PORTLAND—For three years, the championship hopes of the Greely girls’ basketball team were cast asunder by the Lake Region Lakers.
This winter, the Rangers finally said enough.
Despite a marvelous 16-2 regular season, Greely’s third seed forced it to battle Lake Region in the Western Class B quarterfinals Tuesday afternoon at the Portland Exposition Building and the fourth time proved to be the charm.
The first period was played at the Lakers’ pace, but Rangers senior standout Ashley Storey came alive late to give Greely a 10-7 lead.
Then, after Lake Region tied the game on a 3-pointer 28 seconds into the second quarter, the Rangers’ defense pitched a shutout the rest of the period and sophomore Isabel Porter came off the bench to produce nine points in a little over three minutes as Greely opened up a healthy 23-10 advantage.
The Rangers kept the pressure on in the third quarter and while the Lakers got as close as eight points, a late runner from Storey made it 33-23 heading for the fourth period.
There, five quick points from senior Haley Felkel ended all doubt and at last, Greely solved its nemesis, as it went on to a 45-31 victory.
Storey led all scorers with 19 points, Porter added 11 and Felkel had nine as the Rangers improved to 17-2, ended Lake Region’s season at 11-8 and advanced to battle second-ranked Gray-New Gloucester (18-1) in a delicious semifinal round matchup Thursday at 3 p.m. at the Cross Insurance Arena (formerly the Cumberland County Civic Center).
“It absolutely feels good to beat them,” said Greely coach Joel Rogers. “(The girls) know how I feel about (Lake Region) Coach (Paul) True. I have pure respect. We respect for their program. To do what they do and they’re not a big school. They play hard.”
Greely came into the 2014-15 season with one goal in mind, a Gold Ball. The Rangers fell on Opening Night to visiting Gray-New Gloucester (59-47), then righted their ship with victories over host Freeport (62-26), visiting Kennebunk (64-33), host Yarmouth (50-29),visiting Falmouth (54-28), host Poland (47-30), visiting Fryeburg Academy (39-31) and host Kennebunk (59-28). After its seven-game win streak ended with a 48-43 loss at York, Greely didn’t fall again, as it handled host Falmouth (37-13), visiting Freeport (66-33), visiting Yarmouth (54-22), visiting Lake Region (52-30), host Fryeburg Academy (53-37), host Cape Elizabeth (63-30), host Wells (51-19), visiting Cape Elizabeth (35-25) and visiting York (65-30) to earn the No. 3 seed.
Lake Region, which lost some top-notch talent after winning it all a year ago, remained very competitive this season and its 11-7 mark gave it the No. 6 seed and a bye into the quarterfinals.
The teams had played seven times in the past 14 tournaments, including each of the past three. The Lakers had won five of those meetings, including last year’s semifinals (43-32).
This time, Greely got the job done.
After a sluggish start, Felkel hit a jumper to break the ice. The Lakers then got a free throw from senior Sarah Hancock, a jumper from senior Meghan VanLoan and a Hancock layup (off an inbounds pass from junior CeCe Hancock) for a 5-2 lead.
Storey then scored her first points, on a driving layup. Storey followed that up with an old-fashioned three-point play (leaner, foul, free throw). After Sarah Hancock tied the score with a jumper, Storey made a free throw, then, with 26.1 seconds to go, Storey made two more for a 10-7 lead after one quarter.
“Once they went man-to-man, Ashley got some quick points,” Rogers said.
Lake Region started fast in the second period as freshman Chandler True knocked down a 3, but that would be its final points for a long time.
A runner from sophomore Moira Train put Greely ahead to stay.
Storey picked her second foul with 6:05 to go in the half, but she stayed on the floor.
“Paul burned a timeout, so I had an opportunity to talk to Ashley and I just told her not to try and block shots,” Rogers said.
Storey wouldn’t pick up another foul the remainder of the half.
Forty-eight seconds later, Porter knocked down a 3 from the wing and she was just heating up.
With 2:17 to go, Porter got the ball in the same spot and buried another 3. Then, 22 seconds later, Porter drove and kissed a runner off the glass while being fouled, then she made the free throw for the old-fashioned three-point play.
“I don’t really remember anything about that,” Porter said. “All I know is that it somehow went in. I just decided to shoot. When my teammates pass me the ball, if I’m open, I’ll shoot.”
“I was a little concerned about our shots not falling at first, but Isabel gave us a spark with her shots,” Storey said. “She was ready to play.”
A pair of Train foul shots put the Rangers ahead, 23-10, at halftime.
Greely closed the half on a 13-0 run and Lake Region failed to score for 7 minutes, 32 seconds.
“The key for us was the last two minutes of the second quarter,” Rogers said. “I took Ashley out and (junior) Maddie Cyr grabbed rebounds and Isabel Porter had five points. The lead went from eight to 13.”
The Rangers never let the Lakers back in it in the third period.
With 6:45 left in the frame, after an 8:47 drought, a VanLoan jumper ended the 13-0 run. Storey countered with a putback, but Lake Region sophomore Kristen Huntress took a pass from CeCe Hancock and made a layup and Huntress added two foul shots to cut the deficit to 25-16.
