YORK—Round One goes to the Wildcats.
And that’s not what the Greely girls’ basketball team expected after stewing for nearly a year, eagerly awaiting another crack at a York squad that ended their season last winter in last February’s Western Class B Final.
Friday night, the Rangers had ample opportunities to steal a win and stay unbeaten, but ultimately, they were done in by too many fouls and turnovers and a fourth quarter explosion by Wildcats junior standout Niki Taylor.
“We just didn’t do it,” lamented Greely’s second-year coach Billy Goodman. “We turned the ball over. I don’t mind my subs going in. I have a good team so I don’t mind the fouls. It’s the turnovers I’m not too psyched with. We’ll either fix it or we won’t. If we do, we can beat anyone. If we don’t learn from this, shame on me.”
Back in late February of 2009, the Rangers saw their superb season come to an end with a 49-30 loss to York in the regional final. Greely felt it didn’t play up to its standard and looked forward to dethroning the Wildcats this year.
Heading into Friday’s showdown, both teams boasted 8-0 records and average victory margins of 32 points per contest.
The Rangers hadn’t beaten York since a 54-40 triumph in the 2007 Western B quarterfinals and wouldn’t be able to finish the job this time either as their losing streak to their rival hit four games.
Greely wouldn’t make a field goal in the first period, but hung tough thanks to six forced turnovers. Taylor got the scoring started eight seconds in with a bank shot. Rangers senior Megan Grondin answered with two foul shots, but a baseline jumper from freshman Marquis MacGlashing gave the hosts a 4-2 lead. After Grondin tied the game again with two more free throws, MacGlashing made a free throw, Taylor hit one and junior Stephanie Gallagher scored on a backdoor layup for an 8-4 advantage.
With 2:15 to go in the opening stanza, senior Karlee Biskup made two foul shots for the visitors, but freshman Emily Campbell answered with a jumper for York. With 56.4 seconds left, Grondin made two more free throws to pull the Rangers within two, 10-8, after one quarter of play.
Greely took its first lead early in the second when senior Abby Young scored on a spin move and junior Megan Coale hit a 3-point bomb. The hosts answered on a layup by MacGlashing and a steal and a layup from Taylor, but Biskup responded with a 3 for a 16-14 Rangers’ advantage.
After MacGlashing answered with a free throw, Grondin scored on a putback for an 18-15 lead, but with 1:56 to go in the half, Taylor converted a baffling three-point play. She was fouled on a missed shot, but after the whistle blew put up another shot which went in. Inexplicably, the officials let it stand and Taylor made the ensuing free throw to tie the score. Taylor followed with a layup and MacGlashing hit two foul shots before Greely junior Sara Warnock (who saw major minutes in relief of Young, who battled foul trouble) made a short jumper to make it a 22-20 York lead at halftime.
In the third, the Rangers appeared primed to seize control of the game, but they couldn’t quite turn momentum for good.
Just 10 seconds in, Grondin converted a three-point play for a 23-22 lead. After a MacGlashing jump shot put the Wildcats on top, Coale sank a 3 for a 26-24 advantage. Another MacGlashing jumper tied the score, but with 3:20 left in the quarter, Coale hit another 3 for a 29-26 lead.
Then, with 2:20 left, Young picked up her fourth foul. Gallagher made a layup, but Grondin answered with a free throw. With 25.3 seconds to go in the period, Taylor tied the score with a layup and the game entered the fourth deadlocked at 30-30.
Down the stretch, Greely simply couldn’t hang on to the ball or stop Taylor.
In the first minute, York went up 32-30 on a layup from Campbell, but a scoop shot from Young forced a tie. Taylor then scored on a putback and sank a jump shot, but senior Nicole Faietta made a 3-ball to make it a one-point game. With 3:38 left, Taylor scored on a putback, but just 16 seconds later, Biskup tied the score for the eighth and final time with a 3.
Taylor wouldn’t be denied at the other end, scoring on a putback to put the Wildcats ahead to stay. MacGlashing then fed sophomore Andrea Mountford for a layup and Taylor scored on a layup after a steal to make it 44-38 with 2:03 to go, giving York its biggest lead of the game.
After Biskup missed a 3, the hosts extended their lead on two foul shots from senior Emma Clark. Another free throw from Gallagher made it 47-38, but with 1:03 left, Faietta made two free throws to end a 9-0 run and pull Greely within seven.
After Mountford made one free throw for the Wildcats, Grondin answered with one for the Rangers to make it 48-41. Gallagher hit a foul shot with 41.4 seconds to play. Young made a jumper with 19 seconds left to make it a six-point game, but with 11.9 ticks left, Taylor drained a pair of free throws to bring the curtain down and account for the 51-43 final.
“We’ve been making good decisions all year, but we just made some bad decisions tonight,” said Goodman. “We haven’t faced pressure like this. Even with all the foul trouble, it was 38-38.”
Taylor led all scorers with 24 points (half of which came in the fourth).
“She just keeps bringing it,” Goodman said. “We know that. They’re a tough opponent. She did a great job. They’re a good offensive team. We can play good D. It comes down to turning the ball over.”
MacGlashing added 12 points, Gallagher had six, Campbell four, Mountford three and Clark two.
Greely was doomed by 22 turnovers.
“We were down and came back and took the lead in the second half, but it was just a couple bad decisions and turnovers,” Goodman said. “We have to learn from it.”
The Rangers were paced by 13 points from Grondin. Coale added nine on three 3-pointers, Biskup had eight, Young six, Faietta five and Warnock two.
“Warnock and Megan Coale did a good job,” Goodman said. “My bench is always told to be ready. They were ready.”
Greely is back in action Tuesday at Gray-New Gloucester. The Rangers host Lake Region Thursday of next week, then welcome York Jan. 16.
“We get them again,” Goodman said. “I like my team. There were no trophies handed out tonight.”
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org