PORTLAND, Maine — No moral victories this time. Just a heavy sense of what could have been.
Another fine season for the Marshwood High School girls basketball team came to an end at Cross Insurance Arena, at the hands of Greely in the Class A South semifinals for the second year in a row.
The third-seeded Hawks (18-2) fell behind by nine in the opening two minutes Wednesday and spent the rest of the game trying to chip away at that gap, getting back within four late in the third quarter but falling, 66-50.
“I wish we just had a stronger start than we did in the beginning,” said senior forward Miranda Montgomery, who led her team with 15 points “Overall, I thought we did a pretty good job coming back but it’s tough. It’s an emotional one.”
Junior guard Anna DeWolfe, a Fordham commit, led Greely with 29 points and was a headache throughout, both from the perimeter — she opened the scoring with her first of two 3-pointers — and in transition.
Greely (18-2) will play No. 1 Brunswick (20-0) in the regional championship game here on Saturday.
Though the two teams didn’t play in the regular season, they were aware of each other, especially after their meeting here in last year’s semis, a competitive, 46-35 win by the Rangers. Both teams won lopsided quarterfinals at the Expo on Monday.
“We had an eye on them pretty much since Week 1,” said Greely coach Todd Flaherty. “We were anticipating a meeting.”
The two swing phases in the game were the start, and then the minutes that bridged the third and fourth quarters.
The Hawks turned the ball over on each of their first four trips. DeWolfe and Julia Martel hit threes, and Camille Clement converted a three-point play to make it 9-0, getting Marshwood coach Steve Freeman signaling for timeout just 77 seconds in.
“It’s funny, because this is a loose group and we were so loose before the game,” said Freeman. “I thought we were fine. I thought we’d come out like gangbusters.
“Then we came out, and stuff we’d worked on all week leading up to the tournament, we just didn’t do. We played scared. You could see it. … That was the difference in the game.”
Behind a second unit that featured Angelina Bisson, Courtney Thim, Nathalie Clavette and Jordyn Beers handling the ball, the Hawks stabilized things to make it 19-8 after one quarter.
Down by as many as four in the second, they rolled off a 10-3 run to get back in the game, with Montgomery dumping in a nifty lefty shot for a three-point play and then scoring again inside. It was 35-25 at the half.
“The whole time I thought we could bring it back,” said Bisson.
The big push came late in the third quarter. Elora Montgomery scored inside and Natalie Herbold (eight points) made a steal and then put on an end-to-end display of dribbling, slashing for the transition basket that made it 46-42.
“It just took us three quarters to figure out we could play with them,” said Freeman. “I still feel like we are (as good as them). Obviously, they have a phenomenal player in Anna, but besides that, we’re so much bigger and so much deeper. Once we got into our stuff we were able to pound them inside.”
Three times before the end of the quarter, the Hawks had a chance to pull closer. But Casey Perry missed a deep jumper and the next two trips resulted in no shot attempts.
It was a six-point game headed to the fourth and then DeWolfe scored three quick baskets to make it 54-42, each of them off a Hawks turnover.
“The whole game, we turned it over and they made us pay,” said Freeman.
Madison Scott and Brooke Obar each chipped in 11 points for the winners, with Scott’s late three-point play the symbolic finish.
“That early lead definitely helped us,” said Flaherty. “They made a run there and we withstood it.”
Perry finished with eight points and double-digit rebounds for the Hawks, whose contending window shouldn’t be closed. The Montgomery twins are their only seniors, and even they could take away some appreciation from a season that got back to this building.
“I’m so glad I got to play with this team for three years,” said Miranda Montgomery. “I know the girls are going to get them next year.”
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