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Falmouth junior Sam Manganello looks to pass the ball during Thursday’s home tilt versus Scarborough. Manganello had a game-high 17 points in leading the Yachtsmen to a 54-50 victory. The win was the 499th of longtime Falmouth coach Dave Halligan’s stint with the program.
Mike Strout photos.
More photos below.
S- 6 13 14 17- 50
F- 9 12 15 18- 54
S- Fiorillo 5-3-15, Lagerquist 6-1-13, B. Austin 4-0-12, Pratt 2-2-6, Kirk 1-0-2, Lewis 1-0-2
F- Manganello 3-10-17, Hester 3-4-10, Douglas 2-5-9, Marcotte 3-0-9, Bryant 1-2-4, Dilworth 1-0-3, Pitre 0-2-2
S (6) B. Austin 4, Fiorillo 2
F (5) Marcotte 3, Dilworth, Manganello 1
FALMOUTH—Prior to the start of the 2017-18 boys’ basketball season, the hopes of the perennially strong Falmouth Yachtsmen appeared to be dashed when two cornerstones went down for the season with injuries.
But Falmouth is never out of the equation, not with longtime coach Dave Halligan at the helm, and Thursday evening, Halligan coached his shorthanded team to another impressive early-season victory and in the process, put himself on the brink on a memorable milestone of his own.
Hosting highly touted Scarborough, the Yachtsmen got Red Storm junior standout Nick Fiorillo in early foul trouble and grabbed a 9-6 lead after one period behind six points from junior Sam Manganello.
In the second quarter, Falmouth tried to pull away, but Scarborough hung tough, trailing by just two points, 21-19, at halftime.
The Yachtsmen then came out on fire in the third period, scoring 10 straight points, capped by 3-point shots from Manganello and senior Alex Marcotte, to lead, 31-19, but Scarborough answered with the next 10 to get right back in it.
Falmouth took a 36-33 lead to the final stanza, where, after Fiorillo fouled out, it went on an 8-3 run to gain some apparent breathing room, but again, back roared the Red Storm, who turned to a smaller lineup, which went to a trapping defense to pull within two points twice in the late going.
But the Yachtsmen, thanks to clutch play all over the court from senior Jack Bryant and four late free throws from junior Nik Hester, managed to hold on and prevail, 54-50.
Falmouth improved to 2-0, dropped Scarborough to 1-1 and in the process, gave Halligan his 499th victory in his 31 seasons at Yachtsmen coach.
“This is how it’s going to be all year long,” Halligan said. “Every game, we could win or we could lose. It’ll come down to a play here, a play there. If we grow a little bit, we’ll cut down on our mistakes. I have to give the kids credit. We’ll be better from this in the long run.”
Falmouth got to the Class A South Final a year ago before losing to eventual state champion Greely. The Yachtsmen lost standouts Colin Coyne and Sean Walsh to graduation, but were expected to remain a top contender this winter. Then, the injury bug bit in a big way, as sophomore guard Michael Simonds suffered a knee injury late in Falmouth’s final football game and senior center Nikko DePatsy also was sidelined for the season.
Despite having to start nearly starting from scratch, Falmouth opened with an inspirational 42-39 come-from-behind home win over Marshwood last Friday.
Scarborough, meanwhile, was 0-10 at one juncture a year ago, but first-year coach Phil Conley turned the Red Storm around and got them all the way to the semifinals for the first time in three decades before a loss to South Portland ended Scarborough’s season at 7-13.
The Red Storm are expected to be a top contender in Class AA South this winter and began with a 76-46 home victory over Sanford.
Prior to Thursday, the teams hadn’t met in a countable contest since host Falmouth handled Scarborough, 54-29, way back on Dec. 17, 2002. To put that in perspective, it was a mere 10 months after the Patriots won their first Super Bowl and was “only” the 254th victory of Halligan’s career.
This meeting was originally scheduled for Tuesday, but bad weather pushed it back 48 hours, where the game would be tight throughout, but ultimately, the Yachtsmen did just enough to taste victory.
Manganello set the tone when he was fouled 57 seconds in and made one of two free throws.
After the Red Storm took their first lead on a 3 from Fiorillo, Manganello hit a leaner to tie it, then added a foul shot.
With 5:26 to go in the opening quarter, senior Morgan Pratt made a jumper for a 5-4 Scarborough lead, but 58 seconds later, Manganello sank two more foul shots and Marcotte followed with a 3-ball. Fiorillo got a point back at the free throw line, but with 1:56 remaining, Fiorillo picked up his second foul.
Falmouth took a 9-6 lead to the second quarter and promptly fell behind, as Fiorillo hit a jumper, then scored on a putback, but 10-9 would be Scarborough’s last advantage.
After Manganello tied the score with a free throw, Fiorillo was called for his third foul, a charge, with 6:02 remaining and he had to sit out the remainder of the half.
