Yarmouth sophomore Jonny Torres drives on Gray-New Gloucester sophomore John Martin during the Clippers’ 68-49 win Tuesday night.
Adam Birt photos.
More photos below.
Y- 26 15 23 4- 68
GNG- 11 13 9 16- 49
Y- Hagerty 5-2-13, Harnett 4-0-12, Medenica 6-0-12, Eckersley-Ray 4-0-9, Torres 4-1-9, Nikolic 3-0-7, Coolidge 1-0-2, Hamm 1-0-2, Thompson 1-0-2
GNG- Martin 6-0-16, Magno 4-0-12, Villanueva 1-4-7, Grant 2-0-6, Brady 1-2-4, Colby 2-0-4,
Y (7) Harnett 4, Eckersley-Ray, Hagerty, Nikolic 1
GNG (11) Magno, Martin 4, Grant 2, Villanueva 1
GRAY—Yarmouth’s boys’ basketball team has reached the stage where it doesn’t have any interest in dragging out the drama.
When the Clippers meet a team they’re supposed to beat, their goal is to end the competitive phase quickly and that’s exactly what happened Tuesday evening at Gray-New Gloucester.
Yarmouth took care of business in the first quarter, thanks to solid defense and sizzling long-range shooting as it built an insurmountable lead.
Senior Gibson Harnett made three 3-pointers, including an improbable bomb from just inside midcourt as time expired, and the Clippers enjoyed a 26-11 lead after eight minutes.
Yarmouth extended its advantage to 41-24 at halftime, then ended all doubt in the third period, as junior Nolan Hagerty put on a show which was capped by a highlight reel ally-oop dunk, and by quarter’s end, Clippers coach Adam Smith cleared the bench.
The Patriots played hard in the fourth period, but Yarmouth was never seriously tested and went on to a 68-49 victory.
The Clippers had eight players score, led by Hagerty with 13, as they won their sixth game in a row, improved to 13-2 and dropped Gray-New Gloucester to 7-8 in the process.
“When you hit shots early, everything else seems to fall into place,” said Smith. “That made it easier. I was hoping we’d get to work early and I thought the first few possessions we had five guys playing defense and getting after it. We hadn’t had that the past few games. They guys see the light at the end of the tunnel and they know they have to be more consistent.”
The Clippers started the season strong, downing visiting Gray-New Gloucester (61-41), host and defending Class B state champion Lake Region (75-55) and visiting defending Class C South champion Waynflete (45-43), before losing at Greely 80-58. Yarmouth then bounced back to defeat visiting Maranacook (65-45) and host Sacopee Valley (56-31), Poland (73-37) and Lincoln Academy (82-55). After an exhilarating and agonizing 82-74 triple-overtime home loss to Greely, the Clippers earned victories at Freeport (63-33) and Wells (91-63), at home over Poland (64-26) and Traip Academy (83-64) and at Cape Elizabeth (56-46).
Gray-New Gloucester has been up-and-down, splitting its first 14 contests. The Patriots lost their first two games, won five straight, lost three in a row, then won a pair and lost two in succession.
Yarmouth’s win in the regular season opener extended its win streak over the Patriots to 12.
Tuesday, the Clippers made it a baker’s dozen.
Yarmouth started fast, as sophomore Noah Eckersley-Ray scored on a putback 18 seconds in.
After Gray-New Gloucester tied it on a putback from sophomore Hunter Colby, a driving layup by sophomore Jonny Torres put the Clippers ahead to stay.
Multi-talented senior Aleksandar Medenica then got involved, taking a pass from Eckersley-Ray and making a reverse layup, then draining a short hook shot for an 8-2 lead.
After the Patriots got a 3-point shot from sophomore Josh Magno, Torres made a free throw to spark a 12-0 run.
Medenica added a baseline jumper, then Eckersley-Ray hit a 3 and twice, Harnett drained 3s from the corner to make it 20-5.
“A fast start was important,” Eckersley-Ray said. “Coach and the captains stressed that. It was great to come out hot. We set the tone on defense. That’s one of the things we stress the most. Then, we got into a rhythm on offense.”
With 1:55 left in the first, senior John Henry Villanueva made a 3 to snap the run, but senior Igor Nikolic answered with a 3 ball.
With 50 seconds left, junior Oliver Grant made a 3 for Gray-New Gloucester, but as time expired, Harnett, just inside the midcourt stripe, leaned around a defender and somehow got a 3-point prayer to drop for a 26-11 lead.
The Patriots played much tougher in the second period, but Yarmouth still managed to extend its lead.
Hagerty got involved in the offense to start the second, banking home a runner. Medenica then drove for a reverse layup and a 30-11 lead.
After Villanueva made two free throws, Eckersley-Ray stole the ball, then set up Nikolic for a 32-13 advantage.
The hosts got a 3 from Magno, but at the other end, Medenica set up Hagerty for a rousing dunk.
After sophomore John Martin scored five quick points for the Patriots, on a 3 and a leaner, Harnett answered with his fourth 3-pointer, extending the lead to 37-21.
