apparent Rangers victory before 32 minutes weren’t nearly enough to determine a winner.
Nor were 36 or 40.
Undefeated Greely, one week after rallying to beat host Falmouth in overtime, dug a 20-3 hole as Yarmouth couldn’t miss in the first period, thanks to sharp play from senior Gibson Harnett and sophomore Jonathan Torres.
The Clippers took a 23-8 lead to the second quarter, but to no one’s surprise, back roared the Rangers, thanks to the shooting of seniors Jordan Bagshaw and Matt McDevitt, whose 3-pointer as time expired pulled Greely within six, 34-28, at the half.
The Rangers then rode an 18-4 run in the third period to turn the game completely on its ear and take a 50-44 lead to the fourth quarter.
Where Yarmouth rose off the deck.
The Clippers drew even at 52-52 on a 3-ball from senior sharpshooter Aleksandar Medenica with 3:42 remaining in regulation, but 58 seconds later, McDevitt’s 3 gave Greely the lead back.
Yarmouth hung tough and got one final chance to tie and did so, when Medenica coolly buried a 3-ball with 2.7 seconds left, sending the game to overtime tied, 57-57.
The Clippers rode that momentum into OT and with 1:35 left, Medenica set up junior Nolan Hagerty for a go-ahead layup and a 61-59 lead. Yarmouth had a chance to ice the game at the line, but Harnett made just one free throw with 9.8 seconds left, allowing McDevitt to get a look at a game-tying 3 and his bid from the corner was true, sending the game to a second extra session tied, 62-62.
There, the Rangers got a 3 from McDevitt and after the Clippers tied the game on a Medenica 3, McDevitt set up senior Ryan Twitchell for a go-ahead layup, but Greely couldn’t close and again Yarmouth had a chance to extend the game and did so, when Medenica, despite being nearly 30-feet out and having McDevitt’s long arms in his face, drained the shot of the year to force a third OT.
There, the Rangers finally finished it off.
McDevitt put Greely ahead to stay with a leaner, unheralded sophomore Mike Coppersmith drained two free throws and McDevitt hit two more to open things up. Down the stretch, Coppersmith made four more foul shots and McDevitt drained a pair and the Rangers went on to an 82-74 victory.
McDevitt led all scorers with 33 points and Bagshaw added 18 as Greely improved to 9-0 and dropped Yarmouth, which got 26 points from Medenica, to 7-2 in the process.
“It’s awesome,” McDevitt said. “I’ve never been more excited. I thought the Falmouth game would be the peak, but this topped it. It was just crazy out there. Every shot counted. Every second counted.”
Not only was Greely undefeated entering the contest, but Yarmouth was red-hot as well.
The Rangers opened by beating visiting Cape Elizabeth (62-44) and York (77-51), before avenging last year’s ouster with a 55-44 win at Brunswick. The wins kept coming against visiting Yarmouth (80-58), Gorham (64-53) and Morse (96-50). Last Tuesday, Greely rallied to edge host Falmouth in an overtime thriller, 55-54, and Friday, the Rangers stayed perfect with an 80-64 home win over Poland.
The Clippers started the season strong, downing visiting Gray-New Gloucester (61-41), host Lake Region (75-55) and visiting defending Class C South champion Waynflete (45-43), before losing at Greely 80-58. Yarmouth then bounced back to defeat visiting Maranacook (65-45) and host Sacopee Valley (56-31), Poland (73-37) and Lincoln Academy (82-55).
Heading into the game, the Rangers had won three in a row against the Clippers and held a 22-8 edge dating back to the start of the 2001-02 season (see sidebar, below).
In Greely’s 80-58 home win Dec. 19, junior Shane DeWolfe had 23 points, Bagshaw 20 and Twitchell 16 to counter Medenica’s 16 and Hagerty’s 14.
This time around, both squads showed the form that could ultimately result in a Gold Ball and a raucous crowd was treated to 44 minutes of thrills.
Yarmouth came out on absolute fire and built a seemingly safe lead.
Just 44 seconds in, Harnett set the tone with a 3 and Torres followed with a left-handed layup for a 5-0 lead.
