PORTLAND—A season of triumph and promise ended in abject agony Thursday evening.
Yarmouth’s boys’ basketball team, which exceeded expectations this winter and finished atop the Western Class B Heal Points standings, entered its semifinal against No. 4 Lake Region at the Cross Insurance Arena as heavy favorites, but that wound up meaning absolutely nothing.
The inspired Lakers, who lost, 87-55, at Yarmouth less than three weeks ago, put on a show on the big stage and just like that, the highly anticipated Yarmouth-Cape Elizabeth regional showdown has fallen by the wayside.
Lake Region announced it had come to play in the first period, when junior Marcus DeVoe hinted at a record-setting game to come when he drained a couple 3s and the score was tied, 10-10.
The Clippers took a lead in the second quarter behind baskets from junior Cody Cook and senior Adam LaBrie, but two more 3s from DeVoe gave the Lakers the lead. A Cook putback at horn tied the game again, 24-24.
In the quarterfinal round, Yarmouth had broken open a close game with a third quarter surge and when LaBrie drained a 3 and scored on a scoop shot in the first minute, it appeared the Clippers were on the verge of seizing control, but instead, Lake Region roared back and took the lead for good.
A 3 from DeVoe capped a 9-0 run and the Lakers took a 38-35 advantage to the fourth quarter.
There, Yarmouth drew within a point, but an 8-2 run, capped by DeVoe’s record-setting seventh 3, made it 46-39 with 5:47 remaining. The Clippers kept trying to rally, but Lake Region answered every challenge.
A LaBrie 3 with 1:33 to go pulled Yarmouth within 50-49, but two free throws from senior Nick Hall with 23.8 seconds left pushed the lead back to three. LaBrie was fouled while shooting a 3 with 6 seconds remaining, but he only made one attempt.
The Clippers got one final chance to steal the victory when Hall missed a foul shot, but a desperation 3 from LaBrie at the horn was off target and the Lakers sprung the upset, 52-50.
Cook and LaBrie both had 18 points, but they were trumped by DeVoe’s 24 points as Lake Region improved to 15-5, advanced to play No. 2 Cape Elizabeth (17-3) in the Western B Final Saturday at 3:45 p.m. at CIA and ended Yarmouth’s season at 16-4 in the process.
“It was a frustrating night for us, but we battled to the bitter end,” said Clippers coach Adam Smith. “It’s never easy when the season ends, the finality of the situation. It’s hard for me, hard for the seniors and it’s hard for the underclassmen to grasp.”
Yarmouth was tremendous during the regular year, winning 15 of 18 games and earning the top seed. Saturday, in the quarterfinals against ninth-ranked Gray-New Gloucester, the Clippers rode a 26-1 second half run to a 79-48 victory.
Lake Region had a strong season as well, going 13-5, but the Lakers were in the shadow of Yarmouth, Cape Elizabeth and Falmouth. Saturday, in its quarterfinal, Lake Region disposed of No. 5 Spruce Mountain, 41-37.
In addition to their 32-point romp three weeks ago, the Clippers had won two of the previous three postseason contests over Lake Region, taking the 2007 preliminary round and the 2008 quarterfinals and losing in the 2010 preliminary round.
Thursday, Yarmouth was expected to join Cape Elizabeth in the regional final, but Lake Region had other ideas.
Yarmouth struck first on a leaner from senior Cote Sawyer, but DeVoe countered with his first 3. After LaBrie tied the score with a free throw, senior Nick Hall made a layup to put the Lakers on top. Junior Musseit M’Bareck then set up Cook for a layup to tie the score, 5-5.
After DeVoe put Lake Region on top with a free throw, LaBrie got his second foul and had to sit the rest of the quarter. His teammates picked him up, however, as Cook converted an old-fashioned three-point play (layup, foul, free throw) and M’Bareck made a layup for a 10-6 lead.
It didn’t last, as sophomore Tyler Walker made a free throw and DeVoe sank another 3 to tie the game, 10-10, after one period.
Things remained taut in the second quarter.
A bank shot from Cook and a LaBrie layup (from Sawyer, after a steal) put Yarmouth up, 14-10, but Hall made two foul shots.
Freshman Nolan Hagerty extended the Clippers’ lead with a putback, but junior Nate Smith had a putback for Lake Region. LaBrie eluded a defender with a behind the back dribble and made a layup, but Lakers junior Jackson Lesure buried a 3.
