BOX SCORE

Yarmouth 52 Mountain Valley 23

Y- 16 14 12 10- 52
MV- 10 1 6 6- 23

Y- D’Appolonia 5-2-12, McNeil 4-0-10, Panozzo 4-0-9, Feeley 3-0-8, May 3-0-6, McGonagle 2-1-5, Keaney 1-0-2

MV- Lyons 3-0-8, Freeman 3-1-7, R. Sevigny 2-2-7, A. Sevigny 0-1-1

3-pointers:
Y (5) Feeley, McNeil 2, Panozzo 1
MV (3) Lyons 2, R. Sevigny 1

Turnovers:
Y- 15
MV- 18

FTs
Y: 3-7
MV: 4-6

PORTLAND—Fifteen years was long enough.

Yarmouth’s girls’ basketball team has been looking for a breakthrough tournament victory and Saturday afternoon at the Portland Exposition Building, the Clippers got that very thing.

Emphatically.

Despite a sluggish start, fifth-ranked Yarmouth kicked it into gear and behind a team-wide effort, rolled to a decisive win over fourth-seeded Mountain Valley in a Class B South quarterfinal at the Portland Exposition Building.

The Falcons took an early 7-2 lead, but Clippers’ sophomore Katelyn D’Appolonia erupted for eight points and three assists to help produce a 16-10 advantage after one quarter.

Yarmouth then held Mountain Valley to a single point in the second period, while scoring 14 of its own, as sophomore Maya Panozzo and freshman Ava Feeley came off the bench and contributed big-time, helping the Clippers take a 30-11 lead to the break.

The Falcons never drew closer than 15 in the second half and Yarmouth gradually pulled away for a 52-23 victory.

D’Appolonia led all scorers with 12 points, junior Margaret McNeil added 10 and Feeley and Panozzo combined for 17 as the Clippers improved to 11-8, ended Mountain Valley’s season at 10-9 and in the process, advanced to set up a semifinal round showdown vs. top-ranked Freeport (15-4) in the semifinals Tuesday at 3:30 p.m., at the Expo.

“It’s a very big step for the program,” said Yarmouth coach David Cousins. “I knew the kids had it in them to go out and play as hard as they did today. They had a great week of practice. We’re just trying to get better each game and get over the jump and learn how to win. We came on defensively and were outstanding. Every kid contributed. I couldn’t be more pleased.”

Getting defensive

Yarmouth was upset by Wells in last year’s quarterfinals and entered the 2019-20 season believing it was the team best equipped to challenge Freeport for the top spot in the region, but after a 7-2 start the season, the Clippers struggled and won just three more times to wind up fifth in the region (see sidebar, above, for links to previous stories). Yarmouth did show glimpses of greatness, even during its tough times, however.

Mountain Valley also went 10-8 during the regular season and played in a lot of close games.

The teams didn’t play in the regular year and had met just once prior in the tournament, a 46-38 Falcons’ triumph in the 2003 Western B quarterfinals.

Saturday, Yarmouth started slowly, then caught fire.

Mountain Valley junior captain Rylee Sevigny knocked down a 3 to open the scoring and after D’Appolonia scored her first points, on a layup after a nice spin move, Sevigny made two free throws and senior captain Avery Sevigny set up sophomore captain Autumn Freeman for a 7-2 lead.

The Clippers then ran off nine straight points to take the lead for good.

A 3-pointer from McNeil got things started and D’Appolonia set up junior Calin McGonagle for a layup to tie it.

After D’Appolonia put Yarmouth on top with a free throw, she set up Feeley for a 3,

The Falcons answered with a corner 3-pointer from senior captain Kierstyn Lyons, but D’Appolonia took a pass from McNeil in transition, made a layup while being fouled and added the free throw for the old-fashioned three-point play, then, after a steal from Panozzo, D’Appolonia made a layup with 9.5 seconds on the clock to put the Clippers ahead, 16-10, after eight minutes.

In the first quarter, D’Appolonia had eight points and three assists and Yarmouth forced seven Mountain Valley turnovers.

Yarmouth continued to pull away in the second quarter.

A Panozzo jump shot got things started.

“I’m nervous at first and it takes awhile to get into it, but after the first couple of plays I locked in,” said Panozzo.

Panozzo then made a short jumper after a steal, McNeil banked home a shot and with 2:41 remaining in the first half, a Feeley layup after a steal made it 24-10.

