Greely’s bench erupts after a big play during the defending Class A champion Rangers’ 66-50 win over South Portland Friday evening.

Brianna Soukup / Press Herald photos.

More photos below.

BOX SCORE

Greely 66 South Portland 50

SP- 12 12 12 14- 50
G- 13 16 22 15- 66

SP- Leckie 6-7-19, M. Whitmore 4-0-9, B. Cloutier 2-3-8, Towle 3-2-8, Aceto 1-2-4, Degifico 0-2-2

G- DeWolfe 10-6-29, Clement 4-5-15, B. Obar 5-1-15, Fitzpatrick 3-0-6, Storey 0-1-1

3-pointers:
SP (2) B. Cloutier, M. Whitmore 1
G (9) B. Obar 4, DeWolfe 3, Clement 2

Turnovers:
SP- 18
G- 14

Free throws
SP: 16-25
G: 13-16

CUMBERLAND—Shooters are going to shoot until the ball goes in and Greely’s defending Class A state champion girls’ basketball team has more than its share of shooters, something visiting South Portland learned to its chagrin Friday evening.

The Rangers struggled putting the ball in the basket in the first quarter and senior standout Anna DeWolfe picked up two early fouls, but it was only a matter of time until Greely hit its stride.

A late 3-point shot from sophomore Camille Clement gave the Rangers a 13-12 lead and got them going and in the second period, junior Brooke Obar buried three 3s, DeWolfe hit another and at the half, Greely was on top, 29-24.

Clement, DeWolfe and Obar all hit 3s in the third quarter as Greely went ahead by as many as 18 points before taking a 51-36 advantage to the final stanza.

There, the Rangers never let the Red Riots get closer than 13 points as they went on to a 66-50 victory.

Greely got 29 points from DeWolfe and 15 apiece from Clement and Obar as it improved to 3-0 on the young season, beat South Portland for the first time in program history and in the process, handed the Red Riots their first setback in three outings.

“This sets our standards high,” DeWolfe said. “Playing South Portland was a good test to see what we can do. They played a heck of a game.”

All-star show

Traditionally two of the state’s best teams, Greely and South Portland are both expecting big things again this winter.

The Rangers are the defending Class A champions and in the early going this season, they have been, as expected, absolutely dominant. Greely started by rolling at Cape Elizabeth, 64-27. In its home opener Tuesday, the Rangers downed Wells, 58-45.

South Portland enjoyed a 59-28 victory at Bonny Eagle Opening Night, then downed host Cheverus, 58-42, Tuesday.

Prior to last year, the teams had never before squared off in a countable game. In that one, DeWolfe eclipsed the 1,000-point mark for her career and had a game-high 25 points, but the host Red Riots prevailed, 63-53, behind 22 points from then-sophomore Maggie Whitmore.

Friday was a similar story as the big names came up big, but this time, it was Greely coming out on top.

After a sluggish start by both teams, a DeWolfe jumper, followed by a DeWolfe layup after a steal got the Rangers going. South Portland bounced back, as senior Jena Leckie scored her first two points, at the line, senior Bela Cloutier made a layup after a steal and Leckie hit a free throw for a 5-4 lead.

After DeWolfe drove for a layup to put the hosts back on top, Leckie countered with a jumper, Cloutier hit a free throw and a Leckie jumper made it 10-6 Red Riots.

That would be South Portland’s highwater mark.

DeWolfe made a jump shot, but at the other end, with 1:28 on the first period clock, DeWolfe was called for her second foul and junior Ashlee Aceto hit two free throws for the visitors.

Greely closed the quarter strong, however, as Clement made a layup, then, just before the horn, Clement sank a long 3 for a 13-12 Rangers’ advantage.

Greely kept the sharpshooting going for most of the second period, as it opened up a double-digit lead.

Momentarily.

Just 35 seconds into the frame, Obar made her first 3. After a Leckie putback, Obar made another 3. Red Riots junior Kaleisha Towle countered with a leaner, but Obar made another 3, this one from way downtown, and after a steal, a DeWolfe layup pushed the lead to 24-16.

After Towle made another layup, a DeWolfe 3 and a DeWolfe runner gave the Rangers a 29-18 advantage, but down the stretch, South Portland got a pair of Cloutier free throws, a foul shot from sophomore Maria Degifico and an old-fashioned three-point play from Leckie (layup, foul, free throw) to make it a five-point game, 29-24, at the break.

In the first half, DeWolfe led all scorers with 15 points, while Leckie kept South Portland within hailing distance thanks to a dozen points and five rebounds.

Greely then extended its lead another 10 points in the third quarter, as the Rangers got the job done inside and out.

Thirty-two seconds into the second half, junior Katie Fitzpatrick scored her first points, driving for a layup.

DeWolfe then added a 3-pointer for a double-digit lead, 34-24.

“Sometimes as coaches, we think when (the girls) take quick 3s and they don’t go in that they’re a horrible idea, but when they start raining in, it’s a heck of an idea,” said Rangers coach Todd Flaherty. “We’ll live with that. The girls have the green light. We don’t harp on shot selection.” 

After Whitmore countered with a 3 for her first points, Obar made a floater, then sank a 3. DeWolfe added two foul shots for a 41-27 advantage.