The Rangers got on the board with 6:42 to go in the frame when Bagshaw sank a 3, but the next 15 points went to the Clippers.
A layup after a steal by Torres got things started. Harnett was then fouled on a 3 and made two free throws and the next time down, Harnett buried a 3-ball.
After a steal, Medenica set up Torres for a layup and the lead was 14-3, forcing Greely coach Travis Seaver to call timeout.
It didn’t help, as Medenica added a 3 and Torres did the same to make it 20-3.
With 1:08 left in the first, Greely finally ended a 5 minute, 36 second drought when McDevitt knocked down a 3, but Medenica countered with a shot from behind the arc before McDevitt’s leaner made it 23-8.
In the first period, Torres had nine points, Harnett eight and Medenica six.
“Offensively, Yarmouth played great,” Seaver said. “Defensively, they took us out of what we wanted to do. We were complacent and hung around the perimeter.”
The Rangers then dug deep and rallied in the second period.
After Medenica started the frame with a jumper, Twitchell scored on a putback and McDevitt sank a 3 to cut the deficit to 25-13.
Clippers sophomore Noah Eckersley-Ray pushed the lead back to 15 with a 3, but Twitchell made two free throws. After Eckersley-Ray set up Medenica for a layup and Torres made a free throw, the lead was 31-15, but Greely closed the half on a 13-3 run.
Bagshaw made two foul shots, Twitchell hit a foul shot and a Bagshaw bank shot cut the deficit to 31-20.
After senior Igor Nikolic made a corner 3 with 2:33 remaining for Yarmouth’s final points of the half, Bagshaw made a 3, Bagshaw took a pass from sophomore Zack Brown and made a layup and just before the horn, Bagshaw set up McDevitt for a critical 3 and just like that, the Rangers were back within six, 34-28.
“They couldn’t miss to start and we missed our bunnies,” McDevitt said. “We knew it would turn around, but we knew we had to step it up on defense.”
Medenica and Torres led the Clippers in the first half with 10 points apiece, but 12 points from Bagshaw and 11 from McDevitt helped Greely rally.
In the third, Greely completed the comeback and went ahead.
Hagerty started strong for Yarmouth in the frame, sandwiching a layup and a bank shot around two Bagshaw free throws for a 38-30 lead, but Brown made two foul shots. After Medenica fed Nikolic for a layup, the Rangers kept coming, as Bagshaw sank two foul shots and McDevitt hit a runner to cut the deficit to 40-36.
Nikolic answered with a layup, but after a McDevitt steal, junior Shane DeWolfe made a 3 and with 1:45 left in the quarter, McDevitt drained a 3 in transition and just like that, it was a new ballgame, 42-42.
“I had it in the back of my mind that they’d make a run, but I was hoping we wouldn’t let that happen,” Medenica said. “Knowing our opponent, I expected they’d close in.”
With 58 seconds left in the period, Brown stole the ball, made a layup, was fouled and hit the subsequent free throw to complete the old-fashioned three-point play for Greely’s first lead.
Twitchell added a foul shot and Coppersmith banked home a leaner before Hagerty scored on a putback to end an 18-2 surge, but the Rangers seized momentum right back as time expired as Coppersmith was fouled while shooting a 3 and made two free throws for a 50-44 advantage.
Greely looked to finish it off in the fourth period, but Yarmouth rose off the deck in valiant fashion to keep the game going.
After Eckersley-Ray finished a feed from Harnett and made a layup to start the final stanza, Twitchell passed to Brown for a layup and a 52-46 lead.
Hagerty got a point back at the line and after Hagerty blocked a shot at one end, Harnett set up Nikolic for a layup to make it a one-possession game.
With 3:42 remaining, Medenica’s 3 tied the score, 52-52.
Harnett stole the ball and had a chance to give the Clippers the lead back, but missed and McDevitt got the rebound.
At the other end, with 2:44 to go, McDevitt sank a 3 and Greely was back in the lead, 55-52.
Yarmouth kept fighting and with 1:28 left, Medenica made two foul shots.
