Greely junior Madison Scott, left, sophomore Brooke Obar, junior Julia Martel, junior Anna DeWolfe and junior Emma Spoerri rush the floor in jubilation at the final horn of the Rangers’ 53-38 win over Hampden Academy in Thursday evening’s Class A state final. Obar had 17 points and DeWolfe added 16 as Greely won Class A for the first time and earned the program’s fifth Gold Ball.
Mike Strout photos.
More photos below.
HA- 8 7 9 14- 38
G- 17 12 15 9- 53
HA- Donovan 6-1-13, Narofsky 3-0-6, Gilpin 2-0-5, Brillant 1-1-4, Scott 1-1-3, Smith 1-0-3, Bouchard 1-0-2, Wildman 1-0-2
G- Obar 7-1-17, DeWolfe 7-2-16, Clement 3-2-10, Martel 3-1-8, Spoerri 0-2-2
HA (3) Brillant, Gilpin, Smith 1
G (5) Clement, Obar 2, Martel 1
PORTLAND—For almost three minutes Thursday evening at the Cross Insurance Arena, Greely’s girls’ basketball team looked vulnerable.
Then it got on the shoulders of a magical player and embarked on a run that will live in program lore.
A 27-2 surge that went a long way toward bringing another Gold Ball home to Cumberland.
Facing tall and talented Hampden Academy in the Class A state final, the Rangers found themselves trailing, 6-0, as Broncos junior post standout Bailey Donovan, who stands 6-foot-3, proved to be an early matchup nightmare.
Then, Greely junior Anna DeWolfe started to do Anna DeWolfe things and it was all downhill from there for Hampden Academy.
DeWolfe sparked a 15-0 run with eight points of her own and by the end of the first period, the Rangers were firmly in control, leading, 17-8, as DeWolfe had 10 points and the Broncos turned the ball over 11 times.
Sophomore Brooke Obar then had herself a terrific second period, scoring eight points to help Greely extend its lead to 29-15 at halftime.
Hampden Academy drew within 10 early in the second half, but the Rangers ended all doubt with another big surge, this one a 15-4 run, capped by 3-pointers from Obar and freshman Camille Clement, to spell a 44-24 lead leading to the fourth quarter.
There, the Broncos never got closer than 15 points and Greely slammed the door and unleashed a championship celebration with a 53-38 victory.
Obar had a game-high 17 points, DeWolfe added 16 and the Rangers closed the year on a 16-game win streak, finished 20-2, ended Hampden Academy’s season at 19-3 and won the Class A championship for the first time, earning the program’s fifth trophy in the process.
“It’s fantastic,” said Greely coach Todd Flaherty. “When I was seven-years-old, I dreamed of winning a Gold Ball. I never got one as a player. Thankfully, I have great players and got one as a coach.”
In 2015, Ashley Storey led Greely to a decisive win in the Class B state final. The last two years, the Rangers, behind the brilliance of DeWolfe, managed to reach the Class A South Final, but in 2016, York had just enough to hold them off and last winter, Greely let a double-digit second half lead over Brunswick slip away.
This season, the Rangers, bolstered the arrival of Clement, passed almost every test (see sidebar, below, for previous game stories).
After rolling over visiting Cape Elizabeth in the opener, 85-44. Greely won at Wells, 60-48, then fell at Class AA South favorite South Portland, 63-53. A 63-53 home victory over Poland and a 61-35 home win over Falmouth followed before the Rangers were stunned at the horn at Brunswick in a playoff rematch, 65-63.
Greely then hit its stride once the calendar flipped, winning its final 12 regular season contests. The Rangers got things going by defeating visiting Gray-New Gloucester (66-44), the defending Class B state champion, and visiting Gorham, the two-time defending Class AA champion (66-62). Next came wins at York (56-55) at home over Freeport (80-41) at defending AA South champion Oxford Hills (46-39), at Yarmouth (51-38), at Fryeburg Academy (72-31), at Westbrook (72-29), at Gray-New Gloucester (66-58), at Cape Elizabeth (71-28), at home over York (70-45) and at home over Fryeburg Academy (75-25).
Flaherty felt that the win at Oxford Hills, the defending Class AA North champion, was a turning point.
“The girls have been on a mission for a year and we kept getting better and better,” Flaherty said. “We won an ugly game at Oxford Hills. They’re a good team and our defense kept us in it. At that point, I felt we could win any kind of game.”
As the No. 2 seed in Class A South, Greely dominated seventh-ranked Leavitt (83-40) in the quarterfinals. used a fast start to oust No. 3 Marshwood (66-50) in the semifinals, then avenged last year’s ouster behind a second half surge to eliminate top-ranked, undefeated Brunswick (66-49) in the regional final.
