CAPE ELIZABETH — Ben Raymond didn’t want to waste any time finding out how his freshmen would react to their first experience with a raucous, pressure-packed atmosphere.

So the Cape Elizabeth coach put seven of them in the opening event of the North Southwestern championship meet.

“Coming into it, I didn’t know what to expect,” said Olivia Tighe, one of the 13 Cape Elizabeth ninth-graders who contributed to a 280-275 win over defending champ Greely on Saturday. “It’s definitely a big team meet. It’s not as much individual.”

It was Tighe’s butterfly stroke in the 200-yard medley relay, the third of four legs, that lifted the Capers from third into a virtual tie with Greely. Alicia Lawrence swam the freestyle anchor leg that edged the Rangers by a fraction (.28) of a second and set the tone for a nip-and-tuck meet.

“With all the excitement and commotion, it was a lot of fun,” said Tighe, who went on to win the 200 and 500 free, and was performer of the meet. “It was the most fun meet I’ve been to.”

The Southwesterns are unique; they allow each school to enter both A and B relays, rewarding depth. Cape Elizabeth won all three B relays Saturday, and that, as much as anything, proved the difference between two evenly matched programs.

Not since Scarborough in 2008 has a team other than Greely or Cape Elizabeth won.

“We’ve got a rivalry,” said Greely Coach Rob Hale, whose team lost to Cape by single digits for the third time in four years, “and they got the best of us.”

The Rangers pulled ahead by a point through seven of the 12 events and entered the final 400 free relay trailing by 13. Camilla Civiello, Katie Bacall, Hwanhee Park and Lily Black swam to a decisive five-second victory while Cape Elizabeth could muster no better than sixth, but it still wasn’t enough. Cape Elizabeth edged Greely’s B relay (which was disqualified for a false start) to preserve a margin of victory that would have been a single point had the Rangers B time counted.

“It was a good, exciting, competitive meet,” Raymond said, “which hopefully helps prepare everyone for (the state championship meets) next Monday and Tuesday.”

Scarborough (193) took third over Cheverus (188), followed by Deering (110), Falmouth (92), Westbrook (85), McAuley (72), South Portland (31) and North Yarmouth Academy (29).

Lawrence also won the 100 free and placed third in the 50 free for Cape Elizabeth. Besides Tighe, the only other individual winner was Ana Neff-Jendrasko of McAuley, who came from behind in the 200 individual medley (against Scarborough freshman Charlotte Pratt) and the 100 butterfly (against Greely’s Park).

All three are teammates on the Portland Porpoise club team.

“So I knew I had to work if I wanted it,” Neff-Jendrasko said. “They helped push me to where I wanted to go and I’m grateful for that.”

The winning butterfly time of 59.94 was particularly gratifying for Neff-Jendrasko, who had tried for five years to match the 1:01 she swam as an 11-year-old.

“I haven’t been able to touch that, and it’s always been my goal to go under a minute,” she said. “So doing it was like, ‘Oh my god, all my hard work is finally paying off.’ It was exciting.”

Other individual winners were Falmouth diver Charlotte Janelle (despite the first failed dive of her career), Sonia Lin of NYA in the 50 free, Abby Longstaff of Cheverus in the 100 backstroke and Cheverus freshman Caroline Arpin in the 100 breast stroke (dropping four seconds as the fourth seed).

Scarborough won the 200 free relay with the Capers second.

“It’s a different atmosphere for them,” Raymond said of his young swimmers and divers. “I think they adjusted well.”