Harnett stole the ball back and Torres looked to give the Clippers the lead, but he got caught in a bad spot under the basket and missed with Twitchell grabbing the rebound.
With 13.7 seconds left, McDevitt was fouled and made both free throws for a three-point lead.
That gave Yarmouth one final chance and as time wound down, Nikolic got the ball to Medenica, who calmly buried a 3 to make it 57-57.
“We have a lot of heart,” Medenica said. “We have guys who can make plays. Our passion and grit showed tonight. We have a play that gets me the ball. The ball came to me. To be honest, I thought it was going to hit back rim and come out. It just shows I need to trust my shot.”
The Clippers had the momentum going to overtime and almost closed out what would have been a huge victory.
The Rangers got the ball first, but Twitchell missed a shot and Medenica got the rebound.
Brown stole the ball back, but a Hagerty block led to a good look by Medenica. Medenica missed the shot and Twitchell got the rebound, but Medenica stole the ball back and made a layup with 2:16 left in OT for a 59-57 lead.
Eighteen seconds later, Bagshaw tied the score with a bank shot, but with 1:35 left, Medenica set up Hagerty for a layup. Hagerty was fouled on the play, but couldn’t add the free throw and McDevitt got the rebound.
Bagshaw tried to put Greely on top with a 3, but he missed and despite McDevitt keeping play alive with an offensive rebound, McDevitt missed a follow-up 3 and Nikolic got the rebound.
Harnett rushed a 3 at the other end and missed and DeWolfe got the rebound.
Bagshaw drove for a tying shot, but Hagerty made the block. Bagshaw got the offensive rebound and again Hagerty swatted it away.
With 29.7 seconds to go, Nikolic had a chance to extend the lead at the line, but he missed the front end of his one-and-one and Twitchell rebounded.
Brown then had a chance to tie it, but he missed and Twitchell was off on the follow-up with Medenica getting the rebound.
With 9.8 seconds remaining, Harnett had a chance to end it, but he only made one of two attempts, giving the Rangers one final opportunity to tie.
After a timeout, Brown passed the ball to junior Luke Miller, who found McDevitt in the corner and with 2.7 seconds left, McDevitt’s bid tickled the twine to tie it again, 62-62.
“It was exactly how the play was designed,” McDevitt said. “Coach drew up a great play. It worked out great. I was nervous, but I got the ball in the right spot and it felt good off my hand. I told Coach I wanted that shot. I want all the shots. You can’t make all of them, but I was happy that one went in. It was 0-0 at that point.”
“That’s the play we wanted,” Seaver said. “He got a good look. We executed the play perfectly. Kudos to Matt for making the shot. Matt’s a tough matchup. He has the ability to carry us. We don’t need that every night, but when we do, he can do it.”
Yarmouth was staggered.
“They set good picks to get him that look,” Smith lamented. “There wasn’t a lot of space there, but he stepped up. It was a tough shot and he knocked it down. There could have been five defenders in that corner and he’d still knock it down.”
The game would go to the second overtime, where more heroics were in store.
After Yarmouth won the tip, Bagshaw stole the ball away and eventually, Coppersmith set up McDevitt for a 3 and a 65-62 lead.
Medenica countered with a 3 of his own to tie it, but with 1:54 remaining, McDevitt passed to Twitchell for a layup and a 67-65 advantage.
Coppersmith then stole the ball and was fouled and sank a free throw to make it a three-point game.
With 54.6 seconds left, Hagerty drove and banked home a shot to cut the deficit to 68-67.
With 17.9 seconds to go, Brown was fouled and made both free throws, again sending the Clippers to the brink.
Yarmouth ran down the clock and Nikolic passed the ball to Medenica well outside the 3-point line. With McDevitt hounding his every move and the clock running down, Medenica rose for a prayer of a 3 and it was answered with 1.7 seconds showing. Medenica turned to McDevitt, his AAU teammate, smiled and the pair embraced as the clock ran out and the game went a third extra session, tied, 70-70.
