PORTLAND—Just when it appeared the Waynflete girls’ basketball team had forgotten how to lose, the Flyers finally met their match Friday afternoon.
Less than 24 hours after holding on for an exhausting two-point victory at Old Orchard Beach, Waynflete, the defending Class C state champion, which was riding a 14-game winning streak, welcomed Traip Academy and quickly found itself in a fight for its life.
The Flyers did jump to an early 6-0 lead, but foul trouble and turnovers prevented them from opening it up as the Rangers hung tough throughout.
The game was tied, 21-21, at halftime and there wasn’t much separation in the second half either. Despite going 7 minutes, 26 seconds without a point during the third and fourth quarters, Traip went ahead to stay in the final minute and fended off a last ditch Waynflete comeback to hand the Flyers their first loss in nearly 11 months, 38-35.
Waynflete fell to 4-1 on the season, as the Rangers improved to 3-1.
“Credit Traip,” said Flyers coach Brandon Salway. “They did a better job at overcoming playing back-to-back games than we did. That’s the bottom line. We were dreadful and deserved to lose.”
Waynflete won its first four outings this winter, downing visiting Greater Portland Christian School (71-38), host Sacopee (51-33) and visiting North Yarmouth Academy (78-26) with ease before holding off host Old Orchard Beach (46-44).
Traip dropped its opener, 57-45, to visiting Old Orchard Beach, then defeated host NYA (66-27) and Sacopee (45-27).
The Flyers swept the Rangers last winter: 65-33 at home and 67-23 at Kittery. Traip last beat Waynflete Jan. 20, 2012, 44-25 in Portland. The Rangers also beat the visiting Flyers that year, 45-30.
Friday, Waynflete suffered a loss to a Class C foe for the first time since the 2012 regional final as turnovers and poor shooting doomed the Flyers, who despite their struggles, had a chance all the way to the bitter end.
As it has done so often, Waynflete started fast, as junior Helen Gray-Bauer made two free throws, scored a layup after a steal by junior Julianna Harwood, then took another pass from Harwood for a layup and a quick 6-0 lead less than two minutes in.
The rest of the game would be a struggle for the Flyers, however, and Traip got back right back in it.
Out of a timeout, Rangers senior Katie Cuttle made a layup to put her team on the board. A layup after a steal by senior Alli Barrett and a transition layup from senior Emily Hartley tied the score.
Waynflete responded with a putback from junior Dana Peirce and a leaner from senior Leigh Fernandez, but a 3-ball from senior Kaylie Andrews and a bank shot from senior Haley Turnbull gave Traip its first lead, 11-10. Two Fernandez foul shots with 7.1 seconds to go put the Flyers back on top, 12-11, after one quarter, but it was clear the hosts were going to be in for a battle.
The game would see-saw back-and-forth in the second period.
After Barrett scored on a driving layup, Gray-Bauer made a jumper to make it 14-13 Waynflete, but seconds later, the foul trouble for the hosts began in earnest when senior Emily Wasserman picked up her third.
A Gray-Bauer putback extended the lead to 16-13, but Turnbull made a layup and after a Barrett block at one end, sophomore Jessica MacNeil made a layup at the other to put the Rangers ahead, 17-16.
Fernandez countered with a foul shot and after sophomore Arianna Giguere, who had a terrific game, grabbed consecutive offensive rebounds, freshman Annika Brooks made a jumper to put the Flyers back on top, 19-17.
“(Arianna) does a lot of things that don’t show up in a box score,” Salway said. “She played hard and stayed out of foul trouble.”
Giguere added a layup after a steal, but MacNeil made a free throw and late in the half, senior Kendra Kagiliery sank a 3 to forge a 21-21 deadlock at the break.
Waynflete forced 15 first half turnovers, but gave the ball away 11 times while making just 5-of-10 free throws.
Just 28 seconds in the second half, Gray-Bauer got her third foul.
Traip then went ahead on a 3 from Barrett, but Gray-Bauer banked home a 3 to tie the game anew, 24-24.
After Andrews fed Turnbull for a layup, Gray-Bauer was whistled for her fourth foul with 6:23 left in the stanza and was done for the quarter.
A steal and layup from Harwood tied the score, but off an inbounds pass, Kagiliery fed Turnbull for a layup to put the Rangers back on top, 28-26.
A Harwood free throw and two foul shots from Fernandez gave the Flyers their final lead, 29-28, before Cuttle set up Hartley for a layup with 2:46 to play in the third.
After Waynflete freshman Ali Pope tied the game with a free throw, Fernandez got her fourth foul, causing Salway to show rare emotion, in this case, frustration. He had to leave his point guard on the floor, however, and she wouldn’t pick up a fifth until the very end of the game.
Late in the quarter, after Andrews made a tremendous save, the ball came to Cuttle who made a layup and the Rangers were on top, 32-20, heading for the fourth quarter.
There, the Flyers would experience exasperation and futility.
With 6:57 to play, a layup from Pope tied the score.
Then, for over four minutes, neither squad could manage a single point.
