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CUMBERLAND-No offense to the Falmouth girls’ or Greely boys’ basketball teams, but Tuesday’s show belonged to the Yachtsmen boys and Rangers girls as those two championship contenders got to strut their stuff against a fierce rival.
That was the perception beforehand and it rung true when all was said and done as the Falmouth boys rode the offensive wizardry of seniors Stefano Mancini and Ryan Rogers to a 74-63 win in the first game, then, Greely’s girls showed their balance in cruising to a 63-39 triumph in the nightcap.
So far, so good for the top contenders.
Falmouth’s boys reached the regional final a year ago before losing to Cape Elizabeth. The Yachtsmen returned a ton and expect to dominate in 2009-10. This is without question the program’s best shot at winning Western B since it moved up a decade ago.
Falmouth defeated Gray-New Gloucester (66-34), Freeport (63-30) and Waynflete (77-35) in its first three outings.
Greely, meanwhile, is trying to bounce back from last year’s agonizing semifinal round playoff ouster at the hands of Cape Elizabeth. The Rangers lost some key players to graduation, but return plenty of talent as well. It just figures to take a little longer for this squad to jell.
Greely downed Traip (78-46), Yarmouth (57-49) and Poland (63-46) in its first three tests.
Tuesday, the first period featured eight lead changes as the Rangers answered every Falmouth punch.
After 2 minutes, 8 seconds of scoreless ball, senior Matt Dunn put the hosts up with a 3-pointer. After Yachtsmen senior Sam Horning answered with a 3-ball, then made a floater for a 5-3 advantage, Dunn buried another 3 for a 6-5 lead.
Mancini got in on the fun with 4:47 to go in the opening quarter with a bank shot, but Greely senior Trevor Tierney made a layup for an 8-7 advantage. After Mancini hit another bank shot and followed with a 3-ball, Rangers junior Tanner Shorey made a jumper and Tierney buried a 3 to make it 13-12 Greely.
Horning responded with a 3, then Mancini hit a floater to make it 17-13 Yachtsmen, but the hosts got a 3 from Dunn and a putback from senior Peter Westra to lead 18-17 after one.
The advantage disappeared for good just 25 seconds into the second period when Mancini made two free throws. With 7:08 to go in the half, Mancini drained two more to make it 21-18.
Shorey made a layup to cut the deficit to one, but Rogers made a bank shot for his first points and sophomore Jack Cooleen made one of two foul shots for a 24-20 lead. After Tierney made a long jumper, Rogers knocked down a 3 to make it 27-22.
Westra made a short jumper with 3:11 to go before halftime, but Cooleen made three of four free throws to put his team up six and Mancini followed with another 3-pointer to make it 33-24. In the final minute, Greely sophomore Nick Clark hit a layup to cut the deficit to seven at the break.
The Yachtsmen opened things up in the third.
After Rangers junior Sam Johnston hit a foul shot to open the quarter, Falmouth senior John Roberts took a pass from Rogers and slammed the ball home. Rogers followed with a 3 and Horning made a layup for a 40-27 lead with 6:40 left in the third, forcing Greely coach Ken Marks to call timeout.
It didn’t work.
Mancini made a foul shot for a 41-27 lead. After Dunn momentarily stemmed the tide with a 3, Roberts scored on a putback and Mancini drained two free throws for a 45-30 advantage.
Two free throws from Johnston, a 3 from Tierney and a Tierney putback got the Rangers within eight, 45-37, but Mancini made a bank shot, hit two free throws, then calmly buried a 3. Rogers followed with a layup and Falmouth had its biggest lead, 54-37.
A leaner from Tierney, a layup from Westra and a layup from senior Gerrick Lovenstein got the Rangers back to 54-43 as the third period came to a close.
When Storey opened the fourth with back-to-back hoops, Greely was within seven, its smallest deficit since the start of the half, but Rogers made a 3 to restore a double-digit lead. After Johnston made a free throw for the hosts, Rogers hit two for the Yachtsmen and Roberts scored on a putback to make it 62-48.
The rest of the game more or less became a foul shooting contest. Greely got no closer than nine (68-59 and 72-63) before two Rogers free throws brought the curtain down on Falmouth’s 74-63 triumph.
“We didn’t really know what to expect, but we came out and we played,” Mancini said. “We’ve learned. That’s a benefit of having seniors on the team. We embrace the bulls-eye. We want to be the team to beat, the one everyone circles on their schedule.
“We still have a lot of things to work on. We missed layups, we gave up layups, we turned the ball over. The best teams correct things.”
“We responded well in spots,” added Yachtsmen coach Dave Halligan. “We had control of the tempo. We let them get back when we tried to force things. I liked our defense. I was pleased how we responded to their runs. We’ve had three easier games. This was our first test. We’re still a work in progress.”
Mancini led Falmouth (4-0) and all scorers with 32 points, 11 of which came from the line. He’s still finding his outside shooting form, which is a scary thought for the rest of the league.
“In the preseason, I was hitting (3-pointers), but right now, it’s mostly mental,” he said. I’m sure I’ll get there.”
Rogers added 17.
“Ryan’s only played two games, he’s a little rusty, but he made some shots,” Halligan said.
