Waynflete makes it 13 in a row with win over NYA
PORTLAND—Who ever said that the number 13 is unlucky?
Friday afternoon, make that the afternoon of Friday the 13th, the defending Class C girls' basketball champion Waynflete Flyers captured their 13th game in a row over the past two seasons and did so with a vengeance.
Hosting rival North Yarmouth Academy, the Flyers scored the game's first nine points and never looked back. Waynflete led, 23-5, after one period and extended that advantage to 42-11 at halftime behind a balanced offense and a smothering defense which caused 30 turnovers.
The Flyers were never tested from there and everyone on the roster contributed in some fashion as they went on to a 78-26 triumph, their third in a row this winter and 13th straight dating back to January, as they handed the Panthers their second straight loss this season in the process.
Senior point guard Leigh Fernandez led Waynflete with 17 points, junior Helen Gray-Bauer had 14 and junior Julianna Harwood added nine, while unheralded sophomore Arianna Giguere and freshman Ali Pope combined for 20 more as the Flyers' good times rolled on.
"I'm pleasantly surprised, a little bit," said Waynflete coach Brandon Salway. "It's been four weeks, so we've been measuring where we are. We've improved, but we have to continue to improve. We have confidence now. There's potential within individuals and the group. The best way to get better as a group is to get better as individuals. For them to see they're improving helps."
Waynflete, which went 20-3 during its run to the Class C title last winter, has picked right up where it left off in early action this winter, handling visiting Greater Portland Christian School (71-38) and host Sacopee (51-33) in its first two outings.
NYA, coming off a 4-13 season, lost its opener, 66-27, to visiting Traip.
Waynflete has owned NYA over the past dozen years, winning 24 of 27 meetings (please see sidebar, below) in that span prior to the first encounter of 2013-14 (that included each of the past 16). The Panthers last beat the Flyers, 60-52, Jan. 17, 2006, in Yarmouth, which was nearly two years before Salway took over.
Last year, championship-bound Waynflete handled NYA twice: 76-22 at home and 75-25 on the road.
Friday, the trend continued.
The Flyers needed just nine seconds to go on top to stay, when Giguere made a layup after a steal. After two scoreless minutes, Fernandez stole the ball and made a layup to make it 4-0. After senior Emily Wasserman scored on a putback, Fernandez made a step-back 3 and Waynflete was up, 9-0, with just under five minutes to play in the first quarter.
NYA's first basket came with 4:31 left in the first, when freshman Suzanna Butterfield scored on a putback. After Wasserman took a pass from Fernandez and made a 3, the Panthers got a jumper from junior Sara Thompson and senior standout Charlotte Esancy scored her first point on a free throw to make it 12-5, but the hosts rattled off 11 points in a row, as Harwood scored on a putback, Harwood made a free throw, Gray-Bauer took a pass from Fernandez and made a 3, Harwood set up Gray-Bauer for a layup and Fernandez drained a long 3 to make it 23-5 after one quarter.
Esancy opened the second period with a putback, but Gray-Bauer countered with a 3. After Thompson made a bank shot, Giguere banked home a 3, freshman Annika Brooks made a foul shot, Gray-Bauer banked home a 3, Harwood set up junior Dana Peirce for a layup and Gray-Bauer set up Wasserman for a layup and a 37-9 advantage.
NYA's final points of the first half came on a bank shot from Thompson, but Harwood scored on a putback and Fernandez made a 3 for a commanding 42-11 bulge at the break.
Waynlete's defense set up its offense in the first 16 minutes, as the Flyers forced a whopping 30 turnovers.
"Defense starts with Brandon," Harwood said. "He tells us what playing hard defense really looks like. Everyone has to buy into it and work 100 percent. i think we saw everyone do that today. We always want to come out strong and set the tone for the game."
The Flyers didn't let up at the start of the second half and opened it with a 13-0 run.
After Gray-Bauer set up Fernandez for a layup, Harwood made a layup, then Harwood hit a 3-pointer. Fernandez made a layup after a steal, Gray-Bauer hit a 3 and Fernandez made two free throws for a 55-11 lead.
The run ended after Esancy blocked a Harwood shot at one end, then raced downcourt and made a layup.
"(Charlotte's) amazing," Harwood said. "She probably blocked me five times. I lost track. It's good moving forward to see effective defensive players who can control the paint."
Giguere answered with a jumper and with 1:52 to go in the stanza, Flyers freshman Sophia Mayone scored her first varsity points with a jump shot. Esancy made a putback, but Peirce hit a 3 to make it 62-15 Flyers after three.
