In an all-too familiar sight Saturday, Yarmouth senior C.J. Cawley is called for charging after colliding with Lake Region senior Jack Lesure during the teams’ Class B South Final. The Clippers were done in late by fouls and fell, 53-43.
Mike Strout photos.
More photos below.
Y- 5 17 13 8 -43
LR- 7 14 14 18- 53
Y- Medenica 4-6-15, Darling 3-1-8, Hagerty 2-0-5, M’Bareck 1-2-5, Shields-Auble 1-3-5, Torres 1-1-3, O’Donnell 1-0-2
LR- Smith 5-5-17, Lesure 3-8-14, Palmer 2-0-6, DeVoe 1-2-5, Wandishin 2-0-4, Walker 1-2-4, Langadas 1-1-3
Y (4) Darling, Hagerty, M’Bareck, Medenica 1
LR (5) Palmer, Smith 2, DeVoe 1
PORTLAND—For most of Saturday afternoon’s Class B South boys’ basketball regional final showdown, the Yarmouth Clippers appeared to have the Lakers of Lake Region right where they wanted them.
Yarmouth overcame a slow start to go on a 12-2 second quarter run to go up, 18-11, as senior Bailey Darling knocked down shots and the defense stymied Lake Regions’ potent attack.
The Clippers fell behind in the third period, then battled back to go ahead by three, but in the waning seconds, fouls started to add up and the teams went to the fourth quarter deadlocked at 35-35.
Early in the final stanza, the Lakers went ahead and things went from bad to worse for Yarmouth, as junior standout Aleksander Medenica was called for a questionable charge, then seconds later, picked up his fifth foul and had to leave the game.
The Clippers lost Darling soon after and Lake Region gradually pulled away at the line.
Yarmouth fought valiantly until the final horn, but the Lakers extinguished their title dream, advancing with a 53-43 decision.
Lake Region improved to 19-2, won its first regional championship in 31 years, advanced to meet Ellsworth (17-4) in the Class B state final Friday at 9 p.m. in Bangor and ended the Clippers’ season at 15-6 in the process.
“For three quarters, this was a very good basketball game,” said Yarmouth coach Adam Smith. “There were a few possessions that caused momentum to swing. The pendulum swung for them and not for us and we couldn’t get it back.”
Yarmouth won the first three playoff meetings between the schools (see sidebar, below), but Lake Region ousted the Clippers in the 2010 preliminary round, then, more painfully, ended their season in last year’s semifinals, a 52-50 upset.
This year, the Lakers were viewed as the favorite in the newfangled Class B South and didn’t disappoint, falling only twice, early in the season by four points at Yarmouth, then at home to Maranacook three days before Christmas. Lake Region hadn’t lost since, winning its final 12 regular season games to garner the top seed in the region, then eliminating No. 8 Poland (64-50) in the quarterfinals and fourth-ranked Lincoln Academy (76-31) in Thursday’s semifinal round.
Yarmouth had an up-and-down 13-5 regular season, but the Clippers impressed in the tournament, ousting No. 6 Spruce Mountain (47-32) in the quarterfinals and No. 2 Maranacook (69-51) in its semifinal.
The teams split in the regular season, both winning at home. The Clippers held on for a 72-68 victory Dec. 8 and the Lakers impressed Feb. 2, 65-53.
Saturday, in front of a large and vocal crowd, the teams were even much of the way, but fouls shot Yarmouth in the foot and Lake Region did enough to advance.
A lid was on the basket early before Lake Region senior Marcus DeVoe broke the ice nearly two minutes in with a 3. Senior Brandon Palmer then set up senior Nicholas Wandishin for a layup and a 5-0 lead, but Yarmouth rallied.
After four scoreless minutes, a leaner from Medenica got the Clippers on the board. Sophomore Nolan Hagerty then buried a long 3 to tie it, 5-5.
The Lakers retook the lead when senior Jack Lesure set up Wandishin for a layup with 3:08 to go and neither team scored again the rest of the period as shots rimmed out and went in and out.
