Greely boys down Yarmouth to emerge as Western B favorite
CUMBERLAND—With defending Class B state champion Falmouth moving up this postseason, three local squads who know each other well, Greely, Yarmouth and Cape Elizabeth, look to be jockeying for the top spot.
Two of those teams did battle Wednesday evening.
The scrappy Clippers of Yarmouth paid a visit to undefeated Greely and while both teams had their moments, the Rangers did just enough in the end to stay perfect on the young season.
Greely led most of the way and got a stat sheet-stuffing performance from senior Michael McDevitt, whose rim rattling dunk helped open a little breathing room in the third quarter.
Yarmouth cut an 11-point deficit to four in the fourth quarter, but then went cold for over five minutes and the Rangers held on for a 57-49 triumph.
McDevitt had 18 points, six rebounds, six assists, four blocked shots and two steals as Greely improved to 4-0, dropping the Clippers to 2-2 in the process.
"This shows we can bounce back against a top team," said the Franklin Pierce University-bound McDevitt. "Tonight, we showed how in stretches we can be a really good team."
Greely made it to the Portland Expo last season, but lost to York in the quarterfinals.
This winter, the Rangers have high hopes and they haven't disappointed. Greely opened with wins over visiting Gray-New Gloucester (82-46), host Freeport (92-31) and visiting Kennebunk (50-45).
Yarmouth wasn't able to defend a state title a year ago, losing at Maranacook in the preliminary round, but it got off to a great start this season with an 89-52 home romp over Kennebunk. After hanging tough for a half, the Clippers lost at Falmouth, 84-65, before rebounding to down host Poland, 75-47.
Last year, the Clippers and Rangers split, with each team winning at home (Greely, 58-44, and Yarmouth, 60-53). Since the start of the 2001-02 season, Greely had won 16 of 22 previous meetings (please see sidebar, below), but the Clippers had taken four of the past seven.
Wednesday, the Rangers started fast, Yarmouth battled back and the teams put on an entertaining 32 minute show.
Just eight seconds in, Greely went on top on a jumper from senior Patrick O'Shea. An old-fashioned three-point play (layup, foul, free throw) from McDevitt pushed the lead to 5-0.
After the Clippers got on the board, courtesy a baseline jumper from sophomore Musseit M'Bareck, Rangers senior Connor Hanley made a free throw and after grabbing an offensive rebound, senior Bailey Train was fouled and made both attempts to make it 8-2.
M'Bareck answered with a leaner for the visitors, but a Hanley putback of his own miss restored the lead to six.
Yarmouth then ran off nine straight points, as senior Ethan Gage scored on a leaner, M'Bareck hit a pullup jumper, junior Adam LaBrie made a 3 for his team's first lead and Gage tipped in a missed shot to make it 13-10 Clippers.
A McDevitt pullup in the lane and a McDevitt leaner put Greely ahead, but a steal and a layup by Gage made it 15-14 Yarmouth. Then, in the waning seconds, senior Kyle Wood scored on a putback, the Rangers' sixth offensive rebound of the frame, to give Greely a 16-15 advantage.
The second period was back and forth as well.
After Hanley made a layup and a baseline jumper to stretch the lead to five, the Clippers got a driving layup from senior David Murphy. Train converted a three-point play and Wood banked home a shot for an eight-point advantage, but M'Bareck scored on a bank shot, Murphy scored on a layup, senior Nate Shields-Auble converted a tough angle layup and LaBrie knocked down a 3 to cap a 9-0 run, putting Yarmouth back on top, 26-25, with 2:45 to go in the half.
Thirteen seconds later, the Rangers' hopes took an even bigger jolt when McDevitt was called for a charging foul, his third of the game.
Instead of sitting for the remainder of the half, however, McDevitt was given the OK by Greely coach Travis Seaver to stay in the game and he wouldn't be whistled for another foul.
With 1:47 left, two free throws from O'Shea put the Rangers on top for good. McDevitt added a putback. After senior Wyatt Jackson made a nice fake move before making a layup for the Clippers, McDevitt hit a jumper to make it 31-28 Greely at halftime.
As was the case the first two quarters, the Rangers started fast again in the third and opened it up a bit.
A leaner from Hanley got it started. Train then knocked down a 3 for a 36-28 lead.
"Bailey came through," Seaver said. "It's a tough game to shoot well. Yarmouth was working their tail off covering the perimeter. There weren't many clean looks on either side tonight."
Again, the visitors responded.
Murphy floated through the air before banking home a shot and LaBrie hit a step back jumper to cut the deficit to 36-32.
After Greely got a fastbreak layup by Hanley, set up by McDevitt, LaBrie made a 3 and the Rangers' lead was a mere three points, 38-35.
Then, in the pivotal sequence of the game, the Clippers appeared primed to draw even closer when they grabbed a loose ball and with McDevitt shaken up in the backcourt, went on the attack, but Train jumped to steal a pass, came down and spotted McDevitt wide open downcourt. McDevitt received the pass, took a couple steps, then slammed home the ball for a 40-35 lead.
Wood added a layup and after LaBrie made a reverse layup after a steal, Hanley took a pass from McDevitt and made a layup to make the score 44-37.
"(Michael) sees the floor better than anyone on the team," said Train. "He's the best passer by far. He's the least selfish guy on the floor."
"(Michael's) a smart player," Seaver said. "He can change the game by never leaving the floor, not jumping. He's 6-7 and has a big wingspan. He sees the floor well. He's a senior leader this year and he's showing it."
Again, Yarmouth tried to answer as LaBrie shot a 3 which momentarily sat on the rim before dropping to make it 44-40, but the next time down, the Clippers were stymied by a McDevitt block and at the other end, McDevitt sank a 3. Hanley then set up Train for a layup and a 49-40 advantage with eight minutes to go.