Martin hit a leaner in the lane, but Medenica fed Eckersley-Ray for a layup and Medenica scored on a putback before one Villanueva free throw brought down the first half curtain with the Clippers in command, up, 41-24.
In the first half, Harnett led all scorers with 12 points, while Medenica had 10.
In the third period, Yarmouth turned on the highlight reel.
A 10-0 run to start ended the competitive phase of the contest, as Hagerty and Medenica both scored on putbacks, Hagerty sank two foul shots, Torres made a layup and Medenica set up Torres for a fastbreak layup and a 51-24 lead.
After Magno answered with a 3, Hagerty hit one of his own.
Villanueva made a free throw for the hosts, but Torres made a layup after a steal. After Grant sank a 3, Eckersley-Ray scored on a putback, then with 3:19 to go in the third, in transition, Torres eschewed a layup, threw the ball up in the air and Hagerty, trailing the play, soared and slammed it home to bring the house down and make it 60-31.
“That was a lot of fun,” Hagerty said. “I wanted him to give me the ball. I didn’t think he’d throw it up. I had to react late, but it’s fun when you get on the break and do that.”
“If Jonny has a layup, I like to see him go hard and take it,” Smith said. “If he gives it to Nolan, I want him to take it. If Nolan has some space for him to get up and flush it, good for him. I don’t like seeing ally-oops. That’s really not my style, but I hate breaking into kids’ creativity. They have to have some fun and freedom. I like to let them have some inside the confines of good sportsmanship.”
That was it for Yarmouth’s starters, but Nikolic made a reverse layup after a steal and senior Henry Coolidge added a putback before two free throws from Patriots junior Zachary Brady made it 64-33 heading for the final stanza.
There, the Clippers didn’t score much, but their reserves played hard throughout and never let things get close.
“I said to the starters when I took them out, ‘Gray’s going to find out what we go through every night in practice,'” said Smith. “Those guys played extremely hard and didn’t back down a bit. They don’t look at time and score. They just wanted to get after it.”
Gray-New Gloucester started the fourth quarter with a layup from sophomore Hunter Colby. After Martin drained a 3, Brady scored on a putback.
Yarmouth got a jumper from senior Miles Thompson, but Martin sank a long 3, Magno made one final 3 and Martin drained another deep 3 for the Patriots’ final points.
With 2:38 to go, freshman Gavin Hamm tipped home a miss to put the finishing touches on the Clippers’ 68-49 victory.
“We knew they could shoot well and if they got hot, they could go on a run,” Hagerty said. “We came out with energy in the second half and we put them away.”
“It stemmed from the bigs tonight and they gave us a great boost,” Smith said. “We gave up one shot defensively and we rebounded and our outside shots went down.”
Hagerty led Yarmouth with 13 points. He also had eight rebounds.
Medenica (11 rebounds, nine assists) and Harnett each added 12 points, Eckersley-Ray (five boards, two steals) and Torres had nine each, Nikolic seven and Coolidge, Hamm and Thompson two apiece.
The Clippers had a 41-27 rebounding advantage, forced 21 turnovers while only committing 11, and made 3 of 6 foul shots.
The Patriots were paced by 16 points from Martin. Magno had 12 points, Villanueva seven, Grant six and Brady and Colby four each.
Gray-New Gloucester made 6 of 9 free throws.
“We kept it close the first time around,” said Patriots coach Ryan Deschenes. “We knew they were a lot better and we hoped we were better too. The key for them was making shots. They capitalized. Harnett got open early and nailed 3s from the corner. My biggest concern was the transition game. They got that going. Those bigs handle the ball so well. Their guards are so quick. Before we knew it, we were down 20. They’re at another level.”
Gray-New Gloucester (clinging to the ninth and final Class B South playoff spot at press time) plays at Waynflete Friday, hosts Freeport Tuesday, then closes the regular season next Thursday at Poland.
“(Yarmouth’s) playing for a Gold Ball and we just want to get in and lay a foundation for a young team and hit the ground running next year,” Deschenes said. “We control our destiny, but we have to win some games. Waynflete will be a huge game.”
Yarmouth will face some key tune-ups down the stretch. The Clippers have a home showdown against reigning Class A champion Falmouth Friday, host defending Class B champion Lake Region Tuesday, then close at home against Wells next Thursday.
“We always look forward to playing Falmouth,” Hagerty said. “We want to finish this year.”
“Being the top seed is important,” Eckersley-Ray said. “That’s what we’re shooting for. We’ve turned the corner by playing and practicing hard.”
“Falmouth’s an exciting game, no matter when we play them during the season,” Smith added. “We’re both having successful campaigns. It’ll be a great atmosphere. We look forward to the challenge.
“This is as complete a team as I’ve had in Yarmouth. I’d guess it’s as complete a team as Yarmouth’s ever had with the size and speed and shooting ability. The guys are smart and hungry. I hope that continues.”
Yarmouth senior John Thoma gets past a Gray-New Gloucester defender.
Yarmouth freshman Aiden Hickey seeks an open teammate.
Yarmouth freshman Najeen McQueen drives on Gray-New Gloucester senior Tanner Mann.
Yarmouth senior Gibson Harnett handles the ball in the lane.