Falmouth boys pull away from Westbrook in fourth quarter

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Falmouth senior Colin Coyne shoots a 3-pointer during the Yachtsmen’s 53-42 come-from-behind win over Westbrook Tuesday evening at the Portland Exposition Building.

Chris Lambert photos.

More photos below.

BOX SCORE

Falmouth 53 Westbrook 42

W- 8 12 12 10- 42
F- 9 10 10 24- 53

W- Champagne 4-1-12, Manoogian 3-5-11, Loureiro 4-0-8, Haggerty 2-0-4, Hanifi 1-0-2, Jany 1-0-2, Sawyer 1-0-2, Sjoberg 0-1-1

F- Coyne 4-8-18, Walsh 8-0-16, DePatsy 6-0-12, Bryant 2-0-4, Simonds 1-0-3

3-pointers:
W (3) Champagne 3
F (3) Coyne 2, Simonds 1

Turnovers:
W- 15
F- 9

FTs
W: 7-9 
F: 8-12

PORTLAND—The defending Class A champion Falmouth boys’ basketball team found itself in a close game for the first time this winter Tuesday evening at the Portland Exposition Building and the new-look Yachtsmen showed that they still possess quite a reservoir of championship heart.

Battling Westbrook in a playoff rematch and a countable contest on a neutral floor, Falmouth ran out to an 8-0 lead, but the Blue Blazes’ strong defensive effort held the defending champs to just 11 points the rest of the first half and at the break, Westbrook led, 20-19.

The Blue Blazes didn’t go away in the second half either, taking a 32-29 lead to the fourth period and when junior Deng Jany drove for a layup, Westbrook was on top, 37-34, with just 5:48 to play.

And then the Yachtsmen woke up and roared to life.

Sparked by a defense which forced nine turnovers in the fourth quarter, Falmouth turned to two of its veteran stars, senior captains Colin Coyne and Sean Walsh, to spark the rally.

After Coyne tied the game with a 3-pointer, Walsh scored six successive points and the Yachtsmen led for good.

Falmouth eventually produced a 19-3 run and went on to a 53-42 victory.

The Yachtsmen got 18 points from Coyne and 16 from Walsh as they improved to 5-0 on the season, dropping the Blue Blazes to 2-3 in the process.

“(Westbrook) came out and controlled the tempo in the first half and we didn’t execute our stuff and we missed some easy shots and made it more difficult, but we played great defense in the second half,” said longtime Falmouth coach Dave Halligan, who earned his 487th victory with the program. “That’s always been our bread and butter. If things aren’t working well offensively, our defense can generate points. It was nice to see kids who made mistakes in the first half not hang their heads, but work harder in the second half.”

Budding rivalry

Falmouth and Westbrook had no history until squaring off in a memorable Western A quarterfinal two years ago. The Blue Blazes had the Yachtsmen on the ropes and the game went to overtime before Falmouth escaped, 48-47.

Last winter, the teams met in the regular season (76-54) and again in the quarterfinals, but the Yachtsmen rolled, 61-33. en route to their first Class A championship.

This season, Falmouth has remained a powerhouse while Westbrook has been up-and-down.

The Blue Blazes lost at home to South Portland in the opener, 59-50, then beat visiting Mt. Ararat (59-32) and host Fryeburg Academy (39-36) before losing at home last week to Cape Elizabeth, 64-55

The Yachtsmen, despite the graduation of standout Thomas Coyne, beat their first four foes: visiting Kennebunk (69-46), host Biddeford (60-46), visiting Brunswick in a regional final rematch (54-36) and host Mt. Ararat (50-33). 

Tuesday evening, as part of the Red Claws Christmas Showcase, Falmouth won again, but had to rally to do so.

Just 42 seconds in, a putback from junior Nikko DePatsy gave the Yachtsmen the lead.

Junior Jack Bryant, the football quarterback, then set up Walsh for a layup and Walsh added another layup off a pass from senior captain Ben Simonds for a 6-0 lead.

