YARMOUTH—Yarmouth’s girls’ basketball team, depleted by illness and injury, managed to hang with visiting Westbrook for a half in the teams’ interclass matchup Thursday afternoon.

But the visiting Blue Blazes came to life in the second half, built a lead and the Clippers couldn’t recover.

Yarmouth quickly fell behind, 11-4, but roared back early in the second period to go ahead on a 3-pointer from senior Delia MacDonald before Westbrook clung to a 24-23 advantage at the half.

But the Clippers, who battled foul trouble throughout, were no match for the Blue Blazes’ press in the third quarter and eight quick points from sophomore Taylar Hodge helped them open up a double-digit lead.

Westbrook took a 45-35 advantage to the fourth period, where Yarmouth never drew closer than nine points, and went on to a 59-48 triumph.

The Blue Blazes got 15 points from Hodge, a game-high 18 points from senior Leah Cromarty and improved to 4-3 on the season, dropping the Clippers to 1-2 in the process.


“Any win we can get is a positive,” said Westbrook first-year coach John Young. “(Yarmouth’s) a good team and they’ll win some games. They had a short bench today and it’s tough. I’m proud of how the girls played.”

Early challenges

Yarmouth was ousted in the quarterfinals of last year’s Class B South tournament by York, then lost a lot of talent to graduation, as well as coach David Cousins, who stepped down.

This year, the Clippers are led by former assistant coach Tom Panozzo, who inherited a promising squad.

Yarmouth opened with a 49-43 home win over York in a playoff rematch, then fell at Class A South contender Mt. Ararat (52-40).

Westbrook, meanwhile, has been up-and-down the first third of its schedule, splitting its first six games. After losing to Class A South favorite Brunswick in the opener (75-31), the Blue Blazes beat Fryeburg Academy (59-39). A 78-39 loss to reigning Class AA state champion Cheverus was followed by wins over Cape Elizabeth (42-31) and Kennebunk (55-46). Westbrook then fell Tuesday to Marshwood, 53-42.


The teams played last year, a year ago to the day in fact, with Yarmouth winning in Westbrook, 48-21.

Thursday would prove to be a different story as the Blue Blazes wore the Clippers down.

Yarmouth senior Delia MacDonald shoots over Westbrook freshman Lyla Dunphe early in the Blue Blazes’ 59-48 victory Thursday. Hoffer photos.

A bank shot from senior Natalie LaBrie 30 seconds in gave Westbrook the game’s first points and after junior Neena Panozzo tied the score with a layup, Cromarty scored her first points on a layup, sophomore Kylie Young knocked down a 3-point shot and Young added a free throw for a quick 8-2 advantage.

After a jump shot from junior Cate King snapped Yarmouth’s 6 minute, 2 second drought, Young banked in a shot and Hodge scored her first point at the free throw line to stretch the lead to seven.

The Clippers then came to life, closing the first quarter on a late 3-pointer from King, then beginning the second with a foul shot from junior Maya Hagerty, a layup from Panozzo and a corner 3-pointer from MacDonald to lead for the first time, 13-11.

It didn’t last, as Young tied the score with two free throws, freshman Lyla Dunphe made another, senior Madison Cole hit a foul shot and Young sank two more as Yarmouth’s fouls began adding up.


Hagerty countered with a turnaround jumper, but Young set up Cromarty for a fastbreak layup. After MacDonald hit a short jumper, Cromarty scored on a putback, but with 1:32 remaining before halftime, a MacDonald 3 cut the Clippers’ deficit to just one, 21-20.

After Hodge and King traded free throws, Hagerty set up junior Lauren Keaney for a pretty reverse layup and the lead with 28 seconds to and it appeared Yarmouth would be up at the break, but instead, with just 9.3 seconds showing, a Cromarty layup made it 24-23 Westbrook.

Young led all first half scorers with 10 points, while the Clippers were paced by MacDonald, who had eight.

