March 17, 2010

Plenty to smile about


— By

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John Ewing/Staff Photographer.. Saturday, February 23, 2008..Freeport vs. Cape Elizabeth boys class B regional final. Cape Elizabeth's Woodlin Tabery drives past Freeport's Cody Bartlett on his way to the basket.

John Ewing

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John Ewing/Staff Photographer.. Saturday, February 23, 2008..Freeport vs. Cape Elizabeth boys class B regional final. Cape Elizabeth's Johnny Messina heads to the basket around Freeport's Jon Klages.

John Ewing

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Staff Writer

CAPE ELIZABETH — John Messina rushed down the school corridor to get to the team bus in time for a game at Yarmouth. The collar of his sports jacket was turned up. A pant leg was tucked inside his sock, a shirt tail was hanging out and the hood of his Cape Elizabeth jacket was wedged inside.

''Johnny, go look at yourself in the mirror,'' said Coach Jim Ray.

Messina, the team's junior point guard, is not known for his sartorial splendor.

''I guess I'm the messy one on the team,'' said Messina.

Messina made the team bus that day.

Then there's senior Woody Tabery. Tabery, the team's loosey-goosey reserve and chief prankster, missed the team bus for a preseason game. The Capers were playing Maranacook, their opponent in the Class B state final Friday night, in a tournament at Cumberland.

''One of my teammates was playing a joke and told me the bus was leaving at 2:15,'' said Tabery.

It worked. The bus left a few moments before Tabery arrived.

''I drove to the game with another player and tried to sit on the bench,'' said Tabery.

No luck there either.

Messina and Tabery are two of the characters on the Western Class B champions. Every team has them. The successful ones know when to have fun and when to get serious. And with a 16-game winning streak, Cape is skilled in both.

''Everyone on our team is a character. We just happen to be the most ridiculous ones,'' said Messina, sitting next to Tabery in the school cafeteria.

Cape Elizabeth (19-2) will play Maranacook (21-0), the Eastern Maine champion, in the boys' Class B state final at 8:45 p.m. Friday at the Bangor Auditorium.

The Capers are in their first state final since 1988.

Messina and Tabery were on the team last season but saw little playing time. This year, both have emerged as key players. Messina starts and Tabery is either first or second off the bench.

''They've been a couple of bright spots,'' said Ray.

And a source of levity.

''I have a pretty loose team. They're a lot of fun to coach,'' said Ray. ''When it's time to get serious, they do. They know how to have fun without fooling around.''

Ray has enjoyed working with this group, which includes his son, Tom, a senior tri-captain and defensive specialist. There's also strong senior leadership with Ray, Tabery, Ian Place and Shaine Burks.

''We brought Cam Brown, a freshman, up for the tournament and the upperclassmen have made him feel right at home,'' said Ray. ''They give him rides to practices and back home. Those qualities help to make a team from top to bottom.''

Place, a 6-foot-4 center, is known for his questions during practices.

''I think he asks them just for the sake of asking. Oftentimes they have nothing to do with what we're doing,'' said Messina, smiling.

When asked about Tabery, Messina grins.

''He has his own way of doing things,'' said Messina.

''The main thing is to have fun,'' said Tabery.

Since missing the bus in preseason, Tabery gets the same question from Ray before every road game.

''Now Woody, what time does the bus leave?''

Added the coach: ''Woody knows more than he lets on.''

The Capers haven't lost since Dec. 18. Tabery said the turning point came Jan. 11 in a home game against Yarmouth.

Yarmouth led 11-0 before Cape got rolling and won by 21 points. That moment, plus the return of Burks, who missed a large portion of the season because of academics, went hand in hand as Cape climbed to No. 1 in the rankings.

''We've always been a good team since fifth grade,'' said Tabery. ''It just took us awhile to jell.''

Burks, who was a starter for his sophomore and junior seasons, now comes off the bench with Tabery, and loves his role.

''I love to watch the game develop and then come in and give it my all,'' said Burks.

Burks knows about Maranacook, a high-scoring team, but said the Capers are second to none when it comes to offense.

''We have five or six players who can score, and I think that balance is going to be a big factor in the state championship (game),'' he said.

The Capers got the feel of the Bangor Auditorium during a practice there Monday. Told of the noise during games and the advantage Eastern Maine teams often have in the building, Tabery said he wasn't concerned.

''We love to play in places where the other crowd is loud and hostile,'' he said. ''It makes us play better.''

On the way home from Bangor, Tabery attempted to get some sleep.

''I figured it would be quieter at the back of the bus. Before I knew it, everyone was laughing and having a good time. I knew I would have to wait to get home before I could sleep,'' he said.

Staff Writer Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at:

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Additional Photos

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Photo by John Ewing/Staff Photographer... Wednesday, February 20, 2008...Cape Elizabeth's Shaine Burks' made a diving save of a loose ball to keep it from going out of bounds during a semi-final game against Greely.


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