PORTLAND — With the game on the line, sophomore point guard Ethan Murphy delivered a victory for Cape Elizabeth.
Murphy sank 7 of 8 free throws in the fourth quarter to help the Capers hold off Wells 57-51 in a Western Class B boys’ basketball quarterfinal Saturday at the Portland Expo.
Third-seeded Cape Elizabeth (14-5) moves on to a regional semifinal Thursday night against No. 2 York at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
Chris Robicheaw led the Capers with 17 points. Henry Babcock added 14 and Ed Galvin finished with 11.
Cape maintained its lead without sinking a field goal in the fourth quarter. The Capers made 14 throws in the final eight minutes.
It was a win that reflected the Capers’ season, Coach Jim Ray said.
“It wasn’t necessarily pretty all the time, but we found a way to win,” he said. “We made plays when we had to make plays, and we made stops. The boys carried the game plan out tremendously.”
Dylan Stevens scored 23 points for No. 6 Wells (11-9).
“It felt like momentum was all on their side early,” Wells Coach Troy Brown said. “We’re a scrappy team, and we hung in there. We tied it at 37 but couldn’t get over the hump.
“I’m happy we got the opportunity to come up here three years in a row. That shows a lot about what these kids bring to the table.”
The Capers jumped out to a 14-7 lead on four straight 3-pointers, three from Robicheaw, and held a 16-9 lead after one quarter.
“He’s not hesitating, and that shows confidence,” Ray said of Robicheaw. “They have to believe they’re going to hit that shot. That mind-set encourages them to take the big shots.”
Wells opened the second quarter with an 11-5 run, capped by Nate Booth’s 3-pointer to cut the Capers’ lead to 21-20 with 2:25 left in the half.
Robicheaw and Babcock each had 10 points in the first half, and Cape Elizabeth went to the break with a 27-22 edge.
Stevens scored 10 points in the third quarter, including a 3-pointer with 3:21 left to tie it at 37. Galvin regained the lead for Cape with a drive to the basket on the next possession, and a 6-1 run put the Capers ahead 43-38 after three quarters.
Fouls became a factor in the fourth quarter. Wells cut the lead to 46-44 before Stevens fouled out with 1:39 left, sending Murphy to the line for the first time.
“Our underclassmen really stepped up, knocking down free throws,” Babcock said. “I had complete confidence in Ethan when he was at the line.”
Three other Wells regulars fouled out over the next minute, and the Capers slowly shot their way into the next round.
Murphy brushed off the idea of performing under pressure. They were just free throws, after all. He’s been practicing them for years. But was he glad he put in the effort?
“Yes, I am.”