By Mike Zhe firstname.lastname@example.org Feb 22, 2017
For Photos: http://www.seacoastonline.com/sports/20170222/greely-46-marshwood-35-hawks-valiant-in-loss-to-top-seed
PORTLAND, Maine — One day before the biggest game of her career, coach Steve Freeman pulled aside his leading scorer, Natalie Herbold, to try to gauge her nerves.
Herbold, a sophomore on the Marshwood High School girls basketball team, had been shaky in the team’s first playoff game, a close win on Monday. Now, she and her teammates were preparing to play the best team in Class A South in the state’s biggest venue.
“I didn’t know, speaking with her, if she was going to relax,” said Freeman. “But she did. She just went out and played.”
They all did.
No, the fourth-seeded Hawks didn’t get to celebrate an upset for the ages against Greely at the Cross Insurance Center on Wednesday. Their defense kept them in the game into the fourth quarter but their offense couldn’t produce enough in a 46-35 loss.
But they sure made it interesting.
“At the Expo I couldn’t get out of my head,” said Herbold, who scored a team-high eight points. “Here, we just calmed down for some reason.”
Top-seeded Greely (19-1) will face No. 2 Brunswick (17-3) for the regional championship here on Saturday. Standout Anna DeWolfe was held to 10 points on 3-of-15 shooting and missed time with foul trouble, but freshman Brooke Obar netted 13 points for the Rangers, including three big 3-pointers.
“I was really impressed with the way they were attacking us,” said Greely coach Todd Flaherty. “I thought they played very hard and had a heck of a game plan.”
The Hawks (15-5) had been overmatched on the boards during a 65-44 loss to the Rangers in South Berwick last month. But they cleaned that up entirely in the first half, grabbing six more boards than their opponent and trailing just 21-18 at the break.
A 3-pointer by freshman Angelina Bisson put them ahead briefly midway through the second quarter. Herbold’s baseline pull-up was the last basket in an opening two quarters that was ruled by defense, the Hawks throwing a few different looks at the Rangers, including guard Courtney Thim shadowing DeWolfe in a version of a box-and-one.
“We knew they were uncomfortable,” said Freeman. “You could feel it from their fans and you could feel it from their team, with their body language. They weren’t comfortable. … We were flying high.”
“We knew we could do it; we just wanted to prove it to everyone else,” said Thim. “So it was like validation. But we also knew we had to keep going.”
Greely scored the first five points of the third quarter to go ahead by eight. Back came the Hawks, who got a follow from Elora Montgomery and two Celine Lawrence free throws to pull within 28-24.
But as their defense was keeping them close, their offense was being kept in check by the Rangers, who wouldn’t allow consecutive baskets again until the end.
“They definitely took away our 3-ball tonight,” said Thim. “We missed a couple shots that could have gotten us over the hump.”
With three starters saddled with three fouls, Greely was content to pull the ball back and slow the game down. A seven-point lead at the end of the third grew to as many as 13 in the fourth, the team finishing 14-of-17 from the foul line.
“We did some things we haven’t had to do all year,” said Flaherty.
Bisson, the former JV player who scored 16 in the quarterfinal win over Fryeburg on Monday, was the team’s second-leading scorer with six. The Hawks shot 12-of-50 from the floor (24 percent) and lost the turnover battle 13-10.
The last chance they had came after Alicia Richards hit a 3-pointer to make it 36-29 with a little under six minutes left. But they wouldn’t score again for more than three minutes.
“We just never got over the top,” said Freeman. “We missed a couple bunnies and missed a couple plays that were there. They did a good job taking away the 3-pointer from us; we didn’t have a chance to get many up and that’s part of our game.”
Marshwood, whose roster is dominated by sophomores, should return every member of its rotation next year, losing just two seniors: guard Hannah Fife and co-captain Taylor Tarr.
Plus this valuable experience.
“Now we’re hungry to win next year,” said Herbold. “It’s really something to look forward to.”
“We don’t want to be satisfied coming up here and giving them a game,” said Freeman. “We want this to make them hungry to come back next year. I thought they handled the atmosphere and handled the moment. We just got beat by a better team.”
Marshwood High School guard Angelina Bisson, center, passes the ball away from Greely defenders Wednesday. [Mike Zhe/Seacoastonline]
Marshwood High School’s Celine Lawrence (2) dribbles ahead of Greely defender Brooke Obar on a break during Wednesday’s Class A South semifinal game at Cross Insurance Center in Portland, Maine. Mike Zhe/Seacoastonline
Marshwood High School guard Natalie Herbold, center, prepares to take a shot during her team’s Class A South semifinal game against Greely on Wednesday at Cross Insurance Center in Portland, Maine. [Mike Zhe/Seacoastonline]
Marshwood High School guard Angelina Bisson (3) dribbles past Greely defender Isabel Porter. [Mike Zhe/Seacoastonline]