When Bryant drove the baseline for a layup and an 8-0 lead with 4:53 to go, Westbrook coach Dan LeGage was forced to call timeout.

The Blue Blazes broke the ice with 3:49 left in the quarter, when junior Zac Manoogian made two free throws and a fastbreak layup by senior Bailey Sawyer, off a pass from junior Deng Jany, cut the deficit to 8-4.

Coyne got a point back at the line, but Falmouth didn’t score the final 3:19 of the period and a driving layup from senior Nemieceo Loureiro and a fastbreak layup from senior Jack Haggerty (off a pass from Jany) made it a 9-8 contest after eight minutes.

When sophomore Kyle Champagne drained a -pointer 24 seconds into the second quarter, Westbrook had a lead for the first time.

The Yachtsmen responded on a runner from DePatsy and a driving layup from Bryant to go up by two, but the next seven points went to the Blue Blazes.

First, Manoogian set up Loureiro for a layup. Champagne popped another 3 and Loureiro banked home a floater for an 18-13 advantage with 5:13 to go in the half.

Falmouth answered on two Coyne free throws and a layup after a steal by DePatsy, but Manoogian made two foul shots. A late putback by Walsh cut Westbrook’s lead to 20-19 at the break.

The Blue Blazes only turned the ball over four times in the first half and got six points apiece from Champagne and Loureiro.

The Yachtsmen got six points each from DePatsy and Walsh, but missed all five of their 3-point attempts.

Falmouth tried to seize control in the third period, but Westbrook continued to make life tough for the Yachtsmen.

After Walsh finished a feed from Simonds and made a layup to start the second half, Champagne countered with a free throw, but Simonds made a 3 for a 24-21 lead with 5:15 to go in the third.

Back came the Blue Blazes, as Champagne made a layup, Manoogian made a layup after a steal and on the fastbreak, Manoogian set up Haggerty for a layup and a 27-24 lead with 3:44 to go.

Coyne countered with a 3, but at the other end, Champagne drained one of his own and Loureiro added a putback for a 32-27 lead.

After DePatsy made a layup, Walsh had a look at a 3 for the tie, but at the horn, his bid went in-and-out and the Blue Blazes had the lead heading for the final stanza.

There, Falmouth finally took over.

Just 11 seconds in, Manoogian drove to the basket for a layup while being fouled and he added the free throw for the old-fashioned three-point play.

Coyne then did the same, scoring on a layup after a steal and adding a free throw and Simonds set up DePatsy for a layup to cut the deficit to 35-34.

With 5:48 left, Jany went coast-to-coast for a layup, but Coyne countered with a 3 to tie it.

“I didn’t shoot very well in the first half, so I knew I had to facilitate for other people for us to get back in the game,” Coyne said. “I got a good screen from Sean and I got one of my few good looks and I was fortunate enough to make it.”

Walsh then took over, scoring six straight points to give the Yachtsmen the lead for good. 

With 4:48 left, Walsh’s leaner put Falmouth on top.

Thirty-two seconds later, he scored on a turnaround jumper to make it a two-possession game.

With 3:41 left, off an inbounds set, Bryant fed Walsh for a layup and a 43-37 advantage.

“My teammates set me up for good shots,” Walsh said. “A lot of the reason we were struggling offensively was because of me. I knew as a senior I had to step up and I started taking good shots. Ball movement is huge. When someone finds an open man for two easy points down low, it’s really big.”

Westbrook got a point back on a free throw from junior Landon Sjoberg, but Walsh fed DePatsy for a layup and with 1:49 left, after Coyne dribbled into the lane and drew the defense, he fed Walsh for a layup and-one. Walsh missed the free throw, but Falmouth had a 47-38 advantage.