With Waynflete's reserves on the floor, Esancy put on a show in the final quarter, but Pope matched her.
Esancy hit a jumper to start the frame, but Pope countered with a driving layup. After an Esancy putback, Pope took a pass from Brooks and made a layup. After a Butterfield putback, Pope hit a bank shot. Esancy then hit a jumper, but Giguere countered with a 3 and Pope scored on a putback. After Esancy hit a 3 of her own, Brooks hit Pope off an inbounds pass and Pope made a layup. Mayone added a free throw and Brooks hit a runner and that brought the curtain down on the Flyers' 78-26 triumph.
"We always want to play hard for the entire game," said Harwood.
Fernandez led all scorers with 17 points. She also had a game-high eight steals and five assists. Gray-Bauer tallied 14 points (she also had five steals). Pope had 10 points, four boards and four steals off the bench. Giguere also scored 10, while adding three rebounds, three steals and a blocked shot. Harwood finished with nine points, seven rebounds, five steals and four assists. Wasserman had seven points (and four rebounds), Peirce five, Brooks (who shared high rebounding honors with Harwood with seven) and Mayone three apiece.
"We have a lot of new people, so it's a new team, but a lot of freshmen have been getting minutes," said Harwood. "We're working really hard. Ali had double digits. Annika had a lot of minutes. People who were on the bench for a lot of games last year have really stepped up. Everybody is working together to get the wins."
Waynflete was outrebounded, 38-34, but had 27 steals to NYA's nine and forced 42 turnovers while only committing 14. The Flyers were 6-of-11 from the foul stripe.
For NYA, Esancy had 16 points, 17 rebounds, six blocks, three steals and two assists.
Not bad for a player who's still not 100 percent physically.
"Charlotte is handling the ball and trying to score," said Panthers coach Liz Smith. "If she had someone to get her the ball, she'd be even better. She's not even in shape yet."
"We'll see several good post players in the coming weeks, so that was good," said Salway. "Charlotte's a really good player. She seemed to do everything for them today."
Thomaspon (six points) and Butterfield (four) were the Panthers' other scorers. Freshman Lindsay Tufts didn't score, but impressed with six rebounds and a pair of steals off the bench.
"Lindsay hasn't played basketball since the sixth grade, but she's really coming along," Smith said.
The Panthers shot just two free throws, making one.
"We're still adjusting to the loss of (injured point guard) Chloe (Leishman, who should be back next month)," Smith said. "We did better breaking the press than we did against Traip."
NYA looks to get in the win column Monday when it hosts Old Orchard Beach. The Panthers close the 2013 portion of their schedule Thursday when Hebron pays a visit.
"We need to get everyone healthy," Smith said. "We're hoping to get a win. I'm seeing progress."
Waynflete will get several tests before it sees NYA again Jan. 11 in Yarmouth. The Flyers play host to Traip Tuesday and go to Old Orchard Beach Thursday. Waynflete then opens 2014 with a pair of tests against Class B contenders. On Jan. 3, the Flyers go to a Wells squad which handed them their last loss (57-49, Jan. 26) and four days later, they host vastly improved Yarmouth.
"We need to keep working hard in practice and work on getting everybody up to speed," said Harwood. "Next week will be hard for us. Traip and Old Orchard are good. I'm looking forward to going out and playing hard. I think we can compete with them. I think we can do well."
"Next week will be a real challenge," Salway said. "Traip and Old Orchard are both pretty good teams. Wins many not measure where we are. I think a month in, we've got potential, but it's early still."
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.
Recent Waynflete-NYA results
@ Waynflete 76 NYA 22
Waynflete 75 @ NYA 25
Waynflete 45 @ NYA 28
@ Waynflete 69 NYA 43
Waynflete 65 @ NYA 49
@ Waynflete 69 NYA 49
@ Waynflete 53 NYA 26
Waynflete 61 @ NYA 36
@ Waynflete 62 NYA 30
Waynflete 43 @ NYA 36
Waynflete 51 NYA 28
@ Waynflete 51 NYA 26
Waynflete 70 @ NYA 45
@ Waynflete 62 NYA 24
@ Waynflete 54 NYA 34
@ Waynflete 52 NYA 51
@ NYA 60 Waynflete 52
@ Waynflete 45 NYA 41
@ NYA 39 Waynflete 34
NYA 43 @ Waynflete 38
@ Waynflete 52 NYA 38
Waynflete 52 @ NYA 48
Western D quarterfinals
Waynflete 52 NYA 36
Waynflete 57 @ NYA 28
@ Waynflete 48 NYA 39
@ Waynflete 59 NYA 28
Waynflete 38 @ NYA 29