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Buzzer beater doesn't fall, Capers lose to GNG

Sports

Buzzer beater doesn't fall, Capers lose to GNG

CAPE ELIZABETH—Live by the last second 3-pointer, die by the last-second 3-pointer.

Cape Elizabeth's girls' basketball team had already victimized Gray-New Gloucester in such dramatic fashion earlier this winter and Thursday night at home, the stars appeared to align for another breathtaking finish.

The Capers led almost throughout, enjoyed a nine-point bulge in the third period and were up, 43-35, early in the fourth quarter, but the Patriots battled back and went ahead to stay on a leaner from freshman Alicia Dumont with 29.7 seconds to go. After Gray-New Gloucester got a free throw from senior Stephanie Greaton with 10.1 seconds left, Cape Elizabeth had one last chance and the ball came to senior Kate Miklavic behind the 3-point arc.

With visions of sophomore Kate Breed's game-winner at Gray-New Gloucester last month dancing in the heads of the Capers and their fans, Miklavic's bid appeared on target, but was just off and the Patriots survived, 51-49.

Cape Elizabeth got 14 points from junior Hannah Sawyer, 13 points in a terrific all-around effort from sophomore Montana Braxton and 10 points and clutch play throughout from senior Mary Perkins, but it wasn't enough to counteract Dumont's game-high 16 points and Greaton's 13 points and 10 rebounds as Gray-New Gloucester improved to 6-3 and dropped the Capers to 5-4 in the process.

"(Gray) hit shots, so kudos to them," said Cape Elizabeth coach Chris Casterella. "They stepped up and hit a lot of big shots. They made plays when they needed to. We had a chance. When it gets close, anything can happen."

Every game's a big one

Western Class B is as open as it's been in memory this winter and the Capers' roller-coaster fortunes have illustrated that fact.

Cape Elizabeth opened with a 45-32 home loss to Wells, then fell at defending regional champion Lake Region (52-38). The Capers' fortunes then turned at Gray-New Gloucester, with a 61-59 victory on the aforementioned Breed 3-pointer. Cape Elizabeth then downed visiting Freeport (48-36), visiting Yarmouth (41-28), host Kennebunk (46-29) and visiting Falmouth (36-32) to extend its win streak to five before stumbling Tuesday at Wells (43-28).

Gray-New Gloucester followed the opposite tack, impressing in its first two outings by romping over visiting Greely (54-31) and winning at Fryeburg (47-42), then dropped the heartbreaker at home to Cape Elizabeth. After a 62-41 loss at York, the Patriots handed visiting Wells its first loss, 26-24, then lost at home to Lake Region (43-36). Gray-New Gloucester has done well so far in 2014, however, beating visiting Yarmouth (51-39) and host Traip (48-33).

The teams have brought out the best in each other in recent seasons, splitting in 2010-11, 2011-12 and again last year (Gray-New Gloucester won at Cape Elizabeth, 45-42, and the Capers won at Gray, 45-28).

Thursday, the Capers were hoping to sweep the Patriots for the first time this century, but another split would be in the offing.

The game's first points came at the foul line where Gray-New Gloucester got two free throws from senior Grace Ferguson 36 seconds in.

Dumont then first made her presence felt as a passer, setting up Greaton for a layup and a quick 4-0 lead.

The hosts got on the board on a leaner from senior Emma O'Rourke, but Dumont countered with a leaner for her first points.

Cape Elizabeth then went on a 7-0 run to the take the lead.

A pullup jumper from Braxton got it started. Braxton then got a rebound, weaved through the defense and went coast-to-coast for a layup to tie the score. After a free throw from Perkins, Braxton stole the ball, eluded a defender, then kissed the ball off the glass with her left hand and the Capers were on top, 9-6.

A foul shot from freshman Izzy Detroy and a Detroy baseline jumper allowed the Patriots to pull even, but Braxton hit a long jumper while being fouled and added the free throw for an old-fashioned three-point play. After a jumper from junior Maria Valente pulled the visitors within a point, Breed made a layup. then, as time expired, Greaton banked home a shot to cut Cape Elizabeth's advantage to 14-13.

The contest remained nip-and-tuck in the second quarter.

A driving layup by Braxton opened the stanza and gave her 11 points, but Valente countered with a putback. After Sawyer scored her first points on a jumper, a driving layup from Perkins pushed the lead to five. A pair of free throws from senior Julia Martell stemmed the tide, but a Perkins jumper made it 22-17.

