Raider girls put forth spirited effort against top-ranked Greely in semis

STRONG TAKE TO THE RIM by Raider Maddie Darling against Greely in Monday's Class A South quarterfinal. (Rivet Photos)

GREELY 66
Record: 19-0
Turnovers: 18
Field Goals: 27-of-59
Foul Shots: 4-of-6
3-Pointers: DeWolfe 3, Clement 2, B. Obar 2, M. Obar 1
Rebounds: 33 (Fitzpatrick 8, M. Obar 5)
RAIDERS 28
Record: 5-15
Turnovers: 28
Field Goals: 13-of-42
Foul Shots: 2-of-10
3-Pointers: None
Rebounds: 22 (Lyman 5, Carty 4, Johnson 4)
Scoring: Tina LeBlanc 4-0-8, Merys Carty 2-1-5, Kayrin Johnson 2-0-4, Brooke Emery 2-0-4, Maddie Darling 1-0-2, Kaylee Emery 1-0-2, Sierra Lyman 1-0-2, Camden Jones 0-1-1

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

PORTLAND — If Coach Coreen Hennessy had two questions entering Monday’s Class A quarterfinal against Greely, she wondered how to slow down phenom Anna DeWolfe and how would her Raiders respond to the big lights of the Portland Expo.

Early on, the answer to question 2 was “just fine.”

The young Raiders showed both poise and solid execution at both ends of the court, keeping pace with the explosive Rangers. Kaylee Emery made a quick spin move from the left side to score, and fired a cross-court pass to Brooke Emery, who smoothly sank a jumpshot to tie the score at 6-6.

“That first quarter really was great! We told them not to come out timid or flat because we had absolutely nothing to lose and all the pressure was on them. We also said that Greely would most likely come out overconfident and we needed to take them by surprise and take advantage of that,” Coach Eccleston said. “We threw a new defense at them, which they struggled with, but they are such a good team that they made some changes and started to really pick up their play that was hard to stop! We did a much better job contesting almost every shot as opposed to last time, which I was happy about.”

However, the Raiders had no answer to stopping or containing DeWolfe. The Rangers’ senior captain dominated for three quarters (she sat out the fourth), scoring a game-high 23 points in a 66-28 romp.

DeWolfe scored seven of Greely’s first 14 points. After a “sluggish” start, the Rangers found their rhythm in the second period as DeWolfe set the tone with a nothing-but-net 3-pointer from the left corner and then a steal, fastbreak layup and a foul shot as the lead jumped to 20-6.

The Raiders struggled to find offense from any source as senior forward Tina LeBlanc had the club’s lone points of the second period with a strong inside drive to the rim with 6:32 left. FA committed 11 turnovers while shooting 1-of-6 from the field and 0-for-2 at the foul line.

Greely closed out the first half with a flurry with a pair of 3-pointers, and aggressive play in the lane leading to a 14-0 surge.

While a 34-8 deficit stung, a greater hurt for the Raiders was seeing leader Kaylee Emery leave the game with a right knee injury. Emery quickly raced out to defend a shooter behind the arc in the right corner when her knee buckled. She was able to walk off the court, but would spend the remainder of the evening watching from the end of the bench with an ice pack on the knee.

“Kaylee’s injury definitely hurt and I think the girls struggled on defense without her. She’s like the glue that holds our defense together, so it really shook us and I don’t think we ever truly recovered,” Coach Eccleston said. “Her injury doesn’t look too bad, hopefully just a hyperextension/sprain. It was a good sign that she could walk on it.”

While Coach Eccleston asked gritty defenders Tina LeBlanc and Kayrin Johnson to shadow DeWolfe as best as they could, they were really no match for the Ranger sharpshooter. DeWolfe made a statement by scoring 12 of the team’s first 17 points of the third quarter, including a pair of 3-pointers as Greely made it look rather simple, going up 51-12.

DeWolfe wasn’t the only Ranger on fire. Four others, including Camille Clement who scored 7 of her 12 points in the frame, figured in the scoring as Greely went on a 26-8 roll.

FA had baskets by Johnson, Brooke Emery, Maddie Darling and Sierra Lyman.

With the Rangers tapping their reserves for the final eight minutes, the Raiders enjoyed a 12-6 advantage as guard Merys Carty scored five points and LeBlanc netted four.

“I think the girls really took the experience all in, kept fighting, and didn’t come out all starry-eyed. They knew they deserved to be there and they were ready to work. I’m proud that they came out more ready than Greely even though we have less experience than them!” Coach Eccleston said. “It’s incredibly hard to come back after a winless season with a good attitude, but these girls wanted to prove that we were better than that and they were willing to put the hard work in to get us where we wanted to be. Really impressed with our defense and being able to pick up a lot of different kinds that sometimes we only practiced once before executing in a game (like versus Greely).”

Coach Eccleston was also impressed with the players’ greater desire to score and their increase in confidence.

“These girls just got a long so well and it helped immensely,” she said. “Tina (LeBlanc) had a great season and really improved her post skills. She sees the floor so well and so she’ll be hard to replace.”

The coach was also glad to see the emergence of senior captain River Lusky.

“I’m really glad River got opportunities this year to show all the progress she’s made since her freshman year. She’s one that stuck with it even without seeing much varsity playing time, but her contribution to the team as a leader was invaluable. I won’t find a girl that’s as level-headed and encouraging as her,” Coach Eccleston said. “I counted on her to keep the team together and handle any conflicts that came up. She’s a great mediator and will be greatly missed.”

With just two seniors, the Raiders and Coach Eccleston will look to continue to build upon the successes they experienced this winter. 

QUICK STEP to the baseline by Raider Sierra Lyman.
STEP THROUGH a Greely double team is FA guard Kayrin Johnson.
FOCUSED ON TWO is Raider Brooke Emery on a fastbreak chance.
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