BOX SCORE

Yarmouth 50 York 41

Yo- 15 7 6 13- 41
Y- 12 18 9 11- 50

Yo- Frazier 4-1-11, Parker 3-2-11, Fogg 3-0-7, Burke 2-1-5, Forbes 1-2-4, Bourgeois 1-0-3

Y- Psyhogeos 7-5-19, Waeldner 4-7-16, Hamm 3-0-6, O’Meara 1-3-5, Walsh 1-0-3, Snyder 0-1-1

3-pointers:
Yo (7) Parker 3, Frazier 2, Bourgeois, Fogg 1
Y (2) Waeldner, Walsh 1

Turnovers:
Yo- 14
Y- 14

FTs
Yo: 6-7
Y: 16-23

Advertisement

YARMOUTH—The biggest reason for the success of Yarmouth’s boys’ basketball team is simple, according to Jonas Allen, the Clippers’ fourth-year coach.

It’s all about buy-in.

And Yarmouth’s buy-in, and on-court brilliance, has it one win away from a regional championship.

Tuesday evening at the Portland Exposition Building, the second-ranked Clippers faced their biggest test of the season to date, in the form of the red-hot, third-seeded York Wildcats in a Class B South semifinal.

And to say that Yarmouth aced that test would be an epic understatement.

The teams went back-and-forth in an exciting first quarter which featured six lead changes and ended with the Wildcats on top, 15-12.

Advertisement

Then, in the second period, the Clippers flipped the switch.

At both ends of the floor.

In a matter of less than six minutes, Yarmouth erupted on an 18-3 run, sparked by its defensive intensity, the many talents of senior standout Peter Psyhogeos and the ability of senior point guard extraordinaire Matt Waeldner to get the ball in the basket under duress, best demonstrated by a fadeaway jumper in traffic which capped the surge.

York got back within eight points, 30-22, at halftime, then had a golden opportunity to rally in the third period, as the Clippers turned the ball over seven times and got in foul trouble, but Yarmouth’s defense remained stellar and despite those impediments, the Clippers managed to add three points to their lead and took a 39-28 advantage to the fourth.

There, the Wildcats momentarily drew within seven, but two quick hoops from Psyhogeos and a pair of free throws from senior Quin O’Meara gave Yarmouth its biggest lead and the Clippers went on to an inspirational 50-41 victory.

Psyhogeos led the way with 19 points, while also playing a critical role on defense, Waeldner added 16 points and Yarmouth improved to 18-3, ended York’s season at 14-3 by snapping the Wildcats’ 14-game win streak and in the process, the Clippers advanced to the Class B South Final against No. 4 Medomak Valley (17-4), tentatively scheduled for Friday at 3:45 p.m., at the Cross Insurance Arena.

Advertisement

“All I can really say is that we expect so much of our kids,” said Allen. “We have a different defensive scheme every game and for high schoolers, that’s hard. That’s asking a lot. We had a plan we thought might work and the kids just took it and bought in. It may or may not have been the best plan, but going full speed always makes up for mistakes or if a plan isn’t perfect. There’s a lot of visions out there. It comes down to the kids buying in and giving you everything they’ve got. If the kids take your vision and run with it, that’s special.”

One round too soon

Yarmouth and York established themselves as special teams early on and it’s no surprise they each got out of the quarterfinal round.

The Clippers started 9-0, losing only to Lake Region (minus Psyhogeos), Greely and Cape Elizabeth, but they won every other game and after dispatching No. 15 Lincoln Academy in the preliminary round, 56-16, downed No. 7 Oceanside, 63-43, in the quarterfinals Friday (see sidebar for links to previous stories).

The Wildcats lost their first two games, but won every game thereafter and after dispatching No. 14 Mountain Valley, 66-33, in their prelim, ousted No. 6 Cape Elizabeth, 67-51, Friday in the quarterfinals.

Yarmouth opened with a thrilling overtime home win over York (55-54) Dec. 10 in the teams’ lone regular season meeting. Psyhogeos erupted for 32 points in that one.

Advertisement

The teams have played three previous playoff games (see sidebar) with the Wildcats taking two, but the Clippers won the most recent encounter, 53-42, in the 2003 Western B preliminary round.

Tuesday’s contest had all the ingredients and intensity of a regional final, but the showdown came a round earlier and ultimately, Yarmouth responded like the champion it hopes to become and just like that, the Wildcats’ season has come to an abrupt close.

York struck first, as junior Jake Fogg knocked down a 3-pointer just 43 seconds in.

