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Morgan's milestone leads Yarmouth to pivotal win

Sports

Morgan's milestone leads Yarmouth to pivotal win

YARMOUTH—One of the state's best girls' basketball players had her moment in the spotlight Thursday evening.

On more than one occasion.

Yarmouth's Morgan Cahill was first honored, with her parents, in a Senior Night ceremony. She then proceeded to dominate with 25 points and 15 rebounds in a key win over Poland Thursday evening.

The biggest cheers came late in the first half when Cahill took a pass from freshman Shannon Fallon and made a layup for a 17-11 lead.

But it wasn't just any run of the mill two points.

That basket put Cahill over the 1,000 point threshold for her career as she became the first Yarmouth girls' player ever to reach that accomplishment.

Despite the festivities, the Clippers found themselves tied with the Knights with under six minutes to go, but Cahill scored 10 straight points and Yarmouth went on to a 49-34 win, improving to 7-9 in the process.

"It was really exciting to be here with the other two seniors (Jeanna Lowery and Maddy Wood)," Cahill said. "We all did it together. That's what was most important to me, my teammates helping me get it. It's a good thing to accomplish, but I'm more happy with the win."

On the rise

Yarmouth is resurgent after a 1-17 campaign in 2010-11.

The Clippers, under first-year coach Jay Lowery, opened with losses to Gray-New Gloucester (50-39) and Lake Region (67-25), then snapped a 19-game skid with a 42-39 upset win at Wells. After close home losses to York (40-35) and Falmouth (33-27), Yarmouth won at Fryeburg (32-28) to close the 2011 portion of the season.

The new year began with losses at Freeport (53-52) and at home to Greely (48-18). The Clippers edged host Poland, 44-43, then lost a tough one at home to Cape Elizabeth, 41-39, to drop to 3-7. Next came an impressive 49-33 home triumph over Western C contender Waynflete. After a 55-41 loss at Gray-New Gloucester, the Clippers dispatched visiting Traip (55-48) and Freeport (46-37) before falling at Greely Tuesday, 56-43.

Poland dropped its first six games this year, then won a pair before falling at home to Yarmouth, 44-43. Two more wins followed, including an upset over York. The Knights then lost three of four entering Thursday's contest.

Last winter, the teams split, with the Clippers winning at home in the season opener (their lone triumph).

This time around, it appeared early as if Yarmouth would romp, but Poland fought hard the whole way and made things interesting.

Cahill made her presence felt from the get-go.

She made a jump shot 50 seconds in to break the ice. She then made a free throw, scored on a putback and after being fouled after an offensive rebound, made two more free throws to make it 7-0.

The Knights got on the board after almost six scoreless minutes when freshman Michaella Arsenault (the team's leading scorer) made a foul shot. Cahill answered with two free throws, but a 3-ball from Poland junior Brttina Maheux made it a 9-4 game after one period.

The Knights' outside shooting kept them close in the second quarter.

After Cahill made it 11-4 with a layup after a steal 47 seconds in, Maheux sank another 3. Cahill hit a jump shot, but sophomore Emily Bolduc answered with a layup for the visitors.

With 5:06 to go in the half, someone other than Cahill finally scored for Yarmouth as sophomore Grace O'Donnell made a layup. Sophomore Lindsey Theriault made a jumper for Poland, but with 3:43 to go, Cahill made the layup that put her over 1,000 points.

The game was stopped for a brief recognition and Cahill was given the ball, which she turned over to her parents.

"Morgan's an impressive kid," said Lowery. "I met her years ago playing AAU. You have to play year-round basketball to play with the better kids. She's a premier player. Fabulous. One of the top centers in the state. She's a super kid."

Cahill spent her junior year at Cheverus, but decided to come back to Yarmouth as a senior. She's glad she did.

"I appreciated the time I had with Cheverus, but I'm happy to be here with my sister (sophomore teammate Sean) and in my hometown," Cahill said. "I'm happy to be back."

