YARMOUTH-Three years after dominating Lake Region from start to finish in a Western Class B preliminary round victory, the Yarmouth boys’ basketball team got to experience a romp from the other side of the spectrum Tuesday night at Jack Stroud Memorial Gym.
The Clippers scored just five points in each of the first two periods, were down 32-10 at the break and despite a better performance in the second half, never gave the Lakers much to worry about as they saw their season end at 11-8 with a 56-41 defeat.
Yarmouth was done in early by the sharpshooting of Lake Region senior Anthony Kennedy and saw its streak of trips to the Portland Expo for the quarterfinals end at three.
“(Lake Region) brought the tournament atmosphere with them, from the crowd right on through to the last guy on the bench,” lamented Clippers coach Adam Smith. “Those guys were ready.”
Yarmouth was expected to come back to the back this winter after graduating standout Johnny Murphy, but the Clippers hung tough throughout and wound up 11-7, good for the No. 8 seed. Lake Region also boasted an 11-7 mark. The teams played just once in the regular season, a 68-54 Yarmouth home triumph back on Jan. 8.
The Clippers eliminated the Lakers in the 2007 preliminary round (75-47) and the 2008 quarterfinals (64-41), but this time around, Lake Region was simply too much.
After a sluggish start, the Lakers got the first seven points.
Kennedy hinted at his brilliance to come by breaking the ice with a 3 at the 5:41 mark of the first period. Senior Travis Linehan added two free throws and Kennedy threw a beautiful pass to senior Zach Tomkinson for a layup and a 7-0 lead.
Smith took a timeout and with 4:33 to go in the first, the hosts finally got on the board when junior Mike McCormack hit a jump shot.
Lake Region then rattled off 12 in a row to seize control.
First, Lakers senior standout Matt Langadas scored on a driving, spinning layup. After Tomkinson sank a rainbow 3, Kennedy hit back-to-back 3 balls, then added a foul shot for a commanding 19-2 advantage.
McCormack ended the run with a jumper in the lane with 1:27 left in the period, but Langadas made a layup before McCormack made one free throw to make it 21-5 after eight minutes.
“They were hitting every shot in the first quarter from all directions,” Smith said.
Any comeback hopes were quickly dashed in the second period when Langadas made a layup, Kennedy buried another 3 and Tomkinson took another pretty feed from Kennedy and made a layup to make it 28-5.
Yarmouth got a jumper from junior Matt Murphy and a putback from senior Evan Henry, but Linehan hit a long jumper and Tomkinson scored on a putback. The Clippers finally reached double figures when McCormack hit the second of two free throws with 1.2 seconds to go in the half, pulling Yarmouth to 32-10.
Kennedy opened the third with another 3. After McCormack scored on a turnaround, Kennedy buried his sixth and final 3 to give the Lakers their largest lead, 38-12. Yarmouth played much better in the second half, but the closest it got was the final margin of 56-41.
“We’d been fortunate against them the last couple times we played them,” Smith said. “I felt fortunate getting out of those games against them. I was not prepared to lose like that tonight. I thought that was behind us. The energy and what they brought was a lesson for the young athletes. Emotion can work like it did for them tonight. We’re not an emotional team. We’re hard-nosed and businesslike. Tonight, that wasn’t enough.
“I didn’t talk about score or anything at halftime. I talked about maintaining our attitude on defense and moving the ball on offense and take the game in four minute chunks and try to outplay them in four minute chunks. We played with pride and effort and attitude in the second half and that’s all I can ask.”
Lake Region (12-7) got a game-high 23 points from Kennedy and 12 each from Langadas and Tomkinson as it advanced to meet No. 1 Cape Elizabeth (17-1) in the quarterfinals Saturday at 4:45 p.m., at the Portland Expo.
“We’ve lost two games to Cape, Falmouth and Greely and one to Yarmouth this year,” said Lakers coach Mike Franceour. “I hope we learn from this that we can compete with what I call the big boys. The difference tonight was the seniors stepping up and making big shots. Tony was outstanding. He’s streaky. Defensively, we gave up 10 points in the first half to a pretty good offensive team.”
McCormack led the Clippers with 12 points. Henry bowed out with 10. Sophomore Josh Britten and Murphy both had six points, junior Luke Pierce added four and junior Connor Ertz finished with three.
Yarmouth loses Henry, Jeff Kuklewicz, A.J. Oliver and Conor Griffin to graduation.
“I thought Evan Henry exceeded expectations this year for how he played and how he produced for us,” said Smith. “He led us in all categories: assists, steals, rebounds, scoring. I thought he was a real catalyst for us. He pushed himself as a captain. He had poignant things to say all year. He did a nice job.
“Jeff Kuklewicz’s heart and effort on defense night in, night out was the workmanlike effort we have. We grinded it out every night. It started with Jeff this year with that attitude and effort. We learned a lot of lessons this year. This was one of them. For the seniors, it was another lesson in life. They’ll have many more. I thought they handled the situation tonight well.”
Several key contributors will return in 2010-11 and the Clippers will look to remain near the top of Western B.
“We were pleased to be where we were this year after what we thought might be a tough year,” Smith said. “We hung tough and laid the foundation for next year’s group. It’s good not to miss this atmosphere. It will serve us well next year.”
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org