The Clippers first points came courtesy Psyhogeos, on a jumper 30 seconds later, then sophomore secret weapon Evan Hamm scored on a putback, Waeldner stole the ball and drove for a layup and Psyhogeos hit a floater for a quick 8-3 lead.

“We knew York’s really good and we’d have to come out and play great basketball to win,” Psyhogeos said.

But back came the Wildcats, as senior Trevor Parker hit consecutive 3-pointers for a 9-8 advantage.

Advertisement

A pair of Waeldner free throws put Yarmouth back in the lead, but junior Kevin Burke answered with a floater and after Waeldner made two free throws, Burke made one to tie it before senior JP Frazier converted an old-fashioned three-point play (layup after a steal, foul and free throw) to give York a 15-12 lead after one quarter.

There were six lead changes in the opening stanza, but there would be just one more the rest of the way.

After Psyhogeos set up O’Meara for a layup to start the second period, Waeldner buried a 3 with 6:54 left in the half and the Clippers were on top to stay.

And they were just getting started.

Waeldner added a free throw, Psyhogeos was credited for a basket on a layup which Frazier goaltended and after Wildcats first-year coach Jerry Hill called timeout, junior Stevie Walsh came off the bench and hit a 3 to cap an 11-0 surge.

With 4:53 left before halftime, Frazier drained a long 3 to end a 4 minute, 15 second drought, but Yarmouth wasn’t fazed and got a three-point play from Psyhogeos, a layup after a steal from Waeldner and after another York timeout, Waeldner made a contested fadeaway jumper with 2:17 on the clock for a stunning 30-18 advantage.

Advertisement

“With this bigger court, I feel like there’s a little more space and my teammates got me the ball in the right places to attack,” Waeldner said.

The Wildcats finished the half strong, as Frazier set up Burke for a layup and Fogg drove for a layup, but the Clippers were up, 30-22, thanks in large part to 14 points from Waeldner.

“I think there’s a feeling out process for us,” Allen said. “We made a couple mistakes on the defensive end early, but I expect the kids to learn from mistakes immediately and we did. Part of my job is to see what the offense is doing against us and then help my kids with adjustments.”

Yarmouth would struggle with fouls and turnovers against York’s pressure defense in the third period, but its defense made it a moot point and the Clippers never let York get close.

After two scoreless minutes to start the second half, Psyhogeos drove and banked the ball home.

Sophomore Haydn Forbes countered with a floater for the Wildcats, snapping another lengthy (4:04) drought, but senior Cole Snyder made a free throw before Hamm scored on a putback to make it 35-24.

Advertisement

“I’m not the most talented player on the team, so I have to just play my role,” Hamm said.

Parker made two foul shots, but Psyhogeos answered with two of his own.

After Forbes sank two free throws, Psyhogeos set up Hamm for a layup on the fastbreak and Yarmouth took a 39-28 lead to the final stanza.

“When they put the press on, we coughed it up a couple times, but we just needed to calm down and understand we have a good press-break and if we executed, it would work out,” Psyhogeos said. “We just had to be smart with the ball.”

“We prepared for a slightly different press,” Allen said. “They played more of a three-quarter press earlier in the year. That full-court press threw us off, so we had to make some adjustments, then we were OK. That’s where the defense comes in. You can do a lot wrong if you defend.”

In the fourth, the Clippers remained poised and salted away their victory.

Advertisement

In the first minute of the frame, Frazier scored on a floater, then Fogg drove for a layup to cut the deficit to seven, but that’s as close as York would get.

After O’Meara made a free throw, Psyhogeos again banked home a shot in traffic, Psyhogeos scored on a putback and after Waeldner left the game with an apparent ankle injury, O’Meara made two free throws with 4:34 to go to stretch the lead to 46-32.

The Wildcats tried to rally, as Frazier made a 3-pointer for his final points, ending Yarmouth’s 7-0 run and a 4:22 drought, but after Waeldner returned to the floor, two Psyhogeos free throws with 1:05 to play ended any lingering doubt.

In the final minute, Parker drained a 3 and after Waeldner hit two free throws for the Clippers’ final points, a 3-ball from York senior Will Bourgeois accounted for the 50-41 final score.

“We go into each and every game with a slightly different game plan,” Waeldner said. “Hand it to our coaches. They scout every team we play. We just try to focus on cutting down the other team’s best players and have that have a trickle-down effect.”