In the second period, Yarmouth made its move.
Lesure drove for a layup to start.
With 6:51 left, Medenica made the second of two free throws to snap a 4 minute, 34 second drought.
Darling then buried a 3 and after a steal, Darling raced in for a layup to give Yarmouth its first lead, 11-9, forcing Lake Region coach John Mayo to call timeout.
Medenica capped an 8-0 run with a leaner that bounced in after a shooter’s roll, but with 4:51 to go in the half, Lakers junior Tyler Walker ended the surge with a jumper.
The Clippers kept scoring, as Hagerty drove for a layup and senior Musseit M’Bareck buried a long 3 in transition for an 18-11 lead.
It took Lake Region all of 85 seconds to erase the deficit, as senior Nate Smith banked home a shot, Smith buried a long 3-pointer from up top and Lesure made a layup to make it 18-18.
With 1:28 left in the half, Yarmouth senior Devin Shields-Auble made two free throws to put his team back on top. Medenica added two more foul shots 30 seconds later, but Lesure countered with a free throw and as time wound down, Lakers senior Alex Langadas threw up a prayer from beyond halfcourt, even though he had time to get closer, and after the shot ricocheted off the backboard, Langadas astutely raced after his miss and put it home just before the horn to make it a one-point Clippers’ lead, 22-21.
Medenica led Yarmouth with seven points in the first half, but the Clippers only made 7 of 21 shots from the floor. Lesure and Smith had five points apiece for Lake Region, which committed nine turnovers.
In the third period, the teams remained dead even.
Shields-Auble opened the second half with a free throw, but Smith scored on a putback to tie it, 23-23.
After Medenica made a foul shot, Smith hit two to give Lake Region its first lead since 9-6 and Smith followed with an old-fashioned three-point play (leaner, foul, free throw) to make it 28-24.
Yarmouth roared right back behind a tough angle bank shot from Medenica and a Shields-Auble driving layup.
Smith put the Lakers back up by 3 with a long 3, but at the other end, Medenica buried a 3 to make it 31-31.
With 2:55 to go in the third, M’Bareck was fouled on a drive and made both free throws to put the Clippers back on top, but Lesure made a free throw and after Darling drove for a hoop, Lake Region senior Brandon Palmer buried a clutch 3 from the corner.
Darling appeared to put Yarmouth ahead with a bank shot at the horn, but he was called for charging and the teams went to the final stanza deadlocked, 35-35.
If the Clippers’ cheering section was upset with the men in stripes in that point, it was only going to get far worse.
In the fourth quarter, the Lakers found a way to punch their long-awaited ticket to states.
Palmer stayed hot to start the frame, canning a long 3 to give Lake Region the lead for good.
After Medenica answered with two free throws, Lesure got an offensive rebound and finished while being fouled with 5:38 to play. His free throw stretched the lead to 41-37.
The tide really turned 21 seconds later, when Medenica’s basket was waved off for a charge, which was his fourth foul.
At the other end, with 4:47 remaining, Lesure induced Medenica into his fifth foul and after the standout left the game, Lesure hit two free throws to make it 43-37.
“(Alek) did know there were four fouls on him,” Smith said. “I didn’t look up and realize he had three on him, not to mention four. I don’t think I had time to get him out of the game. By the time I would have turned around and gotten a sub in for him, the ball would have been put in play. That was unfortunate.”
Thirty seconds later, Darling made a free throw, but Lesure matched it with 3:49 showing.
With 3:06 left, Darling fouled out and Langadas made one of two free throws for a 45-38 lead.
Yarmouth senior Conor O’Donnell drove the baseline for a layup, but Smith sank two free throws, junior Tyler Walker added two more and DeVoe hit a pair for a 51-40 advantage with 1:27 to play.
Smith pulled his starters soon after and down the stretch, Lesure made two more free throws and Clippers freshman Jonny Torres converted a three-point play to bring the curtain down on Lake Region’s 53-43 victory.
