Waynflete opens season with impressive win over Wells

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BOX SCORE

Waynflete 64 Wells 52

We- 9 19 9 15- 52
Wa- 16 16 14 18- 64

We- Sherburne 6-2-14, Bridge 4-1-10, Whitney 3-0-7, Dufort 2-0-6, Leighton 2-0-6, Chandler 2-1-5, Ouellette 1-0-3, Tufts 0-1-1

Wa- A. Saade 5-2-12, Scott 5-1-12, Dahia 4-0-11, Levy 5-0-10, Campbell 4-0-8, Houssein 2-0-4, Johnson 1-1-3, C. Saade 1-0-2, Mohammed 0-1-1, Burdick 0-1-1

3-pointers:
We (7) Dufort, Leighton 2, Bridge, Ouellette, Whitney 1 
Wa (4) Dahia 3, Scott 1

Turnovers:
We- 17
Wa- 20

Free throws
We: 5-8
Wa: 6-18

PORTLAND—A year ago, Waynflete’s boys’ basketball team opened with a frustrating loss at Wells and stewed about it the rest of the campaign.

Friday evening, the Flyers had a chance to get their 2018-19 season off to a better start when they hosted the defending Class B South champion Warriors and in a sign of perhaps bigger things to come, they took care of business, leading from start to finish, serving notice that they might be bringing home some hardware themselves when all is said and done.

Waynflete got four points apiece from junior Solomon Levy and sophomore Dominick Campbell to grab a 16-9 lead after one quarter. 

When junior Diraige Dahia hit a 3-pointer and senior Alex Saade followed with an old-fashioned three-point play late in the first half, the Flyers went up by 13, but in a stunning 50-second span, Wells made three 3-pointers to pull within four points, 32-28.

Waynflete was unfazed, as it opened the second half on an 11-2 run, and a 3 from Dahia, a layup from Saade and a Levy jumper made it 43-30.

The Warriors crept back within nine heading for the fourth quarter and when senior Matt Sherburne opened the final stanza with a putback, they appeared primed for a comeback, but the Flyers turned to an unheralded contributor, senior reserve Finn Scott, to put it away.

Scott scored five points in a 26-second span to restore a 12-point lead and he’d add five more points in the fourth quarter as Waynflete gradually pulled away to prevail, 64-52.

Saade and Scott paced a balanced attack with 12 points apiece, the Flyers opened with a key victory and likely garnered some big-time Heal Points in the process.

“Coach (Rich Henry) told us that this could be a redemption for last year and we wouldn’t have to dwell like we did all last season,” Scott said. “Games like this make us ready for the tournament, if we get to go to Augusta.”

A promising beginning

Both squads entertain very high hopes as the season commences.

Wells, which got to the Class B state final last year before losing, 55-34, to Hermon, its second consecutive loss in the Gold Ball game, believes that it can get over the hump this time around, especially with several players from a state champion football team on the roster.

Waynflete was upset by Boothbay in last year’s quarterfinals, but that’s the last time male athletes at the school have experienced much in the way of postseason defeat. In the spring, the Flyers boys’ lacrosse and boys’ tennis teams won titles and last month, Waynflete’s boys’ soccer team finished unbeaten and captured the Class C championship.

With a lot of firepower back this fall, the Flyers are looking to add a Gold Ball to the trophy case.

The teams last met in the 2017-18 opener, a 50-47 home win for Wells, a game Waynflete had a hard time forgetting.

“That game figured prominently (last year),” Henry said. “We remembered that game and were kicking ourselves for most of the season. I reminded the guys of that before the game.”

This time around, the Flyers started fast and never relinquished the lead.

Just 13 seconds in, Campbell scored his team’s first points of the season, on a jumper. The Warriors drew even on a backdoor layup from senior Tyler Bridge, set up by Sherburne, but with 7:17 to go in the first quarter, Levy hit a leaner in the lane to put Waynflete on top for good.

A leaner from Dahia and a putback from junior Askar Houssein made it 8-2 Flyers.

After Sherburne drove for a layup, Levy scored on a putback and Campbell finished a feed from Houssein and made a layup for a 12-4 advantage.

After a Bridge foul shot, Saade drove for a layup and a nine-point lead.

Senior Dylan Whitney got two points back for Wells, but Houssein set up sophomore Jared Johnson for a layup.

Whitney made a leaner for the final points of the first quarter, but that only cut the Warriors’ deficit to 16-9 after eight minutes.

In the second period, Wells tried to rally, but Waynflete stayed steady.

A Dahia 3-point shot started the new quarter. Sophomore Gavyn Leighton countered with a 3 and Sherburne added a floater to cut a 10-point deficit to five, but Campbell countered with a bank shot. After a free throw from Warriors junior Nate Chandler, Scott scored his first points, on a fadeaway jumper.

After Sherburne drove for a layup, sophomore Chris Saade countered with a layup and Alex Saade added a free throw for a 26-17 lead.

