Yarmouth gives itself an early Christmas present by downing Cape
YARMOUTH—If ever a team needed a signature win, it was the Yarmouth boys' basketball squad entering Saturday night's showdown with undefeated Cape Elizabeth.
Coming off recent losses to conference powers Falmouth and Greely, the Clippers needed a dose of confidence in their final countable game of the calendar year and a fast start and strong team effort produced the hoped-for result.
Yarmouth, behind stellar play from seniors David Murphy and Nate Shields-Auble, shot to a quick 10-0 lead and despite first half foul trouble, never looked back.
While the always-tough Capers got as close as close as three, the Clippers took a 25-16 lead to halftime and gradually pulled away in the second half.
Murphy remained hot throughout, Shields-Auble put up a double-double and junior Adam LaBrie erupted in the second half as Yarmouth went on to a 66-52 victory, improving to 3-2, while dropping Cape Elizabeth to 4-1 in the process.
"We needed a big win," said Clippers coach Adam Smith. "Beating Cape, whenever you beat them, is a big win, especially when you've already lost to Falmouth and Greely. You're judged by how you do against those teams. We had to beat a top team before Christmas. Tonight, we got it. We didn't talk about this being a big game, but it really was. We had a really tough stretch and you have to find a win somewhere."
Ringing out the old year
Both Cape Elizabeth and Yarmouth entered the 2013-14 season with hopes of contending throughout.
The Clippers got off to a great start 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. Yarmouth then dropped a hard fought contest at Greely Wednesday, 57-49.
The Capers won at Wells in their opener, 57-39, then defeated visiting Lake Region (50-41) and Gray-New Gloucester (66-52) before triumphing at Freeport Monday (68-59).
Entering the game, Cape Elizabeth had won 21 of 27 meetings against Yarmouth dating to the start of the 2001-02 season (please see sidebar, below), including both games last winter (59-50 at the Clippers and 48-44 at home), but Saturday, Yarmouth held serve on its homecourt.
It took Shields-Auble all of 15 seconds to finish a feed from LaBrie with a layup to put the Clippers ahead to stay. Murphy then hit consecutive 3s before Shields-Auble scored on a putback to give Yarmouth a 10-0 lead just 2 minutes, 35 seconds in.
"We always start slowly here," lamented longtime Capers coach Jim Ray. "We might as well just put 10 (points) on the board for them. The kids overthink it.
Cape Elizabeth got on the board when freshman Quinn Hewitt made a free throw. Junior Eddie Galvin added a layup and the Clippers were called for a technical foul in the process. Junior Ethan Murphy tacked on two free throws and suddenly, the deficit was cut in half.
After Shields-Auble scored on a putback, Galvin finished a pass from Hewitt with a layup and Hewitt made a layup after a steal to make it 12-9, but the Capers would draw no closer.
Late in the quarter, a third Murphy 3 gave Yarmouth a little breathing room. Sophomore Jack O'Rourke countered with a free throw, but Cape Elizabeth was still down, 15-10, heading for the second period.
The Clippers might have enjoyed an even bigger lead, but they turned the ball over eight times, something which wouldn't improve before halftime.
After Yarmouth sophomore point guard Musseit M'Bareck hit a pullup jumper and senior Ethan Gage added a turnaround jump shot, the Clippers began to be hampered by fouls as Gage was called for his third and Galvin made two free throws to make it 19-12.
LaBrie took a pass from Shields-Auble and made a backdoor layup, but Galvin scored on a putback with 3:16 to go in the half.
Twenty-one seconds later, however, Galvin got his third foul and would have to sit for a long time, but Yarmouth couldn't deliver the knockout blow.
After Shields-Auble found David Murphy open downcourt for a layup and Murphy scored on a putback, Ethan Murphy made two free throws in the final seconds to pull Cape Elizabeth back to 25-16 at the half.
David Murphy had 13 points in the first 16 minutes and Shields-Auble, with help from junior Cote Sawyer, controlled the paint, but the Clippers were hampered by 14 turnovers.
"We did some uncharacteristic things after going up 10-0, but Cape will make you do some uncharacteristic things," said Smith. "That's what they do. We rushed when we didn't have to, but I thought we settled down and made enough shots. Our halfcourt defense played well and helped us keep that lead."
