PORTLAND—Waynflete’s girls’ basketball team is still a work in progress, but when the Flyers get things rolling, they’re a lot fun to watch.
Tuesday afternoon, Waynflete hosted Traip Academy and after struggling for a quarter, it turned up the intensity and pulled away.
Behind the wizardry of senior athletic marvel Helen Gray-Bauer, the Flyers went on a 12-0 run and held the Rangers scoreless for over eight minutes as they stretched a two-point lead to 15 by halftime. Waynflete then enjoyed a strong third period as it ended all doubt and went on to a 63-32 victory, avenging a home loss to Traip from last season.
Gray-Bauer led all scorers with 22 points, senior Julianna Harwood, sophomore Annika Brooks and promising freshman Lydia Giguere added nine points apiece and the Flyers, who forced 37 turnovers, improved to 4-0, dropping the Rangers to 1-2 in the process.
“Traip is a good team,” said Waynflete coach Brandon Salway. “We’ve struggled at home against them for years. Playing exam week is tough, but the girls were focused. They came out and executed.”
Not this time
Last December, Traip came to Waynflete and ended the Flyers’ 14-game win streak, 38-35. Waynflete did win the rematch in Kittery (59-57, in overtime).
So far this winter, the Flyers are off to their typical strong start, having defeated visiting Greater Portland Christian School (66-28) and Sacopee Valley (42-24) and host North Yarmouth Academy (63-12).
The Rangers opened with a 46-29 loss at Old Orchard Beach, then dominated visiting NYA (52-7).
Tuesday, Waynflete eventually pulled away.
The Flyers struck first, 57 seconds in, when Harwood set up senior Dana Peirce for a layup. Gray-Bauer then added a 3 for a quick 5-0 lead.
Sophomore Marina Casey got Traip on the board with a leaner, but Gray-Bauer made a 3 off an inbounds pass and Gray-Bauer drove for a layup, making it 10-2 with 5:40 to go in the first period, forcing Rangers coach Scott Blake to call timeout.
The visitors answered when freshman Cassidy Delano made a layup. After sophomore Ali Pope made a free throw for the hosts, Casey answered with one. Brooks got a point back, but Traip junior Jessica MacNeill sank a 3 and junior Nicole Landry scored on a putback to cut Waynflete’s lead to 12-10 after eight sloppy minutes.
In the first quarter, the Flyers committed nine turnovers, but they forced 10 Rangers’ miscues.
Waynflete would hit its stride in the second period.
With 7:22 to go before halftime, Gray-Bauer scored on a bank shot to end a 4 minute, 44 second drought. Harwood added two free throws, Brooks scored on a putback, Gray-Bauer did the same, Gray-Bauer made a layup after a steal and with 3:04 left in the half, after a Giguere steal, Gray-Bauer made another layup for a 24-10 lead, capping a 12-0 run.
“We’ve had games that didn’t turn out well until we kicked it into gear,” Gray-Bauer said. “We go for increasing the tempo and playing at our speed since we’re a really quick team. We’re vertically challenged.”
“(Helen’s) so amazing to watch,” Giguere said. “She’s a great leader. She’s always there. She brings such a cool vibe to practice.”
Traip ended its 8 minute, 11 second drought when senior Codi Smith sank a 3, but Pope set up Harwood for a layup, Giguere made a jumper and freshman Izzy Burdick hit a baseline jumper. As time wound down in the half, Smith hit a bank shot, but the Flyers were in command, up, 30-15, at the break.
In the first half, Gray-Bauer had 16 points and Waynflete forced 21 turnovers.
“Defense is our thing,” Giguere said. “Basically our offense is our defense. We create off of it.”
The Flyers ended all doubt in the third period.
Just 19 seconds in, Harwood sank a 3. Peirce added a layup to stretch the lead to 20 points. After Casey made a layup for Traip, Gray-Bauer made a layup after a steal, Giguere sank a free throw and Giguere scored on a putback to make it 40-17.
After Delano and Peirce traded free throws, Gray-Bauer scored on a layup after a Harwood steal, then made another layup after a steal of her own and Brooks hit a leaner. Landry hit a long jumper to pull the Rangers within 47-20 with eight minutes to go.
Waynflete freshman LZ Olney started the fourth quarter with a putback and Harwood added two foul shots. After junior Jessica MacNeill sank a 3 for Traip, Brooks made a layup. Junior Jessica Segura made a layup, but Brooks scored on a putback. After Casey hit a leaner, Giguere made two free throws, then sank two more for a 59-27 lead.
