CAPE ELIZABETH—The highly-touted Cape Elizabeth boys’ basketball team hit a rough patch at the end of 2014 and faced the daunting task of beginning the new year against visiting powerhouse Falmouth.
The Capers could have either continued to slump or rise to the occasion and it was clear from the get-go Saturday evening, they had a statement to make.
Behind the leadership and refuse-to-lose attitude of senior Eddie Galvin, Cape Elizabeth shot to a quick 16-6 lead, but the Yachtsmen, behind sharpshooting senior Jack Simonds, refused to go away, pulling within three early in the second period before the Capers extended their lead to 26-19 at halftime.
Falmouth again pulled within a possession and had a shot to tie in the third quarter, but couldn’t do so and led by junior Justin Guerette, Cape Elizabeth protected the lead and was up, 35-30, heading for the final period.
There, the lead fluctuated between three and seven points almost the whole way and when Simonds drained two foul shots with 37 seconds remaining, the Yachtsmen were only down, 45-42.
After a Capers turnover, the visitors had a chance to tie and Simonds got a look from 3-point range, but his shot was short.
Cape Elizabeth then turned the heroics of Guerette, who three times kept the ball for his team by securing offensive rebounds. Guerette was also credited for a basket on a putback that left those on hand in confusion and added three free throws for a little breathing room. Even though Simonds banked home a long 3 with just over a second to play, the Capers were able to go on and prevail, 50-45.
Galvin had 17 points, Guerette added 15 and Cape Elizabeth improved to 5-2, dropping Falmouth, which has now dropped two in a row, to 4-3.
“Falmouth will win a lot of games down the road, so it’s a big win, worth a lot of (Heal) Points,” said Galvin. “It’s very big for our confidence.”
Cape Elizabeth and Falmouth have been doing battle on the hardwood for decades, even before longtime coaches Dave Halligan and Jim Ray found their way to the Yachtsmen and Capers’ respective sidelines.
This winter, as seemingly is always the case, the teams are considered two of the best in the Western Maine Conference and while wins haven’t come as easily as some may have expected, each squad has shown flashes of excellence.
Falmouth opened by holding off visiting York (52-43) and pulling away from visiting Wells in the fourth period for a 57-37 triumph. After falling at defending Western B champion Poland (75-58), the Yachtsmen prevailed at host Lake Region (54-46) and edged visiting rival Greely, 55-52, on sophomore Colin Coyne’s 3 at the buzzer. Tuesday, however, Falmouth couldn’t hold an 18-point halftime loss and suffered a 69-62 overtime loss at rival Yarmouth.
Cape Elizabeth, the preseason favorite in Western B, played like it in its first three outings, defeating visiting Wells (59-48), host Gray-New Gloucester (70-48) and visiting Freeport (72-40). The Capers were then stunned by visiting Yarmouth (59-46). After beating host Kennebunk (73-58), Cape Elizabeth lost at Lake Region Tuesday (51-46).
Saturday, the Yachtsmen were seeking to beat the Capers for seventh time in a row (see sidebar, below) and win for the fourth straight season in Cape Elizabeth, but instead, the Capers got the better of Falmouth for the first time since Feb. 11, 2011 (53-44).
The Yachtsmen scored the game’s first points, as junior Sam Skop took a pass from Simonds and made a layup 27 seconds in, but that would prove to be their lone lead.
At the other end, Galvin tied the score with a driving layup and the next time down the floor, Guerette put Cape Elizabeth to stay with a putback.
Galvin added a baseline jumper, but Simonds scored his first points on a layup. Galvin then made two free throws and junior Jack O’Rourke took a pass from senior Ethan Murphy and sank a 3 from the left side for an 11-4 advantage. After Simonds scored on a leaner, Murphy set up O’Rourke from the right side and he buried another 3. Galvin then took a nice pass from sophomore Quinn Hewitt and made a layup to give the hosts their biggest lead, 16-6.
“I was attacking the rim,” Galvin said. “I try to focus on that. I put my mind to that.”
“Eddie has a quick first step,” Ray said. “It’s hard matching up with him.”
A Simonds jumper pulled Falmouth within eight after one quarter.