The Blue Blazes then got some breathing room to start the second half.

Yarmouth junior Neena Panozzo is defended by Westbrook sophomore Kylie Young.

First, Cromarty made a layup off a feed from Dunphe.

After the hosts answered on a layup from Hagerty, Dunphe scored on a bank shot, Hodge sank her first 3, then, after Panozzo found MacDonald for a layup off the press break, Hodge drained a long 3-pointer and with 5:32 to go in the third period, Hodge made a layup for a 36-27 advantage, forcing Tom Panozzo to call timeout.


It didn’t help, as Dunphe drove for a layup and after Keaney hit two free throws, Cromarty made another layup for a 40-29 lead.

Neena Panozzo countered with a jumper, but Cole hit a clutch 3 and after a Panozzo bank shot, Cromarty made another layup.

In the waning seconds, Hagerty set up Panozzo for a layup, but that only pulled Yarmouth within 10 points, 45-35.

Westbrook didn’t allow the Clippers to make things interesting in the fourth quarter, as Cromarty made a couple free throws and after Hagerty answered with a pair, junior Hannah Troiano hi two foul shots to make it 49-37.

MacDonald tried to spark a comeback with a runner in the lane, but LaBrie and Hodge each made one free throw.

After King cut the deficit to nine with an old-fashioned three-point play (layup, foul, free throw), Cromarty made a layup after a steal and Hodge hit two free throws to push the lead to 55-42 with just 1:08 remaining, ending all doubt.


In the final minute, Yarmouth got a layup from MacDonald and a putback from King, but Dunphe made two foul shots and after Keaney scored the Clippers’ final points on a layup, two Hodge free throws brought the curtain down on the Blue Blazes’ 59-48 victory.

“We started pressing a little more (in the second half) and we sped them up,” John Young said. “That’s a positive for us because we’re quick. The girls are really engaged when we’re pressing. That’s the first time we put that press out.”

Westbrook was led by Cromarty, who had 18 points, and Hodge, who added 15.

Kylie Young had a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds, while Dunphe added seven points, seven rebounds and four assists, Cole had four points, LaBrie three and Troiano two.

“For us, it’s not about who scores,” said John Young. “Our top scorers average between six and 11 points. It’s a good balance.”

The Blue Blazes out-rebounded the Clippers, 37-26, made 21-of-32 free throws and overcame 16 turnovers.


Yarmouth’s top scorer was MacDonald, who had 14 points. She also had three steals.

King finished with 11 points and six rebounds, Panozzo had 10 points and five rebounds, Hagerty added seven points, seven rebounds and six assists and Keaney wound up with six points, six rebounds and three assists.

The Clippers made 7-of-9 free throws and turned the ball over 14 times.

“Our lack of depth and the hard play of Westbrook was tough,” said Tom Panozzo. “We have to control early fouls so our players can stay in the game. We missed some easy shots at the beginning that would have helped us out later and then they hit some big 3s in the second half.

“Neena gave us some scoring late. Delia hit some big shots and she’s capable of that. We have to find ways to get her more open.”

On the to the new year


Westbrook is back in action Tuesday when it returns home to meet Biddeford.

“It’ll be a tough week next week,” John Young said. “It’s my ninth year in the program, so I’ve known most of the girls since the third grade. They’ve really responded to how we want to practice.

“Our goal is to get to the Expo without a prelim. I think it’s a perfect goal. A realistic goal. When we get to the tournament, with almost a full year under our belt, who knows, maybe we’ll surprise somebody.”

Yarmouth goes to Wells Tuesday, then returns home next Thursday to face Fryeburg Academy.

“Our season is going to be about development,” Tom Panozzo said. “With only one senior coming back (Nori Schneider, who is currently injured), it’s tough. Hopefully, the young girls will keep learning and will keep improving. We have a tough schedule in January. We basically play Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday for two or three weeks.

“I’m hoping we can get healthy and correct our mistakes.”

Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Comments are not available on this story.