Traip missed four free throws and several shots from the floor in that span, while Waynflete missed two foul shots and also failed to convert open looks.
Finally, with 2:31 to play, Andrews hit a leaner, ending a 7:26 drought and putting the Rangers ahead, 34-32.
The lead lasted only 42 seconds, however, as Harwood hit a floater in the lane to make it 34-34.
After Kagiliery missed the front end of a one-and-one, Traip got another chance and with 47.7 seconds showing, Andrews made another baseline jumper to put the Rangers ahead for good, 36-34.
After the Flyers turned the ball over, Cuttle found an open Barrett off an inbounds play and Barrett made the layup to make it 38-34.
Waynflete kept hope alive when Harwood sank the second of two free throws with nine seconds showing and after Cuttle missed the front end of a one-and-one, the Flyers had a chance to force overtime, but Gray-Bauer, under heavy pressure, only managed to get off a prayer as the horn sounded and it was well off the mark.
For the first time since Jan. 26, the Flyers were on the losing end of a score as Traip prevailed, 38-35.
“I didn’t like our body language right off the bat,” Salway said. “Maybe (leading) 6-0 was the worst thing that happened. We didn’t do a lot right today. Legs had something to do with it. It’s tough to play back to back. Our execution wasn’t good. Together, (Helen and Leigh) do so much defensively that helps us offensively. (Them being in foul trouble) took us out of just about everything. Offensively, our decision making was bad. It was disappointing. It’s our first Class C loss in a long, long time. It’s a missed opportunity.”
Waynflete got 13 points from Gray-Bauer, seven from Fernandez, six from Harwood, three from Pope and two apiece from Brooks, Giguere and Peirce.
The Flyers had a 48-40 advantage on the board, as Giguere and Harwood shared game-high honors with 11, Gray-Bauer grabbed eight and Brooks collected six.
Giguere and Harwood each had four of Waynflete’s 14 steals. Fernandez finished with three.
Ultimately, 22 turnovers, 12-of-58 shooting from the floor and 10-of-23 shooting from the free throw line was too much to overcome.
Traip was paced by nine points from Barrett, who also had eight rebounds and a team-high four steals. Turnbull finished with eight points, Andrews added seven, Cuttle and Hartley had four apiece, while Kagiliery and MacNeil each added three. Hartley had a team-high 10 boards.
The Rangers made just 1-of-11 free throws and committed 22 turnovers, but found a way to prevail.
“We played a real good second half last night against Sacopee Valley, but I was just afraid we might be tired,” said Traip coach Scott Blake. “We got in foul trouble, but we gutted it out more than anything. We had Alli on the bench with four fouls. My point guard and my shooting guard both had four. Our bench really stepped up. They didn’t really score, but they held them without points. The game stayed tied, then Kaylie hit two big shots. If we could have made free throws, it could have been easier, but it was going to be a gutwrencher all the way. Waynflete’s a good team. They can make a lot of 3s. They missed a lot today and that helped us out. We packed it in a little bit on that. If (Gray-Bauer) or Fernandez got going, we’d be in trouble.
“This boosts us up confidence-wise. Once we get back from break, we have all Class B teams with York, Wells, Cape Elizabeth. Waynflete will come to our place (Jan. 24) ready to get after us. I think we match up pretty good with them. Size isn’t really an issue. This is a great way to go into Christmas.”
Waynflete, meanwhile, will take part in a holiday tournament in Old Orchard Beach next week, then will face its most severe test of the season once the calendar flips to 2014 when it goes to Western B power Wells.
Things don’t get any easier from there and now that the champion is cut, we’ll see how it bounces back.
“Hopefully we’ll respond like I think we will,” Salway said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do. Wells and Lake Region and Poland and Old Orchard and Traip again. It’s not easy. Hopefully we’ll work harder in practice.”
T- 11 10 11 6- 38
W- 12 9 9 5- 35
T- Barrett 4-0-9, Turnbull 4-0-8, Andrews 3-0-7, Cuttle 2-0-4, Hartley 2-0-4, Kailiery 1-0-3, MacNeil 1-1-3
W- Gray-Bauer 5-2-13, Fernandez 1-5-7, Harwood 2-2-6, Pope 1-1-3, Brooks 1-0-2, Giguere 1-0-2, Peirce 1-0-2
T (3) Andrews, Barrett, Kagiliery 1
W (1) Gray-Bauer 1
T (40) Hartley 10, Barrett 8, Andrews, Cuttle 7, Turnbull 3, Casey 2, Kagiliery, Lamoureux, Landry 1
W (48) Giguere, Harwood 11, Gray-Bauer 8, Brooks 6, Pope 5, Peirce 4, Fernandez 2, Wasserman 1
T (13) Barrett 4, Andrews 3, Turnbull 2, Casey, Hartley, Kagiliery, MacNeil 1
W (14) Giguere, Harwood 4, Fernandez 3, Gray-Bauer 2, Wasserman 1
T (2) Barrett, Smith 1
W (2) Fernandez, Wasserman 1