BOX SCORE

Greely 56 Leavitt 49

L- 10 0 17 22- 49
G- 14 13 10 19- 56

L- Morin 7-3-17, Hathaway 4-4-13, Learned 3-0-8, Melanson 2-1-5, Hayes 2-0-4, Bosse 1-0-2

G- Bagshaw 7-4-20, Butler 6-0-15, Gabloff 3-2-11, Cloutier 2-0-5, Walker 1-0-3, Bernheisel 0-2-2

3-pointers:
L (3) Learned 2, Hathaway 1
G (10) Butler, Gabloff 3, Bagshaw 2, Cloutier, Walker 1

Turnovers:
L- 14
G- 12

FTs
L: 8-10
G: 8-11

PORTLAND—If the calendar reads February and the game’s being played in a large building in the city of Portland, chances are excellent that Greely’s boys basketball team is going to get the job done.

Saturday evening at the Portland Exposition Building, the Rangers, the three-time defending state champions, demonstrated without a doubt that they’re a legitimate threat to capture a fourth consecutive crown, as they shot lights-out early, played lockdown defense in the middle, then held on for dear life at the end of their Class A South quarterfinal to defeat Leavitt, 56-49.

Greely, the No. 4 seed in the region, got three first quarter 3-pointers from junior Luke Gabloff and grabbed a 14-10 lead over the fifth-ranked Hornets.

The Rangers’ defense then shut Leavitt out in the second period and seven points from senior standout Logan Bagshaw, including a program milestone, helped Greely go up by 17, 27-10, at halftime.

Behind senior captain Cole Morin and junior captain Wyatt Hathaway, the Hornets showed some life in the second half and drew within 37-27 after three quarters, but the Rangers made it 49-31 with 3:20 to play.

Leavitt made one final run, getting as close as six, before Greely held on for a 56-49 victory.

Bagshaw, who became the Rangers’ all-time leading scorer, led the way with 20 points, senior Nick Butler added 15 and Gabloff wound up with 11 as Greely improved to 15-4, ended the Hornets’ season at 14-5 and advanced to meet top-ranked York (19-0) in the Class A South semifinals Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., at the Expo.

“Leavitt has tough kids,” said Rangers’ coach Travis Seaver. “They played hard and didn’t roll over. It’s a learning opportunity for us.”

Dominance

Greely suffered through years of tournament close calls before finally breaking through in 2017. The Rangers then won it again in 2018 and 2019, but this year’s team returned just one established star in Bagshaw and while Bagshaw has been as a prolific a scorer as you’ll find, he hasn’t been able to do it all.

But as the posteason dawns, it’s become clear that he no longer has to.

Greely lost two of its first four games, including a 38-point home drubbing by Class AA South top seed South Portland, then rattled off 11 victories in 12 contests before losing at York, which kept the Rangers in the No. 4 spot (see sidebar, above, for previous stories).

Leavitt, meanwhile, also went 14-4, losing only to Marshwood, Class AA North top seed Edward Little, Falmouth and Kennebunk.

The Hornets and Rangers don’t play in the regular season and had met just once before in the tournament, way back in the 1963 Class M semifinals (a 51-38 Greely win en route to the state title).

Saturday, Greely came out like a team used to being on the big stage and a fast start went a long way to producing a 13th straight postseason victory.

The Rangers were on fire from beyond the 3-point arc in the first quarter, but none of their four makes came from Bagshaw.

Leavitt opened the scoring 15 seconds in, as Morin converted an old-fashioned three-point play (bank shot, foul, free throw), but Gabloff tied it with a 3, then he sank another for a 6-3 Greely lead.

After junior Josiah Learned drove for a bank shot for the Hornets, Butler made his first 3.

“Coach told me I made second-team all-conference and I wasn’t expecting that at all, so that gave me confidence,” Butler said. “Logan always finds me and gets me the ball. He’s a very unselfish player and that helps us a lot.”

Learned countered with a 3 for Leavitt, but Bagshaw got his first points, making a layup off a pass from senior Drew Lawrence, then Gabloff drained yet another 3.

“That was awesome that (Luke and Nick) knocked down shots,” said Bagshaw. “They were trying to set screens for me to get me open and they got open. They made the right cuts and they were in the right spots. Credit to them. It’s been happening all season, but they really stepped up tonight.”

Sophomore Trevor Bosse made a layup (from Morin) with 11 seconds left, but the Rangers held a 14-10 lead after eight minutes.

And the Greely shooting onslaught would continue in the second quarter, as the Rangers, thanks to a rare eight-minute shutout, built their lead even more.

Butler got things started with a 3-pointer 16 seconds in. Bagshaw then made his first 3 and with 6:20 to go before halftime, Lawrence set up Bagshaw for a layup, which gave him 1,172 career points (he now has 1,186), one better than former standout Austin Ganly (Class of 1998).

“I think (Logan’s) one of the best players in the state, if not the best, because he has the ability and confidence,” Seaver said.

Butler then knocked down a 3 from the corner and after a steal, Butler set up Bagshaw for an easy layup and a commanding 27-10 advantage at the half.

“Our defense just turned into offense and it all went from there,” said Bagshaw. “I think everyone works hard on defense and when we do that, not many teams can play harder than us or outscore us, but it takes 110 percent effort.”

“We just try to win every quarter,” Butler said. “We had good intensity and held it the whole first half.”

