CAPE ELIZABETH—Coming into the season and during its first two weeks, the Yarmouth boys’ basketball team heard all the buzz about Cape Elizabeth being the gold standard in Western Class B this winter.
Well, the Clippers thought they were pretty good too and did they ever show it with a vengeance Saturday evening.
Against the Capers.
On the Capers’ home floor.
In a battle of unbeatens and in perhaps the first of three meetings this season, Yarmouth started slowly, managing just four points and trailing by six with under a minute to play in the first period, but in a sign of things to come, the Clippers scored five points in a 44-second span to come to life.
Then, Yarmouth put on a clinic in the second quarter, erupting for 24 points, as its defensive pressure led to turnovers, which led to easy layups and several Clippers managed to knock down outside shots as well, which produced a 33-20 lead at halftime.
As expected, Cape Elizabeth rallied in the third quarter, pulling within seven at one point, but Yarmouth, thanks to the steady play of senior standout Adam LaBrie and reserve sparkplug senior Adam Clark, went on a 6-0 run and took a 40-28 advantage to the fourth period.
There, the Clippers quickly ended the competitive phase of the game with a 9-2 run and they went on to prevail by the stunning one-sided score of 59-46.
LaBrie led a balanced attack with 14 points, Clark added 11 off the bench and seniors Jordan Brown and Cote Sawyer and junior Cody Cook all finished with 10 as Yarmouth improved to 5-0 and handed the Capers their first loss in four outings.
“That’s the best we’ve played this year,” Clippers coach Adam Smith said. “When things go well, everyone shoots well and plays better defense. You never know when that wave is going to come. When that wave hits, especially with this group because we have guys who can score, it’s fun to see them rewarded for the hard work they put in.”
Yarmouth edged Cape Elizabeth in a quarterfinal round thriller last season (45-43), capping a three-game sweep of the Capers.
Regardless, based on the number of returning players, Cape Elizabeth was viewed as the favorite entering this season and didn’t disappoint, handling visiting Wells (59-48), host Gray-New Gloucester (70-48) and visiting Freeport (72-40) to start the season.
The Clippers, meanwhile, who lost to Greely in the semifinals last winter, won at Kennebunk in the opener (75-49), then beat visiting defending regional champion Poland (68-48), edged host Greely (57-53) and prevailed over visiting Fryeburg Academy (62-42).
Entering play Saturday, the teams had split their last 10 encounters (see sidebar, below). The Capers hoped to end a three-game skid to Yarmouth, but the Clippers won in Cape Elizabeth for the second year in a row.
The Capers scored about as quickly as a team can to start the game, when senior Eddie Galvin won the opening tip and sent it forward to classmate Ethan Murphy, who went in for an easy layup just three seconds in.
Yarmouth drew even on a fastbreak layup from Cook, then went cold for over four minutes.
Cape Elizabeth took an 8-2 lead behind a leaner from sophomore Quinn Hewitt, a Galvin layup after a steal from junior Justin Guerette and a Galvin putback.
With 2:24 to play in the opening stanza, Clark first made his presence felt as he was fouled while shooting a 3-pointer. Clark made two of three free throws and snapped a 4 minute, 19 second drought.
Galvin answered with a putback, but in the final minute, the visitors finally hit their stride.
With 55.4 seconds left, LaBrie made a free throw. LaBrie then scored on a driving layup. With 11.5 seconds to go, Brown set up Clark for a layup and Yarmouth trailed by only a point, 10-9, heading for the second quarter.
There, the Clippers turned back the clock to the freewheeling championship squad of three seasons ago and raced to a comfortable lead.
Just 25 seconds in, a leaner on the baseline from Brown gave Yarmouth its first lead.
Cape Elizabeth went back top on a runner from junior Marcus Donnelly and after a steal, promising Capers freshman Finn Bowe (the younger brother of program legends Alex and Theo) made a leaner after a steal for a 14-11 lead, but the Clippers then embarked on a 12-0 spurt.
After a 3 from Brown tied the score, LaBrie set up Brown for a fastbreak layup with 6:39 left in the half to put Yarmouth ahead to stay. Sawyer added a 3 and Cape Elizabeth coach Jim Ray called timeout.
To no avail.
Junior Musseit M’Bareck added a bank shot and after a nice spin move, Sawyer made a layup to stretch the lead to 23-14.
With 4:26 to go before halftime, Bowe hit a jumper to stem the tide, but LaBrie banked home a tough leaner and Brown added a free throw to make the score 26-16.
The Capers battled back within six, thanks to a scoop shot from Galvin and a jumper from Hewitt, but the Clippers finished the second quarter the same sizzling way they did the first, as Cook banked home a shot, Cook made a layup after a M’Bareck steal and Clark knocked down a 3 to give Yarmouth a 33-20 advantage at the break.
