Greely upsets Leavitt, marches on
PORTLAND — The Greely girls’ basketball team put on a dazzling passing and defensive display which were more than enough to defeat a fourth-ranked Leavitt team with arguably the state’s best player in a Western Class B quarterfinal round tournament game Tuesday evening at the Portland Exposition Building.
While Hornets senior Kristen Anderson struggled all night to find her range, the Storey sisters, with plenty of help, were stealing the show for the fifth-ranked Rangers.
Greely jumped to a quick 4-0 lead behind two hoops from junior Haley Felkel and never trailed. The Rangers rode a series of layups and short jumpers, almost every one assisted, to a 12-7 lead after one quarter and a 23-12 advantage at the half. Greely put it away with a 12-4 run to start the third period and cruised to a stunningly easy 42-27 victory.
Sophomore Ashley Storey stuffed the stat sheet with 14 points, 12 rebounds, six assists and two steals. Senior Jaclyn Storey wasn’t far behind, scoring 10 points, while adding four rebounds, four assists and five blocks. More impressively, the Rangers held Leavitt senior standout Kristen Anderson to 15 points.
Greely improved to 15-5, ended Leavitt's season at 13-6 and will play No. 1 Lake Region (17-2) in the semifinals Thursday at 4:30 p.m., at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
"I was actually expecting a closer game," said Ashley Storey. "We just had to be patient. When we work together as a team, everything works out well. We have to have confidence in each other. This is good confidence to take into the next game."
Back on track
Greely enjoyed a run to the regional final last winter, but lost to Lake Region. In the offseason, Joel Rogers became coach. The Rangers opened with a 53-39 home win over Wells, then lost at nemesis York, 39-34, before rattling off nine successive victories: 46-32 over visiting Falmouth, 54-29 at Fryeburg, 37-31 over visiting Cape Elizabeth, 51-44 at Poland, 38-33 over Lake Region, 68-29 over visiting Yarmouth, 58-41 at Traip, 51-41 over visiting Freeport and 30-25 at Falmouth. The run ended with a 62-39 home loss to York, but Greely bounced back with a dramatic, come-from-behind 44-41 overtime win at Gray-New Gloucester, a 35-25 home victory over Fryeburg and a 57-41 triumph at Yarmouth. The end of the season did not go well, however, as the Rangers fell at Lake Region (44-31), at home to Gray-New Gloucester (42-30) and at Cape Elizabeth (41-36) to finish 13-5 and fifth in Western B.
The end of the season was also played against the backdrop of a scandal that involved two players pictured giving the "Heil Hitler" Nazi salute while a third flashed the peace sign, a photo and story that received large doses of attention, both locally and beyond.
Greely addressed the photo and issued a one-game suspension to the players in question.
"I don't want our season to be defined by a Facebook incident," said Rogers. "The kids made a mistake. They owned up to it. I've been part of the process to make sure there was an appropriate response."
Greely pulled together, and held off No. 12 Falmouth in its preliminary round game, 42-40, last Wednesday, to advance.
The Rangers actually turned the corner according to Rogers then night before with a scrimmage against Western A power Deering.
"I've made a lot of bad decisions, but the best decision I made was to scrimmage Deering," Rogers said. "They have one of the best defenses in Maine. I did it the night before the prelim. That enabled me to get my freshmen ready to play in this venue."
Leavitt, meanwhile, hasn't had a smooth season either, due more to injury than anything else. The Hornets won the 2011 Class B title and were ousted in the semifinals last season by eventual regional champion Lake Region. This year's squad, led by Anderson, won its first eight games, lost to Camden Hills, won twice more, lost to Nokomis, then rattled off three more victories before, like Greely, closing on a three-game skid to wind up 13-5, good for the No. 4 seed.
The teams don't play in the regular season, but did play three years ago in the semifinals, a resounding 59-38 Rangers' triumph in the lone previous postseason meeting.
Tuesday, Leavitt came out gunning like usual, but couldn't hit shots and inspired Greely took advantage.
Felkel gave the Rangers a quick 4-0 lead with a pair of jumpers (the first assisted by Jaclyn Storey, the second by Ashley Storey).
"I was feeling good," Felkel said. "The confidence was there. They left me open, so I shot."
After Anderson got the Hornets on the board with a driving bank shot midway through the period, Ashley Storey made a layup off a pass from Jacyln Storey and senior Caton Beaulieu fed junior Blais Tardif for a layup and an 8-2 lead.
Anderson found the range from way downtown to cut the deficit in half, but freshman Margaret Hatch hit a baseline jumper and Tardif took a pass from Ashley Storey and made a layup.
