Waynflete junior Alex Saade (12) and sophomore Askar Houssein walk off the floor together in disbelief at the conclusion of the Flyers’ 65-64 loss to Boothbay in Monday’s Class C South quarterfinal. Waynflete let a 16-point lead slip away.
Brian Beard photos.
More photos below.
BBR- 12 17 19 17- 65
W- 20 22 12 10- 64
BBR- Reny 6-9-21, Ames 6-1-18, Crocker 7-0-17, Gudroe 3-1-7. Simpson 1-0-2
W- Houssein 5-0-12, Dahia 5-0-11, Mohammed 4-0-9, Campbell 3-2-8, Brooks 3-1-7, Rhoads 3-0-6, Scott 2-0-5, Levy 2-0-4, Mohamed 1-0-2
BBR (8) Ames 5, Crocker 3
W (5) Houssein 2, Dahia, Mohammed, Scott 1
AUGUSTA—A beloved home away from home became a house of horrors for the Waynflete boys’ basketball team Monday afternoon.
The third-ranked Flyers made their annual trip north to the Augusta Civic Center for a Class C South quarterfinal against sixth-seeded Boothbay and in the first half, it appeared as if Waynflete was well on its way to taking the first step in what many expected would be a championship journey.
But games last 32 minutes, not 16, and the proud Seahawks, coached by Maine Basketball Hall of Famer, I.J. Pinkham, roared back and ruined the Flyers’ party.
Waynflete scored the game’s first eight points, shot to an 18-7 lead and held a 20-12 advantage after one quarter.
The Flyers then went up by 16 points three different times in the second period, as they shared the ball beautifully and got scoring from nine different players, but Boothbay didn’t wilt and pulled within 42-29 on a late 3-pointer from sophomore Hunter Crocker.
The Seahawks came out with more intensity and took better care of the ball in the third quarter and while senior captain Kyle Ames picked up his fourth foul midway through, he stayed on the floor and sparked a rally which saw Boothbay pull within four on a couple of occasions before Waynflete took a 54-48 lead to the fourth quarter.
There, the Flyers went up by 11 on a 3-pointer from sophomore Askar Houssein and a layup from junior Musaid Mohamed, but the Seahawks ran off 11 straight points to tie it, 59-59, on a free throw from senior Elijah Gudroe.
Waynflete retook the lead on a jumper from senior Christian Brooks, but with 1:17 remaining, Ames hit a 3 and 30 seconds later, a free throw from junior Steve Reny made it 63-61 Boothbay.
The Flyers tied it on a jumper from sophomore Diraige Dahia with 35.1 seconds to go, but 18 seconds later, Gudroe fed Crocker for a layup and the Seahawks had the lead for good.
Waynflete didn’t go quietly, as with 4.8 seconds on the clock, freshman Dominick Campbell was fouled and made the first of two free throws and after he missed the second, the Flyers got a reprieve as the rebound went out of bounds off Boothbay.
Waynflete never could attempt a potential game-winning shot, however, as it turned the ball over, and Ames ran out the clock as the Seahawks prevailed, 65-64.
Boothbay improved to 15-5, ended the Flyers’ fine season at 15-4 and advanced to meet second-ranked Winthrop (15-4) in the Class C South semifinals Thursday at 7 p.m., in Augusta.
“It’s a shock,” said Flyers coach Rich Henry. “The kids didn’t expect to be in this place. It hasn’t set in. I think you have to tip your cap and say Boothbay did a great job.”
Waynflete played a very challenging schedule this winter (see sidebar, below, for links to previous game stories), which included several games against playoff teams from Class B South and after a 3-3 start, the Flyers finished with 12 straight wins to wind up 15-3 and earn the No. 3 seed in Class C South.
Boothbay, a perennial contender, continued to chug along this winter, going 13-5, earning the No. 6 seed in the region before ousting No. 11 Carrabec in decisive fashion (93-52) in Tuesday’s preliminary round.
The teams don’t play in the regular season. They split two previous playoff meetings (see sidebar, below), with the Seahawks’ 70-52 win in the 2013 regional final the most recent.
Monday, the Flyers appeared bound for their eighth straight quarterfinal round victory, but Boothbay roared back for a shocking victory.
Waynflete got off to a terrific start, as Brooks scored on a putback 44 seconds in to set the tone, Brooks set up Campbell for a layup, Houssein fed Dahia for a layup in transition, then Houssein stole the ball and made a layup for an 8-0 lead with 6:05 to go in the opening quarter, forcing Pinkham to call timeout.
