The 2014-15 high school basketball season now belongs to the history books and what a year it was, from the opening tip in early December, right through the final day of February.
In Forecaster Country, it was championship material, at least for the Greely girls, who won Class B for the first time in 11 seasons. Falmouth also qualified for the playoffs, but was upset by Windham in the preliminary round. Yarmouth just missed the postseason, but hinted at being a playoff regular in the not too distant future.
On the boys’ side, Falmouth proved once and for all it belonged in Class A’s postseason, reaching the regional final after an epic individual performance. Yarmouth was the top seed in Western B, but was upset in the semifinals. Greely lost to eventual state champion Cape Elizabeth in the quarterfinals. In Western D, North Yarmouth Academy made it to the quarterfinals for the second year in a row before losing to top-ranked Forest Hills.
Before we shut the door on the season, here’s one last look back at the most memorable highlights:
1) Greely girls have no peer
Greely’s girls’ team had knocked on the championship door for several years, but consistently found Lake Region or York standing in the way. This winter, no one was going to stop the Rangers, who embarked on a tournament run that simply caused jaws to drop in admiration. Greely finally solved Lake Region in the quarterfinals, then, against a Gray-New Gloucester squad which had beaten the Rangers in the regular season, the Rangers erupted early and never looked back in a shockingly easy semifinal round triumph. Next up was a Cinderella Cape Elizabeth squad in the regional final, but Greely made sure midnight struck quickly and won its first regional crown in 11 seasons. The Rangers then saved their best for last, as a second quarter explosion led to an easy win over Presque Isle in the state final and the Gold Ball returned to Cumberland. In emphatic fashion.
2) Simonds steals the show
Falmouth senior Jack Simonds was recognized as one of the state’s best players even before the Western Class A tournament. Then, he went out and became a legend. First, Simonds helped the Yachtsmen rally and survive Westbrook in a memorable quarterfinal, as his three-point play in overtime proved to be the winning margin in a 48-47 victory. That was a mere warmup, however. Against highly touted South Portland in the semifinals, Simonds had 13 points in the first quarter and 21 in the first half. As Falmouth seized control of the contest in the second half, attention turned to Simonds making a run at the Western A single-game tournament scoring record of 42. With 49.6 seconds remaining, he made two free throws and equalled it. Simonds added 23 more points against Portland in the regional final, but he was shut out in the fourth period and the Yachtsmen were ousted. Still, Simonds was rightly recognized as the outstanding player-sportsman of the Western A tournament.
3) Top seed doesn’t help
Yarmouth’s boys’ basketball team won 15 of 18 regular season games and as a result, earned the top seed for the playoffs for the first time in decades, but the Clippers soon learned that rankings mean little. First, Yarmouth was pushed for a half by Gray-New Gloucester in the quarterfinals, before shooting lights out in the second half to advance. The Clippers then met Lake Region in the semifinals and after handling the Lakers by 32 points in the regular season, were expected to prevail, but Lake Region showed it only matters how you play on a given night and it held off a late Yarmouth rally to win, 52-50, ending the Clippers’ season in agony.
4) Falmouth girls drop OT thriller
Falmouth’s girls’ team produced a solid 12-6 regular season record, but the Yachtsmen only managed the No. 6 seed in Western A and had to host Windham in the preliminary round of the playoffs. Falmouth found itself in a 32-plus minute battle, but appeared to be on the brink of a victory in the fourth quarter. The Eagles rallied to tie the game at the horn, however, then defeated the Yachtsmen, 51-46, in overtime, giving Falmouth its second straight agonizing postseason overtime setback.
5) Yarmouth girls on the rise
Yarmouth’s girls’ basketball team won just four games in 2013-14 and entered the season without a single senior, leading most to anticipate some big-time growing pains for the Clippers, but instead, they hinted that their future is very bright. Yarmouth won its opener, over visiting Kennebunk, then lost five straight. Positive signs abounded, however, and the Clippers rattled off three consecutive victories, sandwicedh by wins over perennial powerhouse Waynflete and at eventual regional finalist Cape Elizabeth. Yarmouth would win three more games, but its 7-11 record left it just short of the final playoff spot. Look for the Clippers to take that next step next winter.
Greely’s girls’ basketball team celebrated last and longest this winter, winning the Class B title.
Falmouth senior Jack Simonds had a tournament to remember, leading the Yachtsmen to the Western A Final.