“We didn’t really change anything, we just talked about a couple tweaks on personnel and I thought we did a good job on Wyatt and Josiah and making sure we were in the right help position,” Seaver added.

Bagshaw, Butler and Gabloff all had nine first half points, as Greely sank seven 3’s.

Leavitt finally rediscovered its offense in the third period, but the Rangers weathered the challenge and retained a double-digit lead.

With 7:32 to play in the third quarter, the Hornets snapped their 8-minute, 39-second scoring drought and Greely’s 13-0 run, as Learned sank a 3.

Sophomore Hunter Hayes added a leaner and with 6:04 to go in the frame, a floater from Hathaway pulled Leavitt within 10, but Butler made a layup and Bagshaw hit a runner.

A layup from Morin was countered by the Rangers’ first 3 of the second half, from sophomore Timmy Walker. Bagshaw added a free throw to make it 35-19, but Hathaway made a jump shot, Morin converted a floater and a pair of Hathaway free throws cut the deficit to 10, 35-25.

Butler responded with a short jumper, but with 9.6 seconds on the clock, a putback from senior Keegan Melanson made it a 10-point game again, heading for the fourth period.

There, the Rangers seemingly put it away, but the Hornets refused to quit before the final horn.

Bagshaw started the final stanza with a 3 and with 5:57 to go, Bagshaw soared for an offensive rebound and put it home for a 42-27 advantage, but he collapsed to the floor upon landing.

That provided an anxious moment for the Greely faithful, but it proved to be merely a cramp and after the game, Bagshaw declared himself healthy.

Hathaway made a couple free throws and Hayes scored on a putback, but two Gabloff free throws, a corner 3 from sophomore Max Cloutier and a Cloutier fastbreak layup with 3:20 to play seemingly ended it, as the Rangers enjoyed their biggest lead, 49-31.

Not so fast.

Hathaway hit a short jumper, then Hathaway drained a 3 and with 2:17 to go, Morin’s layup pulled Leavitt within 49-38.

Gabloff set up Butler for a layup, but Learned fed Morin for a layup to make it an 11-point game again.

Then, after two free throws from Greely senior captain Jakob Bernheisel, Morin converted a three-point play, Melanson converted a three-point play and after Bagshaw made two foul shots, Morin scored on a putback while being fouled and added the free throw with 26.7 seconds still on the clock to pull the Hornets within just six, 55-49.

Hathaway then stole the ball and Leavitt had a chance to make it really interesting, but Hathaway missed and after Hayes kept possession with an offensive rebound, Hathaway missed again.

Bagshaw was fouled with 10 seconds to go and he made one of two free throws to finally secure the victory and the Rangers prevailed, 56-49.

“(Leavitt) definitely fought back, but we knocked down our free throws and that sealed the game for us,” Bagshaw said. “I just try to clear my mind and knock them down. Just clear my mind and shoot.”

“We know how to win games and we’ve been in close games,” Butler said. “Free throws are huge and we were confident whoever took them would make them.”

Bagshaw had 20 points and while he finished nearly seven points below his scoring average, he still led all players. Bagshaw also had six rebounds and five assists.

Butler added 15 points and Gabloff was also in double-figures with 11 (to go with five rebounds). Cloutier had five points, Walker three and Bernheisel two (to go with four assists).

The Rangers only turned the ball over a dozen times and hit 8-of-11 free throws.

Morin paced Leavitt with 17 points and a game-high 15 rebounds. Hathaway came on in the second half and added 13 points. Learned had eight points, four rebounds and three assists. Melanson added five points, Hayes had four and Bosse two.

The Hornets had a commanding 37-19 rebounding advantage and made 8-of-10 free throws, but they turned the ball over on 14 occasions.

Semifinal showdown

Greely has had no answer for York this winter, losing the opener Dec. 6 in Cumberland, 63-51, and falling again at York Feb. 4, 62-46.

The teams have met nine times previously in the tournament with the Rangers holding a 5-4 edge. The most recent encounter came in the 2017 Class A South semifinals, where Greely eked out a 59-54 victory.

The Rangers will be the underdog, but they’ll thrive in that role and give the Wildcats (who handled No. 8 Biddeford, 80-58, in their quarterfinal) all they can handle.

“I love that people are counting us out,” Bagshaw said. “It drives all of us to work even harder to prove them wrong. Everyone wants to knock off a 1 seed. Our defense has to step up and play like we did in the first half tonight and that will turn into offense.”

“We always have a target on our backs,” Butler said. “We know there’s more competition this year. We’ve developed very good team chemistry. We all like other. We know how to play on a bigger court. We have to shoot well. It’s going to be a good basketball game. Experience is huge.”

“I think we can compete with anyone and I think our kids think that too and to me, that’s dangerous,” Seaver added. “We’ve had a lot more to focus on this year, in terms of team management and personnel, but at the end of the day, we try to worry about ourselves and play our best basketball for 32 minutes. If we do that, I believe we’ll be where we want to be.

“York’s a tough basketball team. We’ve seen them twice and each game we got better. We know what we can improve on. I think we’ll have a good game plan. They have two great players in (Brady) Cummings and (Will) MacDonald. They have depth and came come at you in waves. It reminds me of teams we’ve had in the past. We approach every game the same way. We focus on us and try to play our best basketball. We have the tools. We just need the confidence.”

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

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