Tuesday, March 11, 2014
By Tom Chard firstname.lastname@example.org
CUMBERLAND — On the final night of the high school basketball regular season, top-ranked Greely showed that it’s ready for the Western Class B boys’ tournament by answering every challenge from Cape Elizabeth on the way to a 71-62 victory Friday night.
Kyle Wood scored a career-high 20 points for the Rangers (17-1). He was matched by Connor Hanley, as the duo took their turns leading the way. Hanley scored 18 of his 20 points in the first and fourth quarters. Wood had 12 points in the second quarter.
Fifth-ranked Cape Elizabeth (11-7) never led, but in true Capers fashion never let Greely feel comfortable. Twice in the fourth quarter, Cape got as close as eight points.
Guard Gabe Axelsen hit a pair of high-arcing 3-pointers to get Greely back on track.
“The important thing is to be playing our best basketball heading into the tournament,” said Greely Coach Travis Seaver. “I thought we played well in spurts. I think it’s good we played Cape before the tournament because they force you to not make mistakes, because if you do, they are going to capitalize.”
Seaver said his team was looking for consistency, and for three quarters the Rangers had it. Greely led by double digits for most of the game.
“The teams that do well in the tournament are the ones who play consistently, and that’s something we’re striving for,” he said.
Greely honored its seniors before their final home game.
One of those seniors was Wood, a 6-foot-4 forward. He took control by finding open areas inside and scoring off nice feeds.
“I was just trying to find the open hole,” said Wood. “We had good ball movement. I thought we played pretty well.
“It was our last game here and we were giving it our all. We didn’t want to let Cape back in. They had runs, but we were able to come through with the win. I think we can take this momentum into the tournament.”
Late in the second quarter, the Rangers went on a 10-2 run to build a 37-24 halftime lead.
Wood started it with a rebound and basket. He added two more baskets in the spurt.
“Kyle played great in the first half,” said Seaver.
“He has a great nose for the ball. He works his tail off inside and is a tremendous player on the boards.”
Hanley helped make sure the Rangers stayed in front in the fourth quarter.
“Connor is one of those players who sometimes go unnoticed,” said Seaver. “He’s a great defensive player whose offense has stepped up. Connor has been playing great basketball.”
Axelsen’s 3-pointers in the fourth quarter couldn’t have come at a better time, because the Rangers were struggling with their ballhandling against the pressing Capers. Like most of Greely’s opponents, the Capers were giving up significant size.
“Anytime you can make a shot like Gabe did in the middle of the other team’s run, it’s huge,” said Seaver. “I think Eddie Galvin was in his face both times.”
Axelsen hit his first 3-pointer from deep in the right corner and then went to the opposite side to hit his second.
“Gabe played a great game,” said Wood.
Cape Elizabeth, which lost 51-47 at home against Greely when the teams played two weeks ago, was led by sophomore point guard Jack O’Rourke with 18 points. Galvin, a junior, finished with 16.
“We’re not going to go away,” said Cape Coach Jim Ray. “We’re going to try hard and not roll over. Greely is a good team and it’s tough to keep them down.”
Cape Elizabeth entered in fifth place in the Western Class B Heal point standings. The top six teams advance directly to the quarterfinals next Saturday at the Portland Expo.
Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at: