Greenville repeats as D South champions with 43-28 victory over AR Gould

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AUGUSTA — After jumping out to a 12-point lead in the first quarter of the 2018 Class D South championship on Feb. 24 at the Augusta Civic Center against Arthur R. Gould High School of South Portland, the Greenville High School boys saw the team’s advantage slowly shrink and then disappear in the third quarter. But the Lakers responded in a big way during the fourth quarter with a 13-1 run and 16-3 advantage in the final 8-minute session to win the regional title for the second year in a row against the Bears.

“We’re kind of streaky, they need to see a basket go in and then it’s contagious,” Greenville head Coach Bill Foley said. “But they worked their way out of it and by the fourth quarter we hit some really important shots.”

Third-seeded AR Gould would lead for the only time just over halfway through the third quarter as sophomore Malaki Brimage — who picked up a team-high 10 points — scored on a shot in the post and he then made the ensuing free throw after being fouled on the play for a 25-22 advantage.

Soon after the top-seeded Lakers (who improved to 19-2 with the win and earned the team’s 19th consecutive victory) tied the game at 25 on a 3-pointer by senior Evan Bjork, one of five seniors who all started the 2017 regional final win over AR Gould. Bjork would sink four shots from behind the line to tie classmate Connor DiAngelo for the game-lead at 12 points apiece.

“It felt good, I knew that we needed some clutch shots and I came in focused and put them in,” Bjork, who celebrated his 18th birthday on Saturday with a regional title, said.

“We came out and we were shooting pretty well,” he said. “We came out in the second quarter and couldn’t hit any shots, I think we had three points. We talked about that in the locker room and we needed to come out with some fire and relax and that’s what we did. We came out, it was a close game, and we started hitting shots towards the end of the game and pulled away.”

Late in the third quarter Greenville junior Nick Caiazzo hit a jumper to put the Lakers ahead again at 27-25. His two points were the only two of the team’s 43 scored off the bench.

Nearly a minute into the fourth quarter DiAngelo converted from behind the 3-point line to put Greenville ahead 30-25, on the first of three long distance shots the team would have in the quarter.

AR Gould got two points back on a jumper by senior Ernest Lorange, but the Lakers went on a 13-1 run which included a 10-0 advantage to close out play.

Before the quarter began Foley said he told his team to focus on “relaxing, not getting caught up in (what AR Gould was doing) and play our game. Don’t get impatient offensively, work the ball around. We’re getting good looks, they’re going to start falling. It wasn’t because we weren’t getting good looks, we just weren’t dropping.”

“We’ve been here before so once we got comfortable hitting our shots we relaxed a bit more and got into our rhythm,” DiAngelo said. “I remember in the first round I shot better here than I did at my own gym. We’ve been here before and we’re comfortable on this court.”

“We just decided we needed to relax and settle down because we were playing pretty tight and that’s why we couldn’t hit any shots,” Bjork said. “We relaxed and put them in.”

Bjork’s fourth of four 3-pointers put his team ahead 33-27 in the fourth quarter. The final point for the Bears came on a Lorange free throw to make the score 33-28.

DiAngelo’s second 3-pointer of the fourth quarter put his team up by eight with 3:44 on the clock. After a stop on defense, senior center Devin Boone went to the line and he sank a free throw to make the score 37-28 in favor of Greenville.

The Laker defense continued to do its job with a stop, and at the other end of the court Boone scored in the post to put the advantage at double-digits 39-28. The 6-foot-4 Boone scored again from the post to pick up five of his seven points in the final three-plus minutes.

“It’s nice to draw the defense out because then we can go inside to the bigger kids,” Foley said.

Senior Nick Foley made a pair of free throws in the final seconds with his team in the bonus to cap off the 10-0 run, 13-1 advantage and 16-3 fourth quarter as Greenville earned its second consecutive trip to the state championship and third straight postseason victory over AR Gould (winning a 2016 matchup in the quarterfinal round).

Head coach Foley said in the second quarter he switched to a zone defense and “trying to make them hurt us from the outside and they didn’t.”

“Sometimes we just like to switch up, give teams some different looks for what they’re doing on offense and mess with their style of play,” DiAngelo said. “I think they got out of their rhythm a little bit and it helped us.”

“We kind of had a cold streak on offense and it was a little frustrating but we kept working on defense, that’s something we emphasize all year,” he said. “We held all three teams in the tournament to under 30 points and if we play our defense we can stay in any game.”

Greenville improved to 19-2 with the win over the 16-5 Bears, as the Lakers have won 19 in a row since dropping the first two games.

“I’m going to take the blame for that, I didn’t know my team as well as I should have,” Foley said. He said told the players not to believe others’ words about the how the good the squad would be with all five starters back and nearly the entire lineup returning from the 2017 Class D South championship.