Early in the second period, Skop and Galvin traded putbacks before Skop put home another miss and Yachtsmen sophomore Sean Walsh took a pass from Simonds, made a layup while being fouled and added the free throw to convert the old-fashioned three-point play, pulling Falmouth within three, 18-15.
A 3 from promising Capers freshman Finn Bowe ended the mini-run. The visitors then got a baseline leaner from senior Luke Velas, but Cape Elizabeth junior Marcus Donnelly sank a 3 to push the lead back to seven, 24-17.
After the Yachtsmen got a jumper from Simonds, Galvin made a layup as time expired and the Capers enjoyed a 26-19 lead at the break.
In the first half, Galvin led the way with a dozen points, while Simonds paced Falmouth with eight.
The back-and-forth battle countinued in the third quarter.
After a corner 3 from Galvin allowed the Capers to match their biggest lead, 29-19, back roared the Yachtsmen on a 7-0 run, as Velas made a 3, Simonds hit a leaner and Simonds scored on a putback to make it 29-26.
After Simonds missed a chance to tie the game with a 3 which was off target, Falmouth got the ball again, but after a Hewitt steal, Guerette’s layup made it a two-score game and Guerette made a pullup jumper after a steal for a 33-26 lead.
The Yachtsmen got two points back on free throws from senior John Shaw. After Guerette made a layup, a baseline jumper from Simonds pulled Falmouth within five, 35-30, heading for the fourth period.
Which would be taut and entertaining throughout.
Just 11 seconds in, Galvin, while falling to the court, somehow managed to tip the ball to Hewitt, who laid it in. Simonds then hit consecutive jumpers (the second with a hand right in his face) and just like that, the deficit was only three again, 37-34.
“Simonds is a good player, so I expect him to make those shots, but it’s still a bummer when he does,” Galvin said.
Cape Elizabeth pushed the lead right back to seven, as Galvin drove for a layup and Murphy hit a runner in the lane with 4:38 to play, but a Simonds bank shot 17 seconds later cut the deficit to 41-36.
A Guerette jumper with 3:26 remaining was countered by two free throws from Coyne (his first and only points) 35 seconds later.
When Galvin banked home a shot for a 45-38 lead with 2:35 left, the Capers appeared to be in good shape, but Simonds made a leaner and after the Yachtsmen got the ball back, Simonds was fouled while shooting a 3 with 37 seconds to go.
Had he made all three free throws, Falmouth’s deficit would have been a mere two points, but after draining the first two, Simonds missed the third and Cape Elizabeth came up with the rebound.
But the Capers turned the ball over, giving the Yachtsmen a chance to tie.
It didn’t happen, as a Simonds 3 came up short and Bowe got the rebound. He was fouled and went to the line for a 1-and-1, but he missed the front end.
Then, in a sequence which helped decide the game, Guerette wrested away the rebound and after a foul was called, he made the shot.
To the astonishment of most on hand, the basket counted and Guerette went to the line.
“I got the rebound and put it back in and honestly, I thought the foul was on the floor, but they let me have (the basket),” Guerette said. “We’ll take those kind of calls. When you don’t shoot well, you have to find a way to change the game and rebounds were my way tonight.”
“(The officials) said it was a basket,” Halligan said. “He got the rebound, got fouled, the whistle blew, he took another dribble and shot and they counted the basket and gave him two foul shots, which he shouldn’t have had if he made the basket already.
“We gave up four straight possessions. You can’t do that against a good team. They killed us on the glass. We had to take chances at the end.”
Guerette missed his free throw, but got the rebound and was fouled again.
Again, Guerette missed the front end of a 1-and-1, but with 14 seconds showing, Guerette got another rebound and this time after he was fouled, he made one of two free throws for a 48-42 advantage.
After Velas missed a 3, Guerette got the rebound and was fouled and with 6 seconds left, he iced the victory with two made free throws.
Simonds banked home a long 3 with 1.2 seconds remaining, but Falmouth’s hopes were extinguished and the Capers closed out their 50-45 triumph.
“It was important to get over our slump, especially against a team the caliber of Falmouth,” Guerette said.
“Falmouth never goes away,” said Ray. “They have players who can knock down shots. Simonds is really good. It was nice to bounce back after the tough one at Lake Region. We shot better tonight.”
Galvin helped spark the victory with 17 points, seven rebounds and two steals.
