BOX SCORE

York 67 Cape Elizabeth 51

CE- 21 6 15 9- 51
Y- 20 17 14 16- 67

CE- Bowe 7-0-16, Frame 6-0-14, Reeves 4-0-9, Tighe 4-0-8, Dell’Aquila 1-0-2, Lombardo 1-0-2

Y- Frazier 9-5-24, Burke 6-3-15, Fogg 5-0-12, Bourgeois 2-3-8, Parker 1-1-4, Bouchard 1-0-2, Forbes 1-0-2

3-pointers:
CE (5) Bowe, Frame 2, Reeves 1
Y (5) Fogg 2, Bourgeois, Frazier, Parker 1

Turnovers:
CE- 10
Y- 3

FTs
CE: 0-2
Y: 12-18

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PORTLAND—Two months ago, Cape Elizabeth’s boys’ basketball team went to York and lost by 20.

Friday afternoon at the Portland Exposition Building, in the long-awaited opener of the Class B South regional tournament, the sixth-ranked Capers played much better, but ultimately, the third-seeded Wildcats just had too much.

And as a result, Cape Elizabeth’s season has come to an abrupt end.

The Capers and Wildcats each dazzled in a wild, back-and-forth first quarter, which saw Cape Elizabeth senior Will Bowe score a dozen points, which helped build a 21-20 lead, but York soon took control from there and opened up a 37-27 advantage at halftime.

An 8-0 run got the Capers as close as three points, 41-38, in the third period, but the Wildcats finished on a 10-4 run, capped by a 3-pointer from senior Trevor Parker, to take a 51-42 advantage to the fourth quarter.

There, Cape Elizabeth fought hard until the end, but never got closer than seven points and York pulled away for a 67-51 victory.

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The Wildcats got 24 points from senior JP Frazier and 15 from junior Kevin Burke as they won their 14th straight game, improved to 14-2, ended Cape Elizabeth’s season at 12-8 and advanced to battle No. 2 Yarmouth (17-3) in the Class B South semifinals Tuesday at 6 p.m., at the Expo.

“York’s a tough team to keep up with,” said Capers second-year coach Jeff Mitchell. “The first period was like an NBA game. It’s a pace that we’re comfortable with, but we couldn’t replicate it in periods two, three or four.”

Too many weapons

Cape Elizabeth endured a streaky regular season, but finished strong with four straight wins (see sidebar, for links to previous stories) before eliminating No. 11 Wells, 58-43, in Tuesday’s preliminary round.

York, which got to the Class A state game two years ago only to lose to Hampden Academy, only got to play 14 regular season games, but won 12 of them and at times, appeared to be the best team in the region. The Wildcats dominated No. 14 Mountain Valley, 66-33, in its prelim Tuesday.

The teams met once in the regular season and host York handed the Capers their most decisive loss of the year, 58-38, on Dec. 17. In that one, Burke (21 points, 11 rebounds) and Frazier (20 points, 10 boards) each had double-doubles (Cape Elizabeth was paced by 13 points from Bowe and 11 from junior center Evan Reeves).

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The teams had met 10 previous times in the tournament dating to 1968, with the Capers prevailing on seven occasions (see sidebar).

Friday, the first tournament game at the Expo in two years started in scintillating fashion, but ultimately Cape Elizabeth just couldn’t keep up with the Wildcats.

Bowe opened the scoring just 20 seconds in, taking a pass from senior Jake Frame and making a layup, but York responded with six quick points, as Frazier sank a 3, then Burke followed with an old-fashioned three-point play (layup, foul and free throw).

The Capers pulled even on a layup from junior Owen Tighe (set up by Frame) and a driving layup from Reeves, but Burke countered with a driving layup and after a steal by junior Jake Fogg, Frazier made a layup for a 10-6 lead.

After Reeves made a 3, which rolled around and in, the Wildcats ran off six quick points, as Fogg set up Frazier for a layup after a steal, Burke drove for a layup and Fogg drove and scooped a shot home.

Cape Elizabeth again answered, as Frame drove for a layup and Bowe made his first 3, but senior Will Bourgeois countered with a 3 for York.

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Bowe made his second 3 and after a Burke foul shot, Bowe hit a jump shot, then Bowe made another jumper from the corner and Cape Elizabeth had a 21-20 advantage after eight exciting minutes.

“We talked about the depth perception and it being tough to play in the bigger arena, but their kid lit it up and we were making some shots too,” said York first-year coach Jerry Hill. “We take a lot of pride on defense, but they were hitting everything.”

Bowe led all scorers with 12 points in the first period, while the Wildcats were paced by eight points from Burke and seven from Frazier.

York then amped up its defense and opened up a double-digit lead by halftime.

A Bourgeois bank shot 26 seconds into the second period put the Wildcats ahead for good and Frazier added a layup after a steal.

Bowe countered with a jumper, but Fogg drained consecutive long 3-pointers to make it 30-23.

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After Tighe set up Bowe for a layup on the fastbreak, Burke made a free throw, then Frazier got a leaner to roll in.

Junior Antonio Dell’Aquila took a pass from classmate Sam Lombardo and made a layup for the Capers’ final points of the half before sophomore Haydn Forbes banked home a shot and at the horn, Frazier put home a miss for a 37-27 York advantage.

Bowe led all first half scorers with 16 points, but Frazier had 13 for the Wildcats, who in an amazing statistical feat, didn’t turn the ball over once.