Down the stretch, Coyne hit both ends of a one-and-one, Coyne produced a three-point play after a Bryant steal and after Manoogian drove for a layup, Coyne sank one more free throw and Westbrook senior Hamza Hanifi scored on a putback as the Yachtsmen went on to the 53-42 victory.

“Westbrook came out with a matchup zone and we didn’t adjust to that in the first half,” Coyne said. “Our defense kept us in it and in the second half, we turned it up a notch. Being down was a good learning experience. It helps us to face that now instead of in the playoffs. It’s a good win for us.”

“It was difficult playing in the Expo,” Halligan said. “It was our home game and we got the experience of playing here, which will help in the long run. The guys responded. The seniors are veterans and they play until the final whistle.”

Falmouth was paced by Coyne’s 18 points. Walsh added 16 (to go with six rebounds and two steals) and DePatsy finished with 12, as once again, the Yachtsmen placed multiple players in double figures.

“We’ve had six different players score in double figures in the first five games,” Halligan said. “That’s good to see. We’re not a one- or two-person team like people think.”

Bryant finished with four points (and five assists) and Simonds had three (to go with four assists, three rebounds and two steals).

Falmouth made 8 of 12 foul shots, only turned the ball over nine times and forced 15 Westbrook turnovers (nine coming in the fourth period).

“In the fourth quarter, we knew we had to pull it together or else we’d lose,” Walsh said. “We turned it up defensively and we utilized that to get turnovers and turn that into offense.”

The Blue Blazes got 12 points from Champagne, 11 from Manoogian (who had four assists), eight from Loureiro, four from Haggerty, two apiece from Jany (seven rebounds, three assists) and Sawyer and one from Sjoberg. 

Westbrook finished 7 of 9 from the free throw line and had a 21-18 rebounding advantage.

“The fourth quarter, we just made costly turnovers,” lamented LeGage. “They did a good job with their trapping zone and got points out of that. We rushed a little bit and we turned it over and that was it. Until then, we played well. We played with some poise, but we still need to get better. We need to execute better down the stretch to win against a good team.”

Getting tougher

Westbrook is at Scarborough Friday afternoon to close the 2016 portion of its schedule. The Blue Blazes open the new year with a trip to Marshwood Jan. 3.

“We need to clean things up,” LeGage said. “We need to do a better job defensively not fouling and rebounding. We have to continue to work to get better. It’s a tough schedule. Our double A crossovers are good programs and our single A games are strong programs. It’s a grind that doesn’t let up. As long as we keep getting better every game, hopefully we’ll win enough to get into the tournament.”

Falmouth returns to the Expo Thursday to meet Cape Elizabeth in a countable contest that was postponed and ultimately relocated because the Capers’ home floor was undergoing replacement. The Yachtsmen are at York Dec. 31, open the new year with a home showdown versus Greely Jan. 3, then play at defending Class B champion Lake Region three days later. 

“Everyone knows about Greely, Brunswick and Cape,” Coyne said. “It hurt us that we weren’t mentioned (in the preseason), but I think we still have what it takes to win a state championship. We’ll keep our mouths shut and we’ll keep playing.”

“We have big games coming up,” Walsh said. “We have to pull it together offensively. Our defense has been good, but it can be even better.”

“We try to play the best schedule possible,” Halligan added. “It’s helped us in the past and I think it’ll help us down the road. If we share the ball and get it to the open man, we’ll be fine. We have to work on execution. It’s repetition, repetition, repetition.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Falmouth junior Nikko DePatsy leans in for a shot while Westbrook senior Bailey Sawyer defends. 

Falmouth junior Jack Bryant goes up for two points.

Westbrook junior Deng Jeny soars over Falmouth junior Nikko DePatsy for two points.

Westbrook junior Zac Manoogian makes a move toward the hoop as Falmouth junior Jack Bryant defends.

Falmouth senior Colin Coyne drives on Westbrook sophomore Kyle Champagne.

Westbrook junior Zac Manoogian shoots over Falmouth junior Jack Bryant.

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Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.