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Cape boys rally to beat Yarmouth in a thriller


BOX SCORE

Cape Elizabeth 58 Yarmouth 55

Y- 14 12 19 10- 55
CE- 4 19 16 19- 58

Y- Psyhogeos 12-5-32, Waeldner 4-2-12, O’Meara 2-0-5, Hamm 1-0-2, Hickey 1-0-2, Snyder 1-0-2,

CE- Reeves 7-1-16, Bowe 4-4-14, Frame 6-0-13, Lombardo 1-7-9, Tighe 2-2-6

3-pointers:
Y (6) Psyhogeos 3, Waeldner 2, O’Meara 1
CE (4) Bowe 2, Frame, Reeves 1

Turnovers:
Y- 11
CE- 15

FTs
Y: 7-13
CE: 14-20

CAPE ELIZABETH—It was fitting that on the first night of February, Cape Elizabeth and Yarmouth’s boys’ basketball teams produced a game worthy of the upcoming tournament.

And a game that left those on hand hopeful that the rivals will meet again in the postseason.

The Clippers, in the midst of a terrific campaign, shot to a 14-4 lead after one quarter, as senior standout Peter Psyhogeos went off for 11 points, but the Capers, still seeking answers during a season of inconsistency, roared back and went on top, 19-16, on a 3-pointer from senior sharpshooter Will Bowe before Yarmouth took a 26-23 advantage to the half.

Cape Elizabeth regained the lead in the third quarter, but an 8-2 run helped the Clippers reassert control and a late layup from senior Matt Waeldner and a Psyhogeos 3 made it 45-39 Yarmouth heading to the fourth.

There, the Clippers looked to close it out and were up, 50-45, with under six minutes to play, but the Capers saved their best for last, taking the lead on a driving layup from junior Sam Lombardo, and after Yarmouth went ahead on a Psyhogeos putback, two Lombardo foul shots with 1:07 remaining gave Cape Elizabeth the lead for good.

Lombardo and Bowe added two foul shots apiece before a Psyhogeos 3 gave the Clippers hope, but after Lombardo hit another free throw, Yarmouth missed a last-second 3 and the Capers held on for a 58-55 triumph.

Cape Elizabeth placed three players in double figures, which was just enough to counter Psyhogeos’ 32 points as the Capers improved to 8-7 and in the process, dropped Yarmouth to 12-3.

“I told the guys that this is one of the best wins I’ve been a part of as an athlete or coach at Cape Elizabeth,” said Capers second-year coach Jeff Mitchell (Class of 1998). “It’s just an all-around great win, one that we really needed for our confidence. We’ve been up-and-down. I’m hoping this is our catalyst to more consistency.”

Back and forth

Yarmouth had a perfect first half of the regular season, starting with a 55-54 home win over visiting York in overtime in the opener. The Clippers then held on for a 48-38 win at Lake Region before downing host Mt. Ararat, 53-29, visiting Westbrook (62-48), host Wells (45-34), visiting Fryeburg Academy (52-32), visiting Greely (40-30), visiting Leavitt (48-24) and host Waynflete (57-25). Yarmouth was then beaten by visiting Lake Region, 35-32, but bounced back with a 57-31 victory at Freeport, then won at Brunswick (50-31) and Gray-New Gloucester (47-32) before falling Friday at Greely, 51-41.

In the win over the Patriots, the Clippers lost senior Sutter Augur for the season with a broken finger and they entered Tuesday’s contest without coach Jonas Allen, as well, who missed the game due to illness, with assistant Barry Conant filling in.

The Capers, meanwhile, opened with wins at Wells (72-39) and at home over Waynflete (74-55), then dropped three in a row: 58-38 at York, 55-52 at Westbrook and 66-60 at Lake Region. After bouncing back to defeat visiting Brunswick (72-50) and Poland (76-43), Cape Elizabeth fell at Gray-New Gloucester (68-54) and Fryeburg Academy (54-52), then rolled at Traip Academy (69-25) and handled visiting Freeport (78-57) and Greely (65-51) before losing to visiting Lake Region (83-75) and host Freeport (71-57).

