CAPE ELIZABETH — Two weeks out from the playoffs, the Greely boys’ basketball team Tuesday night showed the skill and composure expected from a two-time defending Class A champion.

The Rangers won their seventh straight game 61-54 but had to overcome a fast start and game-long scrap from Cape, which led 14-6 after a quarter and stretched its lead to 11 points early in the second.

Instead of panicking, Greely made some adjustments.

The Rangers (12-3, first in A South) switched to a halfcourt trapping press when Cape’s strong 6-foot-9 center Andrew Hartel (21 points, 13 rebounds) went to the bench early in the second after powering for nine early points.

The defense raised the tempo, rattled Cape, and ignited a 23-point quarter with each of the Rangers’ championship veterans getting involved.

A pair of two-year starters, Logan Bagshaw and Andrew Storey, each scored five points in the quarter. Senior three-year starter Zach Brown had seven and senior Michael Coppersmith had four of his eight.

“We didn’t shoot well in the first quarter but we brought it back and started shooting better in the second quarter, and playing in transition,” said Bagshaw, a junior guard who scored 21 points with five 3-pointers.

Brown added 20 points, seven coming off steals.

“It takes grit and toughness to get down by 10, 11 points, especially at Cape, which is a tough place to play,” Brown said.

“We found a way to stop (Hartel) and turn defense into offense.”

Class B Cape (8-7) entered the game on its own four-game win streak. Coach Jim Ray noted that his team’s 19 turnovers and other mistakes had to be addressed but overall, “the kids did a pretty good job. That’s a very good team.”

After Greely stretched its lead to 40-28 with a one-minute, 8-0 flurry early in the third quarter, Cape responded. Tanner Carpenter hit two of his three 3-pointers. Quinn Morse, who forms a sophomore starting backcourt with Nathan Mullen, had five of his 11 points.

An offensive put-back by Hartel cut the lead to 45-42 early in the fourth.

Cape showed it has the capability of being a tough out in the Class B tournament. Then Greely showed its championship mettle.

Bagshaw responded with a leaner off the dribble and a deep 3-pointer from the top of the key. Then when Cape had a shot at cutting the lead below four with 1:30 to play, a Bagshaw steal resulted in a Brown layup.

Brown cinched things with four straight free throws in 1-and-1 situations in the final 31 seconds.

“I think we’re playing better and that’s the ultimate goal as the calendar is flipping to February,” said Greely Coach Travis Seaver.

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: SteveCCraig

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