Cape Elizabeth senior Andrew Hartel, right, is congratulated by his teammates after scoring 23 points and grabbing 14 rebounds in helping the Capers to a 56-49 win over Freeport in Saturday’s Class B South quarterfinals. Cape Elizabeth will next battle Maranacook in the semifinals Thursday of next week.

Ben McCanna / Portland Press Herald photos.

More photos below.

BOX SCORE

Cape Elizabeth 56 Freeport 49

F- 13 13 8 15- 49
CE- 21 7 15 13- 56

F- Holt 5-2-12, Ngoal 6-0-12, G. Wagner 1-3-6, Helie 2-0-5, Shea 2-0-5, S. Wagner 2-0-4, Barrett 1-0-3, Thomas 1-0-2

CE- Hartel 11-1-23, Morse 4-2-11, Carpenter 3-1-8, Hagos 3-1-7, Mullen 2-2-7

3-pointers:
F (4) Barrett, Helie, Shea, G. Wagner 1
CE (3) Carpenter, Morse, Mullen 1

Turnovers:
F- 11
CE- 14

FTs
F: 5-6
CE: 7-14

PORTLAND—After having to sit on the bench with foul trouble for much of last month’s game against Freeport, Cape Elizabeth senior captain/post standout Andrew Hartel made sure he was available for 32 minutes Saturday morning and his presence was a big reason that the Capers prevailed in the teams’ Class B South quarterfinal at the Portland Exposition Building.

Hartel, who sparked a Cape Elizabeth comeback win at the Falcons after he returned for the second half last game, scored eight points in the first quarter Saturday to help the third-seeded Capers open up a 21-13 lead over the sixth-ranked Falcons.

Cape Elizabeth led by as many as 10, 25-15, after consecutive layups from Hartel, but Freeport scored 11 of the next 12 points to tie the score on a jumper from senior Eriksen Shea before a Hartel putback made it 28-26 Capers at halftime.

Cape Elizabeth then opened it up again in the third period, taking an 11-point lead on a layup from sophomore Quinton Morse before taking a 43-34 advantage to the fourth quarter.

There, Freeport managed to get as close as four points after a 3-pointer from sophomore Alex Helie, but senior Aman Hagos made successive layups and the Capers’ offensive rebounding acumen prevented the Falcons from getting any closer as Cape Elizabeth went on to a 56-49 victory.

Hartel led the way with 23 points and 14 rebounds, Morse added 11 and the Capers improved to 12-7, ended Freeport’s season at 12-7 and in the process, advanced to face No. 2 Maranacook (17-2) in the Class B South semifinals Thursday at 6 p.m., at the Cross Insurance Arena.

“This year has been a roller-coaster, but it’s brought us closer as a team and we’re definitely ready,” said Hartel. “We’re in a good place.”

Morning special

The teams played a memorable regular season game Jan. 15 in Freeport. The Falcons surged to a 26-12 halftime lead, then went up by 17 early in the third period, but Cape Elizabeth roared back to win, 46-43, behind 14 points from Morse and a dozen from Hartel (junior Gabe Wagner scored 15 for the Falcons).

That game was a microcosm of the season for the Capers, who started the year 0-2 and 2-5 before hitting their stride and winding up 11-7, good for the No. 3 seed in Class B South.

Freeport, meanwhile, started out 7-1, dropped five of seven, then closed on a three-game win streak to earn the No. 6 seed.

The teams had played just once before in the tournament, a 57-50 Cape Elizabeth victory in the 2008 Western Class B Final.

This time around, the Capers did it again, leading most of the way.

Senior Charlie Ngoal got the Falcons off to a fast start, hitting a bank shot, then scoring after a spin move, but sophomore Nate Mullen got the Capers on the board with a driving layup and Morse tied it with two free throws (after drawing Shea’s second foul).

The run continued, as Mullen buried a 3, Hartel scored up close on a leaner and with 3:38 remaining in the first period, senior Matt Conley passed to Hartel for a layup and an 11-4 lead, which forced Freeport coach Bill Ridge to call timeout.

