Falmouth ends Brunswick’s run; Yachtsmen one win from Gold Ball

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Falmouth senior Thomas Coyne waves the net in celebration following the Yachtsmen’s 58-44 victory over Brunswick in Saturday’s Class A South Final. Falmouth will meet Oceanside for the state championship Saturday.

Mike Strout photos.

More photos below.

BOX SCORE

Falmouth 58 Brunswick 44

B- 2 17 10 15- 44
F- 10 16 12 20- 58

B- Cost 7-2-17, Hanson 4-1-11, Dorr 3-1-7, Souza 2-0-5, Heel 2-0-4

F- T. Coyne 7-5-21, C. Coyne 5-3-14, Skop 4-1-9, Walsh 2-1-7, J. Bryant 0-5-5, Wuhlbrecht 1-0-2

3-pointers:
B (4) Hanson 2, Cost, Souza 1
F (5) T. Coyne, Walsh 2, C. Coyne 1

Turnovers:
B- 13
F- 7

Free throws
B: 4-6
F: 15-23

PORTLAND—The boys’ Class A South field was billed as perhaps the toughest anywhere in the state, but it was no match for the Falmouth Yachtsmen.

Saturday evening, in the Class A South Final at the Cross Insurance Arena, the Yachtsmen capped an impressive regional run by leading surprise finalist Brunswick from start to finish.

Falmouth, the No. 2 seed, scored the game’s first eight points, as senior standout Thomas Coyne had five and junior Sean Walsh hit a clutch 3.

The Yachtsmen took a 10-2 lead to the second quarter, but knew full well that the Dragons were capable of answering.

While fourth-ranked Brunswick was able to erase a double-digit deficit against top-ranked Greely in the semifinals, the mountain was too tall to climb this time as Falmouth countered every Dragons’ run.

Brunswick got as close as five points in the second period, but the Yachtsmen took a 26-19 lead to halftime.

Just before the half, however, Falmouth got a scare, as Coyne hurt his ankle and had to leave the floor.

There was some question whether or not he’d return for the second half, but the only thing that would have sidelined Coyne would have been a cast and after taping up the ankle, he returned to the floor.

It was a good thing too, because the Dragons pulled within two points, 29-27, when junior Caleb Cost tipped home a miss midway through the third quarter, but Coyne hit a jumper to restore order, junior Colin Coyne made a layup after a steal and Thomas Coyne added a 3 and two free throws to make it 38-29 Yachtsmen heading for the fourth quarter.

There, Falmouth continued to play superb defense, never allowed Brunswick to draw closer than eight and hit its free throws down the stretch to go on to a 56-44 victory.

Thomas Coyne led all scorers with 21 points, Colin Coyne added 14, senior Sam Skop narrowly missed a double-double and the Yachtsmen improved to 17-4, ended the Dragons’ season at 15-6 and advanced to meet Oceanside (16-5) in the Class A state final Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Cross Insurance Arena.

“It was a strong showing,” said Falmouth coach Dave Halligan, who won the 481st game of his career. “We identified their dangerous players. You can’t take things away completely, but we tried to control what they did. They’re a great team. It’s a tribute to our defense that we were successful tonight.”

Expected vs. unexpected

Most pundits thought Falmouth had a pretty good chance to play for a regional final, but few saw Brunswick getting this far.

The Dragons overcame a slow start to their season by going 13-5, then, after downing rival Mt. Ararat, the fifth seed, in the quarterfinals, 61-52, Brunswick stunned top-ranked Greely Wednesday, 65-52.

The Yachtsmen had no problem with No. 7 Westbrook (61-33) in the quarterfinals, then edged Cape Elizabeth in a semifinal round thriller Thursday, 52-49.

Falmouth won the regular season encounter, 61-51, in Brunswick back on Dec. 17. In that one, Thomas Coyne had 21 points, Colin Coyne 13 and Skop 12.

The teams had no playoff history entering Saturday’s showdown and quickly made some.

Falmouth couldn’t have asked for a better start.

Thomas Coyne got things started with a runner off the glass, then went behind the back with a dribble and hit a bank shot while being fouled before adding the free throw for an old-fashioned three-point play and a 5-0 lead.

Coyne then set up Walsh for a 3 and less than three minutes in, the Yachtsmen were up eight, forcing Brunswick coach Todd Hanson to call timeout.

The Dragons finally broke through with 3:16 remaining in the first, as junior Josh Dorr drove for a layup, but Skop scored on a putback and it was 10-2 Falmouth after one.

In the second period, the Dragons got their offense going, but the Yachtsmen remained in front.

Cost started the frame with two free throws and after Skop hit one, Cost knocked down a jumper to cut the deficit to 11-6.

