YARMOUTH—After being demoralized by foul trouble and a visiting Traip Academy squad that hit big shots and made key plays, North Yarmouth Academy’s boys’ basketball team could have rolled over when it fell behind by 13 minutes in the fourth quarter Thursday evening at Curtis Gymnasium.

But instead, the Panthers dug deep and while they ultimately fell just short, they took a positive step forward in their quest to become a contender.

The teams went back and forth in the first quarter, as the game was tied five different times before the Rangers took a 16-13 lead behind a pair of free throws from junior Sam Jordan, as the fouls began to pile up on the home team.

A 7-0 run gave Traip Academy some momentary breathing room in the second period before NYA senior captain Nate Oney scored five points in the final minute, including a 3-pointer at the horn, to tie the score, 29-29.

The Rangers went on top for good early in the third period, on a layup from senior Nick Martine, and the Panthers only managed three points in the frame, but Traip Academy couldn’t pull away and clung to a 36-32 advantage heading to the final stanza.

There, the Rangers finally appeared home free when junior Jackson Guay scored on a putback with 2:34 to go, making it 50-37, but NYA embarked on one final push.


Three-pointers from freshman Liam O’Shea and Oney cut the deficit to 50-46 with 27 seconds still to play, but the Panthers wouldn’t score again and two Jordan foul shots helped Traip Academy close out a 52-46 victory.

Jordan and Martine both scored 18 points as the Rangers improved to 3-5 on the season, dropping NYA to 3-6 at the midway point in the process.

“The boys never quit,” said longtime Panthers coach Jason Knight. “That’s a hallmark of the program. We gave ourselves a chance, but we’re not a team that has a large margin for error.”

Never out of it

NYA started with losses at St. Dom’s (53-34) and Winthrop (60-34) and after holding off Carrabec in a game played at Waterville (44-42), fell at Dirigo (68-40). After a 46-41 home win over Boothbay (the 100th of Knight’s career), the Panthers lost at Sacopee Valley (43-20) and after eking out a 48-47 victory at Poland, they were beaten Tuesday at rival Waynflete, 49-28.

Traip Academy, meanwhile, lost three straight to start the year: 73-39 to Wells, 51-25 to Waynflete and 58-45 to Old Orchard Beach. After a 61-53 win over Boothbay, the Rangers were beaten by Dirigo (60-37). After downing Sacopee Valley (51-44), Traip Academy lost in its last outing Saturday, 69-32, to St. Dom’s.


Last year, the Rangers won both meetings, 49-41 at home and 67-62 in Yarmouth.

Thursday, NYA hoped to turn the tables, but Traip Academy did just enough to get out of town with a win.

With sophomore Brayden Kloza setting a screen on Traip Academy junior Sam Jordan, NYA junior Jesse Mutagoma drives to the basket during the Rangers’ 52-46 victory Thursday. Hoffer photos.

The Panthers started fast, as junior Jesse Mutagoma and Oney made layups 23 seconds apart, but the Rangers rallied to draw even on layups from junior Colin O’Loughlin and Martine.

After senior Liam Street scored on a leaner for NYA, the visitors tied it again, as senior Terry Gagner hit a short jumper.

After Street set up sophomore Brayden Kloza and an 8-6 Panthers’ advantage, Martine tied the sore again by driving for a layup. Oney then hit two foul shots, but Jordan answered with two free throws, then Martine made a layup after a steal for Traip Academy’s first lead, 12-10.

Kloza tied the score with a pair of foul shots, but after Martine set up Jordan for a layup and sophomore Sammy Kanyambo answered with a free throw for NYA, two Jordan foul shots allowed the Rangers to hold a 16-13 advantage after eight minutes.


The Panthers started the second period strong, with consecutive layups from Kloza, but that proved to be their final lead, 17-16.

Then, the fouls started piling up.

Mutagoma was whistled for his third foul on a layup from Jordan.

Junior Jack Downs added a 3 for Traip Academy, then Jordan set up Martine for a layup to make it 23-17.

After freshman Mansuk Loboka scored on a putback to end the 7-0 Rangers’ run, Kloza was called for his third foul, an intentional foul, with 3;36 remaining in the half.

Jordan made one of two free throws, then Gagner added another.


NYA rallied within one, as Oney made a spinner in the lane, then sank a 3, but with 1:38 to go before the break, Loboka picked up his third foul, with Jordan hitting one of two free throws, then Kloza was whistled for his fourth 18 seconds later, with Downs also making a free throw.