Hampden Academy lost to eventual state champion Messalonskee in last year’s semifinals, but had no peer in Class A North this winter, winning 16 of 18 games to earn the top spot. The Broncos (who only lost at Skowhegan and Lawrence this year) got past No. 8 Gardiner (37-29) in the quarterfinals, defeated No. 4 Lawrence (42-31) in the semifinals, then won the region for the third time in program history, 42-37, in overtime, over Messalonskee in last Friday’s regional final.
The Broncos took the floor Thursday 1-1 all-time in state finals (see sidebar, below), beating Mt. Blue in overtime in 1976 and losing to McAuley in the 2011 game.
Greely, meanwhile, was 4-3, winning Gold Balls in 1983, 1984, 2004 and 2015 and falling in the state final in 1997, 1998 and 2003.
The teams had no history, but in front of a good-sized and vocal crowd, they made some as the Rangers pulled away to prevail.
Hampden Academy got off to an auspicious beginning, as Donovan put home a miss, sophomore Alydia Brillant buried a 3 and Donovan added a free throw, but DeWolfe sparked a Greely rally.
After missing everything on her first shot, a 3-pointer, and having her second blocked by Donovan, DeWolfe hit a pullup jumper with 5:19 to go in the first quarter.
Eighteen seconds later, DeWolfe hit another jumper and with 4:47 remaining, she stole the ball and made the layup to tie it, forcing Hampden Academy coach Nick Winchester to call timeout.
It didn’t help, as a DeWolfe bank shot with 4:12 on the clock gave the Rangers the lead for good and they weren’t close to finished.
After another DeWolfe steal, she set up junior Julia Martel for a layup, junior Madison Scott fed Martel for a 3-pointer from the corner and with 1:59 remaining, Obar stole the ball and made a layup, forcing Winchester to call timeout again.
This time, it stemmed the tide, as senior Marissa Gilpin banked in a shot to end the 15-0 run and a 5:30 drought, but with 6.7 seconds on the clock, DeWolfe, fittingly, buried a jump shot for her ninth and 10th points and a 17-8 lead after one quarter.
“We’ve always started slowly, but we stuck with it, stayed positive and stayed engaged,” DeWolfe said. “Defense led to offense. Someone had to step up and that was keyed by our defense.”
“That’s what Anna does,” Flaherty said. “She was relaxed and played a nice all-around game. The beauty of Anna is she’s so team-oriented. She’s a once-in-a-lifetime type of player for a coach.”
In the first eight minutes, Hampden Academy turned the ball over 11 times and Greely closed the frame on a dazzling 17-2 run.
In the second period, the Rangers kept the pressure on.
Obar scored the first points of the quarter 20 seconds in, on a 3. Then, after a steal, Obar banked home a shot to make it 22-8.
With 5:49 on the clock, DeWolfe set up Obar for a layup. Obar was fouled on the play and added the free throw for the old-fashioned three-point play.
“We talk about getting off to a quick start,” Obar said. “It didn’t happen, but we stuck with it and got stops. It was a good thing we pressed them. Our defensive intensity was the difference.”
A pair of Clement free throws then capped the breathtaking 27-2 surge.
With 4:11 to go in the half, senior Sophia Narofsky made a layup to snap a 4:13 drought, but DeWolfe countered with a jumper.
After senior Brooklynn Scott hit a free throw, Narofsky made a left-handed layup and Donovan made a layup to cut the deficit to 29-15 at the half.
DeWolfe led all scorers with 12 first half points and she added three assists and a pair of steals. Obar erupted for 10 second quarter points and added four steals and three rebounds.
Hampden Academy, which turned the ball over 15 times (to just six for Greely), was paced by Donovan’s five points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots.
In the third period, the Broncos got as close as 10 points before Greely delivered the knockout blow.
Early in the second half, senior Braylee Wildman fed Donovan for a layup and off an inbounds set, Scott set up Wildman for a layup to cap a 9-0 run spanning the end of the second quarter and the start of the third.
After junior Emma Spoerri countered with two free throws, Gilpin set up Scott for another layup, but that would be Hampden Academy’s highwater mark.
With 5:11 left in the quarter, Obar hit a jumper.
Then, after an Obar steal, she fed Clement for a layup.
With 2:27 to go in the frame, on the most dazzling play of the night, DeWolfe saved the ball blindly while flying out of bounds and sent it right into the hands of Obar, who passed to Clement, who fed Martel for a layup while being fouled. Martel added the free throw and the lead was 38-21.
Donovan countered with a putback, but Obar sank a 3 and Clement did the same before a free throw from Brillant cut the deficit to 44-24 after three periods.
In the fourth, the Broncos tried one last time to make things interesting, but it wasn’t to be.
After Obar made a layup to start the final stanza, DeWolfe returned to the scoring column with two free throws and Greely had doubled up Hampden Academy, 48-24.