“We haven’t had a lot of turnovers,” said Hill. “We take a lot of pride of keeping possession of the basketball. I told them to make short passes, not long, fancy passes and we did a great job of that.”

York finally turned the ball over 30 seconds into the second half, but it proved to be a minor speed bump, as Frazier put back his own miss and after Frame made a long 3 for Cape Elizabeth, Fogg drove for a layup and a 41-30 advantage.

But the Capers answered, as Reeves hit a jumper, Frame got a leaner to rattle home, Reeves made a jumper, then Reeves set up Tighe for a layup with 2:28 remaining in the frame to cut the deficit to just three.

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But the Wildcats didn’t buckle and after a Fogg jumper ended the run, Burke made a layup.

Then, after Tighe made a layup, Frazier’s three-point play stretched the lead to eight.

After Frame converted a leaner, Parker hit his lone field goal of the game, but it was crucial, a 3-ball from the corner with 8 seconds to go, giving the Wildcats a 51-42 advantage.

“That wasn’t a game-ending dagger, but it hurt,” said Mitchell.

If the first quarter was a non-stop scoring fest, the start of the fourth was just the opposite as neither team scored until 4:16 remained, when Frame set up Lombardo for a layup to end a 4 minute, 30 second drought.

Frazier then countered by driving for a layup to end his team’s 4:27 drought.

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With 3:25 left, Frame made a floater, but the Capers would get no closer, as Burke again drove for a layup, Bourgeois hit two free throws and after Tighe put home a miss, Bourgeois made another free throw before a Burke putback with 1:07 on the clock made it 60-48.

Frame provided faint hope with a 3-ball, but that would prove to be Cape Elizabeth’s final points.

Frazier then hit two free throws, Parker made one, Frazier hit two more foul shots before Burke set up freshman Lukas Bouchard for a layup to bring the curtain down on York’s 67-51 victory.

“We know Cape’s a better team than when we played them, but we’re better too,” Hill said. “We made some shots and we were able to hold them off defensively. We were 0-2 and Cape was our first win of the season. They had an off-night shooting at our place. We knew we could potentially play them again in the quarterfinals.”

Frazier led the way with 24 points. He also had seven rebounds. Burke added 15 points and consistently got the rim for easy looks.

“Kevin is good off the dribble and it’s tough for bigger man for cover him, so we told him if the big man was covering him, we’d open up the floor and let him go and he was able to get to the basket and do some things,” Hill said.

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Fogg also finished in double figures with a dozen points and also had three assists and three steals. Bourgeois added eight points (and eight rebounds), Parker had four (to go with four rebounds) and Bouchard and Forbes two apiece.

Forbes also played a huge defensive role, shutting down Bowe in the second half.

“We face-guarded him with Haydn and we told (Haydn) not to let (Bowe) touch the ball and I don’t think he scored again,” Hill said. “We talked about limiting the amount of 3s they could make and if we did that, we could win.”

York had a 37-35 rebound advantage, made 12-of-18 free throws and only gave the ball away a remarkable three times.

“York’s a good rebounding team, they have a nose for the ball and they took care of the ball today,” Mitchell said.

York opened with a thrilling one-point overtime loss at Yarmouth Dec. 10 (55-54).

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The teams have played three previous playoff games with the Wildcats taking two, but the Clippers (who eliminated No. 7 Oceanside, 63-43, in their quarterfinal Friday) won the most recent encounter, 53-42, in the 2003 Western B preliminary round.

Tuesday’s showdown should be memorable.

“(Cape’s) as good a team as we’ll see and Yarmouth is obviously very good too,” said Hill. “Our goal was to get better every day. We have been.”

Farewell and thanks

For Cape Elizabeth, Bowe led the way with 16 points in his swan song, all in the first half. Bowe also had eight rebounds.

“(Will’s) first quarter was a hard pace to keep up with for anyone,” Mitchell said. “Then, they played tighter on him.”

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Frame departs after scoring 14 points and dishing out four assists.

“We’re going to miss those guys,” Mitchell said. “They’re two opposite personalities. Will’s on the quieter side and Jake is more outgoing, but they yin and yang really well. That sixth sense they had we’re really going to miss. They knew where each other was spatially on the floor.”

Reeves tallied nine points and had five rebounds, Tighe added eight points and nine rebounds and Dell’Aquila and Lombardo both finished with two points.

The Capers took just two free throws and missed both. They only committed 10 turnovers.

“We rely a lot on our transition and we didn’t do a good job of that today,” Mitchell said. “We couldn’t find that first advantage. We had to play in the halfcourt and they pressured us and we couldn’t go downhill as much as we wanted to. York’s athletic and they’re hard to guard because J.P. has an inside-outside presence. They’re multi-faceted and they had a good game plan.

“This season was a breath of fresh air. To experience this my first time as a coach was great. It was just about everyone’s first time playing here. We’re grateful to have the season we did, to play 18 games and make the tournament. The way these guys finished the season, I couldn’t be prouder. They executed strategy, they were on-point offensively and they improved on defense. Outside of this game, we finished strong.”

While graduation will take its toll, Cape Elizabeth will be starting from a strong place next winter, as Lombardo, Reeves and Tighe return as starters and several other players will be primed to make their mark.

“We had 17 kids play during the regular season and a lot of those kids on the bench are phenomenally athletic,” said Mitchell. “I’m already starting to think about next year.”

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

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