BOX SCORE

Wells 44 Yarmouth 35

W- 13 7 11 13- 44
Y- 9 9 7 10- 35

W- Ramsdell 9-4-24, Kreie 2-0-6, Maxon 3-0-6, Boucher 0-5-5, McMinis 1-0-3

Y- D’Appolonia 2-3-8, N. Panozzo 4-0-8, King 3-0-6, M. Panozzo 3-0-6, Powers 1-2-4, Keaney 1-0-2, Clark 0-1-1

3-pointers:
W (5) Kreie, Ramsdell 2, McMinis 1
Y (1) D’Appolonia 1

Turnovers:
W- 11
Y- 20

FTs
W: 9-20
Y: 6-10

Advertisement

YARMOUTH—Yarmouth’s girls’ basketball team kept battling and battling Thursday evening, but the Clippers couldn’t find a way to beat visiting Wells.

That’s because no one has been able to solve the reigning Class B state champions, who, if all goes well, might be repeat champions in a little more than a month’s time.

Yarmouth, despite still rounding into form after a long COVID pause and playing without a critical piece in junior Ava Feeley, went toe-to-toe with the Warriors for 32 minutes, but Wells, led by senior standout Grace Ramsdell, did just enough to prevail.

The Warriors got a pair of 3-pointers from junior Ava Kreie in the first period and held a 13-9 lead, then went up by six in the second quarter before a Clippers’ run made it a 20-18 Wells lead at the half.

Twice in the third quarter, Yarmouth tied the score, at 23-23 and 25-25, the latter on a layup from sophomore Cate King, but Ramsdell then stepped up and reminded everyone why she’s so special, scoring six quick points to put Wells up, 31-25, heading for the fourth period.

There, the Clippers drew no closer than four and six more points from Ramsdell, combined with five free throws from senior Grace Boucher, put it away and the Warriors went on to a 44-35 victory.

Advertisement

Ramsdell led all scorers with 24 points as Wells improved to 11-0 and in the process, dropped Yarmouth to 5-2.

“We didn’t come out on the right side of the score, but this is what we needed,” said Clippers coach David Cousins. “Wells is well-coached. They’re a veteran team. You have to put so much attention on (Grace) that they get good looks. They got good looks and we had to fight for everything.”

Gracefully done

Wells, a longtime contender, got over the hump and won its first Class B state title in 2020 and so far this winter, the Warriors remain the team to beat.

Wells opened with decisive wins at Cape Elizabeth (60-18) and Traip Academy (47-11), then defeated visiting Poland (76-20), visiting Marshwood (52-37), host Marshwood (51-39), visiting Traip Academy (74-33), visiting North Yarmouth Academy (62-35), host Freeport (50-40), visiting Gray-New Gloucester (57-39) and visiting Old Orchard Beach (45-42).

Yarmouth, meanwhile, opened with a 47-42 win at York, then beat visiting Lake Region (51-29). After a 36-33 home loss to Mt. Ararat, the Clippers beat host Westbrook, 48-21, Dec. 29, then had a two-week COVID hiatus, which included the postponement of the originally scheduled Wells game, before returning to action with wins over visiting Waynflete (50-7) and at Lake Region (42-31).

Advertisement

The teams’ most recent meeting came in the 2020 Class B South Final, when Wells held off Yarmouth, 41-37, en route to the championship.

Thursday, the Clippers sought their first win over the Warriors in five tries, but Wells did enough to stay unbeaten.

Yarmouth came out with intensity and got the first basket on a layup from sophomore Neena Panozzo just 20 seconds in.

Ramsdell put the Warriors on the board with a leaner in the lane and after senior captain Katelyn D’Appolonia hit one of two free throws for the Clippers, Kreie’s first 3, on a bank shot, gave Wells its first lead.

D’Appolonia set up Panozzo for a layup to tie it, but Ramsdell countered with a 3-ball, off a feed from Boucher.

“It’s the best thing ever playing with (Grace),” said Boucher. “It’s so much fun. We’ve played together since we were younger. We can read each other’s minds on the court. Even with masks, I just kind of give her an eye and she knows what to do.”

Advertisement

“The connection between Grace (Ramsdell) and Grace (Boucher) is unlike any I’ve had in my 16 years of coaching girls,” said longtime Wells coach Don Abbott. “They feed off each other and understand each other’s role. When you have that kind of connection and togetherness, it’s tough.”

Panozzo was then called for her second foul and had to sit.

After King hit a long jumper for Yarmouth, Boucher, off an inbounds set, found an open Kreie, who drained another 3.

Senior Maya Panozzo answered with a layup for the Clippers, but Boucher set up freshman Maren Maxon for a layup on the fastbreak and Wells was ahead, 13-9, after eight minutes.

D’Appolonia then began the second period with a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to one, but Maxon scored on a runner, then Maxon fed Ramsdell for a layup.

Sophomore Lexi Clark got a point back at the line for Yarmouth, but with 2:23 remaining before halftime, Ramsdell made a layup for a 19-13 advantage.

Advertisement

The Clippers then closed the half strong, as Neena Panozzo drove for a layup, then D’Appolonia converted an old-fashioned three-point play (layup, foul and free throw) to cut the deficit to one before a Ramsdell free throw made it 20-18 Wells at the half.

In the first 16 minutes, Ramsdell led all scorers with 10 points, but Yarmouth, behind seven points from D’Appolonia and six from Neena Panozzo, was very much within hailing distance.