Ridge reinserted Shea and the move paid immediate dividends, as Shea hit a 3-pointer from the corner, but Hartel scored on a putback and Morse’s 3 opened up a 16-7 advantage.

Gabe Wagner countered with a free throw and a 3-ball and senior Toby Holt drove for a layup to cut the deficit to three, but in the final minute of the frame, Capers senior Tanner Carpenter made a layup while being fouled, then added the free throw to complete the old-fashioned three-point play and just before the horn, Hartel’s leaner made it 21-13 Cape Elizabeth.

The Capers threatened to pull away early in the second period, but the Falcons roared back.

After Holt set up sophomore Elias Thomas for a layup to start the frame, Hartel scored on an up-and-under layup, then did the same thing the next time down the floor for a 25-15 advantage.

Eleven of the next 12 points went to Freeport, however, as senior Shea Wagner hit a jumper and after Hagos made a foul shot for Cape Elizabeth, Ngoal sank a jumper, Holt converted a three-point play, Holt took a pass from Helie and made a layup and with 1:56 on the clock, Shea’s jumper tied the score.

Cape Elizabeth would take the lead to the break, however, as Hartel scored on a putback with 38.5 seconds remaining and the Capers held a 28-26 advantage.

Hartel led the way in the first half, scoring 14 points and grabbing six rebounds.

“It was a lot different from last game when I had to sit the whole first half,” said Hartel. “I knew I couldn’t get in foul trouble early. I focused on keeping my hands up and not getting stupid fouls.”

Freeport was paced by seven points from Holt and six from Ngoal.

Cape Elizabeth then reasserted control in the third quarter.

After the Falcons tied it on a Shea Wagner jumper, Hartel’s putback gave the Capers the lead for good and Carpenter added a 3-pointer from the corner.

After Holt made a layup on a spin move with 6:06 on the clock, Freeport wouldn’t score again for nearly six minutes and the next eight points went to Cape Elizabeth.

Hartel’s layup got things started.

Carpenter then banked home a shot after a spin move.

With 3:39 left, Carpenter threw a lead pass to Hartel to raced in for the slam dunk and Morse added a driving layup with 2:10 remaining, forcing Ridge to call timeout.

With 40.6 seconds to go, the Falcons ended their 5-minute, 46-second drought and the Capers’ 8-0 run when Helie made a floater, but Morse drove for another layup before Shea set up Ngoal for a layup which cut the deficit to 43-34 heading for the fourth quarter.

“I just told the guys (at halftime) to get back to what we do,” said Cape Elizabeth coach Jim Ray. “We were good in the first quarter. We didn’t stick to the plan in the second quarter. We made some perimeter shots because with Andrew, other teams have to pick their poison (defensively).”

In the fourth period, Cape Elizabeth put it away,

Ngoal scored on a putback to start the frame, but Hartel, in traffic, banked home a shot and Mullen added a free throw.

Holt tried to spark a rally with a three-point play with 4:56 remaining. Ngoal then faked Hartel off his feet and hit a leaner to make it 46-41, but after Hartel kept possession alive with an offensive rebound, he set up Hagos for a layup.

With 3:30 on the clock, Helie hit a 3 to draw the Falcons within four, but Hagos made another layup, then with 2:34 remaining, Hartel fed Hagos for a press-breaking layup and a 52-44 advantage.

Gabe Wagner countered with two foul shots and Cape Elizabeth turned the ball over, but Gabe Wagner missed a shot to draw Freeport closer and with 1:20 on the clock, Carpenter set up Morse for a layup.

Ten seconds later, a 3 from senior Kaleb Barrett gave the Falcons hope, but those hopes were dashed by the Capers’ offensive rebounding at the other end.

First, Carpenter went to the line for a one-and-one and missed the front end, but he wasn’t boxed out and grabbed the rebound.

Carpenter was fouled again and missed the first attempt, but Hartel got the offensive board.

