PORTLAND — From the outside, the impression is that York High’s girls’ basketball team relies mainly on the talents of  junior center Nicole Taylor.

Saturday afternoon, the Wildcats showed they are much more in winning their second consecutive Western Class B championship at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

Spurred by a swarming, ball-hawking defense, top-ranked York held No. 3 Greely scoreless in the first quarter, then turned backed every challenge in a 50-38 victory. The Wildcats forced 17 turnovers, seven in the first quarter, which ended with York ahead 11-0.

Stephanie Gallagher led York with 16 points, while Taylor had 14 points and 12 rebounds. York’s reserves added 14 points.

“A lot of people think this team is all about Nikki,’’ said Rick Clark, in his 28th season as York’s coach. “She’d be the first one to tell you it isn’t. This team, today, I think showed that.’’

Taylor received the Mike DiRenzo Award, given to the tournament’s outstanding player/sportsperson, becoming just the third player to win it twice. Karen Butterfield of Gorham won the award in 1978 and 1980. Katie Whittier of Gray-New Gloucester won it in 2001 and 2002. 

Taylor said that while “it’s a big honor, today the award should have gone to the whole team because that’s how we did it today.’’

York (21-0) will play Nokomis in the state championship game at 7 p.m. Friday at the Bangor Auditorium.

“It’s an amazing feeling to go back,’’ said Taylor, whose team lost to Waterville in last year’s championship game. “Hopefully we can bring it back to the West.’’

Greely finished the season 18-3, all the losses to York.

“Give all the credit to them,’’ said Greely Coach Billy Goodman. “They put good pressure on us. We knew it was coming and we made mistakes.’’

Greely’s first five possessions resulted in four turnovers and a blocked shot by Marquis MacGlashing. By that time, York had an 8-0 lead.

When the Rangers finally got off a shot, they missed, and then Gallagher hit a 3-pointer that made it 11-0. Gallagher had nine points in that first quarter.

“We made one adjustment after those first two games with them,’’ said Clark. “We took Emma (Clark, York’s best defender) and put her on (Nicole) Faietta. And we tried to force their guards away from their big people. It worked.’’

Faietta, who led all scorers with 19 points in one of her finest shooting games, admitted it was frustrating: “To go without scoring (in the first quarter) in the biggest game of the year … But I think we did a good job keeping our heads up.’’

The Rangers, led by Faietta’s 12 third-quarter points (including three NBA-distance 3-pointers), pulled within seven entering the fourth. But Greely standouts Abby Young and Megan Grondin were in foul trouble, and Karlee Biskup suffered a concussion and sat out the fourth quarter.

Greely got within 40-34 on Faietta’s final 3-pointer with 5:31 left, but York forced turnovers on three of the next four Greely possessions. Gallagher and Taylor each had baskets in that stretch and Andrea Mountford hit two foul shots to make it 46-34.

“We  played as hard as we could all game,’’ said Mountford. “We knew this could be our last game if we didn’t.’’

 

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:

[email protected]