FALMOUTH—You might be able to keep the defending Class B state champion Falmouth boys’ basketball team at bay for a quarter or a half, but not for 32 minutes.
At some point, the Yachtsmen’s onslaught will simply be undeniable.
The Yarmouth Clippers learned that lesson the hard way in an early season showdown Tuesday evening, as a budding Falmouth star cemented his status as one of the state’s elite players.
Yarmouth gave the Yachtsmen everything they could handle in an entertaining, up-and-down first half which ended with the hosts on top, 37-34.
Then, Falmouth flipped a switch with sophomore Thomas Coyne embarking on a third quarter for the ages.
Coyne would score 23 of his team’s 29 points as the Yachtsmen stretched a three-point lead into a blowout. Coyne scored from behind the 3-point stripe, at the foul line and as time wound down, on a highlight-reel drive to the basket. He even scored a mind-boggling seven points on one possession.
While the Clippers played hard throughout, they simply had no answer and Falmouth went on to an 84-65 victory to improve to 2-0 on the young season, as it dropped Yarmouth to 1-1.
“I think we’re just as good as last year.,” said Coyne. “It’s a different team, but we work hard in practice and we all come in prepared.”
Falmouth was an absolute juggernaut last winter, dominating 21 of 22 foes (losing only at York) en route to its second Class B championship in four seasons. While graduation losses hurt, the Yachtsmen returned plenty and that was evident Friday when Falmouth rolled at York in the opener, 70-42.
Yarmouth, which fell at Maranacook in the preliminary round last winter to finish 10-9, got off to an equally dazzling start Saturday, when it pounded visiting Kennebunk, 89-52, behind a career-high 35 points from senior David Murphy.
Last year, Falmouth easily won both meetings: 55-34 in Yarmouth and 69-35 at home.
Dating back to the start of the 2001-02 season, the Yachtsmen held a 18-6 lead in the series (please see sidebar, below). The Clippers’ last victory came in a memorable regional final in 2012, 56-50.
Tuesday, Yarmouth hung tough for a half, but had absolutely no answers for Falmouth’s third quarter surge.
Just 10 seconds into the game, Clippers senior Nathaniel Shields-Auble drained a jumper to break the ice. When senior Ethan Gage made a layup after a steal 38 seconds later, Yarmouth had a quick 4-0 lead and Falmouth coach Dave Halligan called timeout.
The Yachtsmen responded as its terrific tandem on this evening made their presence felt for the first time as Burton fed Coyne for a layup.
Undaunted, Yarmouth got a leaner and subsequent free throw from Gage for its biggest lead, but Burton drained a 3-ball, then tipped home a missed shot to tie the score, 7-7.
Then next time down, Burton set up senior Justin Rogers for a layup and Falmouth’s first lead, 9-7. Burton continued his solid inside play with another putback and Clippers coach Adam Smith was forced to call timeout.
It didn’t help, as Burton took a pass from Coyne and made a layup to stretch the lead to six. After Yarmouth sophomore point guard Musseit M’Bareck made a turnaround jumper and Murphy knocked down a 3-hall to cut the deficit to one, 13-12, the Coyne Brothers produced their first hit of the night, as freshman Colin Coyne set up Thomas for a layup.
The Clippers again cut the deficit to one as M’Bareck scored on a putback, but Burton made two free throws for a 17-14 lead. M’Bareck then set up senior Wyatt Jackson to make it a one-point game again, but Falmouth junior Jack Simonds scored on a putback before Shields-Auble made a turnaround jumper to bring down the curtain on a palpitating first quarter with the hosts on top, 19-18.
In the first eight minutes, Burton produced 11 points, four rebounds, two assists and a blocked shot.
“Nick’s a senior captain,” said Halligan. “He didn’t play in the state game last year because he was sick and he was a reserve. There’s a big difference between a junior and a senior.”
While the second period didn’t produce quite as much offense, the game remained tight.
The Yachtsmen got the first basket of the frame when senior Matthew Tseng set up Burton for a layup, but after a steal, Clippers junior Adam LaBrie set up Murphy for a layup. Rogers knocked down a 3, but Shields-Auble made a short jumper. A jumper from Simonds and another Burton tip-in made it 28-22, but a leaner from Murphy and a putback by LaBrie pulled the visitors back within two, 28-26.
Coyne scored on a spinner, but LaBrie knocked down a 3, cutting the deficit to just one. Coyne set up Simonds for a layup, but Shields-Auble made two free throws and it was a one-point game again, 32-31.
After Coyne scored on a leaner, LaBrie banked home a 3 with 1:33 left in the half and the game was tied, 34-34.
That would prove to Yarmouth’s last stand.
With 1:13 to go before halftime, Coyne continued to heat up, burying a 3 to put his team on top to stay, and after LaBrie was just off target on a long-distance 3 at the horn, Falmouth took a 37-34 lead to the break.
A game that figured to be close throughout was about to turn into a blowout.
Just 34 seconds into the second half, Coyne set the tone for his quarter for the ages as he knocked down a 3.
