We’re told the value of sport lies in its ability to teach life lessons.

The Greely High girls’ basketball team is learning to deal with some tough experiences.

This past summer, second-year Coach Joel Rogers was diagnosed with colon cancer.

Rogers said at first he noticed a general sense of fatigue.

Chalking it up to being out of shape, he started to go to the gym and get himself back on the court. Instead of feeling better, the exercise made him feel worse.

A doctor’s visit ensued and the cancer was discovered.

The Rangers can certainly take a cue from Rogers’ honest, upbeat approach.

“As I said to the kids, and everyone else for that matter, I’m not dying. I’m actually getting better,” Rogers said. “Yes, I have to go through chemotherapy.”

Rogers said he was able to schedule the treatment around game dates for the most part and is excited the school hired recent Colby College graduate and former Deering High star Diana Manduca as an assistant.

“I’ve still got a lot of energy because I’m excited about this team,” Rogers said in the preseason. “Because of the chemo I’m sensitive to the cold and sometimes – and this might be to the team’s benefit – my voice won’t be as loud.”

Rogers’ diagnosis came on the heels of a harsh lesson in how quickly social media can spin a bad idea into negative headlines. When a photo of team members giving the Nazi salute was posted on Facebook last winter, Greely girls’ basketball was a trending topic for all the wrong reasons.

“That was problematic for us. We were 11-1 when that came down, and it caused us to have a bumpy finish to the end of the year, and in the end the kids were able to put it aside,” Rogers said.

Greely finished 15-6, winning two playoff games before losing to eventual Western Class B champ Lake Region in the regional semifinals.

But the scars are still there.

“It was a big learning experience for all involved,” Rogers said.

So this season is about healing, literally and figuratively.

The on-court results have been modestly encouraging. Playing without junior star Ashley Storey (recovering from shoulder surgery), Greely dropped its opener to Gray-New Gloucester, 54-31, but responded with wins against Freeport and Kennebunk.

Blaise Tardiff scored 25 points against Freeport, including 11 in the fourth quarter as Greely won, 55-46. In the 50-25 win against Kennebunk, the Rangers dominated the second half as Tardiff and Haley Felkel each scored in double figures.

“If we can be good without (Storey), we can be really good with her,” Rogers said.

THE BOX SCORE said Cape Elizabeth sophomore Kate Breed scored an unremarkable three points in a 61-59 win Saturday at Gray-New Gloucester. The reality is Breed’s 3-point basket with 10 seconds left was the winner and saved the Capers from an 0-3 start. … Tonight’s Lake Region at Wells game pits a pair of 3-0 teams that decisively beat a young and outgunned York. It should be a good barometer for both teams.

FUELED BY ITS home fans, the 3-point shooting of junior Abby Hamilton and the strong play of freshman Emily Esposito, Gorham played toe-to-toe with three-time defending Class A champ McAuley on Friday.

McAuley pulled out a 65-59 win. Victoria Lux (21 free throws) made two free throws with three seconds left to give her team a four-point lead. Gorham threw away the inbounds pass and McAuley scored at the buzzer.

McAuley senior Allie Clement scored 22 points with four 3-pointers, but that output was matched by Hamilton (22 with five 3s).

“I don’t know if ‘should have won,’ is right, but we had the opportunity,” Gorham Coach Laughn Berthiaume said. “What we talked about was, it was a rebound here, a made shot there.”

Esposito (16 ppg) scored 15, including a banked-in half-court shot at the halftime buzzer.

“She’s certainly not surprising me. I knew what kind of player I had,” Berthiaume said of Esposito.

Berthiaume said two things were pleasing in retrospect: that his team did not view the narrow loss as a moral victory and “it was tight the whole way because players were making plays.” 

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or at:

scraig@pressherald.com

Twitter: SteveCCraig