Greely senior Shane DeWolfe, far right, is hugged by sophomore Logan Bagshaw as the Rangers celebrate their palpitating 47-46 win over Hampden Academy in Thursday’s Class A state final. Greely went back-to-back as state champs and has now won 44 straight contests.
Mike Strout photos.
More photos below.
HA- 7 12 14 13- 46
G- 11 18 11 7- 47
HA- Winch 6-2-15, Lausier 3-0-8, McIntyre 4-0-8, T. Raye 2-0-6, Wolfington 2-2-6, M. Raye 1-0-3
G- Brown 6-2-16, Kane 6-2-14, DeWolfe 4-3-11, Miller 1-0-3, Storey 1-0-3
HA (6) Lausier, T. Raye 2, M. Raye, Winch 1
G (4) Brown 2, Miller, Storey 1
PORTLAND—Greely senior Shane DeWolfe began the 2017-18 boys’ basketball season on the sidelines.
He ended it on top of the world.
Fulfilling every schoolboy’s fantasy by scoring the winning point in a state championship game, culminating a unthinkably wonderful night for his family and community.
The Rangers took a 43-game win streak into Thursday’s Class A state final against Hampden Academy at the Cross Insurance Arena and while last year’s Greely team rolled to an easy victory in the state final, this time around, the Broncos made them sweat until the final horn.
Taking the floor just minutes after the Rangers girls, led by DeWolfe’s younger sister, Anna, beat Hampden Academy for the Gold Ball, Greely’s boys managed to duplicate the feat, but finishing it off was excruciating.
DeWolfe missed almost the entire first quarter with foul trouble, but his talented teammates bailed him out, erasing an early four-point deficit and grabbing an 11-7 lead, thanks in large part to six points from junior sparkplug Zach Brown.
With senior Jack Kane having his way in the paint and Brown and junior Andrew Storey draining 3-pointers, the Rangers continued to pour it on and when DeWolfe set up Kane for a layup with 1:31 to go in the half, Greely had a seemingly comfortable 29-12 advantage.
Hampden Academy then closed the half strong with seven straight points to stay within hailing distance.
In the third quarter, the Rangers went back up by as many as 11, but the Broncos refused to fold and two late free throws from junior Kory Winch made the score 40-33 heading for the final period.
There, Hampden Academy kept fighting and with 3:42 remaining, Winch drove for a layup to cut the deficit to a single point.
DeWolfe answered with a leaner, but another Winch layup, with 2:41 to go, pulled the Broncos within 43-42.
DeWolfe tried to ice it with a three-point play 18 seconds later, but after sophomore Bryce Lausier sank a jumper with 1:14 on the clock, Winch got a contested jumper to fall with 37.2 seconds left and just like that, the game was tied, 46-46.
Greely wasn’t about to let it slip away, however, and DeWolfe drew a foul with 5.5 seconds to go.
DeWolfe missed his first free throw attempt, but he made the second and the Broncos had a chance to win it at the end, but a desperation bid from Winch fell short and the Rangers held on for a 47-46 victory.
DeWolfe joined Anna as a state champion, helped Greely go back-to-back as the best team in Class A, finish the year 22-0, end Hampden Academy’s season at 20-2 and in the process, secure the sixth Gold Ball in program history.
“It means a lot because this is my senior year,” DeWolfe said. “A lot of my best friends were on last year’s team. Everyone on this team is like my brothers. We’ve had an incredible year on and off the court. Our goal was never to go 22-0. We just wanted to win a state championship.”
Greely was a dominant team in 2016-17, winning all 22 games, including a state final domination of Messalonskee which was much more lopsided than the eventual 59-43 final score.
The Rangers then bid adieu to Mr. Maine Basketball, Matt McDevitt, sharpshooter Jordan Bagshaw and Ryan Twitchell, who did a little of everything, and a result, were expected by many to come back to the pack this winter.
Instead, Greely turned around and duplicated last year’s accomplishment, as the 6-foot-8 Kane emerged as an elite big man, sophomore Logan Bagshaw replaced his brother as a top shooter, DeWolfe showed steady leadership, Storey stepped in as a key contributor and Brown pulled everyone together.
It all added up to an 18-0 regular season (see sidebar, below, for previous stories).