“Our coaches put us in a position with a great defensive game plan to go out and execute and hopefully win,” said Psyhogeos. “We were confident in the position our coaches put us in. The big thing for us was just communicating on defense and talking through screens because York does a really good job setting screens. That became a point of emphasis for us and we tightened that up.”

Advertisement

“We were never comfortable,” Allen added. “We’re still a very new coaching staff in the big picture. We were on the sideline sweating it out.

“We focused on JP and on Kevin, just because we know how good they are. We tried to not let either one of them bury us and take our chances from there.

“I thought this game was truly a coin flip. To have our kids go out and play that tough and aggressive and beat that team twice in the season, that surpasses any expectations we had.”

The Clippers got a game-high 19 points from Psyhogeos, who also grabbed nine rebounds and had two assists, two steals and two blocked shots and also helped shut down Burke.

“Pete guarded Burke for the most part and did a fantastic job,” Allen said. “Burke’s an unbelievable athlete and his physicality around the rim is part of what makes York so good and Pete matched his physicality at the rim and that was as big an impact as anything. He doesn’t have to be flashy. He had 19 quiet points tonight. He’s just a great player.”

Waeldner had 16 points, as well as five steals.

Advertisement

“Matt’s the Energizer bunny,” said Allen. “He puts so much pressure on defenses. He’s a tough kid. He rolled his ankle and with the full blessing of the trainer, came in and helped us finish the game.”

Hamm impressed with six points, nine rebounds and a block.

“It was pretty intense, but I liked it,” said Hamm. “This is kind of a dream.”

“As the season has gone on, we’re asking more and more of Evan,” Allen said. “He’s a sophomore with an incredible ceiling. He’s already very effective. All we really ask him to do is rebound, defend and run the floor. He’s a game-changer, especially on the defensive end.”

O’Meara added five points, Walsh had three (to go with three rebounds) and Snyder one (to go with six rebounds).

Yarmouth out-rebounded York by an impressive 33-18 margin.

Advertisement

“They hurt us on the boards, which hasn’t happened much this year,” Hill said. “They held us to one shot a lot and they got some key offensive rebounds.”

The Clippers shot 16-of-36 from the floor and 16-of-23 from the free throw line and overcame 14 turnovers.

End of the road

For York, Frazier and Parker each scored 11 points, Fogg had seven, Burke five, Forbes four and Bourgeois three.

The Wildcats only shot 14-of-44 from the field. They did make 6-of-7 foul shots and committed 14 turnovers.

“We were trying to make a run, but Peter or (Waeldner) kept answering,” said Hill. “It’s not just those two kids. They have other supplemental players who do a good job. They made us take some tough shots. We got to the basket, but the shots just weren’t falling and the shots we took from the outside, they had a hand in our face. They’re a very good defensive team and we knew that. When we played them the first time, our 1-3-1 trap and our press got us back into the game. We had a tougher time getting a lot of turnovers tonight.

Advertisement

“I’m really proud of the guys. We won 14 games in a row and lost to two teams all year, Yarmouth and Marshwood, who’s in the semifinals of Class A. We graduate three starters. We have four seniors, but we have a lot of underclassmen who got some playing time. Our JV and freshmen teams were both very successful, losing just one game. We have a great staff. Our JV coach, Josh Herbein, and our freshman coach, Luke Mackey, both do a great job helping me out. The program’s in a good place.”

Panther hunting

Yarmouth makes its first regional final appearance in five years Friday (the game could be moved to Saturday if predicted bad weather occurs) against a Medomak Valley squad the Clippers didn’t meet this season.

Yarmouth has no playoff history with the Panthers.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Hamm said. “It’s going to be like this game, but bigger. I’m very excited.”

“It’s just amazing,” Waeldner said. “I wouldn’t want to do it with any other group of guys. We work hard and everyone wants to be here. I’ve looked forward to this since I was pretty young. I’ve always been confident in this group of guys. I know what we can do.”

“We just need to understand that Medomak will be a really big challenge for us,” said Psyhogeos. “We’ll need to make a new game plan and come out and execute it again and even take it up another notch. It’s only going to get tougher from here and continuing to win is what we want to do.”

“We’re not even close to done,” Allen added. “Medomak is an excellent team. Medomak and York are the two best teams we’ve seen in Class B this season. We’re familiar with them and they do a lot of things well. That will be an absolute dogfight. We’ve got a little bit of a system going and we just need to continue it. The key is making the kids know what we expect of them, so when they take the floor, they can just put their foot on the gas.”

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

Comments are not available on this story.