“We started out a little slow and sloppy, but we knew we could play just as fast as them,” Brown said. “Everyone dug deep and we played as hard as we could. We made passes and got open looks. It was the best quarter we’ve played.”
Six different players scored in the second period surge and the Clippers forced 10 Cape Elizabeth turnovers in the first half.
Cape Elizabeth couldn’t make a 3 or even get to the foul line.
“We were 0-for-16 on 3s by my count in the first half,” Ray said. “We were rushed. We’re not supposed to shoot rushed. We’re supposed to wait. We didn’t attack the rim.”
Still, the game was far from over and the Capers slowly chipped into the deficit in the third quarter.
A bank shot from junior Justin Guerette and two free throws from Galvin made it 33-24. After LaBrie got a point back at the line, Hewitt made a free throw and Bowe delivered a pretty pass to Galvin for a layup, cutting Yarmouth’s lead to 34-27.
The Clippers never panicked, however, and by quarter’s end had gotten almost every point back.
After LaBrie made a fadeaway jumper to stem the tide, LaBrie fed Clark for a layup and Clark made an acrobatic play to put home a missed shot. Capers junior Jack O’Rourke made a foul shot in the final minute, but Yarmouth took a 40-28 advantage to the fourth period.
“We expected them to make a run,” LaBrie said. “The game of basketball is about runs. We knew they’d get theirs, but we had to stay composed.”
In the fourth, it didn’t take long for the Clippers to end all doubt.
After Cook drove for a layup, O’Rourke hit a 3 and Murphy made a floater to cut the deficit to 42-33, but Yarmouth got a corner 3 from Sawyer to effectively end any comeback hopes.
“I’ve been developing that shot over the summer,” Sawyer said. “My teammates have been supportive of me shooting the ball. I have to knock those down.”
“Cote has been a good vocal player for us,” said Smith. “I feel good for him to see him knock down shots. He’s got a lot of confidence. If he’s not hitting, he’ll set other guys up.”
LaBrie added two free throws, then fed Brown for a layup.
“I was trying to find the open guy and they hit their shots tonight,” LaBrie said. “That made me happy.”
With 4:18 remaining, LaBrie hit two foul shots for the Clippers’ biggest lead, 51-33.
After Galvin ended the run with a putback, M’Bareck made two foul shots. Hewitt answered with a layup and Bowe hit a leaner, but LaBrie made two more free throws and Sawyer tacked on a pair for a 57-39 advantage with 1:47 to play.
Hewitt made a layup after a steal and Bowe hit a leaner, but a M’Bareck layup ended Yarmouth’s scoring and a late Bowe 3 accounted for the 59-46 final score.
“We were turning the ball over early, but we got over it and played our game,” LaBrie said. “It was a long week, but this shows how well we can play. We can keep it consistent.”
“We’re a hard-working team,” Sawyer said. “I feel like we work harder than most teams. We battle every game. It doesn’t matter who we play. We just play our game.”
“It was only (Cape’s) fourth game,” Smith added. “We had one more game under our belt than them. I think we’ve been tested by the teams we’ve played up until now.”
LaBrie had a team-high 14 points, but that only begins to tell his story. He wasn’t knocking down his outside shot, so he focused on setting up his teammates (six assists), attacking the glass (five rebounds), blocking shots (three times) and playing smothering defense (four steals).
“People see the box score and see (Adam) scoring 12, 14 points a game, but he’s a rebounding machine, he’s unbelievable on defense and he covers up so many of our mistakes,” Smith said.
Clark was a solid contributor with 11 points, three blocks and two rebounds.
“It’s been someone off the bench every game for us and tonight it was Clark,” said LaBrie. “He knocked down some big shots. He was big on the defensive end.”
“There were some good players who sat tonight because Adam Clark played so well,” Smith said. “I hope it’s consistent. He was a huge spark for us off the bench. I’m happy for him. He put a lot of work in to be successful.”
Brown (eight rebounds, three steals, two assists and a block), Cook (three boards, three assists and two steals) and Sawyer (eight rebounds) all added 10 points, while M’Bareck had four.
The Clippers committed 20 turnovers, but forced 18, and made 15 of 20 free throws.
Cape Elizabeth was paced by Galvin’s 14 points. He also had 10 rebounds, five steals and two assists. Bowe added 11 points. Hewitt had nine points (and six boards), Murphy and O’Rourke four apiece and Donnelly and Guerette two each.
The Capers outrebounded the Clippers 32-31, but shot poorly from 3-point range and made just 4 of 9 free throws.
“It’s tough when you start the season and people say this and that about you,” Ray said. “Talk is cheap. I tried to bring the guys down to earth, but (Yarmouth) did a much better job than I could ever do. They kicked us in the teeth. They were good. They were better at every position for the whole game. We looked tired in the first half. They came ready. They had the bulletin board material pasted up.”
