Freeport’s girls’ basketball team had a lot to celebrate this winter, as it reached the regional final for the first time since 1976.
Falmouth’s Nik Hester and Greely’s Jack Kane did battle in a memorable Class A semifinal. The Rangers held on and went on to a second straight championship.
Maggie Larson led the North Yarmouth Academy girls to the playoffs.
Ashanti Haywood and the Yarmouth boys enjoyed another winning season.
The 2017-18 basketball season will be remembered for producing drama from early December right into March.
Especially in Forecaster Country, where two teams won state championships and two others stole headlines.
Greely’s boys weren’t expected to repeat as Class A champions and certainly weren’t predicted to go undefeated yet again, but the Rangers started with an impressive win at Cape Elizabeth and never looked back, eclipsing the program record of 34 consecutive victories in the process. Greely wound up 18-0 and earned the top seed for the A South playoffs. Falmouth, despite being overwhelmed by injuries, also qualified, as the fourth seed.
In Class B South, Yarmouth once again was near the top, while Freeport, for the first time in a decade, made a playoff run of its own.
North Yarmouth Academy, despite the heroics of sophomore standout Te’Andre King, couldn’t qualify for the postseason.
In the playoffs, Freeport won a prelim to reach the quarterfinals for the first time since 2008, then lost a close decision to eventual repeat champion Wells. Yarmouth beat Maranacook in the quarterfinals, but was ousted by Cape Elizabeth in the semifinals.
In Class A South, Falmouth survived York in a quarterfinal, while Greely pulled away to down Fryeburg Academy in its quarterfinal game. The rivals squared off in the semifinals and after the Rangers appeared primed to win easily, the Yachtsmen roared back and the game came down to the wire where Greely held on to prevail by a mere two points. After downing Westbrook in the regional final, the Rangers returned to the state final where a late free throw from senior Shane DeWolfe provided the winning margin in a 47-46 win over Hampden Academy, giving Greely consecutive Gold Balls and a 44-game win streak.
On the girls’ side, Greely and Falmouth made the Class A South playoffs, Freeport produced its best season in nearly 30 years and earned a high ranking in Class B South and NYA posted a strong season in Class C South. Yarmouth didn’t make the playoffs.
NYA lost in a preliminary round game to Traip Academy. Falmouth won a prelim at Morse, then was no match for top-ranked Brunswick in the quarterfinals. All eyes then turned to Freeport and Greely.
The Falcons managed to win a quarterfinal round game for the first time since 1977, holding off Wells. Freeport then continued to make history, winning a semifinal, barely, over Poland, for the first time since 1976. Although the Falcons finally met their match against Lake Region in the regional final, they exhilarated their community.
Greely, after consecutive painful losses in the regional final round, wouldn’t be denied this time around behind junior star Anna DeWolfe. The Rangers handled Leavitt and Marshwood, then avenged last year’s loss to Brunswick to reach the Class A state game for the first time. There, after a sluggish start, Greely pulled away to dominate Hampden Academy.
Here’s one last look at the best memories from this basketball season:
5) Yarmouth boys reach semis again
One year after an agonizing regional final loss to Wells, Yarmouth’s boys’ basketball team was expected to be a top contender in Class B South and the Clippers didn’t disappoint. When all was said and done, Yarmouth was the third seed in the region and after beating Maranacook in the quarterfinals, the Clippers hoped to down rival Cape Elizabeth in the semifinals, but a slow start spelled doom and Yarmouth lost, 51-30.
4) Falmouth boys overcome
Before the regular season tipped off, Falmouth’s boys’ team, which was expected to make a serious run at a state title, lost two of its top players, Nikko DePatsy and Michael Simonds, to injury. The Yachtsmen weren’t expected to do much, but behind one of the finest coaching jobs of Dave Halligan’s career, they managed to navigate their regular season schedule at .500, then edged York in double-overtime in a thrilling quarterfinal. Falmouth was given no chance to beat Greely in the semifinals and after falling behind by double-digits in the first half, that appeared to be the case, but this squad refused to fold and put a mighty scare into the eventual champions before falling by only two points. Expect a healthier team in 2018-19 and a return to championship status as well.
3) Freeport boys return to playoffs
Freeport’s boys’ team got to the Western B Final in 2008, then was lost in the wilderness for a decade. This winter, the Falcons returned to prominence and set the stage for future success. Freeport posted a winning record and made the playoffs for the first time in a decade, then dispatched Lisbon in the preliminary round. In front of a large and vocal crowd, the Falcons then gave top-ranked Wells a scare in the Class B South quarterfinals, even grabbing a fourth quarter lead, but the Warriors rallied to win, 42-35. This isn’t the last we’ve heard of this group.
2) Freeport girls wake up the echoes
While the boys’ team at Freeport was finding its way back to the tournament, the girls’ squad was gearing up to make a run at the top spot in Class B South. After falling in consecutive years to Gray-New Gloucester in the quarterfinals, this year’s team, with a strong senior core, which was bolstered by transfer Allie Goodman, stole headlines from the onset. The Falcons got out to a fast start and would post their best record (14-4) since the 1991-92 season and earn the No. 3 seed in the region (the best in program history). Freeport was pushed to the wire by Wells in the quarterfinals and Poland in the semifinals, but passed both tests to reach the regional final for the first time since the bicentennial year of 1976. The Falcons had their chances against Lake Region with a trip to the state final on the line, but Freeport couldn’t buy a basket in the second half and its dream ended, 40-33. The Falcons will have a new look next winter, but they expect to remain a top contender.
1) Greely sweeps titles
Cumberland became Titletown on the hardwood (and off) this winter. Not only did the boys go back-to-back, extending a program-best win streak in the process, the girls joined in the fun as well. Hampden Academy was the victim in both state games. The girls were first, as they shook off an early six-point deficit and embarked on a 15-0 run to roll to a 53-38 victory. The boys then had to hold on by the skin of their teeth, but did so by a point. In the aftermath, both teams proudly showed off their Gold Balls and suggested that this wasn’t the last time we’ll see dual celebrations.