Twenty seconds later, Manganello got fouled again on a drive and added two more free throws to put the Yachtsmen back on top.
“We ran the offense and I just happened the guy to take it to the basket tonight,” Manganello said.
Sophomore Brady Douglas sank a pair of foul shots and after Pratt set up junior Paul Kirk for a layup to make it 14-12, a timeout was called and out of the break, the Red Storm were called for a technical foul for having six men on the floor.
Manganello made one of the two ensuing free throws and Douglas added a runner for 17-12 lead, but Scarborough regrouped without Fiorillo and finished the half strong.
An old-fashioned three-point play (leaner, foul, free throw) from senior Reece Lagerquist pulled the Red Storm within two and after Manganello answered with a driving layup, Lagerquist hit a leaner and made a layup off an inbounds set to tie the score, 19-19.
With 11.7 seconds remaining before halftime, Falmouth went back on top to stay when Niko Pitre made two free throws for a 21-19 halftime advantage.
In the first half, the Yachtsmen made 12 of 16 free throws and got a dozen points from Manganello. Scarborough was paced by eight points from Fiorillo in his limited action, while Lagerquist added seven.
There wouldn’t be much separation in the second half either, but Falmouth never relinquished its lead.
The Yachtsmen came out sizzling in the third quarter, getting a putback from Hester, a putback from Bryant, then, after a Hester block at one end, Bryant set up Manganello at the other for a 3-ball.
“I look for the block,” Hester said. “Coach tells me not to whack it out of bounds, but I do it anyway. It makes the crowd go nuts.”
Then, with 5:14 on the clock, Bryant passed to Marcotte for a 3-pointer and a 31-19 lead, which forced Conley to call timeout.
It would pay immediate dividends, as a Fiorillo 3 ended the 12-0 run and a 3 minute, 38 second drought. Fiorillo added two foul shots, Pratt hit two free throws and with 2:21 remaining, sophomore reserve Brian Austin sank a 3 to pull Scarborough within two, 31-29.
Falmouth ended the 10-0 run when Bryant set up Hester for a layup, but Pratt countered by setting up Lagerquist for a layup. Marcotte answered with a corner 3 and while Fiorillo made a late layup, the Yachtsmen were able to take a 36-33 advantage to the fourth quarter.
There, Falmouth hung on for dear life.
Just 21 seconds into the final period, Yachtsmen freshman Sean Dilworth made his lone shot of the night, a clutch 3, for a 39-33 lead.
Things then went from bad to worse for the Red Storm, as Fiorillo was called for his fourth foul, a charge on Bryant with 7:24 to play and 17 seconds later, Fiorillo was whistled for another charge on Bryant and had to leave the game.
“It hurt losing Nick,” Conley said. “He’s a big-time player. You don’t usually see someone get three offensive fouls.”
“(Fiorillo’s) a really good player and we were fortunate to get him out of the game,” said Bryant.
“Fiorillo’s) the key for them,” Halligan said. “Jack had three (fouls in the first half) and he had three. It was a question of who would blink first. We didn’t do it exactly like I drew it up, but we got him out of the game.”
When Douglas made a free throw and Hester added a layup with 5:43 remaining, Falmouth had a 42-33 advantage, but again, Scarborough would fight back.
Austin made a 3 and after Douglas countered with a layup, Austin hit another 3 to cut the deficit to 44-39 with 3:52 on the clock.
Manganello got back to the line and made both attempts 10 seconds later, but Lagerquist answered with a reverse layup, making it 46-41 with 2:32 to go.
Fifteen seconds later, Douglas sank both ends of a one-and-one, but Pratt hit a floater and with 1:26 remaining, Austin got a corner 3-pointer to rattle in and the visitors only trailed by two, 48-46.
Falmouth wouldn’t buckle, however, as Bryant, the standout football quarterback, was fouled and with 1:01 to play, calmly made both attempts to restore a two-score advantage.
After Pratt missed a shot and Bryant missed two foul shots, Scarborough pulled within two again on a spinning layup from Lagerquist with 27.7 seconds remaining.
Again, the Yachtsmen needed to hit clutch free throws and with 25.8 seconds showing, it would be Hester doing just that, sinking both attempts for a 52-48 lead.
After Pratt missed a 3 and Adam Lewis missed a layup, Hester got the rebound and was fouled with 6.4 seconds to go. Again, Hester sank both attempts to ice it and while Lewis scored on a putback at the horn, Falmouth was able to celebrate a 54-50 victory.
“The end was hard with a lot of guys who hadn’t played before,” Bryant said. “We had to figure out end-of-game situations. We made some mistakes, but we learned and got out of it with a win.”
Manganello played well from start to finish and had 17 points, to go with four rebounds and a steal.
“It’s fun to be out there,” Manganello said. “I love playing basketball with the guys.”
Hester wound up with 10 points, 11 rebounds and six blocked shots.
“Nik was on the JVs last year and look how far he’s come,” Halligan said. “He’ll keep improving.”
Douglas and Marcotte added nine points apiece.
Bryant literally did a little of everything, playing stellar defense, scoring four points and also stuffing the stat sheet to the tune of nine rebounds, seven assists, two blocks and a steal.
“It doesn’t matter who scores for us,” Bryant said. “I try to get rebounds and play defense and make passes.”
“Jack’s the senior and somebody has to take charge,” said Halligan. “I can’t put that onus on the younger players and he’s doing it. He didn’t score much, but he did everything else and he took those two charges.”
Dilworth finished with three points and Pitre had two.
The Yachtsmen only turned the ball over 11 times and made 23 of 32 free throws.
Halligan, a Falmouth High graduate, took over the boys’ varsity basketball program for the 1987-88 season (Ronald Reagan was in the White House at the time and “Wall Street” and “Throw Momma From The Train” were top grossing movies) and by his third year, he had the Yachtsmen in the state final.
Halligan led Falmouth to Class C championships in 1997, 1998 and 1999, Class B titles in 2010 and 2013 and to the Class A crown in 2015 (see sidebar, below, for Halligan’s yearly records).
If his basketball triumph isn’t impressive enough, add in 370 victories in 31 seasons as Falmouth’s varsity boys’ soccer coach and 79 more in eight years with Cape Elizabeth’s boys’ soccer program and you could make a case that there isn’t a more accomplished two-sport coach anywhere in the country.
“It means a lot,” Halligan said, of the looming milestone. “It means I’m old and it means we’ve had a lot of very good players and good people. I’ve achieved a lot more than I ever expected. I’ve been fortunate to have the support of the administration. Being from Falmouth, it’s special and it’s close to my heart, but this story is about (the kids).”
“That’s awesome,” Bryant said. “I’ve played for him four years. He’s a great coach. We’ve been so fortunate to have him at Falmouth so long. Everyone is excited for him to get to 500 wins. He’s earned it.”
“(Dave’s) very good coach and he’s a good guy too,” Conley said. “He’s been around a long time. I’m happy for him to get that milestone. It’s remarkable.”
While his evening was abbreviated, Fiorillo still led Scarborough with 15 points. Lagerquist added 13 points (five rebounds and two steals) and Austin had a dozen.
“Brian stepped up as a sophomore and hit some big 3s for us in his second varsity game,” Conley said.
Pratt wound up with six points (to go with 11 rebounds, nine assists and two steals) and Kirk and Lewis had two apiece.
The Red Storm, who were playing without key seniors Zoltan Panyi and Jaquan Seme, had a 34-30 rebounding advantage, made 6 of 8 free throws and only committed eight turnovers, but still fell just short.
“I was pleased with our comeback effort,” said Conley. “I thought our second group did a great job in the trap defense. They brought some energy and you could see it. I wish we had another minute or two. Credit to Falmouth for making their foul shots when it counted. We knew Falmouth has shooters and would play hard. In the first half, we weren’t in sync offensively and that’s a credit to Falmouth’s defense.”
Falmouth and Scarborough quickly return to action with key tests Friday.
The Red Storm hope to bounce back at Bonny Eagle.
“I’m excited about our team,” Conley said. “We have a good core of young players and we mix in a couple seniors. We have to let this one go because we have a big game coming up at Bonny Eagle. We’ll take what we did well and work on what we didn’t do well tonight.”
The Yachtsmen look to give Halligan his 500th victory when they travel to Brunswick.
“We still have a lot of work to do,” Manganello said. “We have to get better on offense.”
“We’ve worked well together and try to have good team chemistry,” Hester said. “We’ll try to keep it going on defensive end and keep working on our offense.”
“We’re still trying to find an identity of who does what,” added Halligan. “That’s a work in progress and it will take awhile.”
Falmouth senior Jack Bryant goes up for a shot as Scarborough senior Reece Lagerquist, left, and junior Paul Kirk defend.
Falmouth senior Alex Marcotte dribbles as Scarborough senior Morgan Pratt defends.
Scarborough sophomore Brian Austin dives for a loose ball in front of Falmouth junior Nik Hester.
Scarborough senior Reece Lagerquist shoots over Falmouth senior Alex Marcotte.
Falmouth junior Sam Manganello leans in for a shot between Scarborough juniors Paul Kirk, left, and Nick Fiorillo.
Scarborough junior Nick Fiorillo fights to hold to the ball between Falmouth junior Nik Hester (15) and senior Alex Marcotte.
Scarborough senior Morgan Pratt tries to keep the ball away from Falmouth junior Sam Manganello.
Longtime Falmouth coach Dave Halligan suffers a moment of frustration and disbelief during the victory, his 499th with his alma mater.
1996-97 21-1 *
1997-98 20-2 *
1998-99 20-2 *
2009-10 21-1 *
2012-13 21-1 *
2015-16 18-4 *
* State Champions