A mere 54 seconds later, Coyne hit another 3 and suddenly, the Yachtsmen had a 43-34 lead.
Coyne added two free throws and Simonds scored on a putback to cap a 13-0 run to make it 47-34.
With 4:40 left in the stanza, LaBrie sank a 3 to end the run and a 4 minute, 53 second drought.
Yarmouth wasn’t able to build on that momentum as Coyne was fouled on a 3-point attempt at the other end and to make matters worse, Smith was called for a technical foul, sending Coyne to the foul line for five shots.
Coyne would sink four of the five free throws and Falmouth kept possession due to the technical. The ball would come to Coyne behind the 3-point stripe and Coyne knocked down the shot to complete an otherworldly 7-point play to push the lead to 54-37.
After Shields-Auble made a turnaround jumper, Coyne made yet another 3 and the advantage was 20.
Falmouth then delivered the knockout blow as Rogers set up Burton for a layup, Coyne made two free throws, Coyne set up Burton for a layup, then, as time wound down, Coyne punctuated his epic eight-minute performance with a highlight reel 360 spin move which led to a layup, a foul and a free throw to cap an old-fashioned three-point play to give his team a 66-39 advantage with eight minutes to play.
In the third period, Coyne scored 23 of his team’s 29 points and left no doubt that he’s one of the state’s special performers.
“The first half, I had some good looks, but I just didn’t hit them,” Coyne said. “At halftime, Coach emphasized finding the seams in their matchup zone and I just hit my shots. Little adjustments worked. (At the end of the quarter), it was just a high pick-and-roll and I just kind of split (the defense).”
To say that those on hand were in awe would be a major understatement.
“Thomas was just feeling it,” Burton said. “We just got him the ball and he kept knocking it down.”
“We executed in the second half,” Halligan said. “We didn’t execute our game plan in the first half. That can be attributed to their defensive pressure which was excellent. We knew that coming in. We just didn’t do what we prepared for. They pressed and tried to get steals and fastbreaks. We just had to move the ball. The first half, it was one or two passes and a shot or a turnover. In the second half, we made the extra pass and shared the ball. Thomas got open looks. He was sick much of his freshman year. He sorted that out, so this is really his first year. He’ll only get better.”
To its credit, Yarmouth never gave up in the fourth quarter, but it never made a run either.
Just eight seconds in, Burton finished a feed from Simonds with a layup. A M’Bareck jumper ended a 14-0 Falmouth run and Murphy added a runner and a free throw to cut the deficit to 24, 68-44, but Burton scored on a tip-in, Simonds hit a free throw and Thomas Coyne set up Colin Coyne for a 3 and a 74-44 lead.
A Murphy runner was countered by Thomas Coyne’s final 3. Murphy then hit a leaner and a 3 to make it 77-51, but Colin Coyne answered with a 3-ball.
After LaBrie made a 3 and Murphy made a layup, Falmouth senior Addison Foltmer made a free throw and Colin Coyne sank a 3 for a his team’s final points.
In the waning moments, Yarmouth got an old-fashioned three-point play from junior Jordan Brown, a foul shot from sophomore Cody Cook, a bank shot from senior Ben Still and a three-point play from M’Bareck to account for the 84-65 final score.
“We didn’t really play that well,” Burton said. “At halftime, we got some sense knocked into us, came out with a lot more enthusiasm and played much better at the defensive end.”
Thomas Coyne made 11 field goals (seven of which came from behind the 3-point stripe) and also sank eight free throws.
That was only the beginning.
Burton went off for 23 points and a game-high 13 rebounds.
“We have to take advantage inside and go inside,” said Halligan.
Colin Coyne and Simonds (12 rebounds) both had nine points, Rogers added five and Foltmer finished with one.
Falmouth finished with a 39-19 rebounding advantage.
“We definitely have a size advantage,” Burton said. “Jack is 6-5. I’m about 6-4. Justin’s 6-4. We try to work it inside-out, get offensive rebounds and it works out.”
The Yachtsmen turned the ball over 19 times and made 12 of 20 foul shots.
For Yarmouth, Murphy led the way with 19 points, but nothing came easily.
“David got handled tonight defensively,” said Smith. “I thought we could have gotten better looks for him and we didn’t. Then, he tried to take over. He started to force the game a little bit. We didn’t have guys step up to take the pressure off him. He worked his tail off all night. What I love about him, he continued to bust it the rest of the night. You wouldn’t have known if he had 40 points or if he had five.”
LaBrie had 14 points and Shields-Auble 10.
“I’ve been pleased with Nate this year,” said Smith. “His practice and game play have been good. I’d have liked to have gotten him the ball more in the third quarter. It settled us down in the first quarter when he made shots.”
M’Bareck tallied nine points. Gage finished with five, Brown had three, Jackson and Still both had two and Cook one.
The Clippers did muster 11 steals, as LaBrie led the way with four. They turned the ball over 11 times and made seven of eight foul shots.