Storey threw a touchdown pass to Porter for a layup and Felkel hit a jumper to push the lead back to 13, 29-16, but VanLoan answered with a short jumper. After Porter set up Storey for a layup, Huntress buried a 3 and Sarah Hancock stole the ball and made a layup to pull Lake Region within eight, but a Storey runner in the final minute gave the Rangers a 33-23 lead heading for the fourth period.
There, Greely ended all doubt.
First, Felkel took a pass from Porter and made a layup. Then, with 5:05 left, she canned a 3 from the corner which was essentially the dagger.
“They made a little noise in the fourth quarter and Haley hit that 3 in the corner and that was it,” Rogers said. “We could start to relax a little.”
With 4:10 remaining, Huntress made two foul shots to end a 4:55 drought, but Storey made a free throw and Storey finished a feed from Felkel with a layup for a 41-25 advantage.
After True made a 3, Storey made two free throws and Train did the same. A putback from Sarah Hancock and a free throw from Huntress produced the 45-31 final score.
“This was really fun, especially fun to beat Lake Region,” Porter said. “We really wanted to win. We knew we had to play our hardest. We got it done on defense and that started our offense.”
“The last three years, we made it as far as we could,” Storey said. “This year, we really wanted to win. We knew they’d be tough and we knew we’d have to play well.”
“We got off to a better start today, so that helped,” Rogers added. “Defensively, to hold them to 10 points in the first half was monumental. I went out with a trap to start the second half, but I probably stayed in it too long. They don’t quit. They have the heart of a lion.”
Storey was held in check for stretches of the game, but still led all scorers with1 9 points. She grabbed eight rebounds, blocked two shots and had two assists as well.
“When my teammates get me the ball, I just try to get it in the hoop,” Storey said. “I just play my game and not let the fouls get in my head.”
Porter made the most of her limited minutes, scoring 11 points.
” I think (Isabel’s) the best point cover on the team right now,” Rogers said. “Isabel makes drops from up top to the corner. She’s been unbelievable. She’s not afraid to shoot. She loads that 3 up. It’s a great tribute to her. She has all the confidence in the world in her ability.”
Felkel had nine points (and six rebounds) and Train added six points and four boards.
Sophomore Molly Chapin didn’t score, but had six rebounds.
Greely outrebounded Lake Region, 28-19, only committed 10 turnovers and hit 12 of 14 foul shots.
The Lakers got 10 points and five rebounds from Huntress. Sarah Hancock had nine points, four boards, three assists and a steal. Chandler True and VanLoan each added six points.
Lake Region turned the ball over just nine times and made 6 of 8 free throws as its title reign came to an end.
Greely has been pining away for two-and-a-half months hoping to get another crack at Gray-New Gloucester after its 59-47 home loss to the Patriots way back on Dec. 5.
The teams have some playoff history, as the Patriots were victorious in the 2001 Western B Final and the 2006 quarterfinal round, while the Rangers beat Gray-New Gloucester in the 2003 regional final.
Greely’s ready to make a statement Thursday.
“I think this gives us confidence,” Porter said. “We can play better, but this is a good start.”
“We know it will be tough from here on out,” said Storey. “We have to go out and play like we can play. The Civic Center is a great place to play. We have to play better defense and we didn’t have Haley last time. She’s great on defense and on offense when she gets going. We’re not going to be too confident, but we’re ready to go.”
“We really look forward to that matchup,” Rogers added. “I have a lot of respect for (Gray-New Gloucester coach) Mike Andreasen. We’ve struggled with them. He’s beaten me the last three times. We’ll be better covering 3s. They hit eight 3s against us last time. I don’t think we’ll see them go 24 of 28 from the free throw line. We didn’t have Haley the last 20 minutes last time. We have to expose their bench. They’re not that deep. It’s been a long time since someone proved they could score 40 against us. We’ve got the offense to get to the mid-40s. We got this one out of the way. Now we can look forward to the next game.”
Greely junior Maddie Cyr tries in vain to block the shot of Lake Region senior Sarah Hancock.
Greely sophomore Isabel Porter, who was terrific off the bench with 11 points, is sandwiched on this drive by Lake Region junior Sierra Hancock (3) and senior Sarah Hancock.
Greely junior Maddie Cyr tries to block the shot attempt of Lake Region junior CeCe Hancock.
Greely sophomore Moira Train drives to the basket.
Greely senior Ashley Storey soars for two of her 19 points during Tuesday’s 45-31 win over defending state champion Lake Region in the Western Class B quarterfinals.
More photos below.
LR- 7 3 13 8- 31
G- 10 13 10 12- 45
LR- Huntress 2-5-10, S. Hancock 4-1-9, True 2-0-6, VanLoan 3-0-6
G- Storey 6-7-19, Porter 4-1-11, H. Felkel 4-0-9, Train 1-4-6
LR (3) True 2, Huntress 1
G (3) Porter 2, H. Felkel 1
2014 Western B semifinals
Lake Region 43 Greely 32
2013 Western B semifinals
Lake Region 42 Greely 27
2012 Western B Final
Lake Region 49 Greely 30
2009 Western B quarterfinals
Greely 39 Lake Region 27
2007 Western B semifinals
Lake Region 44 Greely 32
2005 Western B semifinals
Lake Region 45 Greely 42
2001 Western B quarterfinals
Greely 44 Lake Region 33