YARMOUTH—Yarmouth’s girls’ basketball team needed a victory.

And Saturday evening at Stroud Gymnasium, the Clippers got one.

Against the team, the visiting Greely Rangers, that not too long ago, they could never beat.

After a back-and-forth first quarter ended 10-8 Yarmouth, Greely took a momentary lead in the second period, but a basket from senior Delia MacDonald gave the Clippers the lead for good and they were up, 26-21, at the half.

Senior sparkplug Sophia Ippolito helped the Rangers get as close as two points in the third quarter, but a late layup from junior Lauren Keaney put Yarmouth ahead, 32-28, heading to the fourth.

There, Greely cut the deficit to one on a 3-pointer from junior Asja Kelman and were within two, 36-34, after an Ippolito 3-ball with 6:04 left, but the Clippers saved their best for last, blanking the Rangers the rest of the way and riding the all-around excellence of junior Neena Panozzo to a 48-34 victory.


Yarmouth placed three girls in double figures as it snapped a five-game skid, improved to 5-8 and in the process, swept the season series from the Rangers for the first time this century while dropping Greely to 7-6.

“We all just really wanted this win,” Panozzo said. “We came together tonight. We’d been struggling, but we know we’re capable of beating a top team. It was good to show we could do it.”

Coming up clutch

Greely opened with a 59-45 home win over Fryeburg Academy, then was dominated at Brunswick (70-43) and lost at home to reigning Class AA South champion Gorham (59-45). The Rangers bounced back to knock off visiting Gray-New Gloucester (58-48) and York (42-31), then won at home over Freeport in overtime (50-46) before dropping a 53-43 home decision to Yarmouth and falling at home to Falmouth (48-34). Greely then defeated host York (46-29) and Cape Elizabeth (44-29) and visiting Lake Region (62-53) before losing at Wells Thursday (49-43).

Yarmouth, meanwhile, opened with a 49-43 home win over York in a playoff rematch, then fell at Mt. Ararat (52-40), at home to Westbrook (59-48) and at Wells (58-43). The Clippers then won three straight, 53-35 over visiting Fryeburg Academy, 53-43 at Greely and 48-38 over visiting Leavitt, but Yarmouth went cold, losing at Lake Region (69-48), at Freeport (54-46), at Brunswick (56-33), at home to Freeport (59-41) and at Gray-New Gloucester (41-32).

In the teams’ first meeting Jan. 7, junior Cate King paced Yarmouth’s victory with 18 points, while Ippolito scored 18 points for the Rangers.


Saturday, the Clippers led nearly the whole way and were at their best when the game was hanging in the balance.

Yarmouth junior Neena Panozzo leans in for a shot as Greely sophomore Grier Wright defends during the Clippers’ 48-34 win Saturday. Hoffer photos.

Yarmouth scored the game’s first basket, when junior Maya Hagerty set up King for a layup. Greely drew even on a bank shot from Ippolito, then Ippolito made a free throw to give the Rangers the lead.

Hagerty put the Clippers back in front, making a layup off a feed from MacDonald, but Ippolito answered with two more free throws.

After Hagerty got a contested bank shot to fall, she set up MacDonald for a 3-pointer.

Late in the quarter, Ippolito hit one-of-two free throws, then she sank a pair before a Hagerty foul shot made it 10-8 Yarmouth after eight minutes.

There wouldn’t be much separation in the second period either, as the lead changed hands four times.


Kelman opened the frame with a 3-pointer from the corner to give Greely a one-point edge, but Panozzo countered with a long 3 of her own.

Sophomore Grier Wright pulled the Rangers even with a runner on the baseline, but Keaney’s layup put the Clippers back on front.

After Ippolito tied the score with two foul shots, Panozzo made a layup after a steal, but Ippolito buried a long 3 to give Greely a slim 18-17 advantage.

With 3:14 to go in the half, a leaner from MacDonald put Yarmouth ahead to stay and Hagerty added a layup.

Senior Cassidy Dean drew the Rangers within one, taking a pass from Ippolito and hitting a short jumper, but King hit a foul shot and Panozzo did the same.

After Ippolito answered with a free throw for Greely, Hagerty converted an old-fashioned three-point play (layup, foul, free throw) and the Clippers held a 26-21 advantage at the half.


Ippolito had 14 points for the Rangers, but Hagerty tallied 10 for Yarmouth, which never surrendered its lead in the third quarter.

Greely senior Sophia Ippolito defends Yarmouth junior Maya Hagerty.

It took over three minutes for the scoring ice to be broken in the second half before Kelman made a free throw.

MacDonald then banked home a leaner for the home team, but junior Lauren Hester made a short jumper before Wright’s floater pulled Greely within two, 28-26.

Panozzo countered with a layup and after Hester banked home a long shot, MacDonald set up Keaney for a layup and Yarmouth was up, 32-28, going to the fourth period.

There, just 25 seconds in, Kelman grabbed an offensive rebound, dribbled into the corner, then tossed up a 3-pointer that found nothing but net to make it a one-point game.

But that’s as good as it would get for the Rangers.


Panozzo found Keaney for a layup, then off an inbounds set, Panozzo assisted on another Keaney layup to make it 36-31 with 6:22 left.

Eighteen seconds later, at the other end, Ippolito took a pass from Kelman and made a 3, but Greely wouldn’t score again.

With 5:19 to go, Panozzo went to the foul line and calmly sank both attempts.

With 4:04 left, King set up MacDonald for a 3-pointer which gave Yarmouth a little breathing room.

With 1:35 on the clock, MacDonald made the front end of a one-and-one and while she missed the second shot, King got the offensive rebound.

With 1:29 to go, Hagerty missed the front end of a one-and-one, but again, King snared the rebound.


King was fouled and her one-and-one was negated by a lane violation, but Panozzo stole the ball back and with 1:11 left, Hagerty made one free throw for a 43-34 lead.

After Panozzo added a foul shot, Hagerty sank a pair.

Then, with 27 seconds to play, King hit two free throws and that brought the curtain down on the Clippers’ 48-34 victory.

“We’ve had a tough schedule,” said Yarmouth’s first-year coach Tom Panozzo. “We’ve had a few good quarters, then we make mistakes. We’ve worked hard in practice to correct those mistakes and it made a big difference tonight. We focused on Ippolito. She’s a great player. We put a taller player on her first and tried to get her distracted. Then, Lauren got four fouls, so we put Neena on her with a little more speed. It helps playing a team twice. You see tendencies. We were able to exploit our height.”

Hagerty paced Yarmouth’s balanced attack with 13 points. She also had four rebounds and two assists.

MacDonald added 11 points, three rebounds and a pair of assists.


Neena Panozzo also finished in double figures with 11 points and she added seven rebounds, four steals and three assists.

“The atmosphere in the gym was there and my teammates pushed me to work hard,” said Panozzo. “I really wanted to win and I had support of my teammates.”

“Neena has gotten in foul trouble, but we tried to get her to remember that we need her in the fourth quarter,” said Tom Panozzo, Neena’s father. “She was able to guard Ippolito a little tighter and forced some turnovers.”

Keaney had eight points (as well as four rebounds) and King finished with five (to go with a game-high 11 rebounds and two blocks).

“We’re well rounded and we work well as a team,” Neena Panozzo said. “It’s not just one standout person, it’s everyone.”

This group is a balanced group,” Tom Panozzo said. “We don’t focus on one player.”


The Clippers had a 37-34 rebound advantage, made 13-of-23 free throws and overcame 21 turnovers.

Greely was paced by Ippolito, who had 17 points, four steals, two assists and two rebounds.

“Sophia does so much for us,” said Rangers coach Todd Flaherty. “She was close probably a half-dozen times to stealing it early on.”

Kelman added seven points (and eight boards), Hester had four (to go with five rebounds and two blocked shots), Wright four and Dean two.

The Rangers committed 20 turnovers and made 10-of-18 foul shots.

“The girls played hard,” Flaherty said. “We just didn’t make enough layups and free throws. We missed too many. We just need to find a way to score more points. We play 10 girls and every night someone chips in.”


Final stretch

Greely (now ranked fifth in the Class A South Heal Points standings), visits Fryeburg Academy Tuesday, then hosts Wells Friday before closing with games at Poland, Freeport and Gray-New Gloucester.

“We’re still kind of a mystery,” Flaherty said. “We have to play with desperation from the get-go. We’ve got some tough games ahead of us. If we can play well down the stretch, we can go into the tournament loose and play our best.”

Yarmouth (currently residing in the seven spot in Class B South) returns to action Tuesday at Cape Elizabeth, then goes to Spruce Mountain Thursday. The Clippers final three games are at home, versus Lake Region, Wells and Poland.

“From here on out, we’ll work hard and play like we did today,” Neena Panozzo said.

“We’re a young team, but if we keep learning and playing smart, we have a lot of potential,” said Tom Panozzo. “Cape is always tough. They’ll be prepared. Spruce Mountain will be a great game, then Lake Region. It won’t get any easier. We just have to prepare and know we can (win). We want to be at our best in February.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net.

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