Greely junior Camille Clement, who had a game-high 24 points, drives on South Portland senior Ashlee Aceto during the Rangers’ 48-47 victory Wednesday.

BOX SCORE

Greely 48 South Portland 47

G- 13 14 12 9- 48
SP- 11 14 10 12- 47

G- Clement 9-2-24, B. Obar 2-4-9, M. Obar 4-0-9, Fitzpatrick 2-0-4, Ippolito 1-0-2

SP- Whitmore 9-1-21, Aceto 5-0-11, Towle 4-0-8, Owen 3-0-7

3-pointers:
G (6) Clement 4, B. Obar, M. Obar 1
SP (4) Whitmore 2, Aceto, Owen 1

Turnovers:
G- 13
SP- 15

FTs
G: 6-7
SP: 1-3

SOUTH PORTLAND—In a game where the action was fast and furious and for much of the night, offense came easily, Wednesday night’s inter-class girls’ basketball showdown at Beal Gymnasium between defending Class A champion Greely and top Class AA contender South Portland will be ultimately be remembered for some great looks at the end which didn’t fall for the Red Riots.

The Rangers, who came into the game having not lost in nearly two calendar years, rode the sharpshooting of junior Camille Clement to a 13-11 lead after one quarter, as Clement matched South Portland senior standout Maggie Whitmore with nine points.

Clement tacked on 10 more points in the second period and Greely maintained its two -point bulge, 27-25, heading into the half.

The scoring slowed somewhat in the third quarter, as each team went on a run, but by period’s end, the Rangers were up, 39-35.

When the Red Riots opened the final stanza on a 8-0 surge, capped by a layup from Whitmore, a victory for the home team appeared at hand, but Greely drew even on a driving layup from unheralded senior Katie Fitzpatrick, then went on top to stay when senior Brooke Obar made a 3-pointer with 4:05 to go.

The Rangers then held on for dear life from there and dodged three South Portland bullets in the final minute to prevail, 48-47.

Clement led the way with 24 points, Greely made it 42 consecutive victories, handed the Red Riots their first home loss in four years, improved to 4-0 and in the process, dropped South Portland to 3-1 on the season.

“This was worth the price of admission,” said Rangers’ coach Todd Flaherty. “It was a no-lose situation for both teams. You get a lot more out of a game like this than a lot of our other games.”

Back and forth

Prior to the 2017-18 season, Greely and South Portland had never met in a countable game, but the teams have put on a show in their limited history.

That first year, the Rangers saw standout Anna DeWolfe reach the 1,000-point plateau, but the host Red Riots prevailed, 63-53, behind Whitmore’s 22 points.

Last winter, host Greely turned the tables, winning, 66-50, as DeWolfe led the way with 29 points, as the Rangers went on to a repeat Class A state title.

With DeWolfe now playing at Fordham University in the Big Apple, the Greely hasn’t missed a beat in the early going this winter, opening with wins over host York (70-53), visiting Falmouth (79-41) and visiting Fryeburg Academy (75-37).

South Portland, which lost to Scarborough in last year’s regional final, also got off to a fast start this winter, downing host Gorham (60-44), host Deering (64-21) and visiting Massabesic (76-42).

This contest was originally scheduled to be contested Tuesday evening, but snow moved it back 24 hours.

And it was well worth the wait.

The Rangers scored first, as freshman Sophia Ippolito hit a long jumper, but Whitmore countered with an old-fashioned three-point play (layup, foul, free throw) for the first of 10 lead changes on the night.

After Clement scored her first two points at the charity stripe, Clement scored on a pretty reverse layup to make it 6-3 midway through the frame.

Whitmore countered with a driving layup, but Obar made a layup of her own before a Whitmore jumper and a long jumper from senior Kaleisha Towle gave the Red Riots a 9-8 advantage.

Clement answered with a leaner in the lane, but Whitmore made one of her own, before a long Clement 3-point shot gave Greely a 13-11 lead after one quarter.

