Local teams eye Gold Ball-Northern edition

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Yarmouth’s Nolan Hagerty and Jack Kane, of defending Class A champion Greely, will both play key roles in their teams’ title quests in the upcoming tournament.

Freeport’s Megan Cormier battles with Gray-New Gloucester’s Brianna Jordan during the Patriots’ 52-43 win last week. Despite the setback, the Falcons’ 14-4 mark was the program’s best since the 1991-92 season.

North Yarmouth Academy’s Maggie Larson handles the ball during the Panthers’ regular season-ending 54-43 loss at Waynflete last week. NYA hosted Traip Academy in a Class C South preliminary round game.

(Ed. Note: For the complete North Yarmouth Academy-Waynflete girls’ basketball game story, with a box score and photos, see theforecaster.net)

Let the hoops hysteria begin.

Eight of 10 Forecaster Country basketball teams qualified for the tournament this winter and several have legitimate title dreams.

There will be no shortage of compelling storylines in the weeks to come.

Favorites once more

The Greely boys went 22-0 and won an elusive state title a year ago. Even after the program was hard-hit by graduation, this winter’s team has been every bit that champinoship squad’s equal, which comes as a surprise to many. The Rangers capped their second straight 18-0 regular season with wins last week at York (55-47) and Fryeburg Academy (53-34). Logan Bagshaw went off for 24 points against the Wildcats. In the win over the Raiders, Bagshaw had a team-high 13 points.

“The regular season has been a learning experience,” said Greely coach Travis Seaver. “With last year’s graduating class, we had to change the way we play a bit and redefine roles for players on the floor this year. The kids have responded really well and have continued to work hard every day. They have remained focused throughout by identifying our weaknesses and getting better every day. They are motived and competitive. They are a fun team to coach.”

Greely (which has won 40 games in a row) earned the top seed in Class A South for the third year in a row and will meet either No. 8 Fryeburg Academy (8-10) or No. 9 Marshwood (6-12) in the quarterfinals Friday at 8 p.m., at the Portland Exposition Building. In addition to last week’s result, the Rangers also beat the visiting Raiders, 49-41, Jan. 19. They didn’t face the Hawks this year. Greely is 3-0 all-time versus Fryeburg Academy in the tournament, with a 71-51 triumph in the 2013 Western B preliminary round the most recent. The Rangers have taken four of five previous meetings against Marshwood. The most recent encounter was two  years ago in the Class A South semifinals, a 63-50 Greely win.

“The tournament this year looks to be a fun one,” Seaver said. “There are a lot of teams that are playing well at the right time. The next couple of weeks is about who can put four good games together, anything before that doesn’t matter. There are a number of teams that look to be poised for a good run. We will approach it like we have all year long, focused on one game at a time, and trying to play our best that night.”

Falmouth overcame decimating injuries this winter to post a 9-9 record, good for the No. 4 seed in Class A South. The Yachtsmen closed with a 27-25 loss at Westbrook and a 67-48 home setback to Kennebunk. Nik Hester had a team-high 11 points against the Blue Blazes. In the loss to the Rams, Hester led the way with 20 points and Sam Manganello added 15.

Falmouth will battle fifth-ranked York (11-7) in the quarterfinals Friday at 6 p.m. at the Portland Exposition Building. The teams met Dec. 30 in York, a 55-46 Wildcats’ victory. The Yachtsmen won all three prior playoff meetings, with a 67-46 triumph in the 2013 Western B Final the most recent.

Looking ahead, the Class A South semifinals are Wednesday of next week, the regional final is Saturday, Feb. 24 and the Class A state final is Saturday, March 3. All of those games will be played at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland.

In Class B South, Yarmouth finished 12-6 and third behind defending regional champion Wells and Cape Elizabeth after closing with wins at Poland (69-24) and Lake Region (52-34). Against the Knights, Nolan Hagerty had 18 points, including several highlight reel dunks. In the win over the Lakers, Hagerty had 15 points and Jon Torres added 11.

The Clippers will battle sixth-ranked Maranacook (13-5) in the quarterfinals Saturday at 10 a.m., at the Portland Exposition Building. The teams don’t play in the regular season, but have split two previous playoff meetings. Yarmouth won the most recent, a 69-51 victory in the 2016 Class B South semifinals.

Freeport posted its first winning record and made the playoffs for the first time in a decade. The Falcons wound up 10-8 and eighth in the region after closing with a 52-37 win at Wells and a 55-52 home loss to Gray-New Gloucester. In the victory, Toby Holt had 29 points and Eriksen Shea added 11. Against the Patriots, Holt had 16 points, Ethan Sclar added 14 and Shea had a dozen.

“This season has been an incredibly positive experience for the players in our program,” said Freeport coach Bill Ridge. “The community has reached out and been vocal and supportive. We have had the chances to include youth players in many of our activities throughout the season.”

Freeport hosted No. 9 Lisbon (9-9) Tuesday in a preliminary round contest. The teams don’t meet in the regular season and had no playoff history.

If the Falcons advanced, they’d battle top-ranked Wells (12-6) in the quarterfinals Saturday at 4 p.m., at the Portland Exposition Building. The teams haven’t met in the tournament since the 1976 Western C quarterfinals, an 83-73 win for the Warriors.

