Falmouth, Freeport, Greely girls dreaming of gold
Three local girls' basketball teams, Falmouth, Freeport and Greely, take to the floor Wednesday hoping to earn a trip to the Portland Exposition Building for next week's Western Class B quarterfinal round.
Greely's girls, under first-year coach Joel Rogers, cruised to a 13-2 start this winter, but the Rangers dropped their final three games, capped by losses last week to visiting Gray-New Gloucester (42-30) and at Cape Elizabeth (41-36). Against the Patriots, Jaclyn Storey had 13 points. Ashley Storey had 13 in the loss to the Capers, which left Greely 13-5.
"Defensively, we were much stronger than offensively," said Rogers. "Most of our defensive struggles related more to me getting us in the right defense against opponents I had not seen. Games that I anticipated playing zone to take advantage of our height, we got killed with 3's and our man-to-man was the difference once we adjusted. Offensively, we struggled as we are not a good 3-point shooting team or good at jump shots for that matter. That allowed teams to pack it in against Jackie and Ashley, thereby limiting their looks. We improved against the press and our decision-making at the end of the year generated layups off pressure to boost our offense. Our rebounding and fast break did much of the same."
Making matters worse for Greely, the program made headlines last week when a photo surfaced of two players, in uniform, giving a "Heil Hitler' salute over a third player, also in uniform, flashing the "peace" sign. It led to disciplinary action, although those players are expected to take part in the tournament.
It was a difficult end to the regular season, but in regards to basketball, Greely, led by the dominant Storey sisters, still likes its chances.
"It looks like we stumbled down the stretch, however, I am a risk vs. reward coach and I took the risk that playing three freshmen down the stretch over upperclassmen would make us a better tourney team," Rogers said. "I still believe that."
The Rangers earned the No. 5 seed, but with that comes a preliminary round test against No. 12 Falmouth Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. Greely won both regular season encounters, but neither came easily, 46-32 at home and 30-25 at Falmouth. The Yachtsmen won the only prior playoff meeting (47-44, in overtime, in the 2008 semifinals).
"(Coach) Mari (Warner) has Falmouth playing their best basketball at the right time," said Rogers. "At times they played (defending regional champion) Lake Region toe to toe. They just didn't make foul shots to keep it close. They are athletic and if they can take care of the ball, could advance if we struggle offensively."
If Greely is able to advance, it will face No. 4 Leavitt (13-5) in the quarterfinals Tuesday, Feb. 19 at 7 p.m., at the Expo. The teams don't play in the regular season. The Rangers dominated the Hornets, 59-38, in the 2010 semifinals.
Falmouth isn't getting much attention, but the Yachtsmen appear to be coming on at the right time. Falmouth earned the 12th and final seed with a 9-9 record, closing with a close 37-33 home loss to York before rolling at Yarmouth, 61-23. In the setback, Anna Hickey had 11 points. She added 14 more against the Clippers, while Ally Hickey led the way with 19.
"Our team became stronger defensively the second half of the season and we continue to build off our defense," said Warner. "Greely and Falmouth match up well together and it should be a competitive playoff game."
If the Yachtsmen can advance, they too did not see Leavitt in the regular season. Falmouth has never played the Hornets in the playoffs.
On the rise
Freeport, behind a strong upperclassmen core and first-year coach Jim Seavey, produced its first winning season since 2001-02 and its best mark (12-6) since the 2000-01 squad finished with the same record. The Falcons secured a home playoff game for the first time in eight years after finishing the year on a six-game win streak, capped by victories last week at Poland (41-29) and Old Orchard Beach (51-37). Standout Nina Davenport had 16 points versus the Knights and 18 against the Seagulls.
"It's been fun," said Seavey. "Considering we were 2-3, to go 10-3 the rest of the way means we're moving in the right direction. We talked about playing our best basketball at the end of the season."
Freeport finished eighth in Western B and hosts No. 9 Maranacook (11-7) in the preliminary round Wednesday at 7 p.m. The teams didn't play in the regular season and have no playoff history. The Falcons are looking for their first postseason win in a decade and their first-ever trip to the Expo.
"It will be exciting to host," said Seavey. "Maranacook sounds like a spitting image of us. Their best player is 5-11 and plays inside and out, just like Davenport. Their point guard is good at getting the ball into the paint like Aubrey (Pennell). They have good defense. They were 7-2 at home. We're 7-2 at home. We're 5-4 on the road. They were 4-5. It should be interesting. They are young, so I hope our upperclassman experience will play a role. Getting to the Expo is the goal."
If Freeport is able to advance, it will play No. 1 Lake Region, the defending regional champion, in the quarterfinals Tuesday, Feb. 19 at 8:30 p.m., at the Expo. The Falcons lost at Naples, 45-27, Dec. 15, but handled the visiting Lakers, 48-32, Jan. 15. The teams have no playoff history.
"Lake Region is the team to beat, but it's wide open," said Seavey. "There are a lot of good teams."
Other Western B quarterfinals include second-ranked York (16-2) facing No. 7 Cape Elizabeth (10-8) or No. 10 Oak Hill (11-7) and third-seeded Spruce Mountain (18-0) playing either No. 6 Gray-New Gloucester (13-5) or No. 11 Wells (7-11).
Looking ahead, the Western B semifinals are Thursday, Feb. 21, at the Cumberland County Civic Center. The Western B Final is Saturday, Feb. 23, at the Civic Center. The Class B state game is Friday, March 1, also at the Civic Center.
North Yarmouth Academy and Yarmouth fell short of the postseason.
The Clippers wrapped up a 1-17 campaign (which left them 18th in Western B) with home losses to Cape Elizabeth (66-38) and Falmouth (61-23). Shannon Fallon had 12 points and Tess Merrill 10 versus the Capers. Sean Cahill scored eight points in the loss to the Yachtsmen.
The Panthers wound up 15th in Western C (where just 13 teams made the playoffs) with a 4-13 record. Last week, NYA handled visiting Buckfield, 31-24, then lost at home to Traip, 51-23. Chloe Leishman had 13 points against Buckfield, while Hannah Carr had 13 in the loss.