The top-ranked basketball team in Western Maine’s Class B proved why they earned their No. 1 seed Saturday night at the Portland Expo, as Cape Elizabeth breezed past eighth-seeded Wells to get to the semifinals by the final score of 72-35.

The Capers used runs of 14-0 in the second quarter and 12-2 to open the third to advance to the Civic Center. A rare five-point play from John Messina in the fourth quarter capped off the impressive night for Cape Elizabeth.

Messina, a junior guard, finished with 12 points in the contest. Senior forward Shaine Burks added 10 points and three rebounds off the bench, and team captain Tommy Ray had 13 points and six rebounds to lead the Cape offense. In all, 13 players scored at least once for the Capers.

For Wells, senior center Demitrios Gatzogiannis paced the Warriors with 15 points, two rebounds, and three assists. John Tufts, a senior guard, pitched in with 11 points.

“We’ve been in the No. 8 slot before, and so we were telling the kids, this is why you play the game,” said Cape Elizabeth coach Jim Ray. “They’re coming out here, and they’re playing to win, and I thought our guys responded well. They were ready to play, and I was pleased.”

Messina got the scoring going early for the Capers, hitting an early three-pointer to get the offense going. Three steals in the quarter, including two from Ray, lead to six points, and gave Cape a 20-10 lead after the first quarter.

“(Steals) lead to easy baskets, and the deeper you get in the tournament, the tougher it is to get that type of action going,” said Ray. “Because we have the depth and the skill players, they’re where they are for a reason.”

Cape didn’t let up after the first. The Capers took off on a 14-0 run to start the second quarter, reaching a 34-10 lead en route to a 40-20 halftime lead. Burks scored eight of his 10 points during the run, with Ray adding two points and three assists.

“(Burks) was absent for the first half of the season because of his grades, and when he came back, it just lit a fire under our butts,” said Messina.

The offense didn’t stop in the third quarter, as the Capers opened the second half on another long run, this time outscoring Wells 12-2 to give Cape a 30 point lead, bringing the score to 52-22.

“We didn’t want to let Wells get comfortable; we couldn’t afford to do that,” said Ray. “We’re not trying to run up the score, but this is the tournament, and you’ve got to be ready to go.”

Cape’s offense went from relentless to ridiculous at the start of the fourth quarter, when Messina was able to execute a rare five-point play. Messina hit a three-pointer on an assist from Burks, but was fouled on the play and went to the free throw line. He completed the rare accomplishment after sinking both shots.

“I’ve never seen that, and I was really surprised it was me,” said Messina.

With the blowout win, Cape will move on to the Civic Center and face rivals Greely, who defeated Falmouth on a last-second three point shot earlier in the day. (The game was scheduled for Wednesday, after the Current’s deadline, for more on the game, see www.keepMEcurrent.com.)

“(Greely) is a tough match up. They’ve got good players in every position,” said Ray.

“All of our team was worked so hard, and we’ve really gelled together,” said Messina. “We’ve won 13 in a row, and we’re just gelling at the perfect time right now. We can all count on each other, and we have confidence in each other.”

Wells finished the year going 8-12, reaching the quarterfinals after beating Oak Hill 52-41 in the preliminary round.

“I’m proud of our guys. Our goal was to get to Portland, and we’re the first team from Wells to do that. I figure, it was a good year for us. It was a good accomplishment for our guys. It was a good way for our seniors to go out, and it was a good experience for the younger kids,” said Wells head coach Jay Moore. “You never know, you might not get back here. I told the team, ‘Hey, you got here. There were eights teams from Western Maine (Class B), and we were one of the top eight.”


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