Greely opened with wins at Cape Elizabeth (66-50) and at home over defending Class B South champion Wells (64-46) and two-time defending Class AA South champion South Portland (66-60). After downing host Falmouth (51-40), the Rangers closed the 2017 portion of their schedule with a 66-47 home win over Brunswick.
Greely then won at Gray-New Gloucester (65-43) and Gorham (61-29), at home over York (71-46), at Freeport (64-50) at Oxford Hills (51-39), at Yarmouth (56-46) and at Fryeburg Academy (49-41) to tie a nearly two-decade-old program mark for consecutive victories (34).
The Rangers then rewrote the record books with a 61-47 home win over Westbrook and didn’t stop there, closing the regular season by downing visiting Gray-New Gloucester (66-45), Cape Elizabeth (68-53) and Yarmouth (55-25), host York (55-47) and visiting Fryeburg Academy (53-34) to earn the top seed in Class A South for the third year in a row.
Eighth-ranked Fryeburg Academy provided a scare in the quarterfinals, but Greely pulled away in the fourth quarter to win, 68-53. The Rangers’ semifinal game against fourth-seeded Falmouth came down to the wire, but Greely avoided the upset, 49-47. The Rangers then took care of third-ranked Westbrook, 60-50, to win the region.
Hampden Academy has been a perennial powerhouse for most of this century and after being upset by Cony in last year’s quarterfinals, the Broncos returned to form this winter, going 17-1, losing only by five points at Bangor two days after Christmas.
Hampden Academy earned the top seed in Class A North and advanced by beating eighth-ranked Brewer (48-40) in the quarterfinals, avenging last year’s ouster with a 58-43 win over No. 4 Cony in the semifinals, then sending sixth-ranked Medomak Valley packing the regional final, 43-21.
Greely entered play Thursday seeking its sixth Gold Ball in seven tries (see sidebar, below, for previous state game results), while Hampden Academy was going for its fourth title in its ninth all-time appearance (the Broncos reached two Class B finals in addition to their seven Class A games).
The teams had no postseason history entering play, but they sure made some Thursday.
The Rangers struggled to score for over three minutes and the game’s first four points went to Hampden Academy, as senior Ian McIntyre, a Mr. Maine Basketball finalist, hit a short jumper and after DeWolfe was sidelined with his second foul, McIntyre took a pass from Winch and made a layup.
With 4:45 to go in the first quarter, after a steal, Bagshaw set up Brown for a layup to break the ice and 25 seconds later, senior Luke Miller, who replaced DeWolfe, hit a 3-pointer from up top for Greely’s first lead, 5-4.
Brown added two free throws and in transition, Bagshaw set up Brown for another layup, but with 2:32 remaining, senior Tommy Raye buried a 3 for the Broncos to end a four-minute drought.
Just inside the final minute, Kane drove for a layup and the Rangers took an 11-7 lead to the second quarter.
Where Greely continued to stretch it out until Hampden Academy closed the half strong.
Brown started the frame by setting up Kane for a layup.
After Raye buried an NBA-range 3 for Hampden Academy, Kane made a free throw.
With 6:02 to go in the half, McIntyre muscled his way over Kane and made a leaner, but Storey buried a 3 and with 4:33 to go, Brown set up Kane for an old-fashioned three-point play (layup, foul and free throw) and a 20-12 advantage.
Out of a timeout, things got worse for the Broncos, as Brown picked off a pass, raced in and made a layup, Brown sank a 3, Kane scored on a putback and DeWolfe set up Kane for a layup and a 17-point lead with 1:31 left in the second period.
“We got defensive stops and that led to transition and easy buckets at the other end,” Greely coach Travis Seaver said. “It was an up-tempo game and we were comfortable.”
Hampden Academy then finished the half strong to get back in the game, scoring the final seven points.
A putback from Winch with 1:12 on the clock snapped the 15-0 run and a 4 minute, 50 second scoring drought.
Lausier added a 3 and Winch made a layup after a steal as time wound down to cut the deficit to a manageable 10, 29-19.
“We took our foot off the gas and tried to take defenders off the dribble instead of continuing what we did most of the half,” Brown said.
“We wanted to go in the locker room up more, but we tried to regroup,” Seaver said.
In the first half, Kane led the way with 12 points, eight rebounds and three blocked shots and Brown added 11 points, four boards, three assists and two steals.
The Broncos were paced by six points apiece from McIntyre and Raye.
