PORTLAND — In 31 years as the York High girls’ basketball coach, Rick Clark has been in enough tournament games to know outcomes often are decided by the unlikeliest players.
Tuesday, that was York freshman Chloe Smedley.
Smedley, who averaged about five points per game in the regular season, scored nine straight in a 17-0 third-quarter run as second-ranked York downed No. 7 Cape Elizabeth 47-39 in a Western Class B quarterfinal at the Portland Expo.
Smedley finished with a game-high 13 points as York (17-2) advanced to the semifinals against Wells at 3 p.m. Thursday at the Cumberland County Civic Center. York beat the Warriors twice in the regular season.
“She was just banging it down low and her shots were going in,” said center Emily Campbell, who added 11 points for the Wildcats. “We have a lot of faith in her. We have a lot of faith in all our freshmen.”
York struggled early as the Capers took an 11-2 lead. Cape Elizabeth, which lost to York twice in the regular season, was determined to open quickly.
“From last Wednesday, after we beat Oak Hill in the prelim, I told the girls we were going to go at them,” said Coach Chris Casterella. “That’s what we tried to do. We had some success early, then we had some breakdowns. But we were going to go at them and see what happens.”
York slowly recovered and took a lead late in the second quarter, only to have Hannah Sawyer make it 20-20 with a 15-footer in the final seconds of the half.
The Capers (11-9) grabbed their final lead, 23-20, on a 3-pointer by Kisa Tabery with 6:50 left in the third quarter. That’s when the Wildcats took off.
By the time the Capers got another basket, by Marlo Dell’Aquila, York had run off 17 points. The Wildcats forced eight turnovers in the quarter.
With York leading 28-23, Smedley took over. She scored nine consecutive points, all on cuts to the baskets and off nice entry passes.
“I knew we needed the points,” she said. “Once the shots started going in, I kept taking them.
“Today I guess I just turned into a different person.”
“She’s gonna tell you that I’ve been on her the last couple of days about being aggressive and not hesitating,” said Clark. “She’s been good all year with her back to the basket, but hesitant facing the basket. I told her to be just as aggressive.
“That’s what she did. She set herself up, went up, nice moves to the hoop. It’s not something I didn’t expect, but to have it happen that many times in a row in the middle of the game from a freshman, you’ve got to feel good about it.”
York extended its lead to 18 before Cape made a final change, getting 3-pointers from Sawyer and Kate Miklavic to close within six with 1:29 left.
“The fact we’ve been in tough games all year prepares you for this,” said Clark.
Freshman Shannon Todd added 10 points for York. Miklavic led Cape with 10.
“At the half, our coach told us it was a new game, a tied game,” said Campbell. “We knew it was really important that we came out strong.”
Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at: