FALMOUTH—Falmouth’s boys’ basketball team came into the season heralded as talented but unproven and Thursday evening, in just the second game of the season, the Yachtsmen faced their first character test.
And passed it with flying colors.
Falmouth led visiting Wells by nine points entering the fourth quarter, but suddenly, the Yachtsmen had to play without senior standout Jack Simonds, who received his second technical foul, and a seemingly sure victory was in doubt.
The game could have gone either way, but Falmouth, behind the brilliant play of sophomore Colin Coyne, who had a game-high 23 points, got clutch performances from several sources and was never seriously tested as it went on to a 57-37 victory.
The Yachtsmen are now 2-0 on the young season, earned a valuable dose of confidence and dropped the Warriors to 0-3 in the process.
“It was a gut check,” said longtime Falmouth coach Dave Halligan, who earned his 449th victory with the program. “We were not playing well as a team for three quarters, but we played well as a team in the fourth quarter. Sometimes that happens.”
Falmouth went a composite 59-4 over the past three seasons and should be very good again this winter, but the loss of junior standout Thomas Coyne to a foot injury might hold this squad back. Then again, it might not, as some newer players are eager to make their mark.
The Yachtsmen opened with a hard-fought 52-43 home win over York. Falmouth was supposed to visit rival Yarmouth Tuesday, but poor weather moved that game to Dec. 30.
Wells dropped its opener, 59-48, at preseason favorite Cape Elizabeth, then lost at York Wednesday, 72-39.
The Yachtsmen entered Thursday’s tilt having defeated the Warriors three straight times, including 80-26 last year.
Wells hoped to beat Falmouth for the first time since Jan. 17, 2011 (52-40 in Wells) and hung tough, but the Yachtsmen eventually put this one away.
The Warriors took their only lead of the game when sophomore Owen Berry scored on a runner 13 seconds in. Then, after a steal, Colin Coyne converted an old-fashioned three-point play (layup, foul, free throw) to put Falmouth ahead for good.
After Simonds scored his first points, on a layup, junior Reid Chase made two foul shots for Wells, but Coyne banked home a runner for a 7-4 lead. Chase answered with a leaner, but Coyne made two free throws and Simonds hit a pullup jumper to make it 11-6.
After the Warriors got a layup from sophomore D’Andre Woods, Yachtsmen senior John Shaw scored on a driving layup and after Wells senior Nate Booth hit a 3, Coyne made a layup after a steal for a 15-11 Falmouth advantage after one period.
Coyne had nine points in the first quarter, while Simonds added four with four rebounds.
The visitors got the first three points of the second stanza, as sophomore Riley Dempsey drove for a layup and senior Cole Greaves made a free throw, but Simonds answered with a leaner. After Wells again drew within one on a leaner from Berry, Falmouth closed the half on a 10-0 run, as Simonds knocked down two foul shots, sophomore Sean Walsh made a reverse layup after taking a gorgeous pass from Coyne, Coyne hit a free throw, junior Nick Wissemann made a layup, Simonds hit a jumper and Wissemann made a foul shot for a 27-16 lead.
Simonds just missed a double-double in the first half, posting 10 points and nine rebounds, but he’d never get a 10th board as his second half was cut short.
The Yachtsmen tried to put the Warriors away in the third period, but it didn’t happen.
After Coyne set up junior Sam Skop for a layup, Wells ended Falmouth’s 12-0 run and a 5 minute, 25 second drought when Woods drove for a layup. After Coyne made a free throw, Chase hit a leaner.
With 4:15 to play in the third, after a verbal altercation with Booth, Simonds was called for a technical foul. Berry made one of the ensuing two free throws. Berry then added a long jumper to pull the visitors within seven, 30-23.
After Skop made two foul shots, Woods scored on a driving layup. Coyne got a point back at the line, but with 1:33 left in the third, Woods made two free throws to pull Wells within six, 33-27.
The Warriors would get no closer.
Coyne hit a clutch jumper and as time wound down, Simonds hit a leaner while being fouled. He missed the free throw and as time expired in the quarter, Simonds was called for a second technical after yelling out an expletive in frustration.
“I’m disappointed for Jack because it’s so out of character for him,” Halligan said.
Berry again made one of the two ensuing free throws and while the Yachtsmen were up by nine, 37-28, heading for the fourth quarter, they would have to play the remainder of the game without their best player.
When Woods hit a runner off the glass with 6:43 left, Wells was within seven, but Coyne effectively ended any upset hopes 28 seconds later by calmly draining a long 3 for a 40-30 lead.
Falmouth then gradually opened it up.