“That’s what good teams do, they get a lead and keep battling until they get the shot they want, or get to the line,” Smith lamented. “They put us in a tough situation. It was a well-played fourth quarter by them and not as strategic as I would have liked it for us.
“I was displeased with some of those calls. Those calls are huge when the kids can’t settle it on the floor. It slowed everything down to a free throw competition for them. It turned it into tough possessions for us every time. They got the opportunities at the line and made the most of them. We didn’t lose our composure. We maintained what we were doing, but we couldn’t do as much.”
The Lakers were sparked by 17 points from Smith, who had 10 points in the third quarter alone. Smith also had seven rebounds. Lesure finished with 14 points and six boards. Palmer added six points, DeVoe had five, Wandishin and Walker each finished with four and Langadas had three.
Lake Region shot just 15 of 41 from the floor and made only 5 of 17 3-pointers, but hit 18 of 26 free throws, only committed four second half turnovers (13 for the game) and enjoyed a 34-22 rebounding advantage.
The Lakers will play in the state final for the first time since winning Class B in 1985 when they go up against Ellsworth.
Yarmouth was led by Medenica, who had 15 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out. Darling had eight points, Hagerty, M’Bareck and Shields-Auble five apiece, Torres three and O’Donnell two.
The Clippers were done in by poor shooting (13 of 42 from the floor and 4 of 16 from behind the 3-point stripe) and rebounding (they allowed Lake Region a dozen offensive boards).
“Our set-up hurts us on weak side rebounds,” Smith said. “They have five rebounding machines out there. They have aggressive seniors who hit the board hard. They had an advantage in spots and we had an advantage in spots. One of theirs is their ability to rebound offensively.”
Yarmouth only turned the ball over 11 times and hit 13 of 20 free throws, but its championship dreams were dashed once more.
“I’d have loved to end with a win because it brings you closer as a team, but I can tell you losing brought us close,” Smith said. “We have a tight-knit locker room with great leadership. It’s a different leadership style with these seniors. They’re very quiet and caring of each other and the younger players. They’re competitive, but it’s not win at all costs with them. It’s a tribute to that leadership style. We had captains, but even the seniors who weren’t captains were still very vocal and intricate in their ability to make the other players feel comfortable and formulate the closeness we had.”
Yarmouth bids adieu to Cawley, Darling, M’Bareck, O’Donnell, Shields-Auble, injured captain Cody Cook and Joey Fortin and Caleb Gray.
The 2016-17 Clippers will feature Hagerty and Medenica and several other players who will step into bigger roles.
“These guys want to get back after it tomorrow,” said Smith. “What we have coming back, the younger guys, they’ll be ready to step in. They’ll play as hard as this year’s team. They’re as excited about the possibility of next year as last year’s team was. They’re determined and have high aspirations.”
Yarmouth sophomore Nolan Hagerty attempts to block the shot of Lake Region senior Brandon Palmer.
Yarmouth junior Aleksander Medenica shoots over Lake Region senior Nicholas Wandishin.
Yarmouth senior Musseit M’Bareck goes up for a shot as Lake Region senior Marcus DeVoe defends.
Yarmouth senior Devin Shields-Auble goes up and under for a shot as Lake Region senior Jack Lesure looks on.
Yarmouth senior Bailey Darling battles Lake Region Nicholas Wandishin for the ball.
Yarmouth senior captains Musseit M’Bareck, left, Bailey Darling, Cody Cook and C.J. Cawley receive the runner-up plaque.
2015 Western B semifinals
Lake Region 52 Yarmouth 50
2010 Western B preliminary round
Lake Region 56 Yarmouth 41
2008 Western B quarterfinals
Yarmouth 64 Lake Region 41
2007 Western B preliminary round
Yarmouth 75 Lake Region 47
1972 Western C semifinal
Yarmouth 68 Lake Region 58