THE PLAYOFFS Falmouth girls fall in semifinals
Yachtsmen have no answer for York in 47-37 loss
By Michael Hoffer
PORTLAND — The Falmouth girls' basketball team won six of its final seven regular season games this winter.
The lone loss in that stretch, a 50-47 home setback to undefeated York Feb. 3, gave the Yachtsmen hope that they could upset the Wildcats if they met again.
Falmouth got its opportunity Thursday afternoon in the Western Class B semifinals at the Cumberland County Civic Center, but learned it should be careful what it wished for as York turned up the defensive pressure, got expected inside dominance from sophomore Nicole Taylor and rode the sizzling shooting of sophomore Stephanie Gallagher to an insurmountable halftime lead en route to a 47-37 victory.
The Yachtsmen hurt themselves early with turnovers and poor shooting and saw their season come to an end at 12-8.
"We came a long way," said Falmouth first-year coach Kristi Ouellette. "It's been a very exciting run. It's disappointing to our seniors who put in so much time. Only one team has a winning feeling at the end of the season."
York went on to beat Greely (see story, page ?) to win the Western B title.
End of the line
Falmouth struggled for much of the regular season, but finally hit its stride and was as hot and confident as anyone entering the tournament.
The Yachtsmen, seeded fourth, held off No. 5 Lisbon 58-49 in the semifinals, then prepared to do battle with No. 1 York, which went 18-0 in the regular season before downing No. 8 Wells, 35-21 in its quarterfinal round game.
Falmouth lost both regular season meetings with York, including a 48-33 road loss on Jan. 6. The only previous playoff meeting came in the 2004 preliminary round, a 32-24 victory for the Wildcats.
Neither team generated much offense in the early going. The Yachtsmen got the jump on a bank shot from senior Sara Bachman. After York senior Meredith Reid tied the score with a jumper, Bachman made a layup to give Falmouth a 4-2 lead, but the Wildcats tied the game on a putback by Taylor.
The Yachtsmen scored just one point the rest of the period, a free throw from senior Andie Doyle with 2:52 left, and trailed 9-5 after one.
Taylor started the second with a free throw. Falmouth finally ended an 8:07 drought without a field goal when Bachman made a layup at the 6:18 mark. After Taylor scored on a putback, senior Haley Jordan made her presence felt with a 3-ball that pulled the Yachtsmen within 12-10, but York junior Emma Clark answered with a layup after a steal and Taylor scored on a putback.
With 3:37 left in the half, sophomore Jess DiPhillippo made a jumper, but the Wildcats erupted for nine points in two minutes to seize control and lead 25-13 at the break.
Fourteen turnovers put the Yachtsmen in a serious hole.
"I think one of our goals was to come out strong, but I feel like as soon as they got an edge, we started to fumble a little bit," Ouellette said. "We don't handle pressure very well. If you can't get the ball across halfcourt, it's hard to set up an offense.
"I think we were fully prepared for them. I think the game before gave us confidence, but some of the players on their team took over. We only went to the line three times in the first half. Our game plan has always been to attack. We have good foul shooters."
York went up 29-13 early in the third, but Falmouth responded.
Jordan made a layup, senior Erika Penrod made the first of two free throws, grabbed a rebound after missing the second, and laid it home to make it 29-18.
After senior Alexandra Brennan made a foul shot for the Wildcats, junior Annalise Keeler made a layup to pull the Yachtsmen within 30-20. After Taylor scored on a putback, senior Charlotte Rogers made a jump shot to get Falmouth back to 32-22, but Gallagher made a layup and senior Kim Rigano added another. DiPhillippo scored on a layup after a steal to get the Yachtsmen within, 36-24, heading for the fourth.
York went on a 10-2 run, thanks largely to six points from Taylor, to push its lead to 46-26.
Falmouth responded with a putback and two free throws from Rogers, a jumper from Jordan, a layup after a steal from Doyle and a free throw from Jordan to make it, 46-35, with 1:40 to go.
That, however, was the Yachtsmen's last hurrah, as Taylor hit a foul shot to end the run. Jordan made two more free throws to account for the 47-37 final score.
Taylor led all scorers with 18 points. Gallagher added 17.
"We prepared to pack it in and box out as much as we could to keep Taylor off the boards, but I don't think we executed," Ouellette said. "She had her way inside. Gallagher was wide open. One of our strategies was to have them beat us from the outside. We didn't expect her to get as many open looks as she did."
For Falmouth, Jordan had 10 in her swan song, Bachman and Rogers added six each. The Yachtsmen finished with 28 turnovers.
Another good season awaits
Falmouth graduates seven seniors, most notably Bachman, Doyle, Graffam and Jordan. However several solid players will return next year, including Keeler, DiPhillippo, junior Katie McCarthy and sophomore Caitlin Costello.
"I think there's been a back and forth with senior leadership," Ouellette said. "They knew they could do it. That's what we saw in the second half of the season. I'm happy with the underclassmen who have stepped up. We'll try again next year."
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com