With 33.6 seconds to play, Hartel was fouled and made the first of two attempts. He missed the second, but this time, Hagos kept possession alive.

“Those rebounds were huge,” Hartel said. “We should have made those free throws, but we always go over our free throw line responsibilities and that came up big today.”

“We caught some breaks on the offensive glass and you can’t underestimate the value of that,” Ray said.

“We work on rebounding every day,” Ridge said. “We had some tired bodies. That’s going to be tough for some guys to look back on.”

Hagos missed his free throw, but Freeport couldn’t capitalize, as Gabe Wagner missed a 3.

With 13.2 seconds left, Mullen added a free throw and that brought the curtain down on Cape Elizabeth’s 56-49 triumph.

“Coach told us at halftime we had to get back to our rhythm,” Hartel said. “We were able to do that. We switched to a zone for a little bit, but it didn’t work too well, so we stuck to man-to-man and gutted it out.”

Hartel was close to unstoppable much of the day, scoring 23 points and grabbing 14 rebounds.

“(Freeport) focused on our outside shots, so that opened up the inside for me,” Hartel said.

“If we can get the ball to a 6-foot-9-(inch) guy six feet from the basket, it’s pretty good for us,” Ray said. “Andrew is trouble for just about everybody. We were able to make some perimeter shots.”

“(Hartel’s) a tough matchup,” Ridge said. “Charlie did a really nice job on him I thought, even though he’s undersized. Hartel helps break pressure and he’s tough in the front court.”

Morse added 11 points, Carpenter had eight, Hagos seven off the bench and Mullen scored seven as well.

The Capers enjoyed a 30-21 rebounding advantage, turned the ball over 14 times, with most of those coming in the second quarter, and made 7 of 14 free throws.

End of an era

Freeport’s effort was paced by a dozen points apiece from Holt and Ngoal. Gabe Wagner scored six points, Helie and Shea had five each, Shea Wagner four, Barrett three and Thomas two.

The Falcons made 5 of 6 free throws and turned the ball over 11 times.

“It was nice to see that kind of performance, bouncing back from the last time Cape saw us where we faced some adversity and we just collapsed because we showed toughness to come back today,” Ridge said.

“It was kind of a roller-coaster this year. We built early, stumbled through the middle, then rebounded for a nice finish. We some nice wins late. It’s not the result we wanted, but it’s not far off the performance we were hoping for.”

Freeport will be hard-hit by graduation, as Barrett, Holt, Ngoal, Shea, Shea Wagner and Caleb Arsenault all depart.

“We lose six guys and I’ve coached them since eighth grade,” Ridge said. “They did a lot of things for us. They’re a big part of our school.”

The 2019-20 Falcons will build around Gabe Wagner and hope to contend again.

“Next year will be different for sure,” Ridge said. “We have some hungry underclassmen and hopefully next year they’ll lead us.”

Next step

Cape Elizabeth will next face a Maranacook squad it doesn’t meet in the regular season and has played just once before in the tournament, a 56-46 loss in the 2008 Class B state final.

The Black Bears eliminated No. 7 Yarmouth, 55-41, in their quarterfinal Saturday and are a deep and experienced squad.

“We have to stay within ourselves,” Hartel said. “We’re playing well and with confidence.”

“It’s still a work in progress,” Ray said. “Composure, poise, decision-making, they all still need improvement. The good news is that we have several days to get ready. We’ll see what they’ve got and we’ll look at matchups. I won’t try to make things too complicated.”

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

Cape Elizabeth senior Aman Hagos goes up for a shot between Freeport seniors Toby Holt (12) and Eriksen Shea.

Cape Elizabeth senior Andrew Hartel gets past Freeport sophomore Elias Thomas.

Cape Elizabeth sophomore Nate Mullen is defended by Freeport senior Toby Holt.

Freeport junior Gabe Wagner eyes the basket as Cape Elizabeth sophomore Quinton Morse defends.

Freeport senior Eriksen Shea drives past Cape Elizabeth sophomore Nate Mullen.

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