Olney added two foul shots, but Rangers junior Ashley Blake buried a 3. Freshman Ava Farrar countered with a jumper before sophomore Seirra O’Brien made a layup to account for the 63-32 final score.
“We have a really young team and Julianna, Dana and I make sure everyone feeds off each other and knows the plays and doesn’t worry about mistakes,” Gray-Bauer said. “It’s nice not to have expectations this year. It changes how you play and think. It’s nice to grow at our own rate.”
Gray-Bauer, a talented athlete and musician, who plans to attend Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York next year, put on a show with 22 points, seven steals and three rebounds.
“We get so much offense from our pressure with Helen at the front of it,” Salway said. “She doesn’t necessarily get credited with a steal, but she gets deflections or hurries the decision of the offensive player. She’s such a great athlete. If she focused on one sport, she’d be incredible. She’s just tremendous at everything, music included. She has a great motor.”
Brooks had nine points, nine rebounds, a steal and an assist.
Harwood finished with nine points, eight boards, five assists and three steals.
Giguere also had nine points, to go with nine rebounds, three steals, two assists and a blocked shot.
“All the girls are really welcoming,” Giguere said. “It’s been amazing. It’s a little overwhelming but they’re there to comfort me.”
“Lydia has a lot on her plate and it won’t be perfect, but her mental toughness is impressive,” Salway said. “She’s shined pretty brightly with what we’ve asked her to do.”
Peirce scored five points, Olney added four, Burdick and Farrar had two apiece and Pope finished with one.
“I’ve been very impressed with how the underclassmen have stepped up,” Gray-Bauer said. “You wouldn’t know we have so many freshmen because they’ve done so well. They’ll be phenomenal as soon as next year. I’m proud of how they’ve done.”
“Izzy has done a nice job off the bench, she’s not rattled by anything,” said Salway. “The sophomores, Ali and Annika, have improved their games.”
Waynflete had 20 steals and enjoyed a 49-21 rebounding advantage.
“One of our goals this game was to improve our rebounding,” Giguere said.
“We’ve talked about scrapping for rebounds which we always do,” Salway said.
The Flyers did commit 24 turnovers and made just 14 of 25 free throws.
For Traip, Casey led the way with seven points, MacNeill had six, Smith five, Landry four, Blake and Delano three apiece and O’Brien and Segura each added two.
The Rangers committed 37 turnovers and made just 2 of 7 foul shots.
Battle of unbeatens
Waynflete will get its toughest test Saturday when it goes to 3-0 Old Orchard Beach. That game closes the 2014 portion of the schedule.
“I’m excited,” Giguere said. “It will be a great test for us.”
“We look forward to it,” Gray-Bauer said. “We know Old Orchard Beach is a top team in our conference. They’ve always been really good competition for us. They play like we do. They’re quick. They like easy layups and can hit outside shots. We’re excited.”
“Old Orchard is really good,” Salway added. “It will be a tall order. Hopefully we’ll be competitive and we’ll learn from it. “
This group has a tremendous upside.
“Things get really tough after break,” Salway said. “We get frazzled too easily right now. That’s just game mileage. We’ll have bumps in the road here and there, but as long as we show mental toughness, I think we’ll be in the mix at the end. The only way we get better is if everyone gets better, seniors included.”
Waynflete freshman Lydia Giguere, who had nine points, nine rebounds and three steals, drives on a defender.
Waynflete senior Julianna Harwood proves to be a matchup nightmare.
Waynflete senior Dana Peirce launches a shot.
Waynflete sophomore Ali Pope soars to the basket.
Waynflete senior Helen Gray-Bauer looks for an open teammate during Tuesday’s 63-32 home win over Traip Academy. Gray-Bauer went off for a game-high 22 points and added seven steals and three rebounds.
Brian Beard photos.
More photos below.
Waynflete 63 Traip 32
T- 10 5 5 12- 32
W- 12 18 17 16- 63
T- Casey 3-1-7, MacNeill 2-0-6, Smith 2-0-5, Landry 2-0-4, Blake 1-0-3, Delano 1-1-3, O’Brien 1-0-2, Segura 1-0-2
W- Gray-Bauer 10-0-22, Brooks 4-1-9, Giguere 2-5-9, Harwood 2-4-9, Peirce 2-1-5, Olney 1-2-4, Burdick 1-0-2, Farrar 1-0-2, Pope 0-1-1
T (4) MacNeil 2, Blake, Smith 1
W (3) Gray-Bauer 2, Harwood 1