Waynflete sophomore Burr Rhoads takes a shot during the Flyers’ 52-47 loss to Madison in Thursday’s Class C South semifinal.
Brian Beard photos.
More photos below.
AUGUSTA—The shot was going in and the game was going to be tied and Waynflete’s boys’ basketball team was going to go on and win on the Augusta Civic Center floor again.
But the shot didn’t go in and there was no happy ending.
The Flyers had an opportunity to tie Madison in the waning seconds in the teams’ Class C South semifinal Thursday evening and senior Yai Deng’s shot appeared on target, but despite going halfway down, it popped back out and with that, a spirited run came to an end.
Waynflete, the defending regional champion, but just the No. 7 seed this winter, shot to a quick 12-3 lead over the third-ranked Bulldogs, but Madison rallied back within 13-9 after one quarter, then drew even in the second period. Late in the first half, the Bulldogs retook the lead on a pair of free throws from senior Nicholas Morales and held a 32-28 advantage at halftime.
There was little separation in the second half and the game would go down to the wire.
The Flyers trailed by as many as five points in third quarter, but a late shot from junior Christian Brooks forged a 39-39 tie after 24 minutes, setting the stage for a dramatic fourth period.
There, neither team scored for over three minutes before a runner from freshman Askar Houssein put Waynflete on top.
The Flyers still led by a point with a little over two minutes to go before Madison got a 3-pointer from sophomore Justyn Stinson.
Senior Jack Meahl tied the score with 2:01 to play, but eight seconds later, a three-point play from junior Sean Whalen gave the Bulldogs the lead for good.
Waynflete would get three chances to answer, with Deng’s barely off target 3-pointer the final one, but it couldn’t respond and two free throws from Whalen iced it as the Madison went on to a 52-47 victory.
The Bulldogs got 18 points from Morales, 16 from senior Mitchell Jarvais and improved to 17-3, advanced to face top-ranked Winthrop (20-0) in the Class C South Final Saturday at 8:45 p.m. in Augusta and in the process, ended the Flyers’ season at 15-6.
“I thought the kids played pretty well,” said Waynflete coach Rich Henry. “We lost, but we played well. It was a good game. We just had a few shots rim out. That’s the breaks some times.”
Waynflete’s success in Augusta has been constant. Monday’s quarterfinal round victory over Richmond marked the Flyers’ 12th on the Civic Center floor since 2011.
Waynflete has come a long way since losing four out of five games earlier this season. The Flyers wound up 13-5, earned the No. 7 seed in Class C South, then held off 10th-ranked Old Orchard Beach, 51-46, in the preliminary round, before almost letting a 20-point lead slip away before holding off No. 2 Richmond, 57-52, in the quarterfinals Monday (see sidebar, below, for links to previous stories).
Madison won 15 of 18 regular season games and as the No. 3 seed, downed No. 6 Boothbay, 63-41, in its quarterfinal.
The Bulldogs and Flyers didn’t meet this season.
Entering play Thursday, the teams had no postseason history.
They would make some, but not the kind Waynflete will want to remember.
Madison got the jump when Jarvais hit a 3-pointer 16 seconds in, but the Flyers got the next dozen points to seemingly take control.
A spinner off the glass by Deng got Waynflete started. A putback by Brooks gave the Flyers the lead and Houssein added a runner, Brooks drove for a layup and after a Bulldogs’ timeout, sophomore Alex Saade made a jumper and Houssein drove for a layup and a 12-3 lead with 2:14 to go in the first.
Madison ended its 5 minute, 45 second drought when Morales hit a jumper with 1:59 to go and Jarvais added a jumper to cut the deficit to five.
After Houssein got a point back at the line, a baseline jumper from Morales pulled the Bulldogs within 13-9 after eight minutes.
In the second period, Madison completed its comeback.
Jumpers from Morales and Stinson pulled the Bulldogs even, but senior Jack Meahl answered with a 3.
After Stinson hit a baseline jumper, Deng countered with one.
Whalen pulled the Bulldogs within a point thanks to a pair of free throws, but a long jumper from Brooks made it 20-17.
Jarvais tied the game with a 3 with 4:57 to go in the half, but sophomore Burr Rhoads put Waynflete back on top with a 3 from the corner.
Morales answered with a jumper, but Houssein set up Deng for a layup and a 25-22 lead with 3:29 remaining.
