Brunswick girls basketball players celebrate after they stunned top-seeded Greely in the 2017 Class A South final in Portland. Ben McCanna/Portland Press Herald

Editor’s note: This is the latest installment of our series, “Remember When,” in which we revisit some of the memorable games, events, streaks and runs in high school spring sports we’ve covered over the last few decades.

BRUNSWICK — Brunswick High School has had just one girls basketball team reach a state final, and that came in 2017. 

In that season, a talented and gritty Dragons team got hot at the right time and made a furious run at a Gold Ball.

“That season was probably one of the seasons where I enjoyed coming to practice the most,” said head coach Sam Farrell. “Of course, I love coaching everyday, but there was something special about that 2017 team. It was such a tight knit group who all had the same goal on their mind, and everyone on the team contributed in their own way, on and off the court.”

Brunswick freshmen girls basketball coach Madeline Suhr — who played on the 2017 team — shared similar memories.

“Everyone on the team knew their role and played it to perfection,” she said. “Each girl knew how to contribute in their own way which made the process better for everyone who was involved.”

While the Dragons ultimately didn’t win the Gold Ball — they fell to Messalonskee — the 2017 team arguably is one of the most accomplished of any team in program history. Brunswick went 18-4, and pulled off one of a mammoth upset of top seed Greely.

The Brunswick girls basketball team celebrates after they stunned Greely in the 2017 Class A South title game in Portland. Ben McCanna/Portland Press Herald

Farrell said he knew the team was filled with talent from Day 1, but what stands out is his players taking initiative on their own to ensure they were reaching the height of their potential. 

“I had girls on the end of the bench come up to me in practice and tell me to be tougher on them, which was echoed by our captains,” said Farrell. “It was the little things like this that made my job as a coach easier during that season.”

Sabrina Armstrong, a senior starter on the 2017 team, moved to Brunswick prior to her freshman year of high school. 

“Even though I wasn’t a part of the community throughout my whole childhood, Brunswick felt like home for me, and that’s due to the girls on the team and coach Farrell who really helped me on and off the court,” said Armstrong. 

The Dragons cruised through the regular season, going 15-3 to earn the second seed in the A South tournament. 

After handling Kennebunk by 15 in the quarterfinals and escaping the semifinals with an eight-point win over York, Brunswick met power Greely in the regional final. The Rangers, who lost just once in the regular season, entered the showdown as the clear favorite. 

“When I think about the week leading up to the Greely game, the way that coach Farrell coached us up during practice is something that really sticks with me,” said Armstrong. “I think I can speak for the rest of the team when I say that we wouldn’t have gotten that far if it wasn’t for Farrell and his way of leading us.”

The game was held at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland. 

Farrell recalled the arena being packed with orange and black on one side, which made it feel like a home game in some ways.

Brunswick seniors Aidan Sachs, left, and Brooke Bartercut down a net after the Dragons stunned Greely in the 2017 Class A South title game in Portland. Ben McCanna/Portland Press Herald

“We had fans that took over a whole side of the arena and filled it to the top,” said Farrell. “It was a big deal for the girls and clearly was a big deal for the town, too.”

While he says much of the game is a blur, Farrell recalled the team starting slow in the first half.

After a Greely made a 3-pointer with 6:20 to go in the third quarter to go up 31-17, the Dragons began to claw back. Suhr, who finished the game with 22 points and 12 rebounds, took over and sparked the comeback. 

“She (Suhr) was unstoppable during that half,” said Armstrong. “She led us and we just followed her lead.”

Suhr carried the Dragons to a 54-51 victory over the Rangers, setting up a championship matchup with undefeated Messalonskee. 

After stunning Greely, the whole town rallied around the team. 

“We got congrats from all over, Joanne P. McCallie reached out, we had retired teachers, administrators, and coaches calling us to congratulate us and give us advice,” said Farrell. “It just felt good to be a part of an accomplishment that hadn’t been done before in the program’s history.”

Brunswick basketball players Rosalie White, Alexis Guptil, Madeline Suhr, Aidan Sachs, and Brooke Barter celebrate after the Dragons edged York in a 2017 Class A South semifinal at at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland. Gabe Souza/Portland Press Herald

Leading up to the title game at the Augusta Civic Center, it was business at usual for the Dragons. The team maintained the same routine they had been doing throughout the season. 

“I just wanted them to keep playing their game and not overthink anything given the circumstances and excitement we were enduring,” Farrell said. 

However, the Eagles jumped out to a 17-2 lead and never looked back en route to a 58-33 victory. 

“It stings a little bit more because we all know we didn’t do everything we could’ve done in that game,” said Armstrong. “It took a little bit for that sting to wear off.”

Despite the loss, the 2017 team helped build a foundation for future Dragon teams. 

“That year was huge for the program and for the years in the future to know that Brunswick can work hard and get to that stage,” Armstrong aded.

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