“When I came out, (Matt) was on me,” said Medenica. “He put his left arm up. I had to just take my shot like a regular 3-pointer. It’s just concentration.”
“What makes this game great is when a young man has a chance to make a shot like that and he does,” Smith said. “He got the look and took it. He has that ability. He’s going to have more of those opportunities as the year goes on.”
Greely could only tip its cap.
“I have a lot of respect for (Alek),” McDevitt said. “He’s a great player. We play AAU together. We’re kind of the same player. I know he can make shots like that. I was praying it wouldn’t go in, but it did, so we had to start over again for the third overtime.”
“It was an insane shot,” Seaver said. “All the credit to Alek. Like Matt did for us, he put them on his back and hit huge shots. We had to rally and play four more minutes.”
In the third OT, Greely would finally salt away its victory.
The Rangers won the tip and McDevitt hit a leaner 22 seconds in to break the tie for good.
Hagerty had a chance to answer, but missed two free throws.
After the teams traded turnovers, Coppersmith was fouled and made both attempts for a 74-70 lead with 1:57 left.
McDevitt blocked Eckersley-Ray’s 3 and with 1:26 to go, McDevitt made two more foul shots to extend the lead to six.
Ten seconds later, Hagerty converted a layup, but with 59.8 seconds left, Coppersmith sank two foul shots.
After a Brown steal, McDevitt made two more free throws with 43.5 seconds showing and the lead was eight.
“I’ve taken a thousand free throws,” McDevitt said. “Even with the crowd yelling, I had to step up and make them.”
McDevitt then stole the ball and missed a shot, but Coppersmith got the rebound and was fouled.
With 25.8 seconds remaining, Coppersmith hit two more free throws to essentially ice it.
“I had to step up,” Coppersmith said. “We had guys foul out. It was my time and I rose to the moment. I had to do it for the seniors. I wanted to help them out. I love playing with the seniors. They’re awesome. I’ve learned a lot from them.”
“(Mike’s) a good player,” McDevitt said. “He’s a little young, but he’s getting better every time he steps on the floor.”
“We shoot pretty well from the free throw line,” Seaver added. “We had the right guys on the free throw line tonight. Mike stepped up and made huge free throws. He’s played with confidence for us. He’s a guy who’s worked hard in practice. The more he plays and the more he’s around our senior leadership, he’ll get even more confidence.”
Hagerty drove for a layup for Yarmouth’s final points, but the Clippers could draw no closer and at 8:59 p.m., after a 112-minute passion play, Greely finally could celebrate its 82-74 victory.
“That was fun,” Seaver said. “We do have a lot of grit. The guys impress me every day. I never have to worry about them being ready. We got down early, but the guys find their way back. We were down 17, battled back, went up six, then they came back. I give our kids a ton of credit for staying with it. They hit shots and we had to rally and stay competitive. It was a great learning experience. We can’t mimic a game like this in practice. We went to the line with the game on the line. In practice, we can talk about it, but to have the stands packed and the crowd cheering, that was the real deal. I’m proud of our kids.”
McDevitt made seven 3-pointers, sank three field goals and added six foul shots for a game-high 33 points. He also had 10 rebounds, two blocked shots and two steals.
Bagshaw added 18 points, Coppersmith had 11, Brown nine (to go with seven steals), Twitchell eight (to go with 13 rebounds) and DeWolfe three.
The Rangers made 10 3-point shots, outrebounded the Clippers, 38-32, only turned the ball over 12 times in 44 minutes in a hostile environment and hit 30 of 35 free throws.
Medenica not only hit two memorable 3-pointers, he also led Yarmouth with 26 points and had 12 rebounds, three steals, three assists and two blocks.
“It was an amazing experience for every single one of us,” Medenica said. “We won’t find this in playoffs because of the crowd and high school gym and the excitement. It was a great game to play in.”
Hagerty stuffed the stat sheet to the tune of 15 points, 13 rebounds and nine blocks.
Torres had 10 points, Harnett and Nikolic (five assists) nine apiece and Eckersley-Ray added five.
Yarmouth made 11 3-pointers, but was doomed by 23 turnovers and by missing 12 of 19 free throws.
