PORTLAND—Yarmouth’s top-ranked boys’ basketball team went from being in danger to putting on a display of dominance in a matter of minutes in Saturday afternoon’s Western Class B quarterfinal against No. 9 Gray-New Gloucester at the Portland Exposition Building.
The Clippers struggled to put the Patriots away in a lackluster first half and as a result, led only by three points, 32-29, at the break.
That’s the type of effort which is a recipe for disaster in a win-or-go-home tournament, but coming out of the locker room, Yarmouth put on a record-setting show.
Not surprisingly, it was senior standout Adam LaBrie, who set the tone with a 3-point shot, then another, which came from beyond the NBA stripe. After classmate Jordan Brown got in on the fun with a 3, LaBrie knocked home another long distance shot that would have pleased any Maine Red Claw.
Before Gray-New Gloucester knew what hit it, the Clippers had gone on a 26-1 run to end all doubt. By third quarter’s end, Yarmouth was up, 63-37, thanks to 19 points in that stanza from LaBrie.
The Clippers never let up from there and went on to a 79-48 victory behind 14 made 3-pointers, a new Western B tournament team record for a single game, which included six from LaBrie, who tied the existing individual record.
LaBrie led all scorers with 27 points, Brown added 19 and Yarmouth improved to 16-3, ended the Patriots’ campaign at 9-11 and advanced to meet No. 4 Lake Region (14-5) in the semifinals Thursday at 9 p.m. at the Cross Insurance Arena (formerly known as the Cumberland County Civic Center).
“Once we started running more, we got into a flow and that flow generated our basketball ability,” said Clippers coach Adam Smith. “I didn’t ask any one player to start playing better. I said we’d do it together as a team, but Adam just happened to take it on his shoulders. I haven’t seen a quarter like that in a long time.”
Yarmouth entered the Western B tournament with the top seed, an honor the Clippers haven’t earned since 1969, a few months before man first stepped on the moon.
Yarmouth earned that ranking with a regular season that was solid, even with a midseason hiccup.
The Clippers won their first seven games: at Kennebunk (75-49), at home over defending regional champion Poland (68-48), at Greely (57-53), at home over Fryeburg Academy (62-42), at Cape Elizabeth (59-46), at home over Falmouth in overtime (69-62) and at Gray New Gloucester (65-51). Yarmouth then went to Waynflete and met its match, falling, 53-43. After a 67-39 home win over Traip, the Clippers hosted Cape Elizabeth and lost, 65-52, then fell at Falmouth, 59-49. A 61-42 home win over Greely kick-started a seven-game streak to end the regular season. Yarmouth followed that up with victories at Wells (80-48), at home over Freeport (66-32), at York (73-67), at home over Lake Region (87-55), at home over Gray-New Gloucester (66-35) and at Freeport (84-54).
Gray-New Gloucester went 8-10 to earn the No. 9 seed, then upset eighth-ranked Fryeburg Academy in Tuesday’s preliminary round, 52-48.
The Clippers won both meetings this winter and took the only prior playoff encounter, prevailing in the 1974 semifinals (73-71).
Saturday, Yarmouth would get a character test, but did it ever respond with a vengeance.
The Patriots scored first, as senior Andreas Kariotis made a layup, but two free throws from junior Cody Cook tied the score. The Clippers then got an old-fashioned three-point play from junior Musseit M’Bareck (layup, foul and free throw) and a Brown 3 to go up, 8-2.
Gray-New Gloucester got a layup from senior James Magno, but LaBrie made his first 3 for an 11-4 advantage. The Patriots got a coast to coast layup from senior Tyler St. Pierre, but M’Bareck answered with a bank shot. Gray-New Gloucester junior Zackery Haskell sandwiched single free throws around a pretty driving layup from LaBrie, but Yarmouth junior C.J. Cawley scored on a putback for a 17-8 advantage.
Gray-New Gloucester refused to go quietly, however, as Haskell made two free throws and senior David Chanlatte did the same. After Clippers freshman Nolan Hagerty set up Brown for a layup, a St. Pierre 3 pulled the Patriots within 19-15 after eight back-and-forth minutes.
The second period was more of the same.