Foley said “they were feeling the pressure of expectations and we were tight and we were uncomfortable. We were playing not to lose instead of playing to win. It took me two games to figure it out. We had a little team meeting and tried to lighten things up, I coached the third game in a Hawaiian shirt and that started to turn things around and we were off and running. They just needed to remember what it feels like to win and see the ball go through the hoop.”

The Lakers will play North winner and region top seed Woodland Junior-Senior High School of Baileyville (18-3) on Saturday, March 3 at 2:45 p.m. in Augusta.

“I hope they’re a little more relaxed, plus it’s here,” Foley said, as last year Greenville fell 51-39 to Machias Memorial High School in the state game in Bangor. “This will be our seventh game here, plus we play summer ball here, we play a preseason tournament here so they’re comfortable here.”

“We’re excited to be back, it was our goal from the start to get that Gold Ball,” DiAngelo said. “At the end of last year we had a sour taste in our mouth and we were all coming back so we knew we wanted to get back in it.”

Bjork said a key for Saturday will be to “play good defense, that’s what’s got us here this tournament. Every team we’ve played we’ve held to under 30 points and we just need to keep playing good defense.”

No. 1 Greenville 43,
No. 3 AR Gould 28
ARG 5 8 12 3 | 28
GRV 14 3 10 16 | 43
AR Gould: Brimage 10,
Shoureas 8, Lorange 7,
Hurd 3.
Greenville: Bjork 12,
DiAngelo 12, Foley 8,
Boone 7, N. Caiazzo 2,
Pratt 2.
Records: AR Gould 16-5,
Greenville 19-2.

Observer photo/Stuart Hedstrom
CLASS D SOUTH CHAMPS — The Greenville High School boys defeated AR Gould High School of South Portland 43-28 for the 2018 Class D South championship on Saturday, Feb. 24 at the Augusta Civic Center. The Lakers bested AR Gould for the regional title for the second year in a row, won the team’s 19th consecutive game, and will now face Class D North champion Woodland Junior-Senior High School of Baileyville for the Gold Ball on Saturday at 2:45 p.m. at the Augusta Civic Center. Members of the second Greenville boys basketball team to win a regional title in school history are front, from left, Law Hinckley, Noah Bilodeau, Jack Morehouse, Chris Caiazzo and Nick Caiazzo. Back, coach Joseph Pelletier, Connor DiAngelo, Noah Pratt, Evan Bjork, Nick Foley, Devin Boone, Anthony Mason, Nate Pierce and head coach Bill Foley. For a story and more photos, please see page 5.

Observer photo/Stuart Hedstrom
BACK-TO-BACK REGIONAL CHAMPS — Greenville High School seniors, from left, Connor DiAngelo, Noah Pratt, Evan Bjork, Nick Foley, Devin Boone and Anthony Mason celebrate after the team defeated AR Gould High School of South Portland 43-28 during the 2018 Class D South championship on Saturday, Feb. 24 at the Augusta Civic Center. The Lakers also bested the Bears in last year’s regional title game, with DiAngelo, Pratt, Bjork, Foley and Boone starting in both contests. Greenville will face North champ Woodland for the state championship at 2:45 p.m. on Saturday in Augusta.

Observer photo/Stuart Hedstrom
DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS — Greenville senior Connor DiAngelo and AR Gould sophomore Malaki Brimage get tied up for a jump ball during the third quarter of the Class D South championship on Saturday. In three tourney games the Lakers have held the opposition to under 30 points, helping continue a 19-game winning streak in 2017-18 and giving Greenville six consecutive wins at the Augusta Civic Center the last two years. DiAngelo would tie for the game-high with 12 points.

Observer photo/Stuart Hedstrom
WAVE IT IN THE AIR LIKE YOU JUST DON’T CARE — Senior Nick Foley of Greenville swings the net during the postgame celebration of his team’s 43-28 victory over AR Gould for the Class D South championship on Feb. 24 in Augusta.

Observer photo/Stuart Hedstrom
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO HIM — Senior Evan Bjork celebrated his 18th birthday on Feb. 24 by helping his team win the Class D South championship for the second year in a row. Bjork sank four 3-pointers to tie for the game-high in points.

Observer photo/Stuart Hedstrom
FIVE POINTS IN THE FOURTH — Greenville senior Devin Boone would score five of his seven points in the fourth quarter, including two shots in the post, to help the team have a 10-0 run to close the game, 13-1 run and 16-3 overall scoring advantage in the fourth quarter.

Observer photo/Stuart Hedstrom
POKING THE BEAR — AR Gould Bears senior Alex Shoureas has difficulty getting his shot off over the reach of Greenville junior Nick Caiazzo (00) and Connor DiAngelo (25) as seniors Evan Bjork (11) and Noah Pratt (1) look on.

Observer photo/Stuart Hedstrom
CAREFUL CUTTING — Sophomore Chris Caiazzo, right, and junior Nick Caiazzo cut down the net which will soon find a home in the school trophy case, ideally to be accompanied by another pair of nets cut off the rim this coming Saturday.

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