BOX SCORE

Cape Elizabeth 58 Wells 43

W- 12 7 9 15- 43
CE- 17 12 14 15- 58

W- Brown 5-2-15, Woodward 3-1-7, Bedell 3-0-6, Fazzina 2-2-6, Lewinski 2-0-4, Sevigney 1-0-3, Kay 1-0-2

CE- Reeves 5-4-16, Tighe 6-0-14, Bowe 3-2-9, Frame 2-2-8, Lombardo 3-1-8, Trachimowicz 1-0-3

3-pointers:
W (4) Brown 3, Sevigney 1
CE (9) Frame, Reeves, Tighe 2, Bowe, Lombardo, Trachimowicz 1

Turnovers:
W- 14
CE- 18

FTs
W: 5-8
CE: 9-10

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CAPE ELIZABETH—Cape Elizabeth’s boys’ basketball team wasn’t its usual prolific scoring self when it hosted longtime postseason rival Wells in a Class B South preliminary round playoff game Tuesday night.

But the sixth-ranked Capers didn’t need to light up the scoreboard, as their defense put the clamps on the 11th-seeded Warriors, who never got comfortable.

Cape Elizabeth never trailed, shot to a quick 14-3 lead and was up, 17-12, after one quarter, as 6-foot-8 junior Evan Reeves scored six points in a stat sheet stuffing frame.

The Capers then held Wells scoreless for over six minutes in the second period and by halftime, enjoyed a 29-19 advantage.

The Warriors scored the first basket of the second half, but Cape Elizabeth then broke it open with a 12-2 run and by the end of the third quarter, the Capers led, 43-28, before going to a 58-43 triumph.

Reeves had a double-double and junior Owen Tighe also finished in double figures as the Capers improved to 12-7 with their fifth successive victory, ended the Warriors’ season at 6-13 and advanced to take on No. 3 York (13-2) in the Class B South quarterfinals Friday at 4 p.m., at the Portland Exposition Building.

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“We would have preferred a faster pace, but we did enough of the right things,” said Cape Elizabeth second-year coach Jeff Mitchell. “It wasn’t pretty, but we got the job done and that’s playoff basketball.”

Up and down

Cape Elizabeth had a roller-coaster ride of a regular season if ever there was one (see sidebar for links for previous stories), starting with a pair of wins, dropping three games in a row, then winning two, losing two, winning three, losing two, then closing with four straight victories to earn a home prelim.

Wells was streaky as well, opening with just one win in six games, then going 4-2 before closing on another 1-5 stretch.

The teams met in the season opener, way back on Dec. 10, a 72-39 Capers’ victory in Wells, as senior Will Bowe led the way with 20 points and Reeves added 14.

The Capers and Warriors are longtime playoff rivals, almost annually squaring off in the last decade, twice with a trip to the state final hanging in the balance.

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The all-time tally was five wins apiece entering play Tuesday, where Cape Elizabeth showed it was ready to go on a run in a very challenging region.

After missing badly on a couple 3s to start the contest, the Capers scored the first points inside, as junior Sam Lombardo set up Reeves for a reverse layup. Reeves then set up senior Jake Frame for a 3-pointer and Cape Elizabeth was on its way.

Wells got its first points with 5:52 to play in the opening stanza, as senior Devin Brown knocked down his first 3-ball, but the next nine points went to the Capers, as Reeves found Lombardo for a 3, Reeves sank two free throws, Reeves scored on a putback, then Tighe got a jumper to rattle in for his first points and a 14-3 advantage with 3:11 on the clock.

The Warriors settled in and scored seven quick points of their own, as off an inbounds set, Brown fed junior Hayden Bedell for a layup, Brown drained a long 3, then off another inbounds set, Brown found Bedell again for a layup to cut the deficit to 14-10.

But after a Reeves block at one end, Tighe sank a 3 at the other to end the run. Wells got a late jumper from senior Tristan Kay, but Cape Elizabeth, thanks to six points, five rebounds, three assists and a blocked shot from Reeves, held a 17-12 lead.

After Bowe, who was the focus of the Warriors’ defense all night, opened the second period with a jumper, Brown countered with a 3 from the corner with 7:03 on the clock, but it would be a long time before Wells scored again.

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After Frame fed Lombardo for a layup, Reeves threw a long pass ahead to Tighe for a layup and a 23-15 advantage.

“I’m really proud of the assists,” Reeves said. “I’ve worked a lot on my passing this season and I think it’s starting to show. The guys are great at getting open to make it easy for me.”

“We’ve worked all year toward all five men moving the ball and Evan was extraordinary tonight,” Frame said.

Longtime Warriors coach Troy Brown called timeout, but it didn’t help, as Bowe drained a long 3 for a double-digit lead.

Finally, with 35.1 seconds on the clock, a bank shot from Bedell ended a 6 minute, 28 second scoring drought, but Frame countered with a 3 before a floater from Devin Brown made the score 29-19 at halftime.

In the first 16 minutes, Brown had 11 points for Wells, but five Capers scored at least five points to help build the lead.

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Forty-eight seconds into the third period, Warriors senior Jacob Marshall set up classmate Connor Woodward for a layup, but at the other end, Frame found Tighe for a layup and Cape Elizabeth would lead by double digits the rest of the way.

After Reeves set up Tighe for a 3 in transition, Frame kept possession alive with an offensive rebound, then passed to Reeves for a layup and a 36-21 advantage.

Junior Michael Lewinski scored on a leaner for the Warriors, but Tighe made two free throws before junior Andrew Trachimowicz hit a 3 to make it 41-23 Capers.

Late in the quarter, Brown sank a pair of free throws and after Frame threw a pretty pass to Bowe for a fastbreak layup, an old-fashioned three-point play (layup, foul and free throw) from senior Brayden Fazzina pulled Wells within 43-28 heading for the final stanza.