Yarmouth won both meetings in last year’s COVID-shortened campaign, prevailing in overtime in Cape Elizabeth (42-40) and at home (57-47).

Tuesday, with ample Heal Points at stake, the Clippers hoped to make it five in a row in the series, but instead, the Capers rallied to beat Yarmouth for the first time since Jan. 21, 2019 (45-27).

Psyhogeos, who will play at Bates College next year, hinted at a huge game to come when he drove for a layup and the game’s first points just 10 seconds in.

Cape Elizabeth tied the score when junior Owen Tighe banked home a shot, but senior Quin O’Meara hit a shot to put Yarmouth on top, Psyhogeos added a putback, then Psyhogeos put home another miss to make it 9-2.

Bowe hit a jumper for his first points, then Psyhogeos made two free throws before he stole the ball and made a layup while being fouled with no time on the clock. Psyhogeos added the and-one foul shot and his 11th point put the Clippers ahead, 14-4.

Not surprisingly, the Capers answered back early in the second period.

First, Bowe set up 6-foot-8 junior Evan Reeves for a layup. After senior Jake Frame hit a fadeaway jumper, Reeves sank a 3, then Reeves added a layup to cut the deficit to just one, 14-13.

Psyhogeos stemmed the run with a jumper, but Bowe hit a 3 to tie it, then, with 4:03 on the clock, Bowe made another 3-pointer for a 19-16 Cape Elizabeth lead.

Waeldner tied it back up with a 3, then Psyhogeos finished a little hook shot with his left hand. After Bowe tied it with a jumper, Psyhogeos set up Waeldner for a 3 up top, then Psyhogeos scored on a reverse layup putback before a late floater from Frame made it 26-23 Yarmouth at the half.

Psyhogeos had 17 points in the first 16 minutes, but the Clippers only led by one possession.

The back-and-forth continued in the third period.

Senior Cole Snyder opened the second half with a putback, but Reeves answered with a putback and Reeves added a free throw.

After Psyhogeos made a foul shot for Yarmouth, Tighe made two free throws, then Frame converted a leaner for a 30-29 Capers’ advantage.

Out of a timeout, the Clippers answered, as Waeldner made a free throw, but Frame hit a 3-ball.

Clippers sophomore Evan Hamm then fed junior Liam Hickey for a layup, Psyhogeos found Hamm for a layup and the lead, Psyhogeos set up O’Meara for a bank shot, then, with 2:47 to go, Psyhogeos made a 3 to stretch the lead to 39-33.

After Frame countered with a layup in traffic, Waeldner made a free throw. Tighe drove for a layup, then Frame did the same to cut the deficit to one, but Waeldner made a layup after a 3, then Psyhogeos stepped back and hit a 3. Lombardo was fouled at the horn, but he missed the front end of a one-and-one and Yarmouth took a 45-39 advantage to the final stanza.

Where Cape Elizabeth saved its best for last.

Reeves opened the fourth quarter with a leaner, but Waeldner weaved through the defense for a layup to push the lead back to six.

Lombardo then hit a couple free throws before Reeves saved the ball and got it back from Bowe before banking home a shot to cut the deficit to two.

With 5:47 on the clock, Psyhogeos converted another three-point play, but the next six points went to the home team, as Bowe sank two free throws, Reeves drove for a layup and with 2:31 remaining, two Lombardo free throws made it 51-50 Capers.

Fourteen seconds later, Psyhogeos gave the Clippers their last lead with a putback, but with 1:07 to go, Lombardo was fouled and his two free throws produced the seventh and final lead change.

“I felt like I was responsible for making those shots,” Lombardo said. “We work on that every day in practice.”

“Sammy was great,” Mitchell said. “I told him at halftime that they extended on defense, so we had to counter with penetration and he did just that and it paid dividends in the fourth (quarter).”

Psyhogeos nearly put Yarmouth back in the lead, but his shot went in-and-out. The Clippers kept possession on a held ball, then Snyder missed a layup, but got the rebound.

Out of a timeout, Yarmouth looked to go on top again, but Reeves stole the ball and with 35.2 seconds to play, Bowe was fouled and hit both attempts.