Roberts finished with 10 points and dominated in the paint.
“John has improved by leaps and bounds over the past few years,” said Halligan.
Horning added 11 points and Cooleen had four.
For Greely (3-1), Dunn led the way with 15 points. Tierney added 14, Shorey had 12, Johnston 10 Westra six and Clark, Lovenstein and Thompson two apiece.
“We had about a five-minute stretch in the third quarter where we did not play well,” Marks said. “Take that five minutes away and it’s a pretty good basketball game. Their pressure hurt us. We need to go to school on this. (Falmouth’s) a very good team. They knew they were in a game tonight. My kids didn’t back down. We’ll play again.
“I think we have a lot to work with. Once our perimeter players get experience, we’ll be tough.”
The Rangers host Freeport Thursday and go to Cape Elizabeth for their final 2009 test on Saturday night.
Falmouth is home with Lake Region Thursday and Yarmouth Saturday and closes 2009 at Poland Tuesday of next week.
The Yachtsmen and Rangers meet again Jan 23 in Falmouth.
Strong from start to finish
The girls’ game would not be as closely contested.
Greely, a regional finalist last winter, returned almost everyone and cruised past Traip (62-34), Yarmouth (57-28) and Poland (69-15) in its first three games.
Falmouth, meanwhile, is a very different team in 2009-10 and it will take some time for the youth to come together. The Yachtsmen managed to win their first three games over Gray-New Gloucester (43-42), Freeport (54-43) and Waynflete (47-44), but the Rangers would prove to be a far more difficult test.
Just three seconds in, Greely took the lead for good on a pair of foul shots from senior Megan Grondin. Senior Nicole Faietta followed with a 3 and Grondin made another free throw for a quick 6-0 advantage.
After the Yachtsmen got on the board on a pair of foul shots from senior Annalise Keeler, Rangers senior Abby Young countered with a 3. Keeler hit a bank shot to make it 9-4, but Greely senior Karlee Biskup made a 3 for a 12-4 lead.
With 3:56 left in the first quarter, Falmouth junior Jess DiPhillippo made a 3-pointer, but the Yachtsmen wouldn’t score again until the second. The hosts closed on an 8-0 run behind a free throw from junior Chelsea Bridges, two foul shots from junior Sara Warnock, a 3-pointer from sophomore Caroline Hamilton and a pair of free throws from Faietta to lead 20-7.
In all, Greely had seven different players score in the first eight minutes and not one scored a two-point basket. The Rangers buried four 3s and hit eight foul shots. Falmouth shot just 18 percent from the floor and dug a steep hole.
Greely extended its lead in the second period. A layup from Grondin got it started. Young followed with a putback. After the Yachtsmen ended a 5 minute, 51 second drought with a runner from DiPhillippo and a jumper from Keeler, Young made a layup, then buried a 3 for a 29-11 advantage.
DiPhillippo made two free throws with 3:43 left in the half, but Rangers junior Meagn Coale hit a long jumper to make it 31-13. A Keeler layup and a left-handed layup by freshman Kylie Libby cut the deficit to 14, but Biskup made a jump shot for a 33-17 advantage. After sophomore Laney Evers scored on a putback, Warnock ended the half with a bank shot and a 35-19 lead.
The Yachtsmen were done in largely by 15 turnovers in the first 16 minutes.
Greely was never tested in the second half.
In the third quarter, Young showed the type of inside-outside brilliance that has drawn the interest of several colleges, scoring on a layup, then sinking a 3 for a 40-19 advantage. Grondin followed with a layup to stretch the lead to 23. After Keeler made a layup, Grondin made two free throws and Biskup hit a 3-ball for a 47-21 advantage. Libby answered with a free throw and after a Warnock layup, sophomore Jenna Serunian made a layup to pull Falmouth within 49-24 heading for the fourth.
There, the Rangers pushed their lead to as many as 29, 59-30, before cruising to the 63-39 victory.
“Not bad,” said Greely second-year coach Billy Goodman. “Falmouth’s a good team and we played well. We’re working on things still. Good team basketball. Recognizing good shots. Moving the ball well.
“We get each other now. They get what I want and I get what they can do. It’s good. I love my team. They’re really working hard.”
Young led all scorers with 19 points.
“She’s had the outside game, but she’s worked on it a lot in the summer,” Goodman said. “She had the ability, but it wasn’t like this.”
Grondin added 13 points, Biskup had eight, Warnock six, Faietta five, Bridges and Hamilton three apiece and Cornish, Coale and Storey two each as 10 different players wound up in the scoring column.
For the Yachtsmen, Keeler impressed with 10 points. DiPhillippo had seven, Evers, senior Katie McCarthy and Libby (with seven rebounds) all had six and Serunian added four.
“It was a tough game,” said Falmouth coach Kristi Ouellette. “Hopefully we’ll learn as we go.”
The Yachtsmen are back in action Thursday at rival Lake Region. Saturday, they host Yarmouth and next Tuesday close the 2009 portion of the schedule at home versus Poland.
Greely goes to Freeport Thursday, hosts Cape Elizabeth Saturday and welcomes Fryeburg Tuesday. The Rangers have their sights set on two January showdowns with York.
Falmouth hosts Greely Jan. 23.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com