By Eric Carson
CUMBERLAND — The Waynflete girls’ basketball team, a top Western Class C contender, arrived in Cumberland Friday night with just eight players dressed for action: four seniors, a junior, one sophomore and pair of freshmen, to face perhaps their toughest scheduled competition of the season.
Waiting for them were the Western B power Greely Rangers with their 11-1 record and seemingly endless stream of contributors filing in off the bench whenever a teammate needed a breather.
Despite the troubling odds, the Flyers were hardly outclassed, using a never-say-die attitude and unselfish team play to hang around until the final whistle.
Waynflete coach Brandon Salway strategically used timeouts to slow Greely runs and his Flyers had just enough in the tank to keep crawling back into the game.
Waynflete trailed 25-19 at halftime, weathered a 16-5 run by Greely to start the third quarter, and gained valuable confidence for the rest of the season with a 56-43 setback.
“I told the team that we wanted to keep it to no more than 10 at halftime, six would be better,” said Salway. “But 10 would still give us a chance to win. That’s the most talented team that we have seen. They just keep running players at us. I think (Greely coach Billy Goodman) is doing a great job with that team. This was good for us, we got better tonight.”
Morgan Woodhouse, the Flyers’ 6-foot junior center, caused problems for the Rangers down low on the offensive end, finishing with 13 points, including seven from the line, to lead the team. But Woodhouse also caused problems for the Rangers on defense (see lacrosse season), using her length and athleticism at the top of the Flyers’ zone to pressure Greely into 15 turnovers on the night.
Woodhouse was joined on the trap out front by Mariam Qazi and Nina Russem, a pair of senior guards who impressed all night with hustle, teamwork and fine sportsmanship. The Flyers’ trap helped them overcome Greely’s 16-5 outburst to begin the third quarter, forcing several turnovers and converting them into their own 10-3 run over the final 3:30 of the period to pull within 10 at 44-34 to begin the fourth.
Salway motioned for a timeout with Greely leading 41-24, and the Flyers responded with defense that led to offense. Senior Zoe Sobel banked one high off the glass from the wing after the break to make it 41-26. Greely’s Abby Cornish checked into the game and nailed a 3, but the Flyers’ went off for eight straight to close out the third.
Annie Cutler, Waynflete’s senior guard, put together an outstanding game, scoring 12 points on a variety of jump shots and one 3-pointer, none bigger than her long jumper from the wing that started the Flyers’ rally. Sophomore guard Samantha Oakland swished a high-arcing knuckle ball from the top of the key for three more, and Woodhouse went three-for-four from the line to close the gap to a manageable 10 points.
“I’m proud of my team,” said Salway. “I thought we showed a lot of pride, a lot of character. We got better tonight. (Greely) made us work for everything and you could see we were physically tired at the end of this game. They play good defense but their offense is really the problem. They have a lot of kids who can score. You can’t focus on any one player. We spent a lot of energy on the defensive end.”
The Flyers pulled within eight points just inside the fourth quarter when Russem took a nice feed from Sobel to make it 44-36, but ultimately the Rangers’ depth and ability to score the basketball helped them outpace the Flyers the rest of the way.
“We knew we had to play hard,” said Russem. “We’ve been looking forward to this game all season. Of all the Class B teams we play, we thought they would be the best competition. We were not going to give up or give them an easy game at all. We put all our heart into this game.”
Led by four outstanding junior starters and their senior point guard and captain Danielle Slocum, the Rangers answered the Flyers’ charge with an 8-2 run to take a 52-40 lead with 3:26 left to play on their way to the 56-43 win.
“That was great team play,” said Goodman. “We had a few possessions where we had eight or nine passes before we took a shot. We have been working in practice on moving the ball and finding the open player. We’re still working on putting together a total game, but we played great team basketball tonight and that’s what we’ve been preaching.”
Greely junior center Abby Young led three teammates in double figures with 17 points on a variety of inside moves and a pair of sweet looking 3-point shots that showed her versatility. Junior forward Megan Grondin added 10 points, but the Rangers’ first star of the game had to be junior guard Karlee Biskup.
With a deadly outside shot, Biskup hit a pair of 3 pointers on the night to go with a pair of nice jumpers in the lane on her way to 12 points, but her biggest contribution to the team is her court awareness and ability to thread the needle with the pass.
“We knew Waynflete would be a good team,” said Biskup. “We don’t take any team lightly. When we play well we take our time and move the ball around.”
Waynflete (second in the Western Class C Heal Points standings) got back in the win column and improved to 9-2 Monday with a ?-? home win over Traip.
The Flyers were at Hyde Tuesday (too late for this edition). They host another Western B contender, Yarmouth, Friday, and welcome Old Orchard Beach Saturday.