Greely senior Anna DeWolfe soars for three of her 18 points during the Rangers’ 57-51 come-from-behind win at Gorham Saturday afternoon.

Contributed photos.

More photos below.

BOX SCORE

Greely 57 Gorham 51

Gr- 11 6 26 14- 57
G0- 16 6 13 16- 51

Gr- DeWolfe 7-2-18, Clement 5-2-15, Scott 3-0-8, Martel 3-0-6, Fitzpatrick 1-3-5, Storey 1-0-3, M. Obar 1-0-2

Go- Holmes 10-7-27, Nadeau 4-0-12, Fotter 3-0-6, Desjardin 1-0-3, Nelson 1-1-3

3-pointers:
Gr (8) Clement 3, DeWolfe, Scott 2, Storey 1
Go (5) Nadeau 4, Desjardin 1

Turnovers:
Gr- 18
Go- 33

Free throws
Gr: 7-15
Go: 8-13

GORHAM—Greely’s explosive girls’ basketball team has stressed all season that it’s focus is defense and Saturday afternoon, the Rangers’ defensive intensity helped turn the tide in a compelling midseason interclass showdown at Gorham.

Greely, the defending Class A champion, fell behind by seven points as senior standout Anna DeWolfe was called for two quick fouls, but DeWolfe was able to stay on the floor and the Rangers forced 11 turnovers in the second period as they stayed within five points, trailing, 22-17, at halftime.

The defending Class AA South champion Rams continued to struggle holding on to the ball in the third quarter, as they gave it away 10 more times and Greely’s offense kicked into gear. DeWolfe scored 10 points in the frame and a layup from sophomore Mollie Obar and a pair of foul shots from sophomore Camille Clement gave the Rangers a 43-35 advantage.

Gorham would roar back in the fourth quarter, as a leaner from senior standout Mackenzie Holmes capped an 11-1 run and tied the score, 46-46, with 5:09 to play, but 13 seconds later, Clement buried a 3 and Greely had the lead for good.

Down the stretch, the Rangers clung to a one-point lead, but senior Madison Scott canned a clutch jumper, junior Katie Fitzpatrick, who had a tremendous defensive game, added a free throw and a layup from senior Julia Martel brought the curtain down on a 57-51 victory.

Greely got 18 points from DeWolfe, 15 from Clement and improved to 8-0 with its 22nd consecutive victory, as it dropped the Rams to 5-2 in the process.

“It was a great team effort,” said Rangers coach Todd Flaherty. “It was like a tournament game all the way through. It was a great environment. This will really help us out come tournament time.” 

Superstar showdown

This was a game that fans circled as soon as the schedule was released.

That’s because it was a rare opportunity to see two of the state’s special female players go head-to-head.

Greely appears to be the team to beat again in Class A this winter. The Rangers started by rolling at Cape Elizabeth, 64-27. After beating Wells, 58-45, in its home opener, Greely beat visiting South Portland (66-50), host Poland (77-14) and host Falmouth (75-41). After a statement-making 67-46 win over Brunswick in a game played at the Portland Exposition Building, the Rangers eked out a hard-fought 53-45 victory at Gray-New Gloucester Thursday.

Gorham, the 2016 and 2017 Class AA champion, which dropped a one-point heartbreaker to Edward Little a year ago in the state final, is on the short list of title favorites again this season. The Rams started by downing visiting Massabesic, 82-55, host Noble, 69-46 and host Deering (49-35) before losing at home to Scarborough (50-36). The Rams got back on track with a 57-26 home victory over Sanford, then they won at Portland (49-43).

Gorham and Greely were once traditional Western Maine Conference rivals (they met eight times in the postseason between 1979 and 2004), but they didn’t play for a decade before the series began again in December, 2015 (a 57-49 road win for the Rams). Two years ago, in Gorham, the Rams prevailed, 67-64, but last winter, the host Rangers eked out a 66-62 victory, their first over Gorham since the 2004 Western B Final.

Saturday, in front of a large and vocal crowd, the Rams failed to deliver an early knockout blow and Greely roared back to prevail.

Holmes opened the scoring by going coast-to-coast for a layup 29 seconds in, but DeWolfe countered with a 3-ball to give the Rangers what proved to be their lone lead of the first half, 3-2.

With 6:17 remaining in the first quarter, DeWolfe picked up her second foul and Greely appeared in trouble, but unlike most every other player in the state who would have to sit for most, if not all of the remainder of the half, DeWolfe missed a mere 51 seconds of action before returning.

While DeWolfe was off the floor, Holmes made two free throws to put Gorham ahead and senior Brittany Desjardin, who returned from injury, added a 3-pointer for a 7-3 lead.