In the first eight minutes, the Bentley University-bound Whitmore and the highly-touted Clement each scored nine points.

“My teammates knew they were defending my 3s, so they cleared the floor for me and set me up,” Clement said. “They did a really good job finding me.”

When Obar, who is also bound for Bentley next year, set up her sister, junior Mollie Obar, for a layup, then Mollie Obar banked home a shot early in the second quarter, the Rangers were up six, but a long 3-pointer from Whitmore with 6:14 left in the half pulled South Portland within three.

Clement hit a runner off the glass, but Red Riots’ senior Ashlee Aceto got a jumper to rattle home, then Aceto made a runner in the lane to cut the deficit to one.

Clement then made a leaner and after Whitmore set up Aceto for a backdoor layup, Brooke Obar found Clement for a transition 3.

After junior Maria Degifico set up sophomore Hylah Owen for a layup to cut the deficit to two, a corner 3 from Whitmore put South Portland on top, 25-24.

The lead didn’t last, however, as with 1:39 to go before the break, a long Clement 3 made it 27-25 Greely at halftime.

Clement led all first half scorers with 19 points, but Whitmore wasn’t far behind with 15 points (as well as four rebounds, three assists and three steals).

Both teams then made runs in the second half, but couldn’t sustain them and the contest would go down to the wire.

Just 57 seconds into the third period, a Whitmore 3 put the Red Riots back on top and Towle added a putback before Owen stole the ball and got it to Towle, who fed Whitmore for a layup and a 32-27 Red Riots’ advantage, which forced Flaherty to call timeout.

It worked, as the next dozen points went to the Rangers.

A long Clement 3, coming after Fitzpatrick kept possession alive with an offensive rebound, got Greely back on track and a Clement driving layup tied the score, 32-32.

With 2:43 to go in the quarter, Fitzpatrick drove for a layup and the lead, then after Brooke Obar made two free throws, Mollie Obar buried a 3-ball for a 39-32 advantage.

An Aceto 3 then ended the run and pulled South Portland within four points heading for the fourth quarter.

There, nothing was decided until the final horn.

Owen started the fourth period with a jumper, then a Whitmore putback tied it.

With 6:51 to go, on the fastbreak, Whitmore delivered a no-look pass to Towle for a layup and the lead and 31 seconds later, Whitmore drove for a layup and a 43-39 lead.

Then, it was the Rangers’ turn to go on a run.

After Brooke Obar made two free throws, Fitzpatrick drove for a layup to tie the game with 5:22 left.

Then, with 4:05 remaining, Fitzpatrick set up Brooke Obar with a perfect ball screen and Obar coolly hit her lone 3 of the night to put Greely ahead for good, 46-43.

“I was definitely frustrated, but I tried to pick it up on defense and tried to pass to the open player because I’m not all about the points,” Obar said. “I’d rather get an assist than a bucket. Katie set a solid screen for me and I just had to knock it down.

“It’s tough without Anna, because she played such a big role and she was our big scorer. She found the open person too. We have a different role this year. I haven’t always been a scorer, but if I have to step up, I’ll step up.”

“That was the big shot and Fitzpatrick set the screen,” Flaherty said. “Those things go unnoticed sometimes, but that was a great screen and a great shot.”

The Red Riots drew within one off a Towle layup (assisted by Owen) with 3:03 on the clock.

South Portland had a pair of chances to take the lead, but both Owen and Whitmore missed and with 1:14 remaining, Mollie Obar hit a clutch runner in the lane for a 48-45 Rangers’ lead.

That would be it for Greely’s offense, but it would be just enough.

After a Whitmore 3 to tie the game went in-and-out, Aceto put home the rebound to pull South Portland within one with 54.3 seconds remaining.

Then, it was up to the Rangers to hold on for dear life.

Brooke Obar had a chance to add to the lead with 46.4 seconds showing, but she missed the front end of a one-and-one.

