CUMBERLAND — After losing five starters from a team that fell one game short of making it to the Class B state final last season, a young Greely boys basketball squad seems to be growing up in a hurry.

Sophomores Matt McDevitt and Ryan Twitchell combined to scored 32 points to lead the Rangers to a 78-37 win against Freeport in a Western Maine Conference game Wednesday night.

“We’re young and our goal is obviously to get better every week, every game, and I think we took a big step forward,” Greely Coach Travis Seaver said.

The Rangers (1-1) opened the game with a 10-2 run and gradually pulled away to hold a 35-16 lead at the end of the first half. They started the second half with a 19-4 run to open up a 54-20 lead with a minute left in the third quarter.

In last Friday night’s season opener, Gray-New Gloucester rolled to a 51-41 win over Greely on the Patriots’ home court.

“Our first game we had a lot of jitters, and now we’re finally feeling more comfortable with each other,” senior point guard Gabe Axelsen said.

Axelsen, who scored nine points and played a solid floor game at both ends of the court Wednesday night, is the most experienced player in the Greely lineup. He served as the Rangers’ sixth man, providing a spark off the bench – a role he also served last season.

This season, Axelsen is expected to provide leadership.

“I had a lot of people I had to look up to last year, and I’ve got a lot of big shoes to fill,” he said.

“It’s time for me to step up.”

It’s a much different role than Axelsen played the past two seasons.

“A year ago, I had a lot of talent around me,” he said. “We had big names, a lot of senior leadership, and we were expected to go a long ways.”

Those Rangers fell short. Poland, the sixth-seeded team, upset them 63-59 in the regional final.

This season, Greely’s main goal is to extend its string of appearances in the regional tournament to 24 consecutive seasons.

“This year, we don’t have a lot of weight on our shoulders,” Axelsen said.

McDevitt led the Rangers with 18 points, while Twitchell followed with 14 points.

The Rangers held a 29-24 edge in rebounds and forced 24 turnovers while committing just nine turnovers.

“Defense was a big key for us,” Seaver said. “We tried to make them take difficult shots and hold them to one shot.”

Only 20 of the Greely points came in transition.

“We want to try to get the some transition going and run when we can,” Seaver said, “but we’re young and we want to take some good shots.”

It was the second lopsided loss for the Falcons, who opened the season last Friday night with a 60-43 setback at home against defending Class B state champion Poland.

“We just didn’t have the enthusiasm or intensity to compete with a team like Greely tonight,” said Freeport Coach Matt Reid, a 2004 Cape Elizabeth High grad in his first season as head coach of the Falcons.

“What I think the coaching staff is looking for is a 100 percent commitment in enthusiasm and intensity. We’ve had it at times, but we haven’t been consistent.”