Scott countered with a 3 for the Rangers, but Rams sophomore Adele Nadeau sank a 3-ball from the corner and with 3:36 to go in the opening stanza, Holmes banked home a runner with her left hand while being fouled, then added the free throw for the old-fashioned three-point play and a 13-6 advantage.

Sophomore Madison Storey countered with a 3 for Greely before Nadeau sank another 3-ball to restore the seven-point lead.

Just before time expired in the frame, Clement got an offensive rebound and floated a putback over Holmes’ outstretched arm and in to pull the Rangers within five, 16-11, after eight minutes.

Greely committed eight first quarter turnovers and DeWolfe and Martel each picked up two fouls, but Gorham failed to open up a bigger lead.

Neither team could do much offensively in the second period, as each only produced six points.

A layup after a steal by sophomore Lauren Fotter put the Rams back up by seven, but after a Clement steal, DeWolfe got back in the scoring column with a layup and with 4:26 to go in the half, Clement drained a 3-ball to pull the Rangers within two points, 18-16.

Holmes countered with a baseline jumper and a putback before a DeWolfe free throw with 2:18 remaining proved to be the final point of the half as Gorham took a 22-17 advantage to the break.

In the first half, Holmes had 11 points and 10 rebounds, while Nadeau added six points, six rebounds and two steals. DeWolfe led Greely with six points and Clement added four.

The pace of play, scoring and entertainment value of the contest ratcheted up big-time in the third quarter, as the Rangers caught up and took a lead.

Martel went coast-to-coast for a layup to open the second half, but Nadeau countered with another 3 to make it 25-19 Gorham.

Then, 18 of the next 22 points went to the visitors, as DeWolfe caught fire.

Clement got the run started with a 3 and with 4:46 to go in the frame, Fitzpatrick stole the ball, fed DeWolfe and DeWolfe made a layup while being fouled by Nadeau, then added the and-one free throw to tie the game, 25-25.

DeWolfe then stole the ball back and made a layup to give the Rangers their first lead since 3-2.

Holmes tied the game with a spinner, finishing with her left hand, but Fitzpatrick drove to the basket and made a layup over Holmes to put Greely back on top, 29-27.

DeWolfe added a 3, then hit a jumper in the lane to extend the advantage to seven.

After Holmes made a layup for the Rams, Scott capped the surge with a 3-ball to make the score 37-29.

Holmes countered with two free throws, but Martel drained a long jumper.

Gorham pulled within four, as Holmes made a baseline jumper and Fotter drove for a layup, but in the final minute, Obar’s layup and Clement’s two free throws allowed the Rangers to take a 43-35 lead to the final quarter.

“We needed to step up on defense,” DeWolfe said. “We like to run and get fastbreak points. When we started pressing, we got a lot of easy baskets.”

“I think (turnovers were a) combination of (Greely) being quick and putting the pressure on and us breaking down on what we were supposed to do,” said Gorham coach Laughn Berthiaume. “We have to get better at that.”

Greely would give up its lead in the fourth period, only to regain it and close out its victory.

Twenty-nine seconds into the fourth, Fitzpatrick set up Clement for a layup and the Rangers’ biggest lead, but the Rams would roar back.

A Nadeau 3-ball started the comeback and after Desjardin picked up her fifth foul and had to leave the game, Holmes drove for a layup.

Fitzpatrick made a free throw for the Rangers, but Holmes hit a pair of foul shots, Fotter made a layup after a steal and with 5:09 remaining, Holmes got a leaner in the lane to rattle home to cap the 11-1 surge and tie the score, 46-46.

Greely wasn’t fazed, as Clement calmly buried a 3-ball with 4:56 to go and the visitors finally had the lead for good.

Holmes, off a nice feed from freshman Sophia Michaud, made a layup, but DeWolfe hit a jumper and with 3:47 left, Fitzpatrick sank one of two free throws for a 52-48 Rangers’ advantage.

At the other end, Michaud set up freshman Anna Nelson for a layup and after misses by Clement and DeWolfe, Nelson made the second of two free throws with 1:45 on the clock to pull the Rams within a single point, 52-51.

But they wouldn’t score again.

Greely ran down some clock before Scott found herself open on the baseline and she didn’t hesitate and buried a jumper with 1:18 to go to make it a three-point game.

After a DeWolfe steal, Fitzpatrick was fouled and with 51.5 seconds showing, she made the first of two attempts for a 55-51 lead.

Holmes then missed a shot and DeWolfe got the rebound and got the ball to Scott, but with 27.4 seconds on the clock, Scott missed the front end of a one-and-one, keeping Gorham’s faint hopes alive.