The game remained in doubt in the third quarter.
After Gage fed Shields-Auble for a layup and an 11-point lead, Hewitt scored on a putback and sophomore Justin Guerette made a free throw to make the score 27-19, but LaBrie hinted at a big second half to come with a putback.
Ethan Murphy countered with a long 3, but LaBrie hit a 3 of his own to make it 32-22.
The visitors got a layup after a steal from junior Grady McCormick, a free throw from Hewitt and an O'Rourke layup, but seconds after Galvin returned to action, Shields-Auble made two foul shots, LaBrie hit a long jumper and M'Bareck set up Murphy for a fastbreak layup and Yarmouth pushed its advantage to 38-27.
The Capers made one final push as Galvin scored on a puback and O'Rourke made a reverse layup after a steal, but LaBrie managed to knock down a 3 while falling and LaBrie made a layup after a steal to restore order.
"My teammates found me and I got some shots to fall," LaBrie said.
A late 3 from O'Rourke pulled Cape Elizabeth within 43-34 heading for the fourth period, but they wouldn't get any closer.
Just nine seconds into the final stanza, David Murphy made a 3. Hewitt countered with a layup, but Murphy made a free throw and Shields-Auble collected an offensive board and fed LaBrie for a 3 and a 50-36 lead with 6:05 to go.
Ethan Murphy sank a long 3 for the Capers, but M'Bareck made a fastbreak layup and Gage weaved his way into the lane before knocking down a leaner to push the advantage to 15, 54-39.
Best of all for the hosts, their first half foul troubles had become a non-factor, as they avoided whistles in the second half.
"It's always difficult when calls don't go your way, but we did the best we could to get it out of our minds," said Shields-Auble. "When it comes down to it, the refs won't lose the game."
"At halftime, we talked about what we were up against and that we'd have to adjust to how the game was called," Smith said. "I thought it was a well called game. Our players had to adjust and they did. I'm proud of them for that."
Guerette hit a baseline jumper for the visitors, but on the ensuing Capers possession, David Murphy stole the ball and sank a dagger of a 3 to make it 57-41 with 4:22 left.
Cape Elizabeth's Murphy countered with a 3, but Gage hit a fadeaway jumper to keep the lead at 15, 59-44.
Ethan Murphy made a 3 after a steal, Hewitt hit a foul shot, then Hewitt made a layup with 1:31 to play to keep the Capers' faint hopes alive and pull them within nine, 59-50, but David Murphy put home his own miss and with 52 seconds to go, M'Bareck went coast to coast for a left-handed layup while being fouled and added the free throw for an old-fashioned three-point play and the coup de grace.
With 30 seconds left, David Murphy banked in a shot for his final ponits. A putback from Hewitt accounted for Yarmouth's 66-52 victory.
"Cape's a great athletic team," said David Murphy. "We knew they'd never give up and they played all the way to the end."
"We definitely had a height advantage (tonight)," said Shields-Auble. "Our guards looked for us and we went inside-out."
David Murphy had a game-high 26 points, which included five of his team's 3-pointers.
"We like shooting here," said Murphy.
"(David's) been struggling and forcing and trying to will us to victory," said Smith. "He settled down tonight and didn't force it. Guys looked for him. He was a little more patient tonight. He took less shots and scored more points."
LaBrie made three 3s of his own and had 17 points (15 which came after halftime).
Shields-Auble had 10 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.
"I told Nate, I thought it was the best game he's played for 32 minutes in three years," said Smith. "He wasn't in foul trouble. He was active at both ends. He didn't try to do too much. It was just a tremendous game, leadership-wise and playing-wise for us. I was happy for him."
M'Bareck finished with seven points, while Gage added six points.
The Clippers enjoyed a 41-30 rebounding advantage. Gage, Murphy, Sawyer and sophomore Cody Cook all had five. Yarmouth also got a game-high seven steals from LaBrie. M'Bareck had eight assists.
"'Moose' is getting better every game," said Murphy. "He's a young player, but he's athletic and is great at handling the ball. He's done a great job so far."
