CUMBERLAND — Greely High’s path to the Class B girls’ basketball state final Friday night had a few bumps.

Getting over those rough spots made the team stronger. Now the Rangers are more than a really good regular-season team. They are Western Class B champions.

“Last year, maybe all the pieces weren’t meshing, and especially in the playoffs I feel we were all really nervous,” said senior captain Hayley Felkel. “Even this year in preseason, Coach was like, ‘We’re not all there yet. You can be better.’ We really had to work on that.”

Greely (19-2) is in the state final for the first time since 2004, when it beat Camden Hills. The past two years, the Rangers posted 14-4 and 13-5 records in the regular season but couldn’t advance past the regional semifinals.

Friday they’ll face Presque Isle (19-2), the 2012 and 2013 state champs. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Cross Insurance Arena.

Presque Isle features a pair of 1,000-point scorers in Hannah Graham and Krystal Kingsbury. The Rangers will counter with their own 1,000-point scorer in senior center Ashley Storey, who will play at the University of New Hampshire.

Slowed as a junior by a shoulder injury that kept her out early in the season, the 6-foot-3 Storey has dominated as a senior. She raised her scoring average from 15.8 to 20.0 points per game and increased her rebounding from 10.1 to 12.0.

“We told her the biggest transition she needed to make was you have to physically dominate in practice,” said Greely Coach Joel Rogers. “Stop being nicey-nice. She’s playing a much more physical game and that’s helped us all be tougher.”

Storey is proud that in each of her four seasons Greely advanced to at least the regional semifinal. This will be her first state title game appearance.

“I think the girls really wanted it, and as the year went on they realized we had a chance to go really far,” she said. “We have a lot of talent on this team. There are a lot of players on this team that can shoot, dribble and play defense really well.”

The ascension of sophomores Moira Train, Molly Chapin and Isabel Porter as confident contributors has been another critical on-the-court component.

In Greely’s three playoff games, Train and Porter – the first sub off the bench – combined to score 65 points.

“Getting our sophomores confident and once they understood their roles, everything gelled together really well for us,” said Felkel, the other senior starter.

Rogers, 57, had never been a head coach before taking the Greely job prior to the 2012-13 season. He said that like his players, he’s also improved.

“My first two years (at Greely) I didn’t feel like I was doing right by the girls,” Rogers said.

He said he’s gradually realized his focus should be making “them better players and not worry about what offense and defense you run. Make them better basketball players. Our whole thing in practice is skill development.”

The learning process for Rogers and the Rangers could easily have been sidetracked by two off-court crises in their first year together.

Two-thirds of the way through Rogers’ first year, a photo of two players in Greely basketball uniforms giving the Nazi salute to a third player who was giving the peace sign was posted on a social media site. Greely girls’ basketball was a trending topic for all the wrong reasons. Players were disciplined and a media storm followed. Greely was 11-1 when the photo became public knowledge but finished 15-6, losing to Lake Region in the regional semifinals.

Then, during the following summer, Rogers was diagnosed with colon cancer. Last season he went through several rounds of chemotherapy and leaned heavily on first-year assistant Diana Manduca to help run practices, sometimes in his absence.

Rogers said his cancer symptoms are now “nonexistent and eventually I’ll be fine.”

“It was obviously a big deal, but he himself didn’t make it a big deal,” Felkel said. “He handled it really well and he helped us through it, and I hope we helped him through it a little bit. It definitely bonded us and made us stronger.”

All told, the journey has created a joyful, skilled and confident team.

“Trust is a very big part of the game and on this team,” Storey said. “I think everyone trusts each other.”