Cook made a bank shot, but a free throw from Lesure and a 3 from DeVoe put the Lakers back on top. After M’Bareck somehow steered home a left-handed leaner, another DeVoe 3 put Lake Region ahead, but as time expired, Cook had a putback to make it 24-24.
Cook had 11 points in the first half, but DeVoe’s 13 points and the Lakers’ 20-16 rebounding advantage (with six coming on the offensive glass) kept things interesting.
In the third period, LaBrie woke up the echoes by starting with a 3, then scoring on a finger roll, but that would prove to be Yarmouth’s highwater mark.
A layup from senior Quinn Piland, a leaner from Hall (off Lesure’s inbounds pass), a driving layup from DeVoe and a transition 3 from DeVoe put Lake Region on top, 33-29, forcing Adam Smith to call timeout.
Out of the timeout, Hagerty kept possession alive with an offensive rebound and Cook ended the run with a jumper, but at the other end, DeVoe made yet another 3. After M’Bareck made a jumper, Nate Smith fed Piland for a layup. A left-handed spinner from M’Bareck pulled Yarmouth within three, 38-35, heading for the fateful fourth quarter.
There, the Lakers completed the stunner.
After a LaBrie leaner pulled the Clippers within one, Nate Smith hit a leaner while being fouled and completed the three-point play. Hall then set up Piland for a layup and a 43-37 lead.
LaBrie answered with a driving layup, but with 5;47 to go , DeVoe buried another 3, pushing the lead to seven and forcing Adam Smith to call timeout again.
Yarmouth responded, as Hagerty scored on a putback and Cook drove for a layup while being fouled and completed the three-point play, but the Clippers twice turned the ball over with a chance to tie or go ahead and with 3:10 to go, Piland scored on a putback after a steal.
A Cook putback cut the deficit to 48-46 with 3 minutes to play, but off an inbounds set, Smith fed Piland for a layup.
Yarmouth kept hope alive on a possession with five offensive rebounds that finally ended with a LaBrie 3, making it 50-49, but after milking time off the clock, Lake Region got Hall to the line, where he sank both attempts, making it 52-49 with 23.8 seconds to play.
After LaBrie missed a 3 to tie, Lesure got the rebound and was fouled.
With 13.1 seconds to go, Lesure kept the door open by missing the front end of a 1-and-1 and after Hagerty got the rebound, the ball came to LaBrie, who got a defender in the air, then soared for a 3-point attempt. The shot was off target, but LaBrie was fouled and he went to the line with 6 seconds to play with an opportunity to tie the score.
That went by the wayside when the first free throw was short. LaBrie made the second, but out of a timeout, he intentionally missed the third. Hagerty almost got to the rebound, but Hall snared it instead and he was fouled with 4.5 seconds showing.
Hall had a chance to ice it at the line, but when he missed the front end of a 1-and-1, the Clippers had one final chance.
Hagerty got the rebound and passed to LaBrie near midcourt. With time ticking down, LaBrie took a couple dribbles then let fly a desperation 3.
It appeared on target initially, but the short wound up just short and to the left.
“I thought it was going in,” Adam Smith said. “We’ve gone over that play in practice countless times and he made it. It looked like he was going to do it again. He’s the guy I wanted to take it. I’d have him do it again 100 times out of a 100.”
The horn sounded and Lake Region celebrated its 52-50 victory.
“I expected a different Lake Region team than the team we saw three weeks ago,” Adam Smith said. “I knew they were talented. They’re physical, they play great defense. They disrupted what we wanted to do on offense. We didn’t play great defense, but it was riveting to the end. We had a chance to win it. The guys battled even though things didn’t go our way.
“We weren’t overconfident. We didn’t look past anybody. Someone had to have a great night from the 3-point line to beat us. You just can’t count on anything taking place on (the CIA) floor the way it did in the regular season.”
DeVoe’s seven 3s eclipsed the mark of Mountain Valley’s Dean Boudreau (1994) and Bailey Train (2014). He wound up with 24 points and four rebounds.
“What we saw from Marcus today is what I’ve seen from Marcus for years,” Lake Region coach J.P. Yorkey said. “He’s a very good athlete. He’s a kid whose shot has greatly improved. He shot the ball the best he ever has. He also played really good defense. He deserved it.”
Piland had 10 points, Hall eight (to go with nine rebounds), Nate Smith five, Lesure four (to go with nine boards and seven assists) and Walker one.
The Lakers made eight 3-pointers to the Clippers’ two, held a slim 31-30 rebounding advantage, only turned the ball over 13 times and made 8 of 15 free throws.
