CAPE ELIZABETH — Lexi L’Heureux-Carland scored 17 points and Julia Quinn keyed a smothering defense as Fryeburg Academy finished its girls’ basketball regular season Thursday with a 40-27 win at Cape Elizabeth.
Fryeburg (15-3) expects to be the No. 3 seed in the final Class A South Heal point standings behind York (18-0) and Greely (15-3), the two teams it has lost to this season. Fryeburg will play a quarterfinal on Monday, Feb. 15, at the Portland Expo.
Cape Elizabeth finished 7-11. The Capers appear to have edged Kennebunk for the ninth and final playoff spot in Class A South. If so, Cape would play a prelim game at the eighth seed, probably Westbrook, either Tuesday or Wednesday.
Fryeburg Coach Sean Watson said he thinks his team will face Leavitt in the quarterfinals. The Raiders have beaten Leavitt
twice this year.
Whoever gets the Raiders should be prepared for a deep, veteran team that will play 32 minutes of full-court defense, looking to trap the ball in the backcourt, along the sidelines, under the basket and just about every place in between.
“Pressure defense, trying to create as much chaos as we can, for the full length of the court; that, coupled with unselfish play, is what we preach,” Watson said.
At halftime, the game was tied 14-14, with both teams shooting under 25 percent.
Quinn created at least four steals in the opening minutes of the third quarter as Fryeburg went on a 10-0 run that featured five points from L’Heureux-Carland and two free throws from reserve Sage Boivin, who contributed good rebounding and helped increase ball movement on offense.
Quinn (eight points), often Fryeburg’s leading scorer, shook off a rough first half and emphasized her defense and play-making skills in the second half.
“I just think we needed a spark and we like to run, so getting steals really helps us with our transition,” Quinn said.
“The play phenomenal defense,” Cape Coach Chris Casterella said. “We got into no offensive flow. They get up into your space and they make life miserable.”
In the fourth quarter, L’Heureux-Carland was able to consistently find creases near the basket to accept passes. She scored seven points as Fryeburg seemed to finally wear down the Capers.
“Sometimes, like tonight, it isn’t easy at first, but once we start figuring out the mental toughness part and we start getting those steals it becomes a little more natural,” L’Heureux-Carland said.
A season ago, Cape Elizabeth made the Western Class B tournament as an unheralded No. 9 seed and reached the regional final
with three playoff wins.
Can the Capers pull off another run?
“Of course we can,” said senior Carter Harvey, who led Cape with nine points.
Cape has played without arguably its best all-around player, Montana Braxton (concussion symptoms), for all but three midseason games. The Capers have begun to “develop an identity” down the stretch, Casterella said, having won four of five entering Thursday’s game.
“We were playing well. Kids were hitting shots and we were playing our best basketball, so you want to be that team that goes in (to the tournament) playing its best,” Casterella said. “We just had three, four turnovers in the third quarter (against Fryeburg) and got in a hole.”