No magic left as Raiders fall to Greely in West prelim game

ALEX LAZIC of Fryeburg Academy defends the middle during Tuesday's Class B West prelim game against Greely. (Rivet Photo)

ALEX LAZIC of Fryeburg Academy defends the middle during Tuesday's Class B West prelim game against Greely. (Rivet Photo)

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

CUMBERLAND — For a three-minute stretch of the third quarter, the game plan was exactly how Fryeburg Academy coach Sedge Saunders envisioned.

Fast paced.

Pressure Raider defense forcing turnovers and quick strike points.

A Greely offense sputtering and Ranger players breathing heavy as they tried to match the uptempo Raider attack.

Unfortunately, a basketball game is 32 minutes long, and for the most part, Greely dictated the pace of the preliminary playoff contest Tuesday night behind senior 6-foot-7 center Michael McDevitt.

McDevitt was a force at both ends of the court, scoring a game-high 27 points, hauling in 10 rebounds and blocking five shots to lead the Rangers to a 71-51 victory over the Raiders in Cumberland.

The loss ended a magical run for the Raiders, who started the season a dismal 0-6, only to come together as a unit and win 10 games.

Prior to the game, Coach Saunders felt if the Raiders were to pull a second upset over Greely, in their house, FA would need to dictate tempo.

“We don’t want to be in a half-court grind ’em out type of game with them. We don’t want McDevitt or their team to get in any type of rhythm so we will try to disrupt their offensive flow as much as possible,” Coach Saunders said before the playoff game. “We know we will be in for a battle and we’re hoping we can wear them down and persevere in the fourth quarter.”

Fryeburg enjoyed a brief lead as Jaquan Causer scored inside and later made a free throw, while Bright Amoako netted two foul shots for a 5-2 Raider lead.

TYLER SAUNDERS (left) looks to pass while guarded tightly by a Ranger defender. (Rivet Photo)

TYLER SAUNDERS (left) looks to pass while guarded tightly by a Ranger defender. (Rivet Photo)

Then, the game shifted. Amoako picked up a blocking foul (his second) near the baseline, forcing the talented guard to the FA bench with 5:41 left in the first quarter. The FA offense sputtered most of the quarter as players missed either wide-open looks from the perimeter or “bunnies” in the lane.

“Obviously, Bright picking up two quick fouls didn't help, but we’ve played without him before so that wasn’t the main issue for us. Against a team like Greely you must force tempo and you must convert when you make them turn it over. To Greely’s credit, they did a better job against our pressure and when we forced turnovers, we didn't convert,” Coach Saunders said. “I think we heard footsteps when we went up in the paint. McDevitt is a huge presence and he’s going to make you rush your shot at times. It was imperative that we converted on lay-ups and bunnies because you’re not going to get a lot of second shots against Greely. They are a good defensive rebounding team.”

Coach Saunders felt Greely did a nice job with their 2-3 zone.

“If you’re going to beat Fryeburg, you’ve got to take away our transition game and Bright’s penetration in the halfcourt. For the most part, Greely did both,” Coach Saunders said. “We tried to get Walker some looks off baseline screens, but our timing was not what needed to be and Greely was physical enough to get through the screens. Once again, Greely did a nice job defensively and really came to play.”

Junior Walker Mallory, who led the Raiders in scoring at 12 points per game, was unable to get into any type of rhythm, going scoreless in the first half.

Greely had their inside-outside game working perfectly. McDevitt scored six straight points to put the Rangers up 8-5, and Bailey Train knocked down two jumpers, including a trey, to make it 16-8 after one quarter.

FA’s offensive woes carried over to the second quarter as the Raiders managed just one field goal over the first five minutes. Meanwhile, Greely was spreading the wealth as four different players scored as the Rangers moved out to a 27-14 lead.

Amoako, who had the athleticism to take the ball strong right at McDevitt, connected on two acrobatic drives in the closing minutes to narrow the gap to 30-18, but McDevitt showed he has a complete game by draining a 3-pointer with 32 seconds left to give Greely a 33-18 halftime lead.

