Nine local hoops teams embark on Gold Ball quest-Northern edition

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Greely’s Matt McDevitt shoots over Falmouth’s Ben Simonds during the Rangers’ 61-44 victory in the teams’ regular season finale Friday.

Yarmouth’s Sara D’Appolonia lines up a shot during the Clippers’ 32-23 home over Lake Region last week.

(Ed. Note: For the complete Greely-Falmouth boys’ basketball and Yarmouth-Lake Region girls’ basketball game stories, with box scores and photos, see theforecaster.net)

The basketball tournament is underway and several local teams like their chances to bring home a Gold Ball.

Unbeaten and wanting more

Greely’s boys’ basketball team completed a perfect 18-0 regular season Friday with a 61-44 home win over rival Falmouth. The Rangers pulled away in the second half and got 22 points from Matt McDevitt and 15 apiece from Zack Brown and Ryan Twitchell.

“Going 18-0 was important because we wanted to show everyone we’re the best team and I think we did that tonight,” Brown said.

“It’s very important, especially to the seniors, to go out big in our final home game and take that momentum to the playoffs,” Twitchell said

“Our goal every single night is to win,” added Greely coach Travis Seaver. “Whether it’s Falmouth or someone else, our goal is to win. Whatever game we play is the most important game of the season. It feels pretty good to go 18-0. It’s a great accomplishment. This sets up to play good basketball in the tournament.”

The Rangers earned the top seed for the Class A South tournament and will face either No. 8 Kennebunk (7-11) or No. 9 Fryeburg Academy (8-10) in the quarterfinals Friday at 8 p.m. at the Portland Exposition Building. 

Greely won at Kennebunk, 73-48, Feb. 6 and beat the visiting Raiders, 72-41, Jan. 16. The Rangers have no playoff history with the Rams. They beat Fryeburg Academy in all three prior meetings, including a 71-51 triumph in the most recent encounter, the 2013 Western B preliminary round.

If Greely advances to the semifinals, which will be played Wednesday evening at the Cross Insurance Center, it will face either No. 4 York (11-7) or No. 5 Westbrook (13-5). The Rangers twice beat the Wildcats this year, 77-51 at home and 61-42 at York. They won at Westbrook, 52-40, Feb. 3. Greely has never faced the Blue Blazes in the tournament. They’re 4-4 all-time against the Wildcats, with a 41-38 victory in the 2014 semifinals the most recent.

“Our senior leadership is great,” said Seaver. “The guys are close-knit. Still, it’s high school basketball and there are upsets every year. We’ll be prepared and make sure we’re not one of them. The guys are really focused.”

Falmouth earned the No. 2 seed after finishing 13-5. The Yachtsmen closed with a 60-44 home win over Cape Elizabeth and a 61-44 loss at Greely. Colin Coyne had 25 points and Sean Walsh added 19 in the victory. Against the Rangers, Coyne had 11 points and Michael Simonds added nine.

“(Greely’s) the best team,” said Falmouth coach Dave Halligan. “That’s why they’re number one. They’ll wear the bulls-eye. We’d like to get another chance to play them, but we have to earn the right to do that. We’re right where I thought we would be. I thought 14-4, 13-5. A couple close games could have gone either way.”

The Yachtsmen will meet No. 7 Biddeford (8-10) in the quarterfinals Saturday at 8:30 p.m., at the Expo. On Dec. 15, Falmouth won, 60-46, at the Tigers. The teams have no playoff history.

If the Yachtsmen reach the semifinals for the sixth year in a row, they’ll play either No. 3 Cape Elizabeth (11-7) or No. 6 Brunswick (11-7) Wednesday at the Cross Insurance Center. Falmouth split with the Capers this year, losing 40-37 on a buzzer-beater, and winning, 60-44. The Yachtsmen are 4-2 all-time against Cape Elizabeth in the tournament, including last year’s 52-49 triumph in the Class A South semifinals. Falmouth downed the visiting Dragons, 54-36, back on Dec. 20. The teams met in last year’s regional final, which the Yachtsmen won, 58-44.

“We’ll be fine,” said Halligan. “We’ll do our work in practice and we’ll be better next time we play.”

Yarmouth is the top seed and favorite in Class B South after completing an historic 16-2 regular season, the best in program annals. The Clippers closed with home victories over defending Class B champion Lake Region (79-40) and Wells (69-52). In the win over the Lakers, Nolan Hagerty had 18 points, Gibson Harnett 16, Aleksandar Medenica 12 and Najee McQueen 10. Medenica erupted for 36 in the victory over the Warriors which saw Yarmouth pull away in the second half. 

Yarmouth opens what it hopes will be a run at its first title since 2012 when it meets either No. 8 Lake Region (9-9) or No. 9 Gray-New Gloucester (9-9) in the quarterfinals Saturday at 4 p.m. at the Expo.