Mollie Obar kept possession alive with an offensive rebound, but Whitmore stole the ball away and Red Riots’ coach Lynne Hasson called timeout.

Out of the break, Whitmore had a good look, but missed and after Towle kept possession alive for the hosts, she got the ball to Whitmore again, who again was off-target.

Towle again got the offensive rebound and Hasson called timeout to set up a potential game winner with 3.3 seconds to play.

Degifico inbounded the ball to Towle, who drew the defense, then passed to Owen at the 3-point arc.

Owen had a great look to win it, but her shot was just off and at 8:22 p.m., Greely was able to exhale and celebrate its 48-47 victory.

“I was hoping the ball wouldn’t go in,” Brooke Obar said. “I was thinking, ‘Please don’t go in, please don’t go in.'”

“It’s a lot of fun to have close games to prepare us,” Clement said. “We got excited to play them. We missed a few box-outs and got lucky. We were focusing on energy and feeding off each other. The bench cheered us on when we were nervous. Up one with 3.3 seconds and their ball, the odds aren’t great, but we did what we needed to.”

“We got up, then they came back and punched us in the face a couple times,” Flaherty added. “It wasn’t pretty at times, but it was hard-fought. It doesn’t hurt that we’re used to winning. South Portland is used to winning too. We had fouls to give at the end, but we hadn’t worked on that. I decided to not out-think it and we got lucky at the end.

“It’s nice to lose track of wins. It’s very impressive. We’ve had some great girls, but we just look at the next game.”

Clement had a game-high 24 points, to go with seven rebounds and a pair of blocked shots.

“Camille had to work for her shots,” Flaherty said. “We haven’t seen a defense like that all year. They stymied our perimeter game. We had to post our guards up.”

Brooke Obar added nine points, four assists, four rebounds and three steals.

Mollie Obar also had nine points, while Fitzpatrick finished with four (to go with five assists and five rebounds) and Ippolito had two.

The Rangers only turned the ball over 13 times in hostile territory and made 6-of-7 free throws.

South Portland got 21 points, as well as six rebounds, six steals, five assists and two blocks from Whitmore.

“It was fun playing against (Maggie), but it will be more fun to play with her (in college),” said Brooke Obar.

Aceto added 11 points, Towle had eight (to go with 11 boards) and Owen had seven (as well as eight rebounds).

Degifico didn’t score, but had four rebounds and three assists.

The Red Riots outrebounded the Rangers, 40-25, but turned the ball over 15 times and sank just 1-of-3 foul shots.

“We had chances,” Hasson lamented. “They hit a big shot and we hit a big shot and it was back-and-forth. If we made one at the end, we would have won. I’ll take those all day long. We had a hard time finishing inside. Maggie does a nice job at crunch time trying to create something, but they defended her well. We defend really well and I think they do too. They had wide-open 3s and hit them and we didn’t. The seniors hadn’t lost a game in this gym, so this was tough. They hoped to run the table.”

Bigger games to come

As compelling as Wednesday’s action was, both teams have far loftier goals than winning a game in December.

South Portland looks to bounce back Friday at Bonny Eagle. After going to Scarborough for a regional final rematch Monday, the Red Riots close the 2019 portion of their schedule at Sanford a week from Friday.

“We take from this that we’re good, but we need to keep working hard because there are other good teams out there,” Hasson said.

As for Greely, it will go for consecutive win number 43 at Class B South favorite Freeport on Friday.

“We have to rebound better and we have to focus on the little things and not get down on ourselves,” Clement said.

“This game pushed us,” Brooke Obar said. “For playoffs, this helps us to be way more prepared.”

“It’s been a good transition,” Flaherty added. “The ball has moved well. Anna just broke teams down off the dribble and we don’t do that as much anymore. We miss her leadership, but we have some girls stepping up and it’s fantastic watching them grow. Our defense and our rebounding have to continue to improve.”

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

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