“Obviously, making it to the tournament is a goal of the team that has been a long time coming,” Ridge said. “At the end of the season, this is just one more exciting moment for these players, seniors especially, to have on top of the many that have come already over the past 3 months. We are looking to continue to play hard, play together and hopefully make some noise in a very competitive bracket.”

The Class B South semifinals are Thursday of next week in Portland, the regional final is Saturday, Feb. 24 in Portland and the state final is Friday, March 2 in Bangor.

North Yarmouth Academy finished 5-13 after a 50-48 home win over Sacopee Valley and a 61-27 loss at Waynflete. Te’Andre King posted another transcendent performance in the victory, scoring 34 points and grabbing 18 rebounds. In the loss, King had 18 points.

The Panthers finished 12th in Class C South, but only 11 teams qualified for the playoffs.

Hopeful

On the girls’ side, Greely is once again in a position to make a deep run. The Rangers won their final 12 games to wind up 16-2 and second behind defending regional champion Brunswick in Class A South. Greely closed by handling visiting York (70-45) and Fryeburg Academy (75-25). Anna DeWolfe had 31 points, Camille Clement added 19 and Brooke Obar finished with 13 in the win over the Wildcats. Against the Raiders, DeWolfe had 22 points, Clement 19 and Obar 12. 

“The girls have been working hard since day one,” said Greely coach Todd Flaherty. “We’ve played in some close games, experiencing both wins and losses. We feel like we have been steadily improving with our best game (hopefully) yet to be played.”

The Rangers will face No. 7 Leavitt (9-9) Monday at 2:30 in the Class A South quarterfinals at the Portland Exposition Building. The teams don’t play in the regular season, but have squared off four previous times in the tournament. Greely won all four, including a 75-36 romp in last year’s quarterfinal round.

“There are some really good teams in Class A, so we will have to be at our best to achieve our goals,” Flaherty said. “As it should be.”

Falmouth finished 5-13 and earned the ninth and final playoff spot in Class A South after closing with a 38-26 home win over Westbrook and a 42-31 setback at Kennebunk. Grace Dimick had 13 points and Grace Soucy added 11 in the victory. Against the Rams, Soucy had a team-high 10 points.

Monday, the Yachtsmen knocked off No. 8 Morse in a preliminary round game in Bath, 58-54, behind 24 points from Soucy.

Falmouth advanced to meet No. 1 Brunswick (18-0) in the quarterfinals Monday at 7:30 p.m. at the Portland Exposition Building. The teams have no history.

Looking ahead, the Class A South semifinals are Wednesday of next week, the regional final is Saturday, Feb. 24 and the Class A state final is Saturday, March 3. All of those games will be played at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland.

In Class B South, Freeport capped its best season since 1991-92 by going 14-4 and earning the No. 3 seed behind defending state champion Gray-New Gloucester and Poland. The Falcons did drop their finale, 52-43, at nemesis Gray-New Gloucester last Thursday. Taylor Rinaldi had 15 points and Jessie Driscoll and Caroline Smith each added 11.

“(Gray-New Gloucester) played hard,” Freeport coach Mike Hart said. “We just didn’t execute down the stretch, and they did a better job executing what they needed to do.”

The Falcons, who earned their highest ranking ever, will battle No. 6 Wells (10-8) in the quarterfinals Tuesday at 10 a.m., at the Portland Exposition Building. Freeport downed the visiting Warriors, 60-41, Feb. 5. The teams have met twice previously in the playoffs, with Wells winning the most recent game, 50-33, in the 2012 Western B preliminary round.

“We’ll go out and play our hardest,” Hart said. “We look to get after it.”

The Class B South semifinals are Thursday of next week in Portland, the regional final is Saturday, Feb. 24 in Portland and the state final is Friday, March 2 in Bangor.

In Class C South, North Yarmouth Academy finished 10-8 and eighth after a 42-38 home loss to Sacopee Valley and a 54-43 setback at nemesis Waynflete. Maggie Larson had 21 points against the Hawks and finished with 25 points in the loss to the Flyers, the Panthers’ 26th straight against Waynflete.

“(Waynflete’s) a good team,” NYA first-year coach Nick Stacey said.” My girls went down fighting tonight. I heard good things about the girls coming in and I thought we could be competitive. For the most part, we have been.”

The Panthers hosted No. 9 Traip Academy (8-10) in a preliminary round game Tuesday night (the first time NYA hosted a playoff game since 2004). The Panthers lost both meetings with the Rangers this year, 48-33 in Kittery Dec. 21 and 38-23 Jan. 20 at home. The teams had no playoff history.

If NYA was able to advance to the quarterfinals for the first time in 14 years, it will meet top-ranked Boothbay (18-0) next Tuesday in Augusta. The Panthers didn’t meet the Seahawks this year and the teams have no playoff history.

“It would be incredible for these girls to get to Augusta,” Stacey said. “We’ll see what happens.”

The Class C South semifinals are Thursday, Feb. 22. The regional final is Saturday, Feb. 24 and the Class C state final is Saturday, March 3. All of those games will be contested in Augusta.

Yarmouth finished the year 5-13 after dropping its final nine games. The Clippers closed with losses to visiting Poland (58-22) and Lake Region (58-31). Clementine Blaschke had 10 points against the Knights.

Yarmouth finished 10th in Class B South, but only nine teams made the playoffs.

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

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