A free throw from Wissemann was followed by a jumper in the lane from senior Luke Velas. After the Warriors got a pullup jumper from Booth, Velas made another jumper for a 45-32 lead with 4:01 to play.
“I was struggling at the beginning of this game, but the stuff we ran at the end helped me,” said Velas, the soccer standout who isn’t known for his scoring acumen on the court. “That first basket gave me confidence.”
“Those were big baskets,” Coyne said. “He found a seam and got some easy buckets that we needed.”
“Luke stepped up huge in the fourth quarter,” Halligan added. “He hadn’t played particularly well up until that point, but at crunch time, he did.”
Booth pulled hit team back within 10 with a 3, but Coyne made a runner, then hit two foul shots. Wissemann added a free throw, Coyne hit two more and junior Matt Wuhlbrecht sank a pair to cap a 9-0 run, making the score, 54-35.
A floater from Berry accounted for Wells’ final points. Wissemann then made a free throw and after he missed his second, he chased down the rebound and while falling out of bounds, delivered a perfect pass to Skop, who made a layup as an exclamation point and the Yachtsmen prevailed, 57-37.
“We stayed composed,” Coyne said. “That was tough (playing without Jack), but we had to step up defensively because he’s our biggest guy. We centered around that. We had to take care of the ball on offense and we did.”
“Things are coming along pretty well,” Velas said. “Jack’s the only kid who has played a lot of varsity minutes. Everyone is kind of stepping up.”
“Some of the younger kids stepped in and played well and they’ll have to,” Halligan added. “We’ll have to do that all season.”
Coyne led all scorers with 23 points. He also had five assists and four steals.
“I feel a little pressure obviously, but we have a good team,” Coyne said. “I have a good supporting cast. I got to the line a lot. I got some good open shots.”
“Colin has to step up,” Halligan said. “We don’t like to put a sophomore in that position, but he’s taking control.”
Simonds finished with 12 points and nine rebounds. Skop and Wissemann (six boards) had six points apiece, Velas finished with four, while Shaw, Walsh and Wulbrecht all added two. Falmouth only turned the ball over eight times, had a 23-18 rebounding advantage and sank 20 of 30 free throws.
Wells was paced by 10 points apiece from Berry and Woods. Booth finished with eight points, Chase had six, Dempsey two and Greaves one. The Warriors committed 13 turnovers and made just 7 of 14 foul shots.
While Wells returns to action Tuesday at home versus Lake Region, Falmouth goes to defending Western B champion Poland, Simonds, by virtue of his ejection, won’t be able to play in that game due to Maine Principals’ Association rules.
“We have to get the ball inside without Jack,” Coyne said. “We have to get other big guys involved.”
The Yachtsmen will then visit improved Lake Region Thursday before welcoming ancient rival Greely Saturday.
Thomas Coyne could be back sometime next month and with or without him, the Yachtsmen will continue to get better, which is a scary thought for the rest of the league and for their potential foes in the Western Class A tournament.
“As the season progresses, we’ll get a lot better,” Velas said. “We’re not young, but we have new talent out there. The more games we play, the better we’ll get.”
“We have a tough stretch,” Halligan said. “All three are good teams. We’re making young mistakes right now. It’s like a toothache. Somedays hurt more than others. Once we get past all this stuff, we’ll be fine. We just need to have patience. We want everything to be perfect right now, but we have to keep it in perspective and keep working.”
Falmouth senior Jack Simonds goes up for a shot. Simonds had 12 points and nine rebounds before being ejected at the end of the third period.
Falmouth junior Matt Wuhlbrecht launches a shot.
Falmouth junior Nick Wissemann is guarded by Wells sophomore Owen Berry.
Falmouth junior Sam Skop splits two Wells defenders and goes up for a shot.
Falmouth sophomore Colin Coyne drives past Wells sophomore Riley Dempsey.
Falmouth sophomore Colin Coyne drives for two of his game-high 23 points during the Yachtsmen’s 57-37 home win over Wells Thursday night.
Ben McCanna photos.
More photos below.
W- 11 5 12 9- 37
F- 15 12 10 20- 57
W- Berry 4-2-10, Woods 4-2-10, Booth 3-0-8, Chase 2-2-6, Dempsey 1-0-2, Greaves 0-1-1
F- Coyne 6-10-23, Simonds 5-2-12, Skop 2-2-6, Wissemann 1-4-6, Velas 2-0-4, Shaw 1-0-2, Walsh 1-0-2, Wulbrecht 0-2-2
W (2) Booth 2
F (1) Coyne 1