In addition to last week’s win, the Clippers also won at Lake Region, 75-55, Dec. 13. The teams have split six prior playoff meetings, but the Lakers have won the past two: 52-50 in the 2015 semifinals and 53-43 in last year’s regional final. Yarmouth swept the Patriots this winter: 61-41 at home in the opener and 68-49 in Gray. The Clippers won both prior playoff encounters, including a 79-48 victory in the most recent, the 2015 Western B quarterfinals.

If Yarmouth advances, it will face either No. 4 Oak Hill (10-8) or No. 5 Lincoln Academy (6-12) in the semifinals Thursday at the Cross Insurance Center. The Clippers didn’t face Oak Hill this year and the teams have no playoff history. Yarmouth won at Lincoln, 82-55, back on Jan. 6. The Clippers won the lone prior playoff meeting, 77-35, in the 2012 Western B semifinals en route to the championship.

Freeport finished 5-13, its best record since 2007-08, and finished 12th in Class B South, but only nine teams qualified for the tournament. The Falcons closed with a 72-33 loss at Gray-New Gloucester and a 49-43 home setback to Lake Region. Connor Dostie and Eriksen Shea had eight points apiece against the Patriots.

In Class C South, North Yarmouth Academy finished fourth after an excellent 13-5 regular season, which was capped by a 79-52 home win over Temple Academy and a 66-24 victory at St. Dom’s. Jake Malcom and Chandler Waldron had 20 points apiece against Temple, while Te’Andre King added 18. In the win over the Saints, Waldron led the way with 20 points, Malcom added 14 and Cutko had 10. 

“I’m certainly very pleased and proud of what this team has accomplished,” said NYA coach Jason Knight. “One of the goals the team set for the season was to get to Augusta, so it’s nice to check off that box, but we recognize there is more work to do. The best thing about this team is that they don’t dwell on a bad game, let alone a bad play. Even starting off 1-4, there was no discouragement. I look for that experience and team chemistry to benefit us in the tournament.”

The Panthers will face either No. 5 Hall-Dale (13-5) or No. 12 Dirigo (5-13) in the quarterfinals Monday at 8 p.m. at the Augusta Civic Center. NYA didn’t play either team this winter. The Panthers have no playoff history with Hall-Dale. They’re 0-1 against Dirigo, which won the 2008 Western C quarterfinals, 42-23.

If NYA advances to the semifinals, which will be held next Thursday in Augusta, it will either meet No. 1 Winthrop (18-0), No. 8 Searsport (10-8) or No. 9 Wiscasset (9-9). The Panthers didn’t play any of those teams during the regular season. NYA has no playoff history with Searsport or Winthrop. The Panthers are 1-1 all-time versus Wiscasset, including a 55-41 win in the 2008 Western C preliminary round.

Rangers lead the way

All five local girls’ squads qualified for the postseason.

Greely has lived up to billing and is the top seed and favorite in Class A South after finishing 17-1. The Rangers closed with a 63-48 home win over Falmouth Friday. Anna DeWolfe had 28 points and Brooke Obar added 12.

“We’ve had a great season,” said Greely first-year coach Todd Flaherty. “The girls have been terrific.”

The Rangers will face either No. 8 Leavitt (7-11) or No. 9 Morse (5-13) in the quarterfinals Monday at 7:30 p.m. at the Expo. Greely beat the host Shipbuilders, 71-45, Dec. 22 and didn’t face the Hornets this year. The Rangers have no postseason history with Morse. They’re 3-0 all time versus Leavitt, which includes a 58-36 win in last year’s semifinals.

“Teams will be coming at us just like they have all season,” Flaherty said.

If Greely advances, it will face either No. 4 Marshwood (14-4) or No. 5 Fryeburg Academy (9-9). The Rangers won, 55-37, at Fryeburg Jan. 16 and prevailed, 65-44, at the Hawks Jan. 27. Greely has won all three prior playoff meetings against the Raiders. The most recent came in the 2005 Western B quarterfinals (53-45). The Rangers are 2-0 all-time versus Marshwood in the playoffs, including a 57-32 win in last year’s quarterfinals.

Falmouth is heading to the quarterfinals for the first time since the 2009-10 season after finishing 7-11 and sixth in Class A South. The Yachtsmen closed with losses at Cape Elizabeth (42-34) and Greely (63-48). Grace Soucy had a team-high nine points in the loss to the Capers. Against the Rangers, Adelaide Cooke had 14 points and Abby Ryan added 11.