“I think the fans got to see a great high school basketball game tonight,” Smith said. “Everyone from the coaches and players to the spectators enjoyed this one. It was a great game to be a part of. They hit 3s, we hit 3s. It was exciting. They put the nail in the coffin when they had to. They definitely knocked down some free throws. They’re a tough team. We had some offensive mistakes that cost us. We’re close to Greely. There’s always going to be a rivalry. They always play hard against us, regardless of class, and we’ll do the same and we witnessed that tonight.”
Both teams like their chances to win their respective class titles.
Yarmouth (first in the Class B South Heal Points standings at press time) is back in action Saturday at Freeport and goes to Wells Tuesday. After hosting Poland and Traip Academy, the Clippers finish their road schedule at Cape Elizabeth and Gray-New Gloucester before closing at home versus Falmouth, Lake Region and Wells.
While Tuesday’s loss stings, it’s possible Yarmouth will look back on Jan. 10 as the night it learned it could play with anyone.
“We’re a very young team,” Medenica said. “Tonight came down to being confident at the line. That’s something we need to improve. We need to make free throws and make simple passes. We just need to talk and be smart.”
“Tonight was our ninth game,” Smith said. “We’re halfway through the year. We look at our growth from where we played (Greely) last time. I liked our intensity. We still need a lot of growth to take place in the second half of the year. I hope we look back on this game as a turning point. It’s up to the coaching staff and the players to move forward from it. I’m interested in seeing how we recover and move forward.”
Greely (first in Class A South) still faces some potential speed bumps on its quest for perfection. After going to Biddeford Saturday, the Rangers are home with Fryeburg Academy, then will be tested at York Friday of next week. Home tilts versus Gray-New Gloucester and Marshwood, trips to Cape Elizabeth, Westbrook and Kennebunk and a home showdown in the finale against Falmouth also remain.
“We’re still undefeated, but we have more big games ahead,” Coppersmith said.
“The goal is 22-0 and it might not happen, but if we get a loss, we’ll just learn from it,” McDevitt said. “That’s what’s motivating us. We have to keep getting better.”
“Expectations are high, but the grit and guts that we’ve shown the past week or so is impressive,” Seaver added. “I’m already thinking about things we did tonight that we need to fix.”
Yarmouth junior Nolan Hagerty swats the shot of Greely sophomore Zack Brown. Hagerty had nine blocks in the game.
Greely senior Jordan Bagshaw gets past Yarmouth senior Igor Nikolic.
Greely senior Ryan Twitchell fouls Yarmouth junior Nolan Hagerty.
Yarmouth senior Igor Nikolic goes up over Greely senior Jordan Bagshaw for a shot.
With time running out in the first overtime, Greely senior Matt McDevitt coolly buries a 3-pointer to extend the game.
Despite being hounded by Greely senior Matt McDevitt, Yarmouth senior Aleksandar Medenica buries a 3-pointer from beyond NBA range to improbably force a third overtime.
@ Greely 80 Yarmouth 58
Yarmouth 57 @ Greely 53
@ Yarmouth 61 Greely 42
@ Greely 58 Yarmouth 44
@ Yarmouth 60 Greely 53
@ Yarmouth 53 Greely 52
@ Greely 58 Yarmouth 57
Greely 61 @ Yarmouth 53
Yarmouth 53 @ Greely 51
Western B semifinals
Yarmouth 54 Greely 42
@ Greely 57 Yarmouth 49
Greely 54 @ Yarmouth 38
@ Greely 63 Yarmouth 44
@ Yarmouth 49 Greely 46
Greely 56 @ Yarmouth 52
@ Greely 72 Yarmouth 55
Western B quarterfinals
Greely 67 Yarmouth 53
Greely 67 @ Yarmouth 33
@ Greely 65 Yarmouth 37
@ Greely 66 Yarmouth 50
@ Yarmouth 61 Greely 59
Greely 43 @ Yarmouth 37
@ Greely 50 Yarmouth 39
@ Greely 43 Yarmouth 38
Greely 69 @ Yarmouth 52