In the third quarter, Greely tried to shake Hampden Academy, but the Broncos drew closer.
Winch opened the second half with a 3, but Kane countered with a leaner to end Hampden Academy’s 10-0 run and the Rangers’ 3:36 drought.
After Lausier set up McIntyre for a layup, Bagshaw fed Brown for a layup, then, after a steal, Bagshaw assisted on a DeWolfe layup to make it 35-24 with 3:37 remaining.
Back came the Broncos, as senior Johnny Wolfington made two free throws, then banked home a shot in traffic.
Brown sank a big 3, but after Wolfington kept possession with an offensive rebound, he fed Lausier for a clutch 3.
In the waning seconds, Brown set up DeWolfe for a layup before two Winch free throws cut Greely’s lead to 40-33 heading for the final stanza.
There, the Rangers did just enough to produce a celebration.
When sophomore Mikey Raye buried a 3 from the corner nearly two minutes into the fourth, Hampden Academy was only down four.
Wolfington then stole the ball and set up Winch for a layup opportunity which could have made it a one-possession game, but Winch missed a shot and missed the putback before DeWolfe snared the rebound the end threat.
With 5:19 to play, DeWolfe was fouled on a drive and made one of two free throws for a 41-36 lead.
The Broncos kept coming and when Wolfington hit a jumper, then Winch drove for a layup with 3:42 to play, the deficit was a single point.
“Credit to Hampden, we waited for their run and we knew it was coming,” Seaver said. “Defensively, they took us out of our flow and slowed us down.”
DeWolfe answered with a bank shot after a nice move, but with 2:41 on the clock, McIntyre fed Winch for another layup, cutting the deficit to 43-42.
Again, DeWolfe put Greely on his shoulders, driving for a layup while being fouled before adding the and-one foul shot for a four-point advantage with 2:23 to go.
“They were guarding me, Jack and Logan, so Shane had open space and he took advantage of that,” Brown said.
But the Rangers couldn’t hold the lead, as after Tommy Raye and Lausier missed 3s, Lausier hit a baseline jumper to make it a two-point game with 1:14 remaining.
After DeWolfe missed the front end of a one-and-one, Winch rebounded and at the other end, Winch tied it with a contested jumper with 37.2 seconds on the clock.
That gave Greely a chance to set up and win it.
Out of a timeout, Brown got the ball down low to DeWolfe, who was fouled with 5.5 seconds showing. DeWolfe missed the first attempt and out of a timeout, he got the second to hit the rim a couple times before it dropped for the lead.
“Coach makes us focus on free throws,” DeWolfe said. “I can hit them consistently in practice, but in the big games, I’ve struggled. It was crappy to miss the first one, but my assistant coach told me to take a deep breath. Logan came up and told me I made them all the time in practice and that calmed me down.”
“I had confidence he’d make it,” Kane said.
“Shane’s a clutch player, so I knew there was no way he’d miss both shots,” Brown said. “Thankfully, he hit that free throw.”
Then, the Rangers had to hold on.
Tommy Raye inbounded to Wolfington, who was stymied by the defense of Miller and junior Mike Coppersmith before throwing the ball to Winch, who attempted a contested prayer from just beyond the NBA 3-point line at the horn.
The shot fell short and at 9:15 p.m., Greely could finally exhale and celebrate its palpitating 47-46 triumph.
“I thought that heave was going to go in,” DeWolfe said. “It was the biggest weight off our shoulders when it missed. To win it as a senior is just incredible. It means the world to me.”
“We had to lock down and play defense,” Brown said. “I had a bad feeling that was going in. It’s amazing to go back-to-back. It’s a dream come true. I thought we had something special the first day (of practice). We weren’t the same as last year scoring the ball, but we’re a fast team and we played great defense.
“It’s a lot more fun to play in a game like this. Last year, I didn’t really play that much and it was a blowout. Hampden’s a great team. They put up a fight at the end. They put a good run together and we started pressing a bit. It got in our minds we could lose the game after being up the whole game.”
“Our original plan was to foul them in the backcourt, but we slowed them down enough,” Kane said. “I made sure I grabbed the ball and I heard the horn. It was a big celebration. It’s just incredible. Going 44-0 speaks for itself. We got defensive stops and we made a free throw when it counted. This is 10 times the feeling of last year. We just worked together as a team. We all worked as hard as we could every day in practice.”