Where Cape Elizabeth quickly extinguished any remaining Warriors hope.

Wells capped a 7-0 run by getting a layup from Lewinsky, a free throw from Woodward and a foul shot from Fazzina, but Tighe countered with a leaner, then, after a Lombardo steal, Bowe set up Reeves for a dagger of a 3 to make it 48-32 with 6:14 remaining.

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Out of a timeout, senior Camden Sevigney hit a corner 3 for the visitors, but Reeves made two free throws.

After a bank shot from Fazzina, Reeves hit another 3, then Reeves found Lombardo for a layup to stretch the lead to 18.

The proud Warriors finished strong, as Woodward made consecutive layups, then Brown made a layup after a steal for his team’s final points, but Lombardo made a foul shot before Frame sank two more to bring the curtain down on the 58-43 victory.

“We expected a tougher game tonight 100 percent,” said Frame. “We know Wells is very well-coached. No matter how much you beat them in the regular season, they always come back strong for the playoffs. We knew they’d come in with an underdog mentality and we’d have to give our best to win it. We came out 14-3 to start, then they went on a little run, but we played smart Cape basketball and stayed on top.”

“This was my first playoff game and we had a ton of support,” Reeves said. “The little kids came out and the energy was awesome. Coming in, we knew it would be harder than last time. We were able to pull away when it got close. I think our defense is great. Stuff didn’t come as well on offense, so we kept it together on defense. We’ve put an emphasis on our zone a lot in practice and it paid off.”

“I told the guys all week that the Wells team we’d see tonight would be a much different team than what we saw in December and they were,” Mitchell added. “Troy does a tremendous job building them up all year. They gave us a fight tonight and it was never really comfortable.”

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Wells made sure Bowe wouldn’t hurt them on this night, holding him to nine points (along with four rebounds and two blocked shot), but the rest of the Capers did more than enough to produce victory.

Reeves excelled in his first postseason game, scoring 16 points, grabbing 13 rebounds, dishing out seven assists and blocking three shots.

“Evan had a multi-presence tonight,” said Mitchell. “His inside-outside game was there all night. He shared the ball, got rebounds, scored near the basket when he needed to. It was a complete game for him tonight for sure.”

Tighe added 14 points and eight rebounds, Frame (nine rebounds, five assists) and Lombardo (four assists) both had eight points and Trachimowicz tallied three.

“There’s no one on our team that we put in the game that I think is an offensive liability,” Frame said. “If they face-guard Will, other people can score, especially when we’re moving the ball.”

“I think all of our guys can score and play their roles and step up when they need to,” Reeves said.

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“The first play of the game, I saw them face-guarding Bowe and I knew they’d try to take him out, so we had to find some other solutions,” Mitchell added.

Cape Elizabeth had a 9-4 edge in made 3-pointers, out-rebounded the Warriors, 42-31, made 9-of-10 free throws and overcame 18 turnovers.

Wells was paced by Devin Brown’s 15 points. He also had five rebounds and three assists in his swan song. Woodward added seven points (and four rebounds), Bedell (four rebounds, two assists) and Fazzina both had six, Lewinski four, Sevigney three and Kay two.

The Warriors committed 14 turnovers and sank 5-of-8 free throws.

“We knew it was a tough draw,” said Troy Brown. “We got beat by 30 last time down at Wells, but we’ve improved. The bottom line is (Cape’s) size, their athleticism and their shooting ability is really tough to guard. The Reeves kid is tough. The Frame kid came up clutch for them tonight when we were trying to help on Reeves. I thought the kids played exceptionally well, but we missed opportunities, then we paid for it on the back end giving up a deuce for a four- or a five-point swing. We were trying to hold them 52 or below, that was more our range. We missed some easy shots at key times and that’s what beat us. I’m proud of the kids coming into a hostile environment tonight, going against a team we had to play close to a perfect game against. They played well, just not well enough.

“I thought we played really hard this year. I don’t think a lot of people wanted to play us in the tournament. I lose five starters, six seniors. I have a good, core group coming back. I just told those kids to remember this feeling so we make sure it doesn’t happen again. Next year, we want to go to the Expo. That’s our goal. You know that we’ll come to play hard.”

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Saturday showdown

York, which handled No. 14 Mountain Valley, 66-33, in its prelim Tuesday, is another team that Cape Elizabeth has an extensive playoff history against. The teams have met on 10 prior occasions since 1968. The Capers won the most recent, 59-43, in the 2016 Class A South quarterfinals to take a 7-3 all-time advantage.

This matchup is good enough to happen in a regional final, but it comes two rounds earlier and Cape Elizabeth will be fired up after falling at the Wildcats, 58-38, back on Dec. 17.

“They humbled us at York for sure,” Frame said. “Everyone has had that in the back of their mind that this is the game we’ve been waiting for. We knew we’d see them in the playoffs. This is the revenge game we’ve been looking for. Playing last year almost felt like it was a season with no end. There was nothing else to go to when it was over. When we were kids, we’d go to the Expo and Civic Center and to have a path to get back there means so much. This is what we work for. It will be fun to play at the Expo.”

“It’s going to be a tough game, but we’ll have two good days or practice and we’ll be ready,” Reeves said. “I’m super-excited to get to the Expo.”

“We’re excited to win this one and play at the Expo,” Mitchell added. “We have our work cut out for us against York. After our first game, I had a feeling we’d see them again. That was a really frustrating loss for us. We played terribly. It was our lowest-scoring game of the year. The guys will be focused and excited to get another crack at them. We’ll have a game plan ready and hopefully it will be more of a battle than it was down there.”

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

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