After Oney countered with a fadeaway jumper, Downs added two more free throws with 6 seconds remaining and it appeared Traip Academy would take the lead to the break, but Oney raced up court and at the horn, drained a long 3-pointer to tie the score, 29-29.

Oney led all scorers with 14 first half points, while Jordan paced the Rangers with eight.

Traip Academy then slowly seized control of the game in the second half, but couldn’t fully exhale until the final horn.

NYA junior Jesse Mutagoma (13) and freshman Mansuk Loboka defend Traip Academy senior Nick Martine.

The third quarter began with a steal from Downs which resulted in a layup from Martine 54 seconds in which put the visitors in front to stay.

Oney answered with a free throw, but Martine drove and scored, then with 5:51 on the clock, Mutagoma picked up his fourth foul and had to sit.


Junior Jackson Guay added a foul shot with 4:04 to go and Kloza re-entered the contest with four fouls.

Kloza then scored NYA’s only field goal of the quarter, a layup with 1:19 remaining, but after the hoop, he was called for a technical foul, his fifth foul of the game, and his night was over.

Jordan sank two free throws and Traip Academy took a 36-32 lead to the fourth period.

There, the Rangers appeared home free until the Panthers got up off the canvas and made things most interesting down the stretch.

Twenty-three seconds into the final stanza, Jordan scored on a runner in the lane, then with 5:28 left, Martine’s 3 made it 41-32.

With 4:40 remaining, Oney gave NYA some life with a 3, but Martine countered with a 3 from the corner, then Jordan banked home a shot to push the lead to 11.


After Oney drove for a pretty reverse layup, Gagner hit a short jumper, then with 2:34 to play, a putback from Guay made it 50-37, a seemingly insurmountable advantage.

But the Panthers felt otherwise.

First, with 2:19 on the clock, Oney set up O’Shea for a surprise 3.

Twenty-one seconds later, Loboka drove for a layup to cut the deficit to 50-42.

Mutagoma then was fouled after a steal and with 1:46 to go, he made one of two free throws to make it a seven-point contest.

After Mutagoma fouled out, Oney kept the pressure on with a contested 3-ball and suddenly the score was 50-46, but only 27 seconds remained.


Traip Academy restored a little order four seconds later when Jordan sank two clutch free throws.

Oney then had a look at a 3 which could have made it a one-possession game, but he missed.

Martine and sophomore Max Jordan both had chances to add to the lead at the line, but missed their free throws.

It wouldn’t matter, however, as NYA couldn’t muster another shot and the Rangers were able to prevail, 52-46.

“This was a frustrating game,” Knight lamented. “It was two competitive teams. We just weren’t as disciplined as we needed to be. Both emotionally and executing at certain points. They didn’t make as many mistakes as we did. We’ve won some close games. We just came up short tonight.”

Martine (18 points, seven rebounds, four steals, two assists) and Sam Jordan (18 points, five rebounds, five steals, three assists) led the way.


Downs added six points (and four rebounds), Gagner had five points, Guay three (to go with nine rebounds and three blocked shots) and O’Loughlin two (as well as five rebounds).

Traip Academy had a 38-33 edge on the glass and overcame 15-of-35 foul shooting and 21 turnovers.

Oney had another big game to pace the Panthers, scoring 23 points and adding four rebounds.

Kloza had 10 points and five rebounds before fouling out. Loboka added four points (as well as five rebounds and two steals), Mutagoma (three rebounds, two assists) and O’Shea had three apiece, Street finished with two (to go with nine rebounds, three steals and two assists) and Kanyambo had one (as well as four rebounds).

NYA turned the ball over 22 times and made 7-of-12 free throws, but couldn’t overcome its foul issues.

“We try to make sure the guys play as smart as they can because we can’t afford foul trouble,” Knight said. “We can’t foul as aggressively as we did tonight. Jesse is stepping up. He’s arguably one of the best defenders in the conference. It wasn’t a great night for Brayden, but he’s one of the best bigs.”


Time to get moving

Traip Academy returns to action Saturday at home versus Wells. Monday brings a test at Class B South power York.

NYA stays home to welcome Monmouth Saturday. The Panthers are currently ranked 10th in Class C South and know they need to finish strong to qualify for the postseason.

“We’re a work in progress,” Knight said. “We’re young. We have two seniors and everyone else is still learning how to play and react. I think we’re where I thought we might be. In fact, in some ways, I think we’re ahead of where I thought we might be. We’re putting it together and need to play a full 32 minutes. We have to play with more urgency. We have to learn and move forward.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. For game updates and links to game stories, follow him on Threads: @foresports2023

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