The Falcons ended an 8-minute, 4-second scoring drought and the Clippers’ 13-0 run when Avery Sevigny made a free throw, but down the stretch, first, McNeil, then Panozzo sank open 3s and Yarmouth was in command at the break, 30-11.

“That (3-pointer) got us all hyped and got our fans hyped,” Panozzo said. “We just fed off each other’s energy.”

“Every game, you have to get your jitters out,” Cousins said. “I didn’t think we had as much energy as we should the first couple minutes, but we turned it up. We harp on that to these kids. Defense made us go. We got fastbreaks and instant offense.”

In the first half, D’Appolonia and McNeil each had eight points, while Panozzo (seven points) and Feeley (five points) had big contributions off the bench.

Mountain Valley tried to rally in the third period before the Clippers put the game completely out of reach.

After Freeman opened the second half scoring by banking home a contested leaner, McGonagle made a free throw, but Lyons sank a 3 to cut Yarmouth’s lead to 31-16.

That’s as close as the Falcons would get, however, as the Clippers closed the third quarter on an 11-1 run.

Senior captain Avery May was the spark, scoring on a putback and after Freeman made a foul shot, May scored on a putback, then took a pass from McNeil and made a layup.

Feeley got a 3-point shot to rattle in, then with 3.8 seconds to go, after a steal from senior captain Adriana Whitlock, McNeil’s putback gave Yarmouth a 42-17 advantage with eight minutes to go.

D’Appolonia started the fourth period with a layup, then after Lyons hit a baseline jumper, D’Appolonia took a pass from Panozzo and made a layup, McNeil set up Panozzo for a layup, junior Kathryn Keaney scored on a putback, then, with 3:47 to play, a putback from McGonagle gave the Clippers their final points.

Mountain Valley got a floater from Rylee Sevigny, then a layup from Freeman, but it was far too little, too late and Yarmouth prevailed, 52-23.

“I think it’s awesome,” said D’Appolonia. “The whole team really wanted it. We just brought our all to this game. Coach called timeout and told us we had to work harder on defense. I think we did that and defense won us this game.”

D’Appolonia had a game-high 12 points. She also finished with five assists and four steals.

“I felt really comfortable out there,” said D’Appolonia.

“Katelyn is just an awesome kid to have the ball in her hands,” said Cousins. “She makes good decisions and can score. Her basketball IQ is really high. It’s a big help to have her on the floor. Last year, as a freshman, there were times when she was a little timid, but this year, she’s so much more comfortable. She’s such a great athlete too, which doesn’t hurt.”

McNeil nearly posted a double-double, scoring 10 points, grabbing nine rebounds and adding four assists.

The Panozzo-Feeley reserve production line was especially impressive.

Panozzo finished with nine points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals and Feeley added eight points and four rebounds.

“We have a really good connection on this team and we work really well together,” D’Appolonia said. “I’m going to be playing with (Ava and Maya) the next few years, so it’s good that we’re all blending together.”

“A key for us is when (Ava and Maya) can come in and contribute,” Cousins said. “That makes a huge difference.”

McGonagle finished with five points and Keaney had two.

The Clippers dominated on the glass (31 rebounds to 14), overcame 15 turnovers and made 3-of-7 free throws.

Mountain Valley was paced by Lyons, who had eight points. Freeman (five rebounds) and Rylee Sevigny had seven points apiece and Avery Sevigny added one.

The Falcons turned the ball over 18 times and made 4-of-6 foul shots.

Third time a charm?

Yarmouth will get a third crack at Freeport in the semifinals. The Clippers twice gave the Falcons a battle in the regular season, but fell at home (57-47) Jan. 9 and lost by 10 at the Falcons (52-42) Feb. 1.

The teams have no playoff history.

Yarmouth will be the underdog, but believes it can keep the good times rolling.

“We were up by 10 last game (against Freeport), then we lost it,” said D’Appolonia. “If we can keep the momentum and play the whole game, we can have success.”

“I’m looking forward to playing here again,” said Panozzo. “We’ll work hard in practice like we always do and push ourselves.”

“As long as we’re pointing up right now, that’s good,” Cousins added. “We’ve had some peaks and valleys. Hopefully we can continue to peak on Tuesday. I think we can adapt to (Freeport’s) style.

“We’re looking forward to it. This is where we want to be. We welcome the challenge. We’re ready for it.”

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

Comments are not available on this story.