"When we pushed the floor and made the extra pass, we got the layup," Ashley Storey said. "Their defense broke down. They played a 2-3 zone. They were on me and Jackie. Coach told me to get to the middle."
"I run (longtime Portland boys' coach) Joe Russo's stuff," said Rogers. "The offense he gave me against the zone helped us get all the inside stuff. We've been working on getting used to it. We were able to spread the court and go over the top. It worked well."
A jumper from Leavitt senior Jenna Cote pulled the Hornets within 12-7 after one quarter.
Greely continued to impress and to frustrate Leavitt in the second.
Consecutive baskets from Ashley Storey, an old-fashioned three-point play (layup, foul, free throw) from Jaclyn Storey and a Copp layup (from Ashley Storey after milking the clock) pushed the lead to 21-7. Anderson got a point back at the line and Cote made a layup, but Hatch answered with a layup for the Rangers. A late layup from junior Meagan Dow (from Anderson) pulled the Hornets within 11, 23-12, at halftime.
Greely essentially ended all doubt in the third period.
Felkel started the second half the way she began the game, hitting a short jumper (taking a pass from Beaulieu first). After Anderson set up Dow for a layup, Ashley Storey assisted Jaclyn Storey on a layup, then Ashley Storey made two free throws, finishing a pass from her sister with a layup, then hit a runner to stretch the lead to 33-14.
"We talked about how (the Hornets) were going to come out even stronger than they started," said Felkel. "We knew we had to stay on Anderson, keep talking on defense and keep moving the ball, breaking the press and looking middle to (Ashley) because she has a good view of everything."
After Dow saved the ball into the hands of senior Mariah Treadwell for a Leavitt layup, Tardif took a pass from Ashley Storey and made a layup. Anderson countered with a finger roll, but Tardif passed to Jaclyn Storey for another layup. A long Anderson 3 followed, but only drew the Hornets within 16, 37-21, heading for the final quarter.
There, the Rangers finished it off.
Neither team scored for almost five minutes before Anderson hit a 3 to snap a 6:07 drought. A pair of Jaclyn Storey free throws ended a 6:05 dry patch for Greely. After Cote scored on a putback, Ashley Storey made two free throws, Jaclyn Storey added two more and one foul shot from Anderson in the final minute accounted for the 42-27 final score.
In addition to the Storey sisters' combined 24 points, Felkel and Tardif had six apiece, Hatch added four and Copp scored two.
Greely had a 29-18 advantage on the glass, had seven steals (Tardif had three, Ashley Storey two) and five blocked shots (all by Jaclyn Storey).
The Rangers only committed eight turnovers in the first three quarters (and wound up with 15). They made 8-of-13 free throw attempts.
Leavitt got 15 points from Anderson in her swan song, but she had to work for all of them against a stellar collective Greely defensive effort.
"We wanted to deny Anderson, double Anderson, jam Anderson and try to make her work," Rogers said. "She's a heck of a player, but her teammates weren't ready for the ball. I have small guards who are quick. Haley and Margaret switched off. Margaret's my best defensive guard. She's a freshman and she's learning. Then, I've got Ashley and Blais Tardif as the second person. We stayed home on the baseline. They didn't get many offensive rebounds. I never dreamed we'd hold them to 27. I'm really proud of (the girls) after all they've been through."
Cote added six points, Dow had four and Treadwell finished with two. Anderson, Dow and freshman Chantel Eells had four rebounds apiece. Anderson also had three steals. The Hornets committed 12 turnovers and went 2-of-4 from the line.
Greely was ousted by Lake Region in last year's regional final, 49-30, but will get another crack at the Lakers Thursday in the semifinals. The teams split in the regular season.
The squads have played five previous times in the tournament, all this century. Greely beat Lake Region in the 2001 quarterfinals (44-33) and the 2009 quarterfinals (39-27) and lost to the Lakers in the 2005 semifinals (45-42), the 2007 semifinals (44-32) and last year.
Lake Region looked unstoppable in a 65-29 win over No. 8 Freeport in its quarterfinal.
The Rangers will go to the Civic Center with nothing to lose and will continue to circle the wagons and hope to play great basketball.
"I feel like we're confident, but we have to keep our guard up," Felkel said. "We know they're a strong team. We just have to work together. We will."
"We split the season with them, so we know we can beat them," Ashley Storey said.
"We know we can play with Lake Region," Rogers added.
If it plays like it did Tuesday night, Greely can play with (and beat) anybody.