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Waynflete junior Askar Houssein launches a 3-pointer over Old Orchard Beach senior James McCullum during the Flyers’ 67-32 victory in Monday’s Class C South quarterfinal. Waynflete will battle Hall-Dale in the semifinals Thursday.
OOB- 11 8 6 7- 32
W- 14 26 11 16- 67
OOB- Crockett 4-3-12, LaPlante 4-1-9, Davies 1-1-4, LaChance 1-0-3, Anderson 1-0-2, McCullum 1-0-2
W- Scott 7-2-17, Houssein 6-1-14, Dahia 3-0-7, Mohammed 3-0-7, Campbell 2-0-4, Johnson 2-0-4, Levy 2-0-4, Rhoads 2-0-4, Saade 2-0-4, Veroneau 1-0-2
OOB (3) Crockett, Davies, LaChance 1
W (4) Dahia, Houssein, Mohammed, Scott 1
AUGUSTA—A year ago, Waynflete’s boys’ basketball team appeared en route to a quarterfinal round victory over Boothbay before giving it up and bowing out in agonizing fashion.
Monday evening at the Augusta Civic Center, in a Class C South quarterfinal, the second-seeded Flyers opened this year’s tournament against No. 7 Old Orchard Beach and again opened up a healthy lead, but this time, they wouldn’t relinquish it and they enjoyed a decisive victory.
And Waynflete’s just getting started.
The Flyers never trailed and behind four points apiece from senior Finn Scott and junior Askar Houssein, went up, 14-11, after one quarter.
Waynflete then erupted for 26 second period points and took a commanding 40-19 advantage to the break, thanks to a balanced attack which saw nine different players score.
When the second half began, the Flyers never relented and when Houssein hit a runner, they took a 51-25 lead to the fourth period.
And there, Waynflete continued to pull away and eventually it put an exclamation point on its 67-32 victory.
Scott led the way with 17 points and the Flyers forced 19 turnovers as they improved to 15-2, ended the Seagulls’ season at 9-11 and in the process, advanced to set up a compelling semifinal round showdown against third-seeded Hall-Dale (18-1) Thursday at 7 p.m., in Augusta.
“Last year was definitely in the back of our minds the entire time,” Scott said. “We have a lot of guys from last year who remember that. We came out ready to play both halves and no one was satisfied the entire game and no one let up.”
Three members of the basketball team (senior Burr Rhoads, junior Oliver Burdick and sophomore Ilo Holdridge) also helped the Waynflete boys’ lacrosse team to a Class C state championship back in June and the boys’ soccer squad to an undefeated state title in November and many others played on at least one of those champions.
“Being part of those two teams, especially soccer senior year, the excitement and joy winning brought me, makes me want to work even harder for this,” Rhoads said. “I want that feel that same feeling with this team.”
“I loved seeing the soccer team and lacrosse team have success,” said Waynflete coach Rich Henry. “Being under pressure in big games, it doesn’t matter if it was soccer or lacrosse. It helps us.”
Basketball has enjoyed a pretty impressive run as well (see sidebar, below, for links to previous stories), navigating a very challenging schedule with 14 wins and just two losses (a three-point setback at Yarmouth and an 11-point loss at Gray-New Gloucester).
As the No. 2 seed in Class C South, the Flyers earned a bye into the quarterfinals and a week-and-a-half off.
Old Orchard Beach was 8-10 in the regular season, then downed No. 10 Madison, 50-29, in the preliminary round Thursday.
In the regular season, Waynflete easily took both meetings, 82-28 on the road and 68-45 at home. The teams had split two prior postseason encounters, with the Seagulls winning, 63-42, in the 2012 Western C semifinals and the Flyers prevailing, 51-46, in the 2017 Class C South preliminary round.
Monday, unlike a year ago, Waynflete left no doubt and took care of business to advance.
The Flyers turned the ball over the first time they had it, then senior Alex Saade drove for a reverse layup and the lead.
After a block at the defensive end by sophomore Dominick Campbell, junior Diraige Dahia fed Scott for a layup and a quick 4-0 advantage.
Old Orchard Beach got on the board with 4:52 to play in the first when sophomore Jaden Davies buried a 3-pointer, but Houssein came off the bench and made a layup, then stole the ball and made another layup before junior Solomon Levy set up Scott for a layup in transition and a 10-3 lead.
The Seagulls countered with a jumper from sophomore Ryan Crockett that rattled in, but Levy made a jumper at the other end.
After a putback by sophomore Zach LaPlante, Levy made a long jump shot, but Old Orchard Beach closed the frame strong, getting two foul shots from Crockett and a leaner from senior James McCullum to trail by a mere three points, 14-11, after eight minutes.
The Flyers then came out and ended all doubt in the second period.
Scott got things started with a bank shot and after Scott kept play alive with an offensive rebound, he set up sophomore Jared Johnson for a layup and an 18-11 lead.