When McDevitt opened the fourth period with a floater for a 51-40 lead, Greely appeared in good shape, but Yarmouth embarked on one final run to make things interesting.
After Shields-Auble scored on a leaner, Murphy made a layup and with 6:20 to go, Labrie hit his final 3 to cut the deficit to 51-47.
The Clippers would score just one basket the rest of the way.
Off an inbounds pass, McDevitt fed O'Shea for a momentum-changing layup. After both teams missed on good looks, O'Shea grabbed an offensive rebound and fed Train for a layup.
Then, with 1:52 to go, a steal and layup by junior Gabe Axelson pushed the lead to 10, 57-47, and essentially ended the competitive phase of the contest.
With 51.5 seconds to play, Murphy made a leaner to end the 5:29 drought, but that would be it and the Rangers put the finishing touches on their 57-49 triumph.
"Coach at the break told us we were being otuplayed and that got to us," Train said. "We stepped up."
"I thought Yarmouth played great," said Seaver. "They played exceptionally hard. They shot the ball pretty well. They were patient offensively. I give them a lot of credit. They played tough, but our senior leadership showed tonight. We're doing positive things. You learn more from closer games. Every day we try to learn something. Tonight, we learned a lot. We'll take what we learned and hopefully roll with it."
McDevitt's ability to avoid a fourth foul was one of the most impressive aspects of the win.
"Coach just told me to stay on the ground and when I got in the paint, to jump stop instead of lowering my shoulder," McDevitt said. "They were taking charges and staying in there and being tough. I respect that. I focused on being safe and not being over-aggressive."
In addition to McDevitt's brilliance, Hanley had 13 points, Train 12, O'Shea and Wood six apiece and Axelson two.
Train had a game-high nine rebounds as Greely enjoyed a 35-30 advantage on the glass. O'Shea added seven and Hanley and Wood joined McDevitt with a half dozen. Train and Wood both had three steals.
The Rangers made just seven of 14 free throws and turned the ball over 20 times, but overcame.
One of the overlooked aspects of the victory was Hanley's defense on Murphy.
"Hanley played out of his mind tonight," said Train. "He shut down Murphy. That was a big part of the game."
For Yarmouth, LaBrie led all scorers with 19 points, 15 of which came on 3-pointers. Murphy added 10, M'Bareck eight, Gage six, Shields-Auble four and Jackson two.
Jackson had a team-high eight rebounds.
"Wyatt hurt his ankle and missed the first 10 days of practice," said Clippers coach Adam Smith. "He's about where he would have been when we started the season. His minutes and contributions have gotten better. He did everything we expect him to do. He played great defense, rebounded well and pushed the ball well for us. Musseit was another bright spot for us. I think he got tired."
Junior Jordan Brown and Shields-Auble both grabbed five rebounds.
Murphy had three steals and Shields-Auble finished with a pair of blocks.
The Clippers finished with 15 turnovers and in a statistical oddity, didn't attempt a single free throw.
"We've got to do a better job with leadership from our key players," said Smith. "We got great contributions from our underclassmen tonight. We have to play with a little more poise and consistency. I thought there were times where we did too many selfish things out there, trying to do too much. When we play one-on-one basketball, it will be a struggle against a team like Greely.
"I think (coming back was) a tribute to our ability to work hard. We didn't play well, but we made runs and we had good possessions to stay in the game. The guys struggled through and gave the great effort we expect."
Neither Greely or Yarmouth gets a breather prior to the holiday break.
The Clippers close the 2013 portion of their schedule Saturday when they host Cape Elizabeth.
Yarmouth expects better things to come in 2014.
"I'm pretty happy with where we are this early," Smith said. "We have a long way to go. The opportunity to get better is there and the guys know it. We'll get it together. We usually have a good stretch after Christmas."
The Rangers go to Poland Thursday, then play host to Falmouth Saturday.
"(Falmouth's) kept on pace with where they were last year," McDevitt said. "I think they have specific players who if they get the shots they want, they'll blow us out, but we'll focus on stopping them like we stopped Murphy today. I think we'll be right in it. Both offenses are high powered."
"Falmouth's a big test, but playing back-to-back won't be easy," Seaver said. "Especially after a physical, tiring game tonight."
While 4-0 is great, Greely has loftier goals.
"We always have stuff to improve on," said Train. "We still turn the ball over a lot. Everyone needs to get better."
"I like how we've shown how together we can play," McDevitt said. "I like how guys on the bench stay in the game and keep us up. I think we have great team chemistry. We jell well together."
Yarmouth hosts Greely in the rematch Jan. 17.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.
Recent Greely-Yarmouth results
@ Greely 58 Yarmouth 44
@ Yarmouth 60 Greely 53
@ Yarmouth 53 Greely 52
@ Greely 58 Yarmouth 57
Greely 61 @ Yarmouth 53
Yarmouth 53 @ Greely 51
Western B semifinals
Yarmouth 54 Greely 42
@ Greely 57 Yarmouth 49
Greely 54 @ Yarmouth 38
@ Greely 63 Yarmouth 44
@ Yarmouth 49 Greely 46
Greely 56 @ Yarmouth 52
@ Greely 72 Yarmouth 55
Western B quarterfinals
Greely 67 Yarmouth 53
Greely 67 @ Yarmouth 33
@ Greely 65 Yarmouth 37
@ Greely 66 Yarmouth 50
@ Yarmouth 61 Greely 59
Greely 43 @ Yarmouth 37
@ Greely 50 Yarmouth 39
@ Greely 43 Yarmouth 38
Greely 69 @ Yarmouth 52