Cape Elizabeth travels to Yarmouth Jan. 10, but both teams will be tested in the interim.
The Capers hope to bounce back Tuesday at Kennebunk. After going to Lake Region Dec. 30, Cape Elizabeth opens the new year at home against Falmouth. The Capers then play at Wells and host Gray-New Gloucester before the rematch with Yarmouth.
“It will be interesting to see how the guys respond, individually and collectively,” Ray said. “We have to get back on track. We have a tough stretch. We have size problems with Kennebunk, then we go to Lake Region, then we play Falmouth.”
The Clippers are back in action Dec. 30, when they host Falmouth. Yarmouth opens 2015 with games at Gray-New Gloucester, at defending Western C champion Waynflete and at home versus Traip Academy.
“We come out every day as hard as we can,” Brown said. “We still have a ways to go. We have tough games coming up.”
“If we play our game to the best of our ability, I think we’ll win every game,” Sawyer said. “It’s the best feeling ever to cap off our week with a win like this. I think we’ll keep getting better.”
“We have to stay focused and not worry about the talk because it really means nothing,” LaBrie said. “I think we have a great team.”
“We’ve got a ways to go before we’re playing four quarters,” Smith added. “We’re very good in spurts. We consistently play good defense. That will help us a lot.”
Two of the Western Maine Conference’s best players, Yarmouth senior Adam LaBrie and Cape Elizabeth senior Eddie Galvin, saw plenty of each other during Saturday’s battle.
Yarmouth senior Jordan Brown draws contact as he goes up for a shot.
Cape Elizabeth freshman Finn Bowe soars through the air and prepares to throw the ball off Yarmouth senior Adam Clark out of bounds to save possession.
Cape Elizabeth senior Eddie Galvin launches a shot.
Yarmouth junior Cody Cook looks for an open teammate.
Yarmouth senior Adam LaBrie drives around Cape Elizabeth senior Ethan Murphy.
Yarmouth junior Musseit M’Bareck goes up for a layup.
Cape Elizabeth junior Jack O’Rourke drives on Yarmouth junior Bailey Darling.
Yarmouth senior Cote Sawyer, who had 10 points, blocks a shot attempt by Cape Elizabeth senior Eddie Galvin.
Longtime Cape Elizabeth coach Jim Ray tries to inspire his charges to rally.
Cape Elizabeth 59 @ Yarmouth 50
@ Cape Elizabeth 48 Yarmouth 44
@ Cape Elizabeth 40 Yarmouth 39
@ Yarmouth 58 Cape Elizabeth 52
Yarmouth 84 @ Cape Elizabeth 61
Cape Elizabeth 61 @ Yarmouth 39
Western B Final
Cape Elizabeth 61 Yarmouth 47
Cape Elizabeth 64 @ Yarmouth 56
@ Cape Elizabeth 52 Yarmouth 51
Cape Elizabeth 64 @ Yarmouth 48
Yarmouth 63 @ Cape Elizabeth 59 (OT)
Western B quarterfinals
Cape Elizabeth 66 Yarmouth 58
@ Cape Elizabeth 71 Yarmouth 50
Cape Elizabeth 55 @ Yarmouth 46
@ Cape Elizabeth 62 Yarmouth 36
@ Yarmouth 47 Cape Elizabeth 36
Cape Elizabeth 52 @ Yarmouth 37
@ Cape Elizabeth 63 Yarmouth 45
Cape Elizabeth 58 @ Yarmouth 44
@ Cape Elizabeth 54 Yarmouth 43
@ Yarmouth 56 Cape Elizabeth 41
@ Cape Elizabeth 54 Yarmouth 48
@ Yarmouth 45 Cape Elizabeth 40
@ Cape Elizabeth 54 Yarmouth 45
Cape Elizabeth 58 @ Yarmouth 56
@ Cape Elizabeth 69 Yarmouth 53
Western B preliminary round
@ Cape Elizabeth 77 Yarmouth 48
Yarmouth juniors Cody Cook (left) and Musseit M’Bareck celebrate after the Clippers’ surprisingly easy 59-46 victory at preseason favorite Cape Elizabeth Saturday night.
Ben McCanna photos.
More photos below.
Y- 9 24 7 19- 59
CE- 10 10 8 18- 46
Y- LaBrie 3-8-14, Clark 4-2-11, Brown 4-1-10, Cook 5-0-10, Sawyer 3-2-10, M’Bareck 1-2-4
CE- Galvin 6-2-14, Bowe 5-0-11, Hewitt 4-1-9, Murphy 2-0-4, O’Rourke 1-1-4, Donnelly 1-0-2, Guerette 1-0-2
Y (4) Sawyer 2, Brown, Clark 1
CE (2) Bowe, O’Rourke 1