Hoops season was nothing but net

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Another tremendous basketball season is in the books.

The 2009-10 campaign had no shortage of drama, passion and excitement. When all was said and done, teams local teams were right in the middle of things, stealing headlines from start to finish.

The Scarborough girls made the biggest splash, going undefeated in stirring fashion to win a first-ever Gold Ball. South Portland and Cape Elizabeth also took part in the postseason.

On the boys’ side, two-time defending regional champion Cape Elizabeth made it back to the regional final, but this time fell short, losing to Falmouth. In Western A, Scarborough made a great run to make it to the quarterfinals before losing in controversial fashion. South Portland got senior standout Keegan Hyland back from injury just in time for the playoffs and got to the semifinals before losing a heartbreaker.

Before we unlace the sneakers for good, here’s one final look at the biggest and best stories of the 2009-10 campaign:

Michael’s Top Five stories:

5) Capers fall in double-OT classic

On the night of Feb. 10, the Cape Elizabeth girls’ basketball team attempted to secure a date in the quarterfinals for the first time in 14 seasons. Coming off a 9-9 campaign, the program’s best record since 1996, the Capers gave host Falmouth everything it could handle, racing to a 10-point lead. The Yachtsmen rallied and were up eight points in the fourth, but Cape Elizabeth got off the deck and forced overtime. In OT, Falmouth was up 41-35, but 3-pointers from junior Emily Donovan and senior Morgan Pillsbury force a second extra session. There, the Capers were outscored 5-0 and they were eliminated, but not before showing everyone the depth of their heart and will.

4) Scarborough boys finish strong

After a 66-64 overtime loss at nemesis Biddeford on Jan. 12, the Scarborough boys’ basketball team was 4-6 and appeared dead in the water. A month later, the Red Storm were at the Portland Expo fro the quarterfinals. Scarborough was sensational down the stretch, riding the individual excellence of senior Conor Sullivan, a first-ever victory over Portland and a stirring double-OT victory at defending state champ Thornton Academy to go 7-1 in its last eight contests. The Red Storm’s first trip to the quarterfinals since 2003 was overshadowed, however, when just hours before they took the floor against Cheverus, word broke that the Stags senior standout point guard Indiana Faithfull had been cleared to play by court order after he had used up his eight semesters of eligibility. Shellshocked, Scarborough couldn’t spring the upset and fell, 49-34, ending the year at 11-8, while suggesting the program will be a power going forward.

3) Cape Elizabeth boys excel anew

After two straight trips to the Class B state final, the Cape Elizabeth boys’ team was once again a force to be reckoned with. The Capers stumbled at home against Falmouth in early January, but won every other contest as veterans Theo Bowe, Cam Brown, Andrew Dickey, Conor Moloney and Will Pierce came up big time and again. Cape Elizabeth avenged its loss with a three-point victory at the Yachtsmen in the regular season finale to wind up first in the region. Wins over Lake Region and Greely sent the Capers back to the regional final, but this time, they couldn’t find an answer for Falmouth, which pulled away to win, 53-40, ending Cape Elizabeth’s year at 19-2.

2) Keegan’s return inspires SP

For most of the 2009-10 season, there was more focus on who was absent from the lineup of the South Portland boys than who was on the court. Hopes of a dominant senior season for standout Keegan Hyland were short-circuited when he suffered a stress fracture and despite periodic rumblings about a possible return, Hyland missed the first 17 contests. Then, he came back in dramatic fashion. Against undefeated Cheverus, on Senior Night, Hyland returned to action and led the Red Riots to an impressive win. He was even better in the tournament where South Portland dominated Deering in the quarterfinals, then, in an epic against Westbrook in the semis, Hyland and his teammates battled valiantly before losing a heartbreaker in overtime. His legend didn’t need any additional chapters, but Hyland’s return will long be remembered.

1) Scarborough makes history

A program that had long been an afterthought rose to the pinnacle in sensational fashion this winter. The Scarborough girls were expected to be a contender for a first-ever regional and state championship, but few thought the Red Storm could do it without a blemish. The first sign that this could be a magical year came back on Dec. 11, when Scarborough rallied from a 12-point deficit to defeat two-time defending state champion Deering. The Red Storm navigated a difficult five-game stretch against top contenders in late-December and early-January, then, on Senior Night, faced with certain defeat, Scarborough found a way to rally and beat Thornton Academy. The Red Storm took an 18-0 mark and the top seed into the tournament and after an easy win over South Portland in the quarterfinals was marred by a wrist injury to senior Jenn Colpitts, Scarborough avenged last year’s tournament loss with a come-from-behind victory over Biddeford in the semis. That was a mere appetizer for the regional final, where the Red Storm trailed Deering deep into the fourth period before rallying for yet another inspirational win, 37-34, behind clutch 3s from senior Sarah Moody and a late layup from senior Christy Manning. Scarborough went the conventional route in the state final, building an insurmountable first period lead, then going on to a 52-32 victory, punctuating a season for the ages.

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net

Cape Elizabeth senior Gabe Donahue had a tremendous season, leading the Capers to the playoffs.

Scarborough senior Conor Sullivan was the third leading scorer in the SMAA and helped the Red Storm make it to the quarterfinals for the first time in seven seasons.

South Portland senior Jon DiBiase and his teammates enjoyed another strong campaign, winning 15 games, handing state champion Cheverus its only loss and reaching the Western A semifinals before losing in overtime to Westbrook.

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