After Falmouth sophomore Jack Bryant hit two free throws, Cost answered with a jumper, but Colin Coyne sank a long 3 and Walsh followed with another 3-pointer to make it 19-8.

Dorr countered with a three-point play, but Yachtsmen senior Matt Wuhlbrecht got a jumper to rattle home.

Cost hit a jumper, but Colin Coyne fed Skop for a layup and a 23-13 lead.

After Brunswick senior Thomas Hanson hit a 3, Thomas Coyne hit an even longer 3, but Cost made a 3 and the Dragons were only down seven, 26-19, at the break.

Just before the half, Thomas Coyne was fouled and limped off the floor with an apparent ankle injury.

In the first half, Falmouth turned the ball over just once and was paced by eight points from Thomas Coyne, six from Walsh and five from Skop, The Yachtsmen made 4 of 11 3-pointers.

Brunswick got 11 points from Cost and five from Dorr, but only made 7 of 17 shots from the floor and turned the ball over six times.

Just before the second half, Thomas Coyne was nowhere to be seen, but when play resumed, he was back on the floor.

In the third period, the Yachtsmen got pushed, but answered.

After Dorr drove for a layup, Colin Coyne converted a three-point play, but junior Corban Teel heated up for the Dragons, hitting a layup, then  getting a turnaround jumper to rattle in. With 4:04 to go in the frame, Cost tipped in his own missed shot to cut the deficit to two, 29-27, forcing Halligan to call timeout.

It worked, as Falmouth closed the frame on a 9-2 run.

The Yachtsmen worked the ball to Thomas Coyne who hit a baseline jumper to get going.

“We run that play a lot,” Thomas Coyne said. “Coach told us if they made a run we had to answer.”

Colin Coyne then stole the ball and made a layup and after Hanson made a leaner, Thomas Coyne got a corner 3 to bounce in and with 0.2 seconds showing, Thomas Coyne was fouled and hit both shots for a 38-29 advantage.

In the fourth period, Falmouth went out and locked up its regional title.

Starting the final stanza, Thomas Coyne sent an ally-oop to Skop, who double clutched the ball, then laid it up and in to restore a double-digit margin.

With 6:16 to play, Hanson drained a 3 to cut the deficit to eight, but Colin Coyne set up Skop for another ally-oop layup, Thomas Coyne hit a floater, then Colin Coyne added a runner with 4:15 to go for a 46-32 advantage.

Cost made a reverse layup and Hanson scored on a three-point play with 4 minutes showing, but 10 seconds later, Colin Coyne converted a three-point play for a 49-37 lead.

Cost kept fighting, hitting a leaner, but Bryant made one of two free throws.

After senior JD Souza hit a bank shot for Brunswick, Walsh made a foul shot and Bryant hit two with 2:28 to play, pushing the lead to a dozen, 53-41.

A Souza 3 was the Dragons’ last hurrah with 2:11 left and down the stretch, Colin Coyne made a free throw, Thomas Coyne hit a pair and with 55.5 seconds left, Thomas Coyne brought the curtain down on the 58-44 victory by sinking a floater.

“We knew Brunswick was a good team,” Thomas Coyne said. “We knew we had to play our best and guys had to step up. We had to play well as a team, on offense and defense and we did that all tournament. We did a good job controlling the tempo and playing defense. We didn’t let them take a lead. They were pressuring us the whole second half and we made them pay. We hit our free throws.”

“We were very concerned,” Colin Coyne said. “We knew they were playing their best basketball. We had to contain their best players. Caleb played great, but luckily we outplayed them. We knew getting off to a fast start would help us, but we also knew no lead is safe. We knew we had to keep our foot on the gas.”

“We navigated this region by playing the toughest schedule we could get and that’s paid dividends in this tournament,” Halligan added. “Every game was against a good team. Every possession counted. It was back and forth. You think you’ll always be there, but you have to seize the moment and we seized it tonight.”

Thomas Coyne ended up with a game-high 21 points and also had three assists, three rebounds and three steals. Not too shabby for someone who’s availability was in doubt at halftime.

“It hurt at first when I tweaked my ankle,” Thomas Coyne said. “I taped it up and I loosened up as the game went on. I knew I was going to play.”

“I was concerned he wouldn’t come back for the second half, but there was no way he wasn’t coming back,” Halligan said. “I was going to sit him and see how it went, but he wouldn’t hear of that. Every basket Thomas got seemed to be a big basket. That’s what he’s done for us for four years. It was nice to see him have a game like that tonight. He rose to the occasion.”

Following the game, Coyne was named the Most Valuable Player/Sportsman of the Class A South tournament.

“He’s a nightmare matchup,” said Todd Hanson. “He’s skilled and tough. Toughness usually beats talent and he’s got both. He’s double trouble.”