After Kariotis hit a baseline jumper to pull Gray-New Gloucester within two, Cook made a 3 and LaBrie set up Brown for a 3. When Cook made a layup on the fastbreak, Yarmouth was up 10, 27-17, but Kariotis answered with a 3, St. Pierre made a foul shot and Magno drove for a layup to make it a 27-23 contest.
M’Bareck countered with a 3, but Haskell made a free throw, St. Pierre did the same and after two foul shots from Clippers senior Adam Clark, Patriots junior Kyle Keenan scored on a putback and St. Pierre hit two free throws with a second to go and Gray-New Gloucester was within a single possession, 32-29, at halftime.
Yarmouth forced 14 first half turnovers and got eight points apiece from Brown and M’Bareck, seven from Cook and five from LaBrie, but failed to extinguish the underdog’s chances.
“I was really disappointed that there was too much communication between me and the players in the first half,” Smith said. “They just needed to play and I needed to communicate. We’d had a week off. Practices are different in the postseason. We were rusty right off. I didn’t anticipate that much rust. I thought they were pressing way too much. We were talking too much, not playing. We weren’t just getting after it. I settled them down in the locker room instead of firing them up. We had 16 minutes to play hard and we started there.”
Then, the third quarter happened and from a Clippers’ perspective, it was glorious.
The tone was set 54 seconds in when LaBrie made a 3.
“I wasn’t too happy with how we played in the first half and with their run at the end,” said LaBrie. “We wanted to come out strong and I wanted to provide a spark in the third quarter.”
That first shot could have been innocuous, but instead, it turned into a landslide.
LaBrie got the ball again and even though he was behind the NBA arc, he let fly and the ball found nothing but net.
“We were only up three and we knew we weren’t playing our game,” Brown said. “We got motivated and came out and Adam sparked us with his 3s. When he’s open, he can shoot. He has a good shot.’
Next, it was Brown’s turn and after M’Bareck kept possession alive with an offensive rebound, the ball came to Hagerty, who passed to Brown on the wing for a 3 and a 41-29 lead.
Gray-New Gloucester coach Ryan Deschenes called timeout, but it didn’t help as LaBrie casually tossed in another 3 from NBA range.
Brown and LaBrie continued to engage in their anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-better duel as Brown sank a 3 in transition (LaBrie set it up) and Brown put back a rare LaBrie miss.
“The first shot I hit after halftime felt good and I took another,” Brown said. “Adam and I went back and forth. If he was open, he’d shoot. If I was open, I’d shoot.”
Cook then scored on a leaner to cap a breathtaking 19-0 run to start the half in just 3 minutes, 28 seconds.
The Patriots were staggered, but tried to answer when Keenan made a foul shot, ending a 4:58 drought, but LaBrie got three points the old fashioned way, banking home a shot while being fouled and adding a free throw. LaBrie then took a pass from Cawley on the fastbreak and made a layup and after a Cawley steal, M’Bareck made a layup for a 58-30 lead.
Magno got three points back with a layup and a free throw and St. Pierre drove for a layup, but LaBrie one more time hit from behind the NBA arc. After Magno scored on a putback, LaBrie made a layup to cap his 19-point quarter and give the Clippers a 63-37 advantage with eight minutes to play.
The 3-point shooting parade didn’t end with the third period. Just 27 seconds into the fourth, Cawley banked home a long distance shot. After Magno scored on a putback, then made a layup on the drive, Brown made a 3 and LaBrie hit a 3 which hit the rim, the top of the backboard, then kissed the net for a 72-41 lead.
“My shot comes on and off, I guess,” LaBrie said. “I had no idea where I was, but it felt good. I got a shooter’s roll.”
“(Adam) was barely over midcourt on a couple of those, I think,” Smith said. “When you give players the freedom to play, they can do incredible things. I’m very proud and happy for him.”
After Cook made a long jumper, Magno made a free throw, but LaBrie, saving the ball through his legs while falling out of bounds, got the ball to M’Bareck for a layup.
That did it for the Yarmouth starters.
After St. Pierre made a layup, the Clippers got a free throw from senior Samuel Morris. After Keenan drove for a layup, senior Devin Shields-Auble banked home a shot for Yarmouth’s final points. Keenan then scored on a leaner and that brought the curtain down on the 79-48 decision.