Back came the Patriots, as Dumont scored on a putback and Greaton scored a fastbreak layup. After a Perkins free throw, Greaton missed a shot, got the rebound, missed again, got the rebound, missed once more, then got yet another rebound before finally finishing to tie the game. A late free throw from junior Ashley Tinsman put the Capers back on top at halftime, 24-23.

In the first half, Braxton did a little of everything with 11 points, four rebounds, a steal and a blocked shot. Greaton countered with eight points, five boards and a block.

Cape Elizabeth appeared poised to pull away in the third period, but couldn't deliver a knockout blow.

An up-and-under layup from Perkins started the second half scoring. Sawyer added a jumper and O'Rourke hit a free throw for a 29-23 lead. After Greaton answered with a foul shot, Braxton made a layup after yet another steal and with 3:45 to go in the third, senior Maddison Lengyel scored on a putback and the Capers had their biggest lead of the game, 33-24.

It wouldn't last.

Gray-New Gloucester's rally began when Greaton converted a three-point play. Junior Zoe Adams then made a layup after a nice drop-step move. A free throw from freshman Skye Conley cut the deficit to three and Valente added a leaner in the lane to pull the Patriots within a single point, 33-32.

Sawyer momentarily stemmed the tide with a 3, but Conley made a free throw and Dumont sank a long jumper to cut the deficit to one. Just before quarter's end, however, Sawyer sank another 3-ball and Cape Elizabeth took a 39-35 advantage to the fourth.

There, the Capers threatened to end it quickly, as O'Rourke made a free throw and Milavic took a pass from Braxton after a steal and sank a 3 to push the lead back to eight, 43-35.

But again, Gray-New Gloucester refused to give up.

The rally began with a Valente 3. After Perkins countered with a driving layup, Dumont hit a jumper.

Perkins set up Sawyer for a layup with 2:33 to go, making it 47-40, but the Patriots would close on an 11-2 run.

A leaner from Detroy cut the deficit to five with 2:18 to play and after a steal by Ferguson, Valente found Dumont for a layup and she was fouled on the play with 2:08 to go. Dumont wasn't able to make the free throw, but with 1:46 left, she drained a jumper just inside the 3-point stripe and Cape Elizabeth only led by one, 47-46.

The Capers pushed their advantage back to three when Sawyer calmly sank two free throws 10 seconds later, but at the other end, Dumont was again true on a long jumper and the visitors trailed just 49-48.

With 45.2 seconds showing, Braxton went to the line for a one-and-one, but missed the front end. Greaton snared the rebound and at the other end, with 29.7 seconds to play, Dumont leaned in for a shot which bounced off the rim and in and for the first time since the score was 6-4, Gray-New Gloucester was on top, 50-49.

"I wasn't thinking, I just shot it," Dumont said. "In the first half, my shots weren't going in, but in the second half, I knew we needed to score. We played tough and we knew we needed to win. We brought intensity to the court. I knew we could come back."

Braxton was fouled again with 12 seconds remaining, but again missed the front end of a one-and-one. Greaton got the rebound, was fouled and with 10.1 seconds to go, made the first of her one-and-one opportunity.

If Greaton had made the second free throw, the Patriots would have been guaranteed no worse than overtime, but her miss kept the door alive for another dramatic finish.

Perkins grabbed the rebound and raced up the court. As time wound down, she spotted an open Miklavic and Miklavic let it fly. Off her hand, it appeared the ball was on the proper trajectory, but it was just long, clanged off the rim and the horn sounded.

"I didn't call a timeout because I thought it would be better to just get the ball and attack the basket," said Casterella. "We had a good look at the end. We had a chance to win it, but the ball didn't go in. They outplayed us the last three-and-a-half minutes. We just couldn't get a couple shots to fall."

Gray-New Gloucester had survived, 51-49.

"I was afraid the shot was going to go in," said Dumont. "It was a relief when it didn't."

"I could have sworn that 3 was going in," Greaton said. "It was a little nervewracking. It's a pretty big win. It was like a playoff scenario for us. It really shows us how good we are and that we can pull games out."

"It was deja vu," added Patriots coach Mike Andreasen, who continues to display a Midas touch two months after leading the Greely boys' soccer team to a somewhat surprising Class B state championship. "We missed a foul shot and they had a chance. That's just a tough shot to make, but my first thought was, 'What am I going to say to these kids a second time?' We were down and climbed out. We hadn't won any games against teams who are evenly matched with us. Greely wasn't Greely yet and on paper, Wells is better. We needed to have a game where we beat a team that was close to us."