JAQUAN CAUSER has hits baseline shot tipped by Greely's 6-foot-7 center Mike McDevitt during Tuesday's playoff game. (Rivet Photo)

JAQUAN CAUSER has his baseline shot tipped by Greely's 6-foot-7 center Mike McDevitt during Tuesday's playoff game. (Rivet Photo)

As they did all season, the Raiders never gave up. Hustle plays — including Tyler Saunders diving to the floor for a loose ball then beating a Greely player to gain possession and trigger a fastbreak — sparked a Raider rally with 4:48 left in the third. Mallory rediscovered his shooting stroke and regained his confidence by banking a 3-pointer and flipping a soft floater in the lane. Saunders buried a 3-pointer and converted a steal into points as the Raiders closed to within 44-36 with 2:33 left.

“We did make a run early in the third and I told them at half time all we need to do is cut the deficit to 10 at the end of the third and we would be in good shape. To Greely’s credit, every time we made a run, they answered the bell with a clutch shot or McDevitt got to the free throw line,” Coach Saunders said. “I really felt we could wear this team down, but they had a big enough cushion and hit enough free throws to weather the storm. Another factor was the difference at the free throw line.”

McDevitt stopped the FA flurry. He powered to the hoop, scored and made a foul shot. Kyle Wood added another inside hoop, and Train hit a dagger trey to put the Rangers back in control, 52-38.

With Greely going 10-for-10 at the foul linen in the fourth quarter, the Rangers ended Fryeburg’s magical carpet ride and avenged a loss to the Raiders, which put them in the driver’s seat to secure a playoff berth.

“Certainly last night does not define our season. We had a great run. Many teams might have folded after an 0-6 start, but this team hung tough and  really showed tremendous determination getting to the post season,” Coach Saunders said. “Even though we faced a large deficit at times last night, the kids never quit, and to me that is what really makes me most proud. Our guys never quit.”

The Raiders will miss seniors Bright Amoako and Tyler Saunders.

“Both guys really epitomized what we strive for as a program: hard work, unselfish play, and representing your team and school with class. Hopefully, with 11 guys back and a taste of the playoffs, these guys will really put in the work in the off-season to give themselves the opportunity to go even further next year,” Coach Saunders said. “The work they do between now and then will determine what type of season they will have. We'll see how hungry they are.”

In closing, Coach Saunders thanked fans for their great support.

JONATHAN BURK barely manages to zip a pass along the baseline just beyond the reach of a Greely player. (Rivet Photo)

JONATHAN BURK barely manages to zip a pass along the baseline just beyond the reach of a Greely player. (Rivet Photo)

“We had a great crowd last night and they showed a lot of spirit.  I’d also like to thank our most loyal fans — The Masons. They drove all the way from Fryeburg to support our team and there aren’t enough words to express our gratitude,” Coach Saunders said. “There’s nothing better than to see community members following the home town team and giving our kids the kind of inspiration you only wish there was more of.”

Seventh-ranked Greely (10-9) moves on to the Class B quarterfinals on Saturday to face second-ranked York (17-1). Fryeburg finished 10-9.

For Fryeburg, Amoako and Jaquan Causser were high scorers with 11 points each, while Mallory finished with 9, Saunders 8, Alex Lazic 5, Ryan Gullikson 3, Jonathan Burk 2 and Ben Davis 2.

Burk had 7 rebounds to lead the Raiders.

Turnovers: FA 13, Greely 17.

Free Throws: FA 5-12, Greely 20-23.

Connor Hanley netted 15 for the Rangers, while Train finished with 11 points.

A good night

Fryeburg (10-8) entered the playoffs on a winning note by blasting Poland 63-38 in the regular season finale.

Bright Amoako led the charge with 21 points. Walker Mallory tossed in 11 while Tyler Saunders and Jaquan Causer each chipped in 8 points.

FA stretched out a 19-14 lead to go up 10 on the Knights (4-14) at halftime. The Raiders dominated the fourth quarter with a 23-7 run.

Other FA scorers were: Jon Burk 6, Ryan Gullikson 5 and Alex Lazic had 4 points.

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