“Our offense started from turnovers,” LaBrie said. “They got tired and we took it to them. We know we can play like this. We know we can play even better.”
“We knew we had to play better to get the win,” Brown said. “We dug down. We had good ball movement.”
“I’m really proud of the character we’ve shown all season,” Smith added. “I hadn’t seen that first half at all this season. We’ve had ups and downs, but I hadn’t seen that side of us. It was reassuring to see them play through that in the second half.”
LaBrie went off for 27 points. He made six 3-pointers, which tied Mountain Valley’s Dean Boudreau (1994) and Greely’s Bailey Train (2014) for the most in the history of the Western B tournament. LaBrie also had five rebounds, four steals, four assists and two blocked shots.
“It was Adam tonight, but the rest of the team knows it could be someone else on Thursday,” Smith said.
Brown was terrific as well, scoring 19 points (highlighted by five 3s, one shy of the record), grabbing six rebounds, collecting three steals and dishing out two assists.
M’Bareck had 12 points (as well as four rebounds, three assists and three steals), Cook 11 (six boards, four steals and three assists), Cawley five, Clark two, Shields-Auble two and Morris one. Hagerty didn’t score, but had eight rebounds.
Yarmouth’s 14 made 3s eclipsed Mountain Valley in 1994 for the most in a Western B tournament game.
The Clippers outrebounded the Patriots, 41-30, committed 16 turnovers, but forced 27. They made 7 of 13 free throws.
Gray-New Gloucester was paced by Magno, who bowed out with 14 points and eight rebounds. St. Pierre had 13 points, Kariotis and Keenan seven apiece, Haskell five (to go with six rebounds) and Chanlatte two.
The Patriots made 14 of 24 foul shots.
Yarmouth will make the trip to the erstwhile Civic Center for the fifth time in eight seasons and figures to get quite a test from the Lakers (who held off No. 5 Spruce Mountain in its quarterfinal, 41-37).
The Clippers won their only meeting against Lake Region this year (by 32 points at home Jan. 31). Yarmouth has won two of the previous three postseason contests, taking the 2007 preliminary round and the 2008 quarterfinals and losing in the 2010 preliminary round.
The Clippers can’t bank on shooting the way they did Saturday, but they believe they have what it takes to advance.
“(Lake Region’s) a tough team,” Brown said. “They’re big. Their guards are quick. We have to get on the boards.”
“We have to stay calm and not rush stuff,” said LaBrie. “We just have to keep our heads.”
“I thought Lake Region battled today and we’ll get that same effort from them in the Civic Center,” Smith added. “You don’t know who will play well there. It will be interesting to see how the teams handle the first eight or 16 minutes of that game. They’ll defend and rebound and get opportunities to make us work.”
Yarmouth senior Adam Clark is fouled on this shot attempt.
Yarmouth junior Cody Cook makes a layup.
Yarmouth freshman Nolan Hagerty goes up for a shot. Hagerty had eight rebounds and two assists in a reserve role.
Yarmouth senior Adam LaBrie drives past a defender.
Yarmouth junior Musseit M’Bareck runs into traffic.
Yarmouth’s student section did its part in cheering on the Clippers to victory Saturday.
Yarmouth senior Adam LaBrie caught fire in the third period of Saturday’s Western B quarterfinal, sinking four 3-pointers and scoring 19 of his 27 points, leading the Clippers to a 79-48 victory over Gray-New Gloucester.
Jason Veilleux photos.
More photos below.
GNG- 15 14 8 11- 48
Y- 19 13 31 16- 79
GNG- Magno 6-2-14, St. Pierre 4-4-13, Kariotis 3-0-7, Keenan 3-1-7, Haskell 0-5-5, Chanlatte 0-2-2
Y- LaBrie 10-1-27, Brown 7-0-19, M’Bareck 5-1-12, Cook 4-2-11, Cawley 2-0-5, Clark 0-2-2, Shields-Auble 1-0-2, Morris 0-1-1
GNG (2) Kariotis, St. Pierre 1
Y (14) LaBrie 6, Brown 5, Cawley, Cook, M’Bareck 1