"'Moose' just keeps getting better and better," Smith said. "There are times I'm not happy with him, but he gets back out there and has been a big part of our success. I think he'll be more so the rest of the season."
The Clippers committed 26 turnovers and made 4 of 7 free throws.
Cape Elizabeth was paced by its Murphy, Ethan, who had 16 points, five steals and five rebounds. Hewitt finished with 13 points and five boards. Galvin was hampered by foul trouble, but still managed to score 10 points and lead his team with eight rebounds and two blocked shots.
"Eddie, even if he's not scoring, does so many things for us," Ray said.
O'Rourke had eight points, Guerette six (to go with six rebounds and three steals) and McCormick two.
The Capers committed 23 turnovers and made 11 of 17 foul shots.
"It was simple, too many turnovers," Ray said.
"The teams we played so far had a total of two wins. (Yarmouth) had a couple kids who are a lot beefier than us. You can't teach that. They're tough and played hard. It was too fast for us. We struggled offensively and had to shoot quicker."
Work to do
Cape Elizabeth (fifth in the latest Western Class B Heal Points standings) isn't playing any holiday tournament games, instead hosting Kennebunk Friday. The Capers then open 2014 with a visit to Falmouth.
This team is a work in progress.
"We've got a lot to learn," Ray said. "We had some young guys walk off the floor (tonight). That's not what Cape Elizabeth does. We need the practice. We still need to win a few to get in (the tournament). It's a process."
Yarmouth (fourth in the region) meets Susan Wagner of New York in the Red Claws Holiday Tournament at the Portland Expo Thursday at 7 p.m., then faces potential state tournament foe Spruce Mountain Saturday at noon and New Dorp, N.Y., Saturday at 5:30 p.m. The Clippers' next countable game is Jan. 3, when they play at Gray-New Gloucester. Yarmouth visits Freeport the following night, then the schedule gets difficult again, including a visit to Cape Elizabeth Jan. 11 and rematches versus Falmouth and Greely.
"Falmouth and Greely are two of the best teams in the state," Murphy said. "We love the competition and the rivalry between us."
The Clippers continue to show tremendous upside and hope to ride the momentum of Saturday's victory into bigger things in the new year.
"We have to do better on the boards," LaBrie said. "We're getting beat there. Rebounding helps us get going better on offense."
"We're growing every single game," said Shields-Auble. "We'll get better every week. This sets the tone for the whole Christmas vacation."
"The road can't get any harder," Smith added. "But we'll be ready."
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.
Recent Yarmouth-Cape Elizabeth results
Cape Elizabeth 59 @ Yarmouth 50
@ Cape Elizabeth 48 Yarmouth 44
@ Cape Elizabeth 40 Yarmouth 39
@ Yarmouth 58 Cape Elizabeth 52
Yarmouth 84 @ Cape Elizabeth 61
Cape Elizabeth 61 @ Yarmouth 39
Western B Final
Cape Elizabeth 61 Yarmouth 47
Cape Elizabeth 64 @ Yarmouth 56
@ Cape Elizabeth 52 Yarmouth 51
Cape Elizabeth 64 @ Yarmouth 48
Yarmouth 63 @ Cape Elizabeth 59 (OT)
Western B quarterfinals
Cape Elizabeth 66 Yarmouth 58
@ Cape Elizabeth 71 Yarmouth 50
Cape Elizabeth 55 @ Yarmouth 46
@ Cape Elizabeth 62 Yarmouth 36
@ Yarmouth 47 Cape Elizabeth 36
Cape Elizabeth 52 @ Yarmouth 37
@ Cape Elizabeth 63 Yarmouth 45
Cape Elizabeth 58 @ Yarmouth 44
@ Cape Elizabeth 54 Yarmouth 43
@ Yarmouth 56 Cape Elizabeth 41
@ Cape Elizabeth 54 Yarmouth 48
@ Yarmouth 45 Cape Elizabeth 40
@ Cape Elizabeth 54 Yarmouth 45
Cape Elizabeth 58 @ Yarmouth 56
@ Cape Elizabeth 69 Yarmouth 53
Western B preliminary round
@ Cape Elizabeth 77 Yarmouth 48