After play resumed, the Knights got back within four on a layup by junior Aliyah Gregory. After Jeanna Lowery made a bank shot, Bolduc hit a 3 and Poland was only down 19-16 at the break.

Yarmouth went on a 10-2 run to start the third period and seemingly took control.

After over two scoreless minutes, Lowery set up Sean Cahill for a layup. A nice give and go between O'Donnell and Cahill led to an O'Donnell layup. Lowery scored on a putback and after Arsenault answered with a putback, the younger Cahill made a bank shot and a baseline jumper to give the Clippers a 29-18 advantage.

The Knights didn't buckle.

After Maheux made another 3, Sean Cahill hit a free throw, but a steal and layup from Arsenault made it a 30-23 contest with eight minutes to go.

Poland's momentum continued early in the fourth as Maheux sank yet another 3, Bolduc scored on a pretty driving left-handed layup and with 5:55 remaining, Bolduc made another layup to forge a 30-30 tie.

It took only nine seconds for Yarmouth to answer.

Morgan Cahill, who was shut out in the third period, managed to draw a foul and went to the line where she made both free throw attempts to put the Clippers ahead to stay.

With 4:23 left, Cahill scored on a leaner. Twenty-nine seconds later, she hit a bank shot. With 3:25 remaining, she took a pass from freshman Lane Simsarian and finished with a layup and with 2:47 to go, she buried a jumper to give Yarmouth a commanding 40-30 advantage.

"Coach did a good job calling timeout and settling us down," Cahill said. "We got our heads screwed back on and took a deep breath."

A layup from Gregory ended the run, but Lowery then took over, making a driving layup with 1:54 to play and hitting both ends of a one-and-one 17 seconds later for a 12-point lead.

Gregory answered with a layup, but those would be Poland's final points. With 49.5 seconds showing, Lowery again made both free throws in a one-and-one situation. She was fouled again with 31 seconds left and hit one of two. Finally, with 2.4 seconds to play, sophomore Monica Austin's two foul shots brought the curtain down on the Clippers' 49-34 triumph.

"Everyone's changed," Cahill said. "Nothing's the same as it was the past three years. We've come a long way since the beginning of the season."

While Cahill scored over half Yarmouth's points, she was also terrific on the glass, with 15 rebounds (seven which came on the offensive end) and blocked two shots.

Lowery had a solid game with 11 points and five boards.

"Jeanna really played a good game tonight," coach Lowery said.

Sean Cahill had seven points (and four rebounds), O'Donnell four and Austin two.

The Clippers had a 37-23 advantage on the boards, hit 15 of 18 free throws and 48 hours after turning the ball over 32 times, they only gave it away on 19 occasions.

"We played good defense," Lowery said. "Our turnovers were much better from the previous game. We worked on it in practice. Fouls were under control. That Poland team is tough."

For Poland, Maheux's four 3-pointers helped her lead the team with 12 points (she also had three steals). Bolduc had nine points (and five rebounds), Gregory six, Arsenault five  (along with seven boards) and Theriault two (as well as three steals).

The Knights only shot two free throws (making one) and turned the ball over 18 times.

Playoff push

Poland (5-11 and 11th in the Western Class B Heal Points standings) is in line for a playoff berth, but needs to close strong. The Knights are at Freeport Wednesday of next week and close the regular season at home Feb. 10 versus Fryeburg.

Yarmouth, which last made the postseason in 2007-08 (a tough double overtime loss at Gray-New Gloucester in the preliminary round), is now ninth in the Heals. After going to Cape Elizabeth Tuesday, the Clippers end the regular season at Falmouth Feb. 10.

If Yarmouth wins out, it could conceivably host a prelim, which is further illustration of just how far this program has come in a short time.

"We're on our way to having our best record in years," Cahill said. "It's fun. It's really exciting for us. We're looking for the No. 8 spot."

"It looks good," Lowery added. "We still have a shot at the 8 spot. Depends on how things fall. We have to win the last two."

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