After Towle and Degifico made free throws, Leckie scored on a putback to cut the Red Riots’ deficit to 10, but sophomore Madison Storey made a free throw, DeWolfe hit a pair and DeWolfe set up Clement for a 3 and just like that, Greely’s lead was up to 16, 47-31.

Leckie countered with a layup, but Clement drove for a layup and DeWolfe scored on a putback before a late 3 from Cloutier pulled South Portland within 51-36 heading for the fourth quarter.

There, Whitmore started with a bank shot for the visitors, but Clement set up Fitzpatrick for a layup, Clement sank a free throw, Obar hit a foul shot and Clement made two more for a 57-38 advantage with 4:48 to go.

After Leckie hit a foul shot and Whitmore scored on a putback, DeWolfe made a 3 for a 60-41 lead.

Aceto converted a layup and Leckie sank two free throws, but Fitzpatrick scored on a putback and Clement hit two more free throws to make it a 19-point game again, 64-45.

After Leckie converted a three-point play, Whitmore scored South Portland’s final points.

With 28 seconds to go, two DeWolfe free throws accounted for the 66-50 final score.

“We really stepped up on defense,” DeWolfe said. “We’ve really emphasized defense this year because defense leads to easy transition baskets. That’s what we’ll push this year. We know we can score. We don’t care who scores. We feed off everyone.”

“I think our defense really showed up,” Flaherty said. “We saw signs of that in the preseason, but we hadn’t sustained it for a long time, but I think we did a nice job, especially in the halfcourt. We feel like we’ll get everybody’s best game and that’s what we want and hopefully it’ll make us better. We worked on things we need to get better at and what better team to work on things than South Portland?”

DeWolfe continued her early-season surge with 29 points. DeWolfe also had six rebounds, three steals and three assists.

Clement (six rebounds) and Obar (six boards) each added 15 points.

Fitzpatrick, who spent her freshman season at Greely and her sophomore year at Maine Girls’ Academy before returning to Cumberland this winter, produced six points and eight rebounds off the bench.

“It’s been a nice to reconnect with some of my great friends,” said Fitzpatrick. “It helps playing with these girls before. There’s a connection and you can see it on the court. My personal goal is to out-rebound everyone. I also like to discipline myself on defense and create steals.”

“‘Fitzy’ brings a lot of toughness and she can also play on the perimeter,” said Flaherty. “She gives us flexibility and we stay fresh.”

Storey had one point.

The Rangers battled the bigger Red Riots to a 36-36 draw on the boards, hit nine 3-pointers, made 13 of 16 free throws and overcame 14 turnovers. 

No answers

South Portland was led by Leckie, who had 19 points and nine rebounds.

“Jena is capable of scoring,” said Red Riots coach Lynne Hasson. “She’s a strong, aggressive player, but it wasn’t enough.”

Maggie Whitmore added nine points and five boards, but was largely held in check by Obar.

“We put Brooke on Maggie and challenged her today,” Flaherty said. “I think Brooke played a tremendous defensive game. I think that’s the best defensive game she’s played in three years. It was great team defense because they rolled to the basket and helped.”

“(Greely) didn’t give Maggie any open looks,” Hasson said. “She tried to create some things, but it was hard.”

Cloutier (five rebounds) and Towle (11 boards) had eight points apiece, Aceto added four and Degifico wound up with two.

The Red Riots turned the ball over 18 times and made 16 of 25 foul shots.

“I think the best team won tonight,” Hasson said. “We knew it would be tough. I’m glad we played them because they’re great competition. They’re a very good team and they shot it well. They have a bunch of shooters and we didn’t close out, so they got open looks. Surprisingly, we got beat on rebounds. I thought that size would be our advantage, but they wanted it more and got second opportunities. They played great defense and they harassed us the whole game in the frontcourt and the backcourt.”

Home sweet home

South Portland finally gets to play at Beal Gymnasium Tuesday when Scarborough pays a visit. Next Friday, the Red Riots travel to Thornton Academy.

“We have to make sure that we take advantage of our size and rebound and we need to be able to execute on offense,” Hasson said. 

Greely looks to stay undefeated Tuesday at Poland. The Rangers visit Falmouth Friday of next week.

“We’ll do anything to get that (championship) feeling again,” DeWolfe said. “We have to keep focusing on defense and that will lead to easy baskets.”

“I think we have a very special team,” Fitzpatrick said. “I think we have a very good chance to go far. If we keep our team chemistry and if we continue to work, I think we can be unstoppable.”

“We have to maintain our defensive composure and make sure we defend every possession,” Flaherty added. “Offensively, we have to make sure we get good shots. We play so fast and we’ll have the occasional turnover, but we’ll live with it. We like to be fun to watch.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Greely senior Anna DeWolfe floats over South Portland juniors Maggie Whitmore, left, and Kaleisha Towle for two of her 29 points.

Greely junior Katie Fitzpatrick, left, South Portland senior Katie Whitmore and Greely sophomore Camille Clement battle for a rebound.

Greely junior Brooke Obar makes one of her four 3-pointers.

South Portland junior Kaleisha Towle shoots over Greely senior Madison Scott.

Greely senior Madison Scott defends South Portland senior Katie Whitmore.