D’Appolonia began the second half with a free throw, but senior Ruby McMinis countered with a clutch 3 for the Warriors.

The Clippers answered, as Maya Panozzo drove for a layup and sophomore Lauren Keaney put back a miss to tie it, 23-23.

After Ramsdell drove and finished a pretty reverse layup to put Wells back on top, D’Appolonia set up King for a layup with 3:11 left in the frame to tie it up again, 25-25.

And then, Ramsdell put on a show.

Advertisement

First, Ramsdell buried a 3 to give the Warriors the lead for good.

The next time down the floor, Ramsdell was fouled and made one of two attempts and in the final minute, Ramsdell drove the lane and despite being swarmed by the defense, managed to bank home a shot for a 31-25 lead.

“I think we all had to turn it up,” Ramsdell said. “I feed off my teammates and it was good to get momentum. I’m always thankful I have my whole team behind me. I can rely on them.”

“Grace has a killer instinct,” said Abbott. “She knows that sometimes to be a good teammate, it’s time to take over and help us get a little separation.”

Clippers sophomore Aine Powers began the fourth period with two free throws, but the home team would get no closer.

That’s because Ramsdell answered with a leaner, then hit two free throws before Maxon banked home a shot with 4:17 remaining for the Warriors’ first double-digit lead, 37-27.

Advertisement

Yarmouth would cut the deficit to six on a layup from Maya Panozzo (set up by her sister) and another layup by King (also assisted by Neena Panozzo).

Ramsdell countered by taking a pass from Kreie and making a layup, but with 1:37 on the clock, after a D’Appolonia steal, Neena Panozzo’s layup pulled the Clippers within 39-33.

Wells then put it away at the charity stripe.

Eight seconds later, Boucher made the front end of a one-and-one, but missed the second.

With 51.3 seconds to go, Boucher returned to the line and this time, hit both attempts.

Then, with 30.7 seconds remaining, Boucher sank two more foul shots.

Advertisement

“I’m a good free throw shooter, I focus and I like being at the line,” Boucher said.

Powers hit a bank shot in the waning seconds, but that was far too little, too late and the Warriors were able to celebrate a hard-fought 44-35 victory, their 30th in 31 games dating back to the 2019-20 season.

“We started the season winning games by a lot, so having tougher games and getting pushed like this, it gets us ready for the tournament,” Ramsdell said.

“Yarmouth always gives us close games, but our team has a lot of energy and our bench gets us fired up,” Boucher said.

“Yarmouth battled, but I think our defensive intensity ratcheted up in the second half,” Abbott added. “We gave up (35 points) and you’ll win most nights with that when you have kids who can put the ball in the basket. I’m happy with the effort. We need to be the ones to dictate the tempo of the game a little more. We prefer to play in the 50s or 60s. One thing we focus on is shot selection. In the first half, our shot selection was lousy. We have to take care of the ball. We were a little loose with it in the first half and tightened up in the second half. If someone beats us, fine, we just don’t want to beat ourselves.”

Ramsdell didn’t just lead all scorers with 24 points, she also had six rebounds and a pair of steals.

Advertisement

“Grace certainly had a nice night and is hard to contain,” Cousins said.

Kreie and Maxon each added six points, Boucher had five points, five assists and five steals and McMinis finished with three points and three steals.

The Warriors only made 9-of-20 free throws, but considering they started 0-of-10, that’s not too shabby. They only committed 11 turnovers.

Yarmouth got eight points apiece from D’Appolonia (five assists, five steals, four rebounds) and Neena Panozzo, six apiece from King (six rebounds) and Maya Panozzo (four rebounds, two steals), four from Powers, two from Keaney and one from Clark.

The Clippers had a 27-22 edge in rebounds and made 6-of-10 free throws, but turned the ball over 20 times.

“I don’t know if I could be more pleased than I am tonight,” Cousins said. “Considering everything this team has been through, coming out like this against a great team and playing them tough was just what we needed.”

Advertisement

Eyeing February

As the tournament creeps ever closer, the teams, who play again Feb. 7 in Wells, look to continue to improve.

The Warriors are idle until Tuesday of next week, when they go to Fryeburg Academy. Trips to York, Greely and Lake Region and home games versus Greely, Yarmouth and York also remain.

“We can still push the floor a little better,” said Boucher. “We do a good job in practice and in most games with that.”

“We want to win (states) again very badly,” Ramsdell said. “Coming into the season, that was the goal. It’s nice to keep winning and working toward that.”

“The girls are embracing the expectations,” Abbott added. “Our schedule was more back-loaded than front-loaded, which I’m grateful for because as we get closer to February, playing Yarmouth, York and Greely twice and having a good game against Old Orchard was good for us. Iron sharpens iron, so it’s good to play other teams that are strong. We have five straight on the road and this was the first. We’re going to be ‘Road Warriors.’

The Clippers are back in action Saturday at home versus Freeport. Yarmouth hosts Brunswick in a makeup game Monday.

“We need to get healthy and get everybody back,” Cousins said. “We hope to get Ava back very soon. Her speed and quickness is something we can use. We like to get after teams on defense and run and her length helps our engine go.

“We just need to get back into a flow. We were playing pretty good basketball, then we had (COVID) and came back and there’s rust. I have all the faith in these kids. It’s just being exposed to big situations. We’re definitely optimistic. There aren’t any cupcakes on the schedule. We just have to keep playing. We want to be ready for the tournament and tonight was a good sign.”

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

Comments are not available on this story.