It helped, as Ames made a layup while being fouled and added the free throw for the old-fashioned three-point play and Reny banked home a shot, but Houssein answered with a 3-pointer, Campbell put home a miss and Houssein made another layup after a steal for a 15-5 advantage.
Crocker made a nice finger roll in traffic for the Seahawks, but junior Finn Scott hit a 3 and after Ames countered with a 3-ball, Scott scored on a putback.
WIth 31.8 seconds left, a leaner from Reny pulled Boothbay within eight, 20-12, after one period.
In the first quarter, Houssein led the way with seven points, while Scott added five. The Seahawks were hindered by seven turnovers.
In the second quarter, the Flyers stretched their lead.
The frame began with a terrific save from junior Burr Rhoads, who got the ball to sophomore Soloman Levy for a layup.
After a putback from Gudroe, Houssein set up Rhoads for a layup, Dahia fed Rhoads for another layup, Dahia banked home a shot, then with 4:42 to go in the half, Dahia made a layup after a steal for a 30-14 lead.
Gudroe countered with a putback, but Houssein set up junior Musaid Mohammed for a layup to allow the Flyers to double up the Seahawks.
Boothbay answered with two Reny free throws and a putback from Crocker, but Houssein fed Mohammed for another layup.
After two more Reny foul shots, Dahia buried a long 3.
Reny hit two foul shots, but senior Abdi Mohamed banked home a shot.
Reny hit two more free throws with 58.3 seconds left, but Mohammed made a 3 with 19.1 seconds to go to push the lead to 16 for the final time.
A 3 from Crocker with 6.7 seconds remaining allowed the Seahawks to pull within 42-29 at the break.
In the first half, Waynflete put nine different players in the scoring column, led by Dahia with nine points. Reny paced Boothbay with a dozen points, but the Seahawks committed 16 turnovers.
In the third period, Boothbay began to rally.
Ames started the frame with a 3 and after Brooks countered with a jumper, Ames buried another 3-ball to cut the deficit to 44-35.
Brooks answered with a free throw and after he missed the second, Houssein stole the ball and made a layup.
After getting a layup from senior Nick Simpson, the Seahawks decided to keep Ames on the floor despite him picking up his fourth foul.
Ultimately, the gamble paid off.
Crocker scored on a putback and after Campbell converted a three-point play off a feed from Houssein, a jumper from Reny, a 3 from Crocker and a layup from Reny after a steal from Gudroe cut the deficit to just four, 50-46, with 1:05 left in the quarter, forcing Henry to call timeout.
Waynflete did settle down, as Rhoads scored on a putback and after Gudroe got a leaner to rattle in, Houssein set up Levy for a layup and a 54-48 advantage heading to the fourth quarter.
There, Boothbay completed its dramatic comeback.
A long 3 from Houssein followed by a Mohammed layup (off a pass from Brooks) started the final stanza and pushed the lead to 59-48 with 6:09 to go, but the Flyers wouldn’t score for 4 minutes and 32 seconds and the Seahawks made them pay.
Reny hit a bank shot, then took a pass from Ames and made a layup. After an Ames 3, Crocker hit a 3 from the corner with 3:10 left and was fouled on the play, but he missed the and-one which could have produced the rare four-point play. With 2:17 to go, Gudroe’s free throw forged a 59-59 tie.
Waynflete answered 40 seconds later, as Brooks got the ball near the top of the key and calmly buried a jump shot, but at the other end, Ames got an open look from behind the arc and with 1:17 on the clock, his 3-ball was true and for the first time, the Seahawks were on top, 62-61.
“I was a little lucky on that one,” Ames said. “I just let muscle memory take over.
“(Playing with four fouls) was scary. I had to play smarter. I had to stay in front of my guy. Two points wasn’t worth a fifth foul.”
“We don’t do well when (Kyle’s) not out there and that’s why we stayed with him,” Pinkham said. “He’s smart.”
After junior Alex Saade missed a shot for the Flyers, Mohammed kept possession with a rebound, but Saade was called for a charge, turning the ball over.
With 47.4 seconds left, Reny was fouled and after missing the first attempt, he sank the second for a 63-61 lead.
Waynflete answered again, as with 35.1 seconds remaining, Houssein passed to Dahia, who knocked down a jumper to tie the score again.
Boothbay would rise to the occasion and with 17.6 seconds on the clock, after working the ball around, Gudroe got the ball down low to Crocker, who laid it in for a 65-63 lead.
“They were guarding Kyle heavily because he made a bunch of 3s, so I snuck in there,” said Crocker. “I hadn’t made a layup all game, but I was wide open.”