Back came Madison again, as Whalen drove for a layup and Jarvais hit a 3 with 1:21 left for the Bulldogs’ first lead since 3-2.
Rhoads put the Flyers back ahead with a 3 of his own, but Morales made two free throws and as time expired, Morales fed Jarvais for a long 3 which found its mark for a 32-28 halftime advantage.
Jarvais led all scorers in the first half with 14 points while Morales added 10. Brooks, Deng and Rhoads all had six points for Waynflete.
In the third period, the Bulldogs threatened to pull away, but back roared the Flyers.
A putback from Brooks started the second half, but Morales made a free throw, then got a leaner to roll in for a 35-30 lead.
Meahl answered with a runner, but a short jumper from Whalen with 3:22 to go restored the five-point edge.
After Deng countered with a bank shot, Jarvais scored on a leaner, but Waynflete finished the period strong, as Houssein made a layup after a steal, a technical foul was called on Morales and Meahl hit one of two free throws and a Brooks jumper tied it, 39-39, which is how it remained going to the fourth period.
There, Madison did just enough to prevail.
Neither team scored for the first 3 minutes, 10 seconds of the final stanza before Houssein converted a runner.
With 4:12 to play, Houssein extended the lead to 3 with a free throw, but 14 seconds later, a Morales 3 ended a 6:51 drought, the Flyers’ 8-0 run and tied the score, 42-42.
A driving layup from Morales put Madison on top, but Brooks tipped home a miss, was fouled on the play and drained the free throw as the three-point play put Waynflete up, 45-44.
That would prove to be its final lead.
Back came the Bulldogs on a 3 from Stinson, but Meahl’s runner made it 47-47 with 2:01 to go.
Eight seconds later, Madison took the lead for good, as Whalen converted a three-point play.
After Houssein missed a 3 for the tie and Jarvais got the rebound, the Bulldogs ran the clock down to 30.5 seconds before Morales was fouled.
He missed the front end of a one-and-one and Deng got the rebound, but at the other end, Houssein, trying to line up a game-tying 3, traveled.
Morales was fouled again with 17.9 seconds to go and again missed the front end of a one-and-one and Deng’s rebound gave Waynflete a final chance to extend the game.
Out of a timeout, Deng got the chance to shoot for the tie and his 3-pointer appeared on the mark but it went in and out and with it, the Flyers’ season took its final breath.
“Man, that was so close,” Henry lamented. “That’s how close of a game it was. It was a game of inches.”
Whalen got the rebound with 6.3 seconds to go and was fouled and his two free throws brought the curtain down on Madison’s 52-47 victory.
“For awhile there, I don’t think either team wanted to score,” Henry said. “We were looking for something to get us over the hump. I’m kicking myself now for not going man-to-man earlier. We started great, then they started hitting that baseline shot.”
The Bulldogs were led by Morales, who had 18 points, 11 rebounds and four assists, Jarvais, who had 16 points, seven boards and a pair of blocked shots, and Whalen, who finished with 11 points and three assists. Stinson added seven points.
Madison only turned the ball over eight times and shot 8 of 12 from the foul line.
The Bulldogs lost their lone matchup with Winthrop in the regular season, falling, 52-38, at the Ramblers Jan. 10.
Saturday, Madison hopes to reverse that result and get to the state game for the first time since 1994.
Waynflete was paced by 13 points and 10 rebounds from Brooks, 10 points from Houssein and eight points and nine rebounds from Deng. Meahl also scored eight points, Rhoads had six and Saade finished with two.
The Flyers outrebounded the Bulldogs, 31-25 and only turned the ball over 10 times. They made 4 of 7 foul shots.
“Unbeknownst to me, the kids talked from the beginning of the year about forming their own identity,” Henry said. “It shows something about the character of these kids. Getting back here was their mission. They can walk out of here with their heads held high. They’re great kids.”
Waynflete loses Deng and Meahl, as well as Abdullah Mohamed, but returns ample talent to contend again in 2017-18.
“We’ll miss the seniors a lot, but we get a lot back,” said Henry. “Yai told the kids who are returning that next season starts tomorrow.”
Waynflete sophomore Alex Saade handles the ball.
Waynflete senior Yai Deng goes up for a shot.
Waynflete junior Christian Brooks lofts a shot over Madison sophomore Justyn Stinson.
Waynflete senior Jack Meahl gets past a defender.
Waynflete freshman Askar Hussein drives to the basket.
Waynflete coach Rich Henry talks to his team during a timeout.