North area hoops season was nothing but net
Another tremendous basketball season is in the books.
The 2009-10 campaign had no shortage of drama, passion and excitement. When all was said and done, teams from Forecaster Country were right in the middle of things, stealing headlines from start to finish.
The Falmouth boys were the favorites from the get-go and didn't disappoint, capping a 21-1 season with an exhilarating overtime win over Camden Hills in the Class B Final for the program's first championship at that level. Senior standout Stefano Mancini, a Mister Maine Basketball finalist, had 27 points in the title tilt.
Greely made a return trip to the playoffs, but in a painful case of deja vu, was eliminated by Cape Elizabeth in the semifinals for the third year in a row. Yarmouth was ousted in the preliminary round, while Freeport and North Yarmouth Academy fell shorts of the playoffs.
On the girls' side, Greely got back to the regional final, but once again had no answer for York. The Rangers wound up 18-3, but all three losses were at the hands of the Wildcats, including a 50-38 setback in the Western B Final, as York went on to win a state championship.
The Wildcats also eliminated Falmouth, 40-20, in the quarterfinal round. Freeport, NYA and Yarmouth failed to make it to the postseason.
Before we unlace the sneakers for good, here's one final look at the biggest and best stories of the 2009-10 campaign.
Michael's Top Five Stories:
5) Landmark win for Freeport girls
On the night of Jan. 14, Freeport's girls' team rallied for a 49-48 victory at Yarmouth, the Falcons first win over the Clippers this century. Senior Rachel Foster had the game-winner late. She led her team with 14 points. Classmate Lucy Whitacre added 11 points in the contest. Freeport got off to a 0-7 start this winter, but went 5-6 the rest of the way. The Falcons fell short of the playoffs, as did the Clippers, who also wound up 5-13.
4) Close calls for Clippers
The Yarmouth boys' team managed to play a postseason game for the fourth year in a row, the first time that's happened since the 1970s, but the Clippers will lament the ones that got away. On Jan. 20, hosting then-undefeated Falmouth, Yarmouth led most of the way, into the fourth period, but couldn't hit a clutch shot late and dropped an agonizing 54-51 decision. On Feb. 2, at two-time defending regional champion Cape Elizabeth, the Clippers had chances at the end of the game, but couldn't spring the upset, falling, 52-51. A win in either game would have allowed Yarmouth to avoid a prelim, but after an 11-7 regular season, the Clippers wound up eighth in Western B and had to host No. 9 Lake Region. Yarmouth never had a chance as if fell way behind early and lost, 56-41.
3) Greely boys don't lack for chances
The Greely boys' team had another solid season, winning 13 of 18 regular season games and earning the No. 4 seed for the Western B tournament. In the quarterfinals, the Rangers had to rally to beat No. 5 Maranacook in an exciting 58-54 decision. Four days later, Greely got a much-anticipated third crack at two-time defending regional champion Cape Elizabeth, which beat the Rangers twice in the regular year and knocked them out of the previous two tournaments, including the prior winter on a buzzer-beater in the semifinals. This year's semifinal was entertaining again and Greely had its opportunities, twice rallying from second half deficits to tie the score. After Cape Elizabeth went ahead late, the Rangers had a possession that will haunt them all offseason. Seven different times a Greely player had a look at the basket, but all seven times the shot was off. The Capers finally got the rebound and iced their 51-43 victory at the line and the Rangers went home at 14-6.
2) Greely girls make statement, then meet nemesis
The Greely girls' squad had a season that was a near-duplication of the year prior. As was the case in 2008-09, the Rangers went 16-2 in the regular season, then made it to the regional final before losing to York. Greely certainly turned heads, however, earning the No. 3 seed and pounding No. 6 Mountain Valley in the quarterfinals. In the semis, the Rangers were expected by some to struggle against No. 2 Leavitt, but it was Greely knocking down the outside shots, not the Hornets, and the Rangers rolled to an easy 59-38 triumph. That set up a Western B Final showdown with the undefeated Wilcats. There, Greely stubbed its toe early, falling behind 11-0, and the Rangers never recovered as their season ended at 18-3 with a 50-38 setback.
1) Falmouth reaches the pinnacle
The Falmouth boys were the team to beat entering the 2009-10 season and when the dust settled, the Yachtsmen were indeed the best Class B squad in the state. Barely. Falmouth won its first 17 contests this winter, then suffered a three-point home loss to rival Cape Elizabeth in the regular season finale. The setback proved to be a blessing in disguise. The Yachtsmen dropped to the No. 2 spot, had a relatively easy draw, and got past No. 7 York and No. 3 Mountain Valley in their first two playoff games. The regional final would be tougher, but Falmouth avenged its regular season loss and last year's regional final setback with a 53-40 victory over Cape Elizabeth, punching its ticket for a first-ever trip to the Class B Final. In the storied Bangor Auditorium, the Yachtsmen had the daunting task of beating defending champion Camden Hills, led by Tyler McFarland, but Falmouth rose to the challenge, tying the score in the waning seconds, then pulling away in overtime to win, 72-65. The Yachtsmen were led by senior standout Stefano Mancini, but had many, many key contributors. A unique team won its long-awaited title and became immortal. The memories will linger for a long time.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org