PORTLAND—Greely’s defense more than did its part in Monday afternoon’s Class A South girls’ basketball quarterfinal versus Gray-New Gloucester at the James Banks Portland Exposition Building.

But the Rangers offense was another story.

Greely, the No. 7 seed and reigning regional champion, didn’t score a single point in the first quarter and the second-ranked Patriots, who didn’t exactly light the world on fire themselves, took advantage and led, 8-0.

Gray-New Gloucester then rattled off 10 more points in the second period before the Rangers finally broke the ice, with just 36 seconds to go before halftime, and while sophomore Cece Berthiaume banked in a 3 at the horn, Greely’s deficit was 18-5.

The Rangers tried to pull off an improbable rally in the second half and even got within eight points late in the third quarter, but a dramatic comeback wasn’t to be and the Patriots went on to a 39-25 victory.

Gray-New Gloucester got 15 points from sophomore Isabelle Morelli as it improved to 16-3, advanced to take on No. 6 Freeport (11-8) in the semifinals Wednesday at 1 p.m., at the Expo and in the process, ended Greely’s season at 8-11.


“It was a rock fight, but we didn’t bring enough rocks,” said Rangers coach Todd Flaherty. “The defensive effort was great, but the ball bounced funny and the rim got awful small on us for sure. We kept working hard and believing, but we couldn’t make enough shots.”

Role reversal

Greely is accustomed to being the favorite entering the tournament, as it’s been seeded either first or second in its last six postseason appearances. This year has been a different story, as the Rangers went 8-10 during the regular season (see sidebar for links to previous stories), their first sub-.500 mark in 27 years.

Gray-New Gloucester also has a rich tournament history and produced a solid 15-3 campaign this winter.

The teams split this year, with Greely winning at home, 58-48, and Gray-New Gloucester prevailing on its home floor, 43-36.

The Rangers held a 3-2 edge in all-time tournament meetings (see sidebar), with a 54-49 (overtime) victory in the 2020 semifinals the most recent.


Monday, Greely wasn’t just chasing the Patriots, they were trying to erase a ‘0’ from the scoreboard for almost the entire first half.

Greely sophomore Cece Berthiaume drives on a Gray-New Gloucester defender during the Patriots’ 39-25 win Monday. Hoffer photos.

Gray-New Gloucester needed over four minutes to break the scoring ice before freshman Ella Kenney hit a bank shot.

Senior Caitlin Taylor then made two foul shots, sophomore Laney Farrar made a layup off a feed from senior Amber Fortin, then two Farrar free throws made it 8-0 Patriots heading to the second quarter.

There, Gray-New Gloucester added to the lead, as Taylor hit a jumper, Kenney made a shot in the lane, Morelli scored her first two points at the free throw line, then Fortin banked home a shot and Morelli scored on a putback with 1:06 left to make it 18-0.

The Rangers appeared as if they might be blanked for an entire half, an unheard of phenomenon in a tournament game, but finally, with 36 seconds on the clock, junior Asja Kelman grabbed an offensive rebound and scored on a putback.

Then, with time winding down, senior Sophia Ippolito threw up a long prayer that bounced off the backboard right to Berthiaume, who banked home a 3 at the horn and in spite of everything, Greely had a little life and trailed, 18-5, at intermission, despite making just 2-of-25 field goals.


Offense picked up on both ends in the third period.

Greely senior Sophia Ippolito handles the ball.

An Ippolito layup after a steal started the second half, but Morelli answered with a putback.

Ippolito then made a 3 to make it a 20-10 game, but junior Alexandra Portas set up Fortin for a layup and Morelli made a jumper.

After Berthiaume drove to the basket and scored on a finger roll, Kenney countered with two free throws.

Berthiaume then scored on a bank shot and junior Zada Smith drove for a layup, Farrar sank a foul shot, then hit another, but with 2:11 on the clock, another Ippolito 3 and a free throw from sophomore Grier Wright pulled Greely within eight, 28-20.

Morelli then turned the tide for good in the final minute of the frame, draining a key 3-pointer to make it 31-20 heading for the final stanza.


“Izzy hit that 3 and stopped the bleeding,” said Gray-New Gloucester coach Mike Andreasen.

In the fourth quarter, Farrar made two free throws and Morelli sank another jumper to open up a 15-point advantage.

After junior Kylie Crocker and Portas traded free throws, Morelli sank a pair, then Fortin made one more for Gray-New Gloucester’s last point.

After sophomore Molly Partridge made a free throw for the Rangers, freshman Avery Bush made a just before the horn, but it was far too little, too late and the Patriots advanced, 39-25.

“I’ve had higher-scoring soccer games,” joked Andreasen, who is the longtime boys’ soccer coach at Greely. “I was mad at halftime because of the two baskets we gave up. You worry about momentum. At our place, they were all over us, then we hit a shot at the half and momentum shifted. We wanted to win the third quarter, but we lost by only two. From there, the defense really bailed us out. I almost felt more comfortable on defense. We can dig in and we’re cognizant of their shooters. We’ll play more high-powered teams than us, but we give ourselves a chance with our defense.”

Gray-New Gloucester was led by Morelli, who had a game-high 15 points and 13 rebounds. Farrar added eight points and nine boards, Kenney had six points, Fortin five (and nine rebounds), Taylor four (and six rebounds) and Portas one (to go with three steals and three rebounds).


The Patriots out-rebounded the Rangers, 42-34, overcame an uncharacteristic 25 turnovers and hit 16-26 free throws.

Gray-New Gloucester beat Freeport twice this season, 39-27 on the road in the season opener back on Dec. 9 and 51-35 at home Jan. 31.

The Patriots have won all four prior playoff encounters, with a 42-31 victory in the 2019 Class B South Final the most recent.

“Freeport will be a tough matchup,” Andreasen said. “If (handing Brunswick its first loss) wasn’t our best game, it was the last Freeport game where we took it to them. That won’t happen again. They’re good and they’re long and they’re athletic. They’re well-coached. They’re playing with house money. ”

Picking up the pieces

Ippolito scored a team-high eight points in her swan song. Berthiaume added seven points, Bush had three, Kelman two (to go with four rebounds), Smith two (as well as seven rebounds) and Crocker (five rebounds, five steals), Patrtidge and Wright finished with one apiece.


Greely turned the ball over 14 times and only made 3-of-12 foul shots.

“(The Patriots) slowed us down and they’re physical and make life difficult for us because they know us well,” Flaherty said.

The Rangers endured a more challenging season than normal, but had their moments.

“I have no complaints about the effort,” Flaherty said. “I’m very proud. We played in a lot of close games. We never got over the hump we wanted to get over. It wasn’t for lack of effort. We’ll think about that and we’ll have to work harder over the summer.”

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

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