The Seagulls got a bank shot from Crockett, but the next 11 points went to Waynflete, as Dahia made a floater, Rhoads scored his first points on a putback, senior Musaid Mohammed scored on a putback, Rhoads set up Houssein on the break for a layup and with 3:18 left in the half, a 3-ball from Dahia made the score 29-13.
A free throw from LaPlante 21 seconds later ended the run, but Campbell made a layup and Rhoads scored on another putback for a 33-14 advantage.
After Crockett drained a 3 for Old Orchard Beach, Scott countered with one of his own.
“I personally like shooting here,” Scott said. “The rims are soft. Some of the guys get thrown off by the distance, but we’re an athletic team and like to run, so on a big court, we love it.”
Saade made a layup after a steal before Seagulls sophomore David Anderson scored on a putback with 15.8 seconds on the clock, but at the horn, Scott scored on a putback of his own and Waynflete had a commanding 40-19 lead at the half.
“We talked about last year all week,” said Henry. “We needed to get a good start and keep going.”
Nine different Flyers scored in the first 16 minutes, with Scott leading the way with 11 points. Rhoads had four points and six rebounds in his limited time off the bench.
Crockett paced the Seagulls with nine first half points.
Waynflete didn’t let up in the third quarter.
After Crockett opened the second half with a free throw, Dahia made a layup after a steal and Scott added a layup.
LaPlante made a layup for Old Orchard Beach, but Houssein countered with a long 3 and Johnson’s putback made the score 49-22.
After LaPlante made a layup and and Davies hit a foul shot, a runner from Houssein stretched the Flyers’ advantage to 51-25 heading for the fourth period.
There, Waynflete salted it away.
Scott opened the final stanza with a jumper and after Crockett drove for a layup, Mohammed countered with a 3.
LaPlante made a layup for Old Orchard Beach, but Mohammed hit another jumper, Houssein scored on a putback, Houssein made a free throw, Campbell scored on a putback and Scott added two free throws for his final points and a 65-29 lead.
A 3-ball from freshman Isaac LaChance gave the Seagulls their final points and with 1:07 remaining, sophomore Mike Veroneau’s jumper brought the curtain down on the Flyers’ 67-32 victory.
“This round was a roadblock for us last year, so getting past this first game and getting a feel for the court was huge for us,” Scott said. “It gives us a huge boost of confidence. We had so many contributors off the bench. That’s one of the biggest things that helped us grow the lead.”
“I told the guys if you’re athletic and quick, this court should be your best friend, so spread out and use your quickness and length to your advantage,” Henry said. “We’ve got good size and athletic guys, so we look to hold teams to one shot and getting the ball off the boards.”
Scott finished with a game-high 17 points and also had five rebounds and four assists.
Houssein added 14 points, Dahia and Mohammed each had seven, Campbell finished with four (to go with six blocked shots), Johnson, Levy (five rebounds), Saade and Rhoads (eight rebounds, two assists, two steals) also had four apiece.
“I had the same role last year and I didn’t feel like I did my job and last year and that’s been in the back of my head,” Rhoads said. “I just pushed myself as hard as possible to make an impact. I love playing here. The atmosphere here fuels me.”
“Burr played a huge role,” said Henry. “He’s been injured, but senior year, it’s really important for him to be healthy. It’s great for him to come in and have success.”
Veroneau contributed two points.
“The story of our team is balance on offense,” Henry said. “If we can keep doing that, it’s hard for other teams to load up and try and stop us.”
The Flyers had a 40-21 advantage on the boards, made 3 of 6 free throws and only turned the ball over six times.
Old Orchard Beach was led by Crockett with 12 points and seven rebounds. LaPlante added nine points, eight rebounds and four blocks. Davies had four points, LaChance three and Anderson and McCullum two apiece.
The Seagulls made 5 of 9 free throws and committed 19 turnovers.
Waynflete’s next challenge will be far more daunting, as Hall-Dale looms (the Bulldogs defeated No. 6 Monmouth Academy, 83-57, in their quarterfinal Tuesday).
The teams don’t play in the regular season, but they’ve met three previous times in the postseason, with a 54-40 Flyers’ victory in the 2015 Western C quarterfinals the most recent.
Hall-Dale has an explosive offense and will pose some matchup problems, but Waynflete isn’t ready to go home yet.
“We just have to come here ready to play Thursday,” Rhoads said. “It’s that simple. I feel this is one of the best teams I’ve been a part of. We just have to put forth our best effort.”
“We’ll have to run the floor and get a lot of ball movement,” Scott said. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to use our height advantage on the boards and get out and play our game.”
“Hall-Dale is very good,” Henry added. “They run the floor well and offensively, they’re very tough. I think we need to make them play defense and I think we need to make it a little harder on offense for them. Having the experience of being in big games helps. We’ll see if it pays off.”
2017 Class C South preliminary
Waynflete 51 OOB 46
2012 Western C semifinals
OOB 63 Waynflete 42