Chandler got two points back with a leaner, but Dahia drained a long 3 and Alex Saade stole the ball, made a layup while being fouled, then added the and-one free throw to make it 32-19 with 1:35 left in the half.

But just when it appeared the Flyers were going to enjoy a comfortable lead at the break, Wells showed its long-distance shooting acumen.

First junior Matt Ouellette hit a 3-pointer. Whitney banked home a 3, then with 12.4 seconds on the clock, junior Covy Dufort’s 3 pulled the Warriors back within four points, 32-28, at halftime.

In the first half, Dahia led all scorers with eight points, while Campbell and Alex Saade each added six, helping counter seven points from Whitney and six from Sherburne.

Any momentum Wells might have had disappeared quickly when the second half began.

As it did to start the game, Waynflete started fast in the third period, as Alex Saade stole the ball and fed Houssein for a layup and after Sherburne was called for his third foul on a charge, a Campbell leaner pushed the lead to eight.

Sherburne countered with two foul shots, but Dahia hit a 3 from the corner and after a Campbell blocked shot, Alex Saade made a layup. Levy then added a jumper for a 43-30 advantage midway through the third quarter.

After Bridge drove for a layup, Levy countered with a layup. Bridge set up Sherburne for a layup, but Johnson made a free throw for the hosts. A late 3 from Leighton pulled the Warriors within 46-37 heading for the fourth period.

Sherburne made it a seven-point game when he scored on a putback, but that’s as close as Wells would get.

Scott drove for a layup while being fouled and hit the free throw with 6:56 to go and Waynflete was up 10. Twenty-six seconds later, Scott stole the ball and made a layup.

After Sherburne got a floater to rattle in, Houssein stole the ball and fed Scott for another layup.

“It was all due to ball movement,” said Scott. “I wouldn’t say I did anything differently. The whole team did better and it created openings. I try to bring the energy up as the sixth or seventh man.”

“Finn is versatile for us,” Henry said. “He can play the one, the two, or scrap and play the three. He’s been a great addition to the program.”

Houssein then set up Alex Saade for a layup, Saade scored on a putback and with 3:33 remaining, Houssein’s layup stretched the lead to an insurmountable 59-41.

Bridge’s jumper ended the run, but a Scott 3 made it 62-43.

After Bridge made a 3, Flyers senior Musaid Mohammed made a free throw. Junior Matt Tufts made a free throw for the Warriors and Chandler added a layup. After junior Oliver Burdick hit a foul shot for Waynflete’s final points, a Dufort 3 at the horn accounted for the 64-52 final score.

“It’s a big starting block for us,” said Dahia. “We’ll take good things out of this game and build on that. Everyone here has experienced being on a really good team. All of that builds up to creating a great team this season. Last year showed us we have to come out 110 percent every game and work even harder.”

Alex Saade had 12 points (and five rebounds). Scott added 12 points off the bench, 10 of which came in the fourth period. Dahia finished with 11 points and five rebounds. Levy had 10 points, six boards and three blocked shots. Campbell had eight points, Houssein four (to go with 10 assists and six rebounds), Johnson three, Chris Saade two and Burdick and Mohammed one apiece.

“We grind people down with our depth because we have versatile players,” Henry said.

Waynflete missed 12 of 18 free throws and had 20 turnovers, but had a 32-31 advantage on the glass.

Wells got a game-high 14 points from Sherburne. Bridge finished with 10 points and a game-high 11 boards. Whitney had seven points, Dufort and Leighton six apiece, Chandler five, Ouellette three and Tufts one.

The Warriors made 5 of 8 free throws and committed 17 turnovers.

“(Waynflete’s) a very good basketball team,” said Wells coach Troy Brown. “They’re deeper than I thought. They don’t lose a lot when they go off the bench. They’re quick to the ball, very athletic. We need to box out better. They made tough shots. I’m proud of my guys for not caving. We just weren’t physical enough.”

Just getting started

Things get no easier for Wells Monday, as two-time defending Class A champion Greely, now riding a 45-game win streak, pays a visit. 

“It’s early and I’m very positive about this team,” Brown said. “This is probably the deepest team I’ve had and we have kids who can play.”

Waynflete, meanwhile, is idle until next Friday, when it hosts Traip Academy.

“It’s a big win, but we have to keep the pace up and help each other out,” Scott said. “We want to keep the ball movement up.”

“I think the fact we had a great lacrosse season, a great soccer season, the guys are all a year older, all those things point to potential, but we can’t be happy with potential,” Henry said. “We tend to make silly mistakes because our youth. We stand up, we get out of our stance, sometimes we’ll have possessions where the ball doesn’t change one side of the floor. That’s what we’ll work on.

“I’m probably too hard on them. I asked them of the 32 minutes, how long did we play well and the answer is about half. That’s a baseline and we’ll try to improve on that. We had some mental mistakes, but when we play good halfcourt defense, it leads to good offense.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

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Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.