Colin Coyne had a solid performance as well, scoring 14 points, while also adding three assists, three rebounds and three steals.

“Thomas has been doing it since his freshman year and last year with Thomas hurt, Colin had to step up, trial by fire,” Halligan said. “The two of them together are just one great combination.”

Falmouth’s “supporting cast” once again came up big.

Skop had nine points to go with 11 rebounds and three blocks, Walsh finished with seven points, including two key 3-pointers, Bryant had five points off the bench and Wuhlbrecht added two points.

“Guys want to key on me and Colin and other guys have stepped up and can make them pay,” Thomas Coyne said.

“When Thomas got hurt, we were pretty concerned, but we knew that everyone else had to take it up a level and everyone stepped up,” Colin Coyne said. “Jack’s free throws were the icing on the cake.”

Falmouth made over 50 percent of its shots from the field (19-37), hit 5 of 16 3-pointers and made 15 of 23 free throws. The Yachtsmen only turned the ball over seven times (just once in the first half), an amazing statistic considering the stakes, and had a 21-18 rebounding advantage.

Quite a run

Brunswick was paced by 17 points from Cost, who also had five rebounds. Thomas Hanson had 11 points and six boards. Dorr finished with seven points, Souza had five and Heel four.

The Dragons made 18 of 38 field goals, 4 of 13 3-pointers and 4 of 6 free throws and turned the ball over 13 times.

Ultimately, the early hole they dug was too steep to climb out of and Brunswick’s exciting tournament run was halted.

“Falmouth is a very difficult team to play from behind against,” said Todd Hanson. “Unfortunately, we were behind the whole night. We were able to claw back, but not get over the hump and they had a lot to do with that.

“Tonight had a bit of a different feel. We were a half-step slow for some reason. I don’t know if it was nerves, or a long week. I think Falmouth had a lot to do with it. They have a really good team. Every time I thought we were ready to make a move, they came up with a big defensive play, or hit a 3-point field goal.

“I’m really proud of our guys for digging and not giving up. I don’t think many people penciled us in to be playing February 20th. I’m proud of this group for our accomplishments. They’ve been a great group to coach. I think when we look back, we’ll look back with fondness.”

Don’t be surprised if Brunswick gets back to this point next winter and finishes the job.

“We lose four, but we return talent,” Hanson said. “Hopefully we’ll learn from this and keep going.”

Another Gold Ball

Falmouth won Class C state titles in 1986, 1987, 1997, 1998 and 1999, then captured Class B in 2010 and again in 2013. Saturday, the Yachtsmen look to garner their first Class A crown.

Standing in their way is a team no one expected to see coming out of the north, Oceanside, which stunned seemingly unbeatable Hampden Academy in the semifinals, then rolled past Medmoak Valley in the regional final Friday. The Mariners set a new Class A record for 3-pointers made in the tournament and will be tough to beat, but Falmouth is familiar with the venue, is confident and is bound and determined to end its season with a celebration.

“We watched (Oceanside) and they’re a good team,” Colin Coyne said. “They’re a very, very good 5 seed. We can’t take them lightly. Playing here gives us a little advantage. It’s playoff basketball, anything can happen. This is a really good feeling, but we have one more. The next one will feel even better than this one.”

“Oceanside is a dangerous team,” Thomas Coyne said. “They beat Hampden, maybe the best team in the state. We have a week to prepare for them. This is huge for the nine seniors. We want to win a state championship. I think we can get it done.”

“They have a team that’s won every game when they have their whole team,” Halligan added. “This is the 12th game for the seniors on this court. They like playing here. We know it will be a difficult game and we’ll give it our best shot.”

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

Brunswick junior Caleb Cost leans in for a shot as Falmouth senior Sean Bryant defends. Cost had 17 points to lead the Dragons.

Falmouth senior Thomas Coyne pilfers the ball away from Brunswick junior Jess Devereaux.

Falmouth sophomore Jack Bryant lines up a free throw. Bryant had five points, all coming from the line.

Brunswick junior Josh Dorr runs into Falmouth defenders senior Sam Skop (31) and junior Sean Walsh.

Falmouth senior Thomas Coyne shoots over Brunswick junior Caleb Cost for two of his game-high 21 points.

Falmouth junior Colin Coyne goes up with the left hand as Brunswick juniors Corban Teel (33) and Josh Dorr defend.

Falmouth senior Sam Skop swats the ball away from Brunswick junior Jesse Devereaux.

With coach Todd Hanson in the background, Brunswick seniors Thomas Hanson, left, and JD Souza receive the regional runner-up plaque.

Falmouth junior Sean Walsh snips at the net following the victory.

Falmouth senior Thomas Coyne and junior Colin Coyne show off the regional championship plaque.

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