Guerette came up huge with 15 points (13 in the second half), 12 boards and two steals.
O’Rourke added eight points, Bowe and Donnelly each had three and Hewitt (three assists, two steals, two rebounds) and Murphy (three assists, three rebounds, two steals) finished with two apiece.
“The guys came out and they were ready to go at the start,” Ray said. “Particularly, I was pleased for Jack O’Rourke and Justin Guerette. They played solid games. They’d been struggling a little bit. It was a team effort tonight. Everyone contributed.”
Cape Elizabeth turned the ball over 13 times and only made 5 of 11 free throws, but held on.
For Falmouth, Simonds had a double-double (27 points, 11 rebounds). He also had three assists.
Skop added six points (four boards and two blocks), Velas finished with five, Walsh three and Coyne (three steals) and Shaw two apiece.
The Yachtsmen turned the ball over on 14 occasions and hit 7 of 8 foul shots.
“It’s a work in progress,” Halligan said. “I keep saying we’ll be better in the long run for it. We still have two-thirds of the season to get better. We’ve lost to good teams. We made a lot of mistakes tonight, but we competed to the end. We don’t like to lose, but I’ll keep it in perspective. We had the game where we wanted it at the end.”
Both teams will take the court on three occasions next week as they hope to maneuver their way up the Heal Points ladder.
Falmouth (ninth in Western A at press time) plays at York Tuesday, welcomes Fryeburg Academy Thursday and goes to Greely Saturday. A home showdown with Yarmouth awaits the following Tuesday.
“It’s a tough league,” Halligan said. “You have to come ready to play every night. There are no easy games.”
Cape Elizabeth (sixth in Western B) is at Wells Tuesday, hosts Gray-New Gloucester Thursday and gets a shot at avenging a loss Saturday when it goes to Yarmouth for a second of a possible three meetings this winter.
“Rebounding and working on free throws is what we need to work on mostly,” Galvin said.
“We’re back on track now,” Guerette said. “We’ll keep working toward our goal.”
“We’re still trying to figure stuff out,” Ray added. “It won’t be easy. It wouldn’t be fun if it were easy. The chemistry of the regular season is different of the chemistry of the summer time. It’s always a work in progress.”
@ Falmouth 71 Cape Elizabeth 49
Falmouth 62 @ Cape Elizabeth 50
Falmouth 72 @ Cape Elizabeth 49
@ Falmouth 53 Cape Elizabeth 41
@ Falmouth 60 Cape Elizabeth 37
Falmouth 52 @ Cape Elizabeth 37
Cape Elizabeth 55 @ Falmouth 48
@ Cape Elizabeth 53 Falmouth 44
Falmouth 55 @ Cape Elizabeth 53
Cape Elizabeth 73 @ Falmouth 70
Western B Final
Cape Elizabeth 58 Falmouth 48
Cape Elizabeth 58 @ Falmouth 57
@ Cape Elizabeth 53 Falmouth 37
Falmouth 57 @ Cape Elizabeth 48
Cape Elizabeth 52 @ Falmouth 44
@ Falmouth 58 Cape Elizabeth 47
@ Cape Elizabeth 53 Falmouth 46
Western B semifinals
Falmouth 60 Cape Elizabeth 45
Cape Elizabeth 65 @ Falmouth 64
Falmouth 44 @ Cape Elizabeth 34
Falmouth 47 @ Cape Elizabeth 38
@ Falmouth 65 Cape Elizabeth 45
Western B quarterfinals
Cape Elizabeth 44 Falmouth 42
@ Falmouth 67 Cape Elizabeth 58
@ Cape Elizabeth 65 Falmouth 41
F- 8 11 11 15- 45
CE- 16 10 9 15- 50
F- Simonds 12-2-27, Skop 3-0-6, Velas 2-0-5, Walsh 1-1-3, Coyne 0-2-2, Shaw 0-2-2
CE- Galvin 7-2-17, Guerette 6-3-15, O’Rourke 3-0-8, Bowe 1-0-3, Donnelly 1-0-3, Hewitt 1-0-2, Murphy 1-0-2
F (2) Simonds, Velas 1
CE (5) O’Rourke 2, Bowe, Donnelly, Galvin 1