PORTLAND—Greely quenched Westbrook’s fire, 60-50, on Saturday night, Feb. 24. The Rangers utterly failed to restrain Blazes superman Zac Manoogian, who finished with 35, but they nevertheless prevailed, ably defending Westbrook’s other scorers and spreading their own offense around.
“I think they shot 62 percent from three-point land,” Westbrook head coach Dan Legage said, asked what allowed Greely to gain the upper-hand. “Usually you shoot 40 percent from three-point land, and that’s pretty good. And a lot of them were contested, the shots; they made them. To their credit: They made the shots. They deserved to win.”
Greely jumped out front 6-2 to start. Andrew Storey notched the action’s first bucket; Manoogian responded immediately, but Zach Brown hit two frees and Jack Kane added a two. The Blazes then clawed back to 6-6 on an Abier Manyiel two underneath and two from Manoogian at the line.
“We know they get out and run, so we’ve got to get out and run too,” said Manoogian, asked about his big total. “We were just going through the flow of the offense, and the team did a good job of finding it through me and I was able to hit the open shots.”
Westbrook pulled within one to close the first: With 19 seconds to play, Manoogian lingered at the top of the Rangers’ zone, waiting, waiting for just the right moment to drive; with six seconds left or so, he broke forward. His initial shot didn’t fall, but he crashed to the other side of the basket, grabbed his own rebound, and lofted in an off-balance, fadeaway shot just as the buzzer sounded.
Kane, with a two for 13-10, kicked off a fateful Greely second q: The Rangers rained buckets like artillery shells on Westbrook for several minutes. At 17-10, Legage called timeout, but when the teams returned to the court, Greely continued their assault.
The Rangers’ inside defense – and especially Kane, who stands 6-foot-8 – also proved troublesome for the Blazes in the game. Kane regularly rejected Westbrook drives that normally would’ve resulted in points.
Jeremiah Alado did manage an inside two at 23-14; for the remainder of the half, the Blazes battled, pulling back within six before the horn. Once again, Manoogian squeezed blood from a stone, driving successfully with just seven seconds left on the clock for 28-22 at the break.
Manoogian missed a jumpshot to begin the third, but Ranger Shane DeWolfe threw the ball away crosscourt on Greely’s possession, handing Manoogian another chance – which he capitalized on, basketing from the paint for 28-24.
Did the Blazes have life in them yet?
The Rangers insisted not. Bagshaw added a three and Storey, Kane and Brown added a two each for 37-25. Westbrook wouldn’t draw close again. Manoogian continued draining jumpshots and foulshots; Alado sank a three and Landon Sjoberg popped in a two. But Greely bettered the Blazes’ every move, even pulling ahead by as much as 16 at one point, 51-35 on a DeWolfe two.
Manoogian added yet another buzzer-beater as the fourth expired, but it was a minor moral victory more than anything else: 60-50, the Rangers had won.
Manoogian’s 35 naturally proved the game-high. Westbrook’s next-best finisher, Manyiel, trailed distantly with just seven. Alado, himself quite capable of going off, managed just five. Sjoberg piled up only three.
Westbrook concludes their winter at 14-7. The Blazes entered the tournament ranked third in A South. They offed Kennebunk in the quarters and Biddeford in the semis to earn their shot at the reigning State Champs.
“It was a good season – best season so far of my career, for my senior year,” Manoogian said. “So I’m just happy that all the guys – just keep our heads high and cheer on the guys next year. See if I can come to some games for them.”
For a longer version of this story, visit www.keepmecurrent.com/category/sports.
Adam Birt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @CurrentSportsME.
Westbrooker Jeremiah Alado watches as Greely cuts down the nets following their triumph.
The Blazes’ Abier Manyiel collides on a drive with Greelyite Mike Coppersmith.
Zac Manoogian sinks backward on an off-balance jumpshot for the Blazes. Manoogian finished with 35 in the defeat.
Westbrook’s Landon Sjoberg turns in an A-for-effort, but 6-foot-8 Greely behemoth Jack Kane says no-no-no anyway.
Zac Manoogian holds the Blazes’ runners-up plaque aloft for the team’s fan contingent to see as he and the other Westbrook Captains, including Landon Sjoberg (left) break and head back to their seats.
Westbrook head coach Dan Legage hugs senior Captain Zac Manoogian following the Blazes’ defeat at Greely’s hands.
The Rangers’ inside defense was a thicket; somehow, Westbrooker Jeremiah Alado here gets a few inches’ elevation over the opposition.
Westbrooker Kyle Champagne glances upward – possibly at the scoreboard – following his boys’ loss to Greely.