After consecutive layups from Donovan, junior Camryn Bouchard added a jumper and Gilpin buried a 3 to cut the deficit to 15 with 4:11 to go, but after Scott saved the ball, Clement buried a 3 and DeWolfe hit a leaner for her and her team’s final points.
Down the stretch, Narofsky made a layup and senior Peyton Smith buried a 3-pointer for the Broncos, but it was far too little, too late and at 7:26 p.m., the final horn sounded and the Rangers rushed the court to celebrate their 53-38 victory.
“It means everything to us,” DeWolfe said. “We wanted to achieve this goal. We focused on defense and that was the game-changer. We know we can put up points on offense, but we’ve focused on our defense. We had a hard schedule this year. That prepared us for today.”
“It feels great,” said Martel. “We’ll have great memories from this when we’re older. It was awesome. Being down didn’t worry us too much, because we’re usually a second half team. We knew we could beat them with our speed even though they were bigger.”
“It’s awesome,” Obar said. “It’s indescribable. We had the bulls-eye and we knew the pressure was on us, but we just played our game. My Mom (Sue Obar), Anna’s aunt, won this two years in a row back in the 1980s. It means so much to us to do it too.”
“We had to settle down a little bit,” Flaherty added. “Our girls did a nice job calming down, then playing better.”
Obar was the game’s high scorer with 17 points. She also had six steals and five rebounds.
“Brooke was tremendous,” said Flaherty. “She was a little nervous at the beginning, then she settled down and the ball started going in for her.”
DeWolfe stole the show nearly the whole way, scoring 16 points, while also posting five assists and three steals.
“Anna means everything to us,” Obar said. “She’s my best friend. We wouldn’t have anywhere close to our success without her.”
Clement, playing on her 15th birthday, added 10 points and had four rebounds, four steals and two assists.
“The birthday girl has been solid all year,” Flaherty said. “We have a three-headed monster.”
Martel had eight points and grabbed four rebounds and helped defend Donovan.
“Julia played outstanding defense and her eight points were big too,” DeWolfe said.
Spoerri had two points and six boards and while Scott didn’t score, she did contribute three rebounds and three assists.
Greely forced 23 turnovers, overcame 17 of its own, shot 20-of-53 from the floor (5-of-16 from 3-point land), had a 30-29 rebounding advantage and made all eight of its foul shots.
Hampden Academy got 13 points and 17 rebounds from Donovan, who also blocked four shots.
“It was hard to defend her, because she’s so tall and stronger than us,” Martel said.
“(Donovan) was intimidating all game long,” Flaherty said.
Narofsky added six points, Gilpin had five, Brillant four, Scott and Smith three apiece and Bouchard and Wildman two each.
The Broncos made 16-of-42 field goals, hit 3-of-11 3-pointers and made 3-of-7 free throws.
While senior reserves Brooke Bickford, Kelsey Currier and Jen Spencer graduate this spring, with virtually everyone else back in 2018-19, Greely will be the favorite to repeat.
“We have a lot coming back,” Martel said. “We hope to do it again. That’s our goal.”
“We’d love to do it again, but we have some work to do,” DeWolfe said.
“Doing it again would be awesome, but we’ll have to work hard next year because teams will want to beat us even more,” said Obar.
“We have a nice group coming back,” Flaherty added. “The returning girls aren’t satisfied and hopefully the young girls in the stands want a piece of it and we’ll stay on a roll.”
Greely junior Anna DeWolfe scores two of her 16 points.
Greely junior Emma Spoerri and Hampden Academy senior Brooklynn Scott battle for a rebound.
Greely sophomore Brooke Obar steals the ball from Hampden Acaemy sophomore Alydia Brillant.
Greely junior Julia Martel reaches for the ball to no avail.
Hampden Academy senior Marissa Gilpin protects the ball from Greely freshman Camille Clement, left, and junior Emma Spoerri.
Despite the presence of Hampden Academy junior Bailey Donovan, Greely junior Anna DeWolfe goes up and under for a shot.
Greely freshman Camille Clement goes up for a layup as Hampden Academy sophomore Alydia Brillant reaches in vain.
Hampden Academy junior Bailey Donovan grabs a rebound away from Greely junior Madison Scott. Donovan had 13 points and 17 boards, but it wasn’t nearly enough.
Another view of the postgame celebration.
Greely junior Anna DeWolfe waves the freshly shorn net in celebration immediately following the victory.
Greely senior Jen Spencer waves the net at the other end of the floor.
Greely sophomore Brooke Obar, left, and junior Anna DeWolfe show off the Gold Ball.
Greely players usher the Gold Ball over to the student section.
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
2011 Class A
McAuley 39 Hampden Academy 23
1976 Class A
Hampden Academy 66 Mt. Blue 65 (OT)