Falmouth will face No. 3 York (12-6), the defending state champion, in the quarterfinals Monday at 1 p.m. at the Expo. The Yachtsmen lost two close games to the Wildcats this year, 49-48 in overtime Dec. 31 in Falmouth and 44-38 at York Jan. 12. The Wildcats won all three prior playoff meetings, including a 40-20 victory in the 2010 Western B quarterfinals, the most recent encounter.

If the Yachtsmen spring the upset, they’ll meet either No. 2 Brunswick (15-3) or No. 7 Kennebunk (8-10) in the semifinals next Wednesday at the Cross Insurance Center. Falmouth lost, 54-30, at Brunswick Dec. 20 and split with Kennebunk, losing, 41-34, on the road in the opener and winning, 41-31, at home Jan. 16. The Yachtsmen haven’t faced either team in the playoffs.

Yarmouth earned the No. 4 seed in Class B South after a 12-6 season, the program’s best since going 17-1 en route to a trip to the state final in 2004-05. The Clippers closed with a 32-23 home win over Lake Region and a 36-26 loss at Wells. Against the Lakers, on Senior Night, Cory Langenbach had 11 points, Alison Clark added nine (with nine rebounds) and Johanna Hattan finished with eight. 

“It can’t get much better than this,” Clark said. “We’re proud of where we’ve come. It’s been four great years. I think at this point of the season, we’re just having fun.”

“This year is the first time we’ve beaten Lake Region,” Langenbach said. “To sweep them means a lot. It feels good to beat them, especially after last year’s (playoff) loss.”

“It’s so nice to see the seniors reap the benefit of all their hard work,” added Clippers coach Christina Strong, who took over the program when the seniors were freshmen. “They’re invested and they’ve earned it. They’ve been the heart and soul of this program for four years, on and off the court.”

Langenbach led the way against the Warriors with nine points.

Yarmouth will face off with No. 5 Lake Region (12-6) in the quarterfinals for the second year in a row, Tuesday at 1 p.m. at the Expo. In addition to last week’s win, the Clippers beat the Lakers in Naples, 28-24, back on Dec. 13. The teams have split six prior playoff meetings. Last year, Lake Region eked out a 32-31 win in the quarterfinals after a controversial ruling involving the possession arrow went against Yarmouth in the waning seconds, leading to the winning free throw.

“It’s going to be an exciting couple weeks,” Strong said. “The girls are ready and excited.”

If the Clippers reach the semifinals for the first time since 2005, they will likely battle top-ranked Gray-New Gloucester (17-1), the defending regional champion, Thursday of next week at the Cross Insurance Center. The Patriots won both regular season meetings: 46-35 in Yarmouth in the regular season opener and 31-27 in Gray Jan. 31. The teams split two prior playoff meetings. The most recent was won by the Patriots, 43-39, in double overtime, in the 2008 Western B preliminary round.

If Gray-New Gloucester doesn’t reach the semifinals, Freeport could be the reason why. The Falcons wound up eighth in Class B South at 11-7 after closing with losses to visiting Gray-New Gloucester (58-29) and at Lake Region (64-49). Regan Lynch had a team-high 10 points versus the Patriots. In the loss to the Lakers, Jessica Driscoll and Taylor Rinaldi each had 10 points.

Freeport hosted No. 9 Lisbon (9-9) in a Western B prelim Wednesday night. The teams didn’t play during the regular season and have no playoff history.

If the Falcons advance to meet Gray-New Gloucester, the quarterfinal would be held Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. at the Expo. The Patriots won both meetings this winter: 64-33 in Gray and 58-29 in Freeport. The Falcons lost prior playoff meetings, including a 56-30 setback in last year’s quarterfinal round.

If Freeport and Yarmouth meet up in the semifinals Thursday of next week at the Cross Insurance Center, it would mark the first-ever postseason encounter between the neighbors. The Falcons won the regular season meeting, 43-30, Jan. 14 in Yarmouth. 

In Class C South, NYA earned the No. 13 seed after a 7-11 season, qualifying for the postseason for the first time in three years. The Panthers closed with a 66-59 home win over Temple Academy and a 52-35 loss at St. Dom’s. Against Temple, NYA was paced by 38 points from Maggie Larson.  

The Panthers went to No. 4 Old Orchard Beach (10-8) in the preliminary round Tuesday. NYA lost both regular season meetings: 36-26 at home Dec. 9 and 46-25 on the road Jan. 27. The teams have no postseason history.

If the Panthers reach the quarterfinals for the first time since 2004, they will face either No. 5 Madison (13-5) or No. 12 St. Dom’s (6-12) in the quarterfinals Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. in Augusta. NYA didn’t play Madison this year and the teams have no playoff history. The Panthers split with the Saints, winning, 46-41, at home on Jan. 4 before losing in Auburn in the finale Friday. St. Dom’s took the lone prior playoff encounter, 54-32, in the 2011 Western C preliminary round.

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.