“I don’t think we played particularly well,” said Smith. “I think (in the first half) we knocked down some shots. That makes a huge difference. Falmouth started hitting shots in the third quarter which really gave them the momentum. Whenever you give momentum to a team that has much talent and effort, they’ll run off more than 10 points. Credit to their defense and the energy they got from the shots they knocked down. They’re a good defensive team and they’re long.”
Yarmouth will lick its wounds and try to bounce back into the win column Friday when it goes to Poland. The Clippers have a showdown at Western B favorite Greely Tuesday of next week.
“This shines a light on what we need to work on,” Smith said. “We’ll be ready to get back at it tomorrow. We needed to be pushed like this. We have to stick together a little better. Usually, we don’t fray at the defensive end, but we frayed at the offensive and defensive ends. We could have contained ourselves better and played together more.”
Falmouth, meanwhile, is at Wells Friday, then hosts Poland Tuesday. The Yachtsmen have a showdown looming at Greely Dec. 21.
Looking ahead, Yarmouth hosts Falmouth Jan. 14.
Believe it or not, the Yachtsmen can still get a lot better.
“I feel really good about this group,” Burton said. “Last year, we had a good team. This year, we brought back some good players and we have some good new talent. I’m excited. We’re looking good so far and I can’t wait to keep it up the rest of the season. We need to work on communication. We lost three starters, so we’re filling in spots. Our chemistry’s starting to build. I think it’s only going to get better.”
“We can work on everything,” Coyne said. “We’ll continue to jell as a team and get better. We can still work on defense.”
“I’m happy where we are, but I think we’ll get a lot better,” Halligan said. “We have things to work on in practice. It’s a brand new team. Nick was a reserve last year, Thomas was a reserve, Matt Tseng didn’t play much. Colin is new. (Senior) I.V. Stucker is new. We’re still getting used to each other.”
Falmouth senior Nick Burton looks for operating room while being guarded by Yarmouth senior David Murphy. Burton was unstoppable down low, scoring 23 points and adding 13 rebounds.
Yarmouth senior David Murphy throws up a wild shot after running into Falmouth junior Jack Simonds.
Falmouth senior Justin Rogers dribbles past Yarmouth junior Jordan Brown.
Yarmouth senior Nathaniel Shields-Auble goes up for a shot.
Falmouth junior Jack Simonds breaks through the defensive trap of Yarmouth senior Wyatt Jackson (0) and sophomore Musseit M’Bareck.
Falmouth 55 @ Yarmouth 34
@ Falmouth 69 Yarmouth 35
@ Yarmouth 50 Falmouth 33
Yarmouth 63 @ Falmouth 58 (OT)
@ Falmouth 58 Yarmouth 41
Falmouth 54 @ Yarmouth 51
@ Falmouth 52 Yarmouth 33
Falmouth 65 Yarmouth 48
@ Yarmouth 42 Falmouth 36
Yarmouth 63 @ Falmouth 56
Falmouth 38 @ Yarmouth 37
Yarmouth 57 @ Falmouth 52
@ Falmouth 57 Yarmouth 34
Falmouth 48 @ Yarmouth 37
Falmouth 50 @ Yarmouth 34
@ Falmouth 62 Yarmouth 30
@ Falmouth 55 Yarmouth 36
Falmouth 54 @ Yarmouth 51
Western B quarterfinals
Falmouth 44 Yarmouth 31
Falmouth 57 @ Yarmouth 43
@ Falmouth 46 Yarmouth 43
Falmouth sophomore Thomas Coyne drives on Yarmouth senior David Murphy during the teams’ battle Tuesday night. Coyne had a game-high and career-high 37 points, including 23 in the third period, as the Yachtsmen went on to an 84-65 victory.
Jason Veilleux photos.
More photos below.
Y- 18 16 5 26- 65
F- 19 18 29 18- 84
Y- Murphy 8-1-19, LaBrie 5-0-14, Shields-Auble 4-2-10, M’Bareck 4-1-9, Gage 2-1-5, Brown 1-1-3, Jackson 1-0-2, Still 1-0-2, Cook 0-1-1
F- T. Coyne 11-8-37, Burton 10-2-23, C. Coyne 3-0-9, J. Simonds 4-1-9, Rogers 2-0-5, Foltmer 0-1-1
Y (6) LaBrie 4, Murphy 2
F (12) T. Coyne 7, C. Coyne 3, Burton, Rogers 1
Y (19) Brown, Gage, LaBrie, Watson 3, Cook, Murphy 2, M’Bareck, Shields-Auble, Still 1
F (39) Burton 13, J. Simonds 12, Rogers 5, Stucker 3, T. Coyne 2, C. Coyne, Foltmer, B. Simonds, Tseng 1
Y (11) LaBrie 4, M’Bareck 2, Brown, Cook, Gage, Jackson, Still 1
F (3) T. Coyne, Foltmer, Rogers 1
Y (3) LaBrie 2, Still 1
F (2) Burton, Rogers 1