Those hopes would be dashed when Nadeau missed a 3 and DeWolfe got another rebound.

Then, with 9.2 seconds remaining, DeWolfe found Martel wide open behind the defense and Martel’s layup slammed the door, keeping the Rangers perfect with a 57-51 victory.

“We turned up the defense, got fastbreaks and pushed the ball,” Fitzpatrick said. “We worked really hard.”

“I’m really impressed with the girls,” Flaherty said. “They showed a lot of character.”

DeWolfe and Holmes are two of the favorites for the Miss Maine Basketball award and neither disappointed.

“Games like this are a lot of fun,” said DeWolfe. “I was really fired up for this. I’m really good friends with Mackenzie off the court. We play so well together and have fun together. Competing was good.”

“Anna rose to the occasion and that wasn’t surprising,” Flaherty said. “She was up for the matchup. They’re friends and they definitely wanted each other.”

DeWolfe paced Greely with 18 points, seven steals, seven rebounds and six assists. She also managed to stay on the floor despite her early foul issues.

“I was a little concerned, but my teammates stepped up,” DeWolfe said. “I wanted to stay in. I promised Coach I wouldn’t foul again.”

“After she got her second foul, we just needed to mentally calm down and we did that,” Fitzpatrick said. “Everyone knows how good Anna is. We rely on her too much sometimes, so as a team to collectively step up was big.”

“If I tried to keep her out, she’d probably kick me in the shins,” Flaherty joked. “I had to get her back in there and trust her. She’s a smart player.” 

“They did a good job of taking her in and out and she’s a smart player,” Berthiaume said. “She stayed away from opportunities to foul.”

Clement added 15 points and six steals.

Scott had eight key points, Martel finished with six and Fitzpatrick scored five points, had five steals and helped hold Holmes to below her scoring average.

“It helps having played against (Mackenzie) before (when I was at Maine Girls’ Academy last year),” said Fitzpatrick. “I think we did a pretty good job on her. My teammates had my back help-side.”

“Katie did a great job knocking down foul shots and playing defense on Mackenzie,” DeWolfe said.

“It was nice we played Gray-New Gloucester the other night because they have a post game as well,” Flaherty added. “We’ve worked on that for a week. Katie did a nice job recognizing what they were doing.”

Three points from Storey and two from Obar rounded out the Rangers’ scoring.

Greely overcame 18 turnovers and 7-of-16 foul shooting.

Gorham did get another strong effort from Holmes, who finished with 27 points and 17 rebounds.

“Mackenzie doesn’t come off the floor and she battled every possession,” Berthiaume said.

Nadeau also had a double-double of 12 points (all on 3-pointers) and 10 rebounds. She also had three steals.

Fotter impressed off the bench with six points, three steals and two assists.

“Lauren played fearless off the bench,” said Berthiaume. “We were a little scared at time with (Greely’s) pressure, but she wasn’t.”

Nelson and Desjardin each added three points.

“It helped getting Brittany back, but she had a hard time staying on the floor,” Berthiaume said. “She played hard and has a presence. I’m glad to have her back.”

The Rams enjoyed a 41-19 rebounding advantage and made 8-of-13 free throws, but 33 turnovers were too much to overcome.

“We fought back to tie it, so I thought that showed a lot from our kids,” said Berthiaume.

No let-up

Gorham is in the midst of a three-team battle with Scarborough and South Portland for top honors in Class AA South and the Rams have some big games coming up. After hosting Cheverus Monday, Gorham plays at the Red Storm Thursday. Tests versus Oxford Hills, Edward Little and South Portland also loom.

“I’d rather have games like this every single game,” Berthiaume said. “It’s good for the girls to have to mix it up and be in different situations. That will help us come playoff time.

“We have to keep moving forward and identify where we can get better. It starts with taking care of the ball and our press breaker.”

Greely can start thinking about an undefeated season, but potential pitfalls do await. The Rangers are home with York Tuesday, go to Freeport Thursday and welcome talented Oxford Hills next Saturday.

“We have to keep working hard,” said DeWolfe. “We love to compete.”

“We still rely too much on Anna and sometimes we need to do a better job executing, but other than that, I don’t have much to complain about,” said Flaherty.

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

Greely sophomore Camille Clement shoots in traffic as Gorham freshman Anna Nelson (22) and sophomore Adele Nadeau defend.

Gorham sophomore Lauren Fotter tries to keep up with Greely senior Anna DeWolfe.

Gorham senior Mackenzie Holmes shoots over the Greely defense. Holmes finished with 27 points and 17 rebounds.

Greely junior Katie Fitzpatrick, who had a terrific game on both ends of the floor, drives to the basket.

Gorham sophomore Adele Nadeau lines up a free throw.