Dumont stole the show with her 16 points and six rebounds.

"She did amazing," Greaton said. "I know Alicia can shoot lights out."

"Alicia can play," Andreasen said. "Young kids tend to get overcoached at an early age, but we just want kids to play and she can play. She wasn't thinking and just went. She's the real deal."

Greaton, playing in just her third game since returning from shoulder surgery, had 13 points, a game-high 10 rebounds and two blocked shots.

"I missed six games and it's a lot of fun to be back," Greaton said. "I just did what I could."

"We didn't have Stephanie the first time (we played Cape)," Andreasen said. "She was terrific."

Valente added seven points and five rebounds, Detroy had five points and five boards, Conley four points and Adams, Ferguson and Martell two apiece.

The Patriots committed 16 turnovers and made just 10 of 20 free throws, but survived.

For Cape Elizabeth, Sawyer led the way with 14 points (12 in the second half). She also had six rebounds and a block.

Braxton impressed with her athleticism, as well as 13 points, a team-high eight rebounds and six steals and a pair of blocked shots.

"Montana's so athletic that she can do a lot of things that help us get easy baskets," Casterella said. "It gives us freedom to pressure and feeds well into the other kids we have on the floor. She can handle the ball. She played her heart out. She and Mary did an amazing job on Valente."

Perkins had 10 points and three boards.

"Mary's really starting to show consistency, which has been the goal for her," said Casterella. "She usually guards the best player and she does a phenomenal job. She plays almost the whole game and she finds a way to score with good moves. She's playing to her strengths. If we can get five people on the floor to do what she's doing, we'll be in good shape. I think that's the challenge for us. We've got different kids contributing every night, but for us, it's consistency and bringing our offensive game. "

O'Rourke added four points, Miklavic three, Breed and Lengyel two apiece and Tinsman one.

The Capers were outrebounded, 35-23, but only gave the ball away nine times, a marked improvement from the first meeting. Cape Elizabeth finished 8-of-15 from the charity stripe.

No breathers

Each team has its eye on finishing as high as possible in the Heal Points standings and both will be tested every time out over the final month of the regular season.

The Patriots (now fourth in Western B) return to action Saturday at Lake Region. After hosting Fryeburg Tuesday, Gray-New Gloucester hosts Western C contender Old Orchard Beach next Friday. Trips to Freeport, Falmouth, Yarmouth and Poland and home tilts versus Poland and Kennebunk also remain.

The sky's the limit for this group.

"We are a really good team with great chemistry," said Greaton. "We play really well as a team. We have confidence in each other and we can all shoot the ball. I think we can be a really good playoff team and go further than last year."

"I think Greely and Cape are right behind Wells and Lake Region," Andreasen said. "I don't know where we are, but I think we're in that same mix."

As for the Capers, now eighth in Western B, they go to up-and-coming Yarmouth Saturday and host Traip Tuesday of next week. Home games with Kennebunk, Fryeburg and Greely and games at York, Greely, Poland and Falmouth also remain.

"It's so easy to get caught up in looking at Heal Points and where teams are, but we're just halfway through and anything can happen," Casterella said. "This is how the whole season has been. We don't have a soft stretch in our schedule. It never gets easier. I think that's good. If we win enough games to get in the tournament, we'll have been tested 18 times.

"We've got big games coming up, starting with Yarmouth Saturday. They knocked off (defending Class C champion) Waynflete (Tuesday). We barely beat them the first time. We need to find out how to bring the team that showed up tonight to Yarmouth, then Traip, then Kennebunk."

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

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Cape Elizabeth junior Ashley Tinsman battles Gray-New Gloucester senior Stephanie Greaton for a loose ball.

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Cape Elizabeth sophomore Kate Breed defends Gray-New Gloucester freshman Alicia Dumont. Dumont finished with a game-high 16 points, including several clutch buckets late.

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Cape Elizabeth junior Hannah Sawyer goes up for a shot, but Gray-New Gloucester senior Stephanie Greaton makes it difficult.

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Cape Elizabeth sophomore Montana Braxton runs into the tough defense of Gray-New Gloucester senior Grace Ferguson.

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Cape Elizabeth senior Maddison Lengyel looks for a shot in traffic.

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Cape Elizabeth senior Kate Miklavic is defended by Gray-New Gloucester junior Maria Valente. Miklavic's bid for a game-winning 3-point shot at the buzzer was just off the mark.