Cape Elizabeth boys’ basketball coach Jeff Mitchell talks to his team before the start of a game against Yarmouth on Feb. 1. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

After nearly two years, boys’ basketball tournament action returns on Tuesday and Cape Elizabeth and Greely are two teams that are hot at the right time and intent on adding to their schools’ recent histories of success.

Both teams won seven of their last nine games to finish 11-7.

Cape Elizabeth, the sixth seed in Class B South, will be among the first teams to take to the playoff court when they host No. 11 Wells (6-12) at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Wells and Cape are familiar foes. In 2019, Cape beat Wells by a point in the regional final before losing the Class B championship in double overtime to Caribou, 49-47, in front of a packed house at Cross Insurance Arena.

In 2020 – the last year playoffs were held before the pandemic – Wells beat Cape in the regional semifinal to reach its fourth straight Class B South final.

In both 2019 and 2020, Wells entered the playoffs with an 8-10 record, so be wary of the Warriors, even if Cape won a season-opening meeting, 72-39.


“I’ve seen a lot of film on Wells and they’re just a different team than when we played them in December,” said Cape’s second-year coach Jeff Mitchell. “To counter that, we’re playing our best basketball right now and things are starting to click for us offensively.”

Cape is a dangerous 3-point shooting team. Jake Frame and forwards Will Bowe and 6-foot-7 Evan Reeves are the top threats. Where Cape has improved is increasing its touches in the paint, leading to inside scoring and kick-out passes for even better looks behind the arc, Mitchell said.

If Cape can get by Wells, it will likely have to beat both No. 3 York (12-2) and Yarmouth (15-3) to reach the regional final. Mitchell thinks Cape’s recent athletic success – in basketball and other sports – can help his team get through that potential “buzzsaw.”

“All of these kids were in the stands at that state final (against Caribou). It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy where they see, ‘This happens from year-to-year, so I’m expected to do that.’ I think that psyche is a real thing,” Mitchell said. “Wells has it, too. And I think Cape has got it.”

Greely won three state Class A titles from 2017-2019.

“It helps. From a program perspective we have a standard,” said Greely Coach Travis Seaver. “It’s not just wins and losses but also the way we play and the way we approach the game. We talk about it every day.”


Greely earned the second seed in Class A and a preliminary-round bye. Greely plays the winner of Tuesday’s prelim between No.10 Brunswick (5-12) at No. 7 Kennebunk (11-6) in a quarterfinal at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at the Portland Expo.

Andrew St. Hilaire is the Rangers’ go-to guy, a tough player who “wants to play well and wants the ball in his hands,” Seaver said. Dee Coyne is a strong post presence who plays bigger than his 6-2/6-3 size. Greely is hopeful to get senior Max Cloutier back from injury during the playoff.

In Class A South, Falmouth (16-2) is the clear No. 1. The Navigators’ only losses were against Class AA squads South Portland and Portland. Falmouth beat Greely 79-47 on Feb. 5.

“Yeah, they’re good. They’re really good,” Seaver said. “But I think a lot of that is negated come tourney time. There are a lot of teams that can compete with anyone but also lose to anyone.”

THE CLASS AA North and South quarterfinals will be played Wednesday and Thursday at the higher seeds’ home court.

In the North, No. 6 Cheverus (8-9) is at No. 3 Portland (11-7) at the Expo at 6 p.m. Wednesday. The teams split close, defensive games this season. Portland won at Cheverus 44-41 on Dec. 21. Cheverus won at the Expo 46-42 on Jan. 18. In both games, Cheverus held sizable first-half leads.


After not having any playoffs last year, “I think it’s just pure excitement from everyone,” said Cheverus Coach Richie Ashley. “I’m glad our guys get that opportunity to play a playoff game at the Expo and, if we’re blessed enough to win, to get to play at the Civic Center, you’ll remember that the rest of your life.”

Ashley and Portland Coach Joe Russo noted how AA North has been a season-long series of close, hard-fought games – and they expect that to continue in the playoffs.

The other three AA North quarterfinal games are No. 8 Windham (4-15) at No. 1 Edward Little (16-2), No. 7 Bangor (6-12) at No. 2 Oxford Hills (15-3) and No. 5 Deering (8-10) at No. 4 Lewiston (13-5).

“The North is going to be fun to watch and there’s going to be some heartbreak,” Russo said. “It’s too bad it’s not all at one site. It would be great for the fans.”

IN AA SOUTH, Sanford (10-5) finished as the third seed and will be hosting a playoff game for the first time since 2013 – the season after 27-year-old coach Jake Mills graduated from Sanford.

“I think it’s very important. My goal was always to gain respect for Sanford,” said Mills, in his third year as the varsity coach after five seasons as the junior varsity coach.

Sanford hosts No. 6 Massabesic (6-10) at 6 p.m. Thursday. The other AA South quarterfinals have No. 8 Noble (0-17) at No. 1 South Portland (17-1), No. 7 Scarborough (4-14) at No. 2 Thornton Academy (11-6) and No. 4 Bonny Eagle (11-6) hosting No. 5 Gorham (7-11).

Bonny Eagle is on a five-game win streak that includes wins against Sanford and Thornton.

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