Houssein looked to counter, but he missed a 3-pointer.
The Flyers managed to keep possession and with 4.8 seconds to go, Campbell was fouled and went to the line for the biggest one-and-one opportunity so far in his young life.
Campbell calmly sank the first free throw, but his second was just off.
Waynflete then got a fortuitous bounce, as the rebound deflected off a Boothbay player out of bounds, giving the Flyers another chance.
Out of a timeout, Houssein tried to inbound the ball to Campbell, but he couldn’t come up with it.
“We were looking for a screen to get the ball to Christian, but Dominick opened up,” Henry said. “He has terrific hands. He’s caught the ball out of mid-air for us all year, but it was one of those things that the ball bounced the other way and they picked it up.”
Ames snared the loose ball and ran downcourt as the clock expired and the Seahawks then celebrated their 65-64 triumph.
“It was very intense (at the end),” Ames said. “I couldn’t believe it. It’s kind of an upset that we won. I knew we could do it if we kept our minds in it. I feel like we wanted it more. This boosts our confidence so much. We knew we had to be confident to win today.
(Waynflete) played so great. They’re very athletic. They’re still young and they’ll go very far in the future.”
“It’s amazing,” said Crocker. “We played really well together. We didn’t turn the ball over that much in the second half. It was really emotional.”
“We’ve been down before and we knew we couldn’t get it all back at once,” Pinkham added. “We got back in the game, hung in there and the kids did really well in the second half. They played with a lot more composure.
“(Waynflete was) playing good basketball. They have so many guys who can play. It’s hard to match up with them. They shoot the 3 well and they have big guys.”
Boothbay got 21 points from Reny, 18 from Ames (including five 3-pointers), 17 from Crocker (to go with six rebounds), seven from Gudroe (to go with nine rebounds and three assists) and two from Simpson, who also had three blocked shots.
The Seahawks had a 34-33 rebounding advantage, turned the ball over 22 times, but only six times in the second half, and hit 11 of 17 free throws.
Boothbay edged visiting Winthrop, 58-55, Jan. 24 and at this point, the Seahawks believe that the sky is the limit.
“We’re the underdogs, but we can do well in this tournament,” said Crocker. “Anything is possible now.”
“This is huge for us and for our community,” Ames said. “We have to keep doing what we just did. Try not to have nerves kick in at the beginning. We need to come out like we did today in the second half for the whole game.”
Waynflete got 12 points (as well as nine assists and four steals) from Houssein, 11 points from Dahia, nine from Mohammed, eight from Campbell (who also had seven rebounds and two blocks), seven from Brooks (who added seven rebounds and three assists), six from Rhoads, five from Scott, four from Levy and two from Mohamed.
The Flyers only made 3 of 9 free throws and committed 14 turnovers, with six coming in the fourth quarter.
“Coach Pinkham is an institution and he was able to get his kids to respond and react to our pressure very well,” Henry said. “Momentum started to shift. The ball started to bounce their way. We’re a young a team, so I could see (overconfidence happening). We tried to caution them against them. Boothbay started to play well. They hit some shots, then we started to make decisions like we were behind. That’s a sign of a young team.
“We had a good year. We had high expectations tournament-time, but we ran into a good team. We have a tradition where the seniors talk about this, then we talk about learning from this.”
Waynflete graduates Brooks, Mohamed, Ilyas Abdi and John Veroneau, but everyone else returns and it’s likely that this year is an aberration and that the Flyers will return to their accustomed ways of making a deep run in 2018-19.
“Hopefully the guys coming back will let this be motivation to work harder,” Henry said. “Every year I look at my seniors and wonder how I can ever replace them, but kids rise to the next level of accountability. I have a strong junior class coming back and I have every expectation that they’ll come back ready to lead the team.”
Waynflete senior Christian Brooks fights Boothbay sophomore Nicholas Marley (30) and senior Elijah Gudroe for a rebound.
Waynflete sophomore Diraige Dahia drives past a Boothbay defender.
Waynflete freshman Dominick Campbell makes a move to the basket.
Waynflete junior Finn Scott goes up for a one-handed shot.
Waynflete senior Abdi Mohamed attempts a shot in traffic.
Waynflete senior Musaid Mohammed takes a jump shot over Boothbay sophomore Nicholas Marley.
Waynflete sophomore Askar Houssein drives to the basket.
2013 Western C Final
Boothbay 70 Waynflete 52
2009 Western C prelim
Waynflete 54 Boothbay 42