“We tried to press them last time and it wasn’t good for us,” Yorkey said. “We did a better job getting back and containing them in the halfcourt. We did a heck of a job defensively. We didn’t turn the ball over too much against their press. We have a good collection of basketball players and athletes. They all get along. They drove and found their buddies and made plays. We didn’t help much on defense. Coming in, we felt we couldn’t help because they can all shoot.”
Lake Region beat Cape Elizabeth in the lone regular season matchup, 51-46, Dec. 30 in Naples. The Capers were without one of their senior leaders, Ethan Murphy in that game. The Lakers hold a 4-2 all-time edge in the postseason. The most recent meeting was won by Cape Elizabeth in the 2010 quarterfinals (53-37).
At this point, anyone betting against Lake Region is foolish.
“We wanted to play Yarmouth again after losing to them and I think Cape wants to play us again,” Yorkey said. “We beat them, but they didn’t have Ethan Murphy, who was sick. I really thought coming in to the season that us and Cape were the top two teams. I didn’t think Yarmouth would be as good as they were. It’s a great opportunity for us. I’m very excited.”
Yarmouth got 18 points from LaBrie in his swan song. He also had four rebounds. LaBrie was a role player in 2012, when the Clippers won their first championship in 44 seasons. He’s been an integral member of a competitive team throughout his high school career and won’t be easily replaced.
“I’ll remember the unselfishness and ferocity he played with and the exciting plays he generated,” Adam Smith said. “He’s an all-around great player and he’s also the most soft-spoken captain you could want. He was never boastful or demanding. He’s a special athlete who was not only highly thought of by the fans, but by kids in the school.”
Cook had 18 points, five rebounds and three steals. M’Bareck finished with eight points, Hagerty had four (to go with 11 boards, a steal and a blocked shot) and Sawyer finished with two (he also had four rebounds and three steals).
Yarmouth only committed eight turnovers, but didn’t help its cause by shooting just 4 of 11 from the charity stripe.
The Clippers spent a long time in their locker room after the game, not just lamenting the loss, but celebrating what they’ve accomplished.
“It was our last time together in the locker room, our sanctuary,” Smith said. “We looked back on the season and on the seniors’ careers. The guys left feeling disappointed, but good about the year. It was an exciting winter. We feel good about what we achieved for the school, the town and for each other. The work we put in was worth it. It was a very close team, so the finality of not being together any more hurts more than anything.”
In addition to LaBrie, starters Sawyer and Jordan Brown also depart, as will Adam Clark, Ian Guiney and Sam Morris.
“Teams are usually as good as their seniors,” Smith said. “Going 15-3 and finishing first showed how much the senior class brought this team together. The closeness developed because of captains Adam and Jordan. Everyone felt special.”
Next year’s team will have the nucleus of Cook, Hagerty and M’Bareck. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Yarmouth back on the big stage in 2015-16.
“The younger guys have a chance to get back here next year,” Smith said. “Every year’s a surprise. You wonder if you can do it again and this group coming back has a great opportunity. I feel those players coming back will have their own tremendous season. I don’t know what that means in terms of wins and losses, but I can see this group maintaining the closeness we’ve shared.”
Yarmouth senior Jordan Brown tries to get around a Lake Region defender.
Yarmouth junior Cody Cook floats a shot over a defender. Cook had 18 points.
Yarmouth senior Adam LaBrie races up the court.
Yarmouth junior Musseit M’Bareck goes up with the left hand for two points.
Yarmouth coach Adam Smith shouts out instructions.
Yarmouth’s fan section implores the Clippers to rally.
Yarmouth senior Adam LaBrie shoots over Lake Region senior Quinn Piland during Thursday’s Western Class B semifinal. Despite LaBrie’s 18 points, the top-ranked Clippers were upset, 52-50.
Ben McCanna photos.
More photos below.
LR- 10 14 14 14- 52
Y- 10 14 11 15- 50
LR- DeVoe 8-1-24, Piland 5-0-10, Hall 2-4-8, Smith 2-1-5, Lesure 1-1-4, Walker 0-1-1
Y- Cook 8-2-18, LaBrie 7-2-18, M’Bareck 4-0-8, Hagerty 2-0-4, Sawyer 1-0-2
LR (8) DeVoe 7, Lesure 1
Y (2) LaBrie 2
2010 Western B preliminary round
Lake Region 56 Yarmouth 41
2008 Western B quarterfinals
Yarmouth 64 Lake Region 41
2007 Western B preliminary round
Yarmouth 75 Lake Region 47