“It’s a Gold Ball and it shows how hard the guys worked all year,” Seaver added. “It’s awesome. We were able to hit the reset button. The guys were determined. We were more defense-oriented and the guys took it one game at a time.”
Brown was the game’s high scorer with 16 points. He also had six rebounds, four assists and two steals.
Kane added 14 points, 10 rebounds and four blocked shots.
DeWolfe bowed out with 11 points. He never quite returned to 100 percent this winter after suffering a knee injury during football season, but in his final basketball game before departing to attend Fordham University in New York City, DeWolfe did everything from kiss his baby nephew, Matthew, prior to the game, make key shots all over the floor, drain the winning foul shot, pose with his sister following the game as the boys’ and girls’ squads celebrated their combined championships and even earn a puppy by virtue of winning a bet with his parents that both siblings would claim a title.
“My sisters are my best friends,” said DeWolfe. “I love my nephew like crazy. I was sitting with him trying to relax before the game. The family part of it was incredible. We’ll remember this forever.
“Coach had faith in me. He told me to take it slowly. He had a knee injury in high school too. He was patient with me. I wasn’t the same player defensively, but I was able to manage.”
“Shane loves basketball, he loves (Greely), he loves his teammates,” said Seaver, who was a part of Greely’s last back-to-back champions in 1997 and 1998. “He worked hard to get back to where he was. I’m very happy for him.”
Miller and Storey (seven rebounds) rounded out Greely’s scoring with three points apiece.
Bagshaw didn’t score, but had five assists.
The Rangers had a 33-25 rebounding advantage, overcame 16 turnovers, made 18-of-43 field goals (4-of-11 3-pointers) and 7-of-13 free throws as they hung on by the skin of their teeth.
Hampden Academy got 15 points from Winch, who also had seven rebounds, three assists and three steals. Lausier and McIntyre (seven rebounds, four blocks, three steals) added eight points apiece, Tommy Raye and Wolfington (three assists) both had six points and Mikey Raye finished with three points.
The Broncos made all four of their free throws and only turned the ball over 14 times. Hampden Academy hit 18-of-47 field goals, including 6-of-20 from 3-point land.
Graduation will once again take a chunk out of the Rangers, as DeWolfe, Kane and Miller lead a group of six players departing, but with Bagshaw, Brown, Coppersmith and Storey all back, look for the good times to continue.
“I think we have most of our core guys back, so I think we have a good shot at it again,” Brown said.
“The seniors are great kids,” Seaver said. “The wins are nice, but they’ve been so good for our program. We lose a lot, but we have good, young talent. Our leadership will be a big hole to fill next year.”
Greely sophomore Logan Bagshaw shoots over Hampden Academy sophomore Bryce Lausier.
Greely junior Andrew Storey goes up for a shot.
Greely senior Jack Kane shoots as Hampden Academy senior Ian McIntyre defends.
Greely senior Shane DeWolfe leans in for a shot.
Greely junior Zach Brown goes up to the basket as Hampden Academy sophomore Bryce Lausier defends.
Greely junior Mike Coppersmith drives on Hampden Academy senior Johnny Wolfington.
With 5.5 seconds to go, Greely senior Shane DeWolfe prepares to knock down the winning free throw.
Greely senior Shane DeWolfe waves the net in celebration following the win.
Greely receives the Gold Ball.
Gold Balls were a family affair Thursday night, as after the boys’ win, Shane DeWolfe is joined by his sister Anna, who led the girls to a state title as well, as both teams celebrate their championships.
2017 Class A
Greely 59 Messalonskee 43
1998 Class B
Greely 70 Camden-Rockport 69
1997 Class B
Greely 62 Bucksport 49
1995 Class B
Greely 69 Mt. Desert Island 55
1981 Class B
Orono 79 Greely 67
1963 Class C
Greely 45 Milo 42
2015 Class A
Hampden Academy 70 Portland 50
2014 Class A
Portland 54 Hampden Academy 40
2013 Class A
Hampden Academy 45 South Portland 41
2012 Class A
Deering 59 Hampden Academy 50
2006 Class A
Deering 47 Hampden Academy 37
2005 Class A
Hampden Academy 59 Deering 49
1982 Class B
Gorham 59 Hampden Academy 44
1977 Class B
Medomak Valley 72 Hampden Academy 57