Psyhogeos missed a 3 which could have tied it and with 19.3 seconds on the clock, Lombardo sank two more foul shots for a little breathing room.

That proved huge when Psyhogeos buried a long 3 with 12.7 seconds left to cut the deficit to two.

With 8.2 seconds showing, Lombardo went back to the line and after missing his first attempt, Lombardo made his second.

The Clippers raced into the front court, then Conant called timeout.

Yarmouth would get a good look at an equalizer, as Hamm inbounded to junior Stevie Walsh in the left corner, but Walsh’s potential game-tying shot fell short.

“We had three options going into that last play and we knew there was no way they’d cover all three of them the way it was set up,” Conant said. “(Walsh) had a great look.”

The horn sounded and Cape Elizabeth was able to celebrate a 58-55 victory.

The Capers celebrate the win at the final horn. Hoffer photo.

“(Walsh) got a good look, but it went our way,” said Lombardo. “A win like this is huge for us. We didn’t panic. It was good to have the crowd energy here. It gets us ready for the tournament because it will be loud there.”

“Coach Mitchell really helped us out and helped us get back in it,” said Reeves. “We’ve looked forward to this game all year since Yarmouth has done great this season. We worked on pack-line defense all week. We wanted to plug gaps and I think it worked pretty well. We’ve worked really hard to become more of a team. Everyone lifted each other up today and that helped with mental toughness.”

“Mental toughness has been something we’ve been trying to work on and how we respond when we get down,” Mitchell added. “This is really the first time I’ve seen them respond in a way that was composed, collected and confident. It was a grind, but mental toughness was big. We did a lot of scouting and watched a bunch of film. I was confident with our game plan. We didn’t score as much as we wanted to. We wanted to get to 60, but we were pretty close.”

Reeves finished with 16 points and seven rebounds, Bowe had 14 points and four assists and Frame also finished in double figures with 13 points. Lombardo added nine points and four assists and Tighe finished with six points and a game-high 13 rebounds.

The Capers had a 32-29 rebound advantage, overcame 15 turnovers and sank 14-of-20 free throws.

For Yarmouth, Psyhogeos dazzled with 32 points, 13 rebounds, three assists and three steals.

“(Psyhogeos is) the type of player who has a nose for the ball,” Mitchell said. “He’s really slippery. Our goal was to stop the penetration and keep things outside and I think the guys did a pretty good job of that.”

Waeldner also finished in double figures with a dozen points. O’Meara had five points, while Hamm, Hickey and Snyder all had two.

The Clippers only turned the ball over 11 times and made 7-of-13 foul shots.

“It was a fun game, but it just wasn’t our night tonight,” Conant said. “Cape was ready to play. I knew what they were capable of with their full team back together. As a group of three offensive players, (Bowe, Frame and Reeves are) probably the best in Southern B. They work well together. They were clicking. Some things we normally excel at on defense didn’t work well tonight. There were no surprises. We just didn’t execute like Yarmouth basketball.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we see them again. We’ll make some adjustments and I’m sure they’ll adjust too.”

Three left

Both teams have three regular season games remaining, then will turn their attention toward winning the state title.

Yarmouth (now third in the Class B South Heals) returns to action Friday at home versus Freeport. The Clippers then host Wells Monday before finishing at home against Poland Wednesday of next week.

“We’ll be ready Friday for another game against a rival school,” said Conant. “Freeport’s playing well. It’s going to come down to who’s healthy. There are five, six quality teams in the South and it comes to down to who has their players. Our kids are resilient. We’ll tighten it up.”

Cape Elizabeth (sixth in Class B South) welcomes Fryeburg Academy Wednesday, goes to Poland Friday, then finishes with a home game versus Old Orchard Beach Monday.

“This is a huge boost,” said Lombardo. “I hope it gives us momentum for the rest of the season and playoffs. We’re ready to hit our stride. We have a good group of guys. We can persevere. When we’re at our best, I think we can beat anyone.”

“After tonight, I feel a lot better about our team,” Mitchell said. “Our goal is to win out. We have to continue to work on our defense. Our offense, when it’s clicking, it’s great, but we need to keep teams under 50 points. We know defense will prevail at the end.”

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





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