FALMOUTH—Coming off a lopsided loss at rival Greely prior to the holiday break, the Falmouth girls’ basketball team wanted to make a statement when it kicked off the new year Saturday afternoon against shorthanded visiting Cape Elizabeth.
And the Yachtsmen did just that.
Falmouth shot to an 8-0 lead and never looked back, as its defense forced 19 first half turnovers. The Yachtsmen’s offense was pretty impressive too and as a result, they opened up a 34-14 advantage at halftime.
When Falmouth went on an 11-5 run to start the second half, that was all she wrote and the Yachtsmen went on to prevail, 63-31.
Falmouth wound up forcing 27 turnovers and was paced offensively by 13 points apiece from senior Jess Burton and sophomore reserve Abby Ryan and a dozen points from senior Ally Hickey as it improved to 4-2 and dropped the Capers, who were playing without junior starters Montana Braxton and Kate Breed (who were out of state at a soccer tournament), to 4-2 in the process.
“The Greely loss was a humbling experience,” Hickey said. “We didn’t like the way we lost. We learned from it the whole break.”
Cape Elizabeth and Falmouth both had high hopes entering the year and both have shown glimpses of promise.
The Capers began with a 50-47 win at Wells, then lost at home to powerhouse Gray-New Gloucester, 64-46. After prevailing at Freeport (62-47), Cape Elizabeth won at Yarmouth (41-31) and at home over Kennebunk (63-52) to wrap up the 2014 portion of the schedule.
The Yachtsmen dropped their opener, 63-49, at York, then defeated host Wells (36-26), visiting Poland (44-29) and visiting Lake Region, the defending Class B state champion, in overtime (42-41). A 54-28 loss at Greely then closed the old year.
Falmouth once dominated this rivalry (see sidebar, below), winning 12 times in succession between the 2003-04 and 2008-09 seasons, but Cape Elizabeth came to town Saturday having won the past two: 36-32 at home and 37-34 in Falmouth a year ago.
This time around, the Yachtsmen took care of business.
Just 51 seconds in, Burton hit a jumper and the hosts were ahead to stay.
Hickey added a layup, senior Dayna Vasconcelos scored on a puback and sophomore Adelaide Cooke, despite lying on the ground, managed to pass the ball to sophomore Alaina Birkel for a layup and an 8-0 advantage.
The Capers got their first points with 5:10 to play in the first period, when senior Hannah Sawyer knocked down a 3-point shot, but Hickey made a layup after a steal and after a Vasconcelos steal, Cooke made a layup for a 12-3 lead, forcing Cape Elizabeth coach Chris Casterella to call timeout.
It didn’t immediately have the desired result, as Ryan came off the bench and buried a long 3.
The Capers did rattle off five straight points, as Mo Lavallee made a layup and Sawyer canned a 3, but in the final minute, Burton took a pass from sophomore Hadley Wiggin and made a layup for a 17-8 lead after the first period.
The Yachtsmen poured it on in the second quarter, forcing a dozen turnovers and making the most of them.
After Burton made a layup, Hickey made a layup, sophomore Maddy Adams scored on a putback and Ryan buried another 3 to make the score 26-8.
“I work a lot on my shot, but I think I can drive too,” Ryan said. “If my shot’s open, I can take it. I was really feeling it. I let my teammates know when I’m open and they give me great passes.”
“Abby’s just a little firecracker,” Hickey said. “She knows when she can shoot. We get her the ball because we know she can make them.”
“We want Abby to be a 3-point shooter,” added Falmouth coach Mari Warner. “She’s always ready to take the shot. When she’s on, she’s on. She went dry after the Lake Region game. I thought she played well tonight.”
With 4 minutes to play in the second period, senior Ashley Tinsman scored on a putback to end Cape Elizabeth’s 5 minute, 55 second drought and an 11-0 Falmouth run, but Vasconcelos answered with a steal, a layup while being fouled and a free throw to complete the old-fashioned three-point play.
After the Capers got a fastbreak layup from Sawyer and a Tinsman bank shot, the hosts closed the half strong, as Ryan made a 3 and after a Birkel steal, Ryan made a layup just before the horn for a commanding 34-14 advantage.
Cape Elizabeth was done in by 19 turnovers.
“Unfortunately, I thought in the first half that we shot ourselves in the foot,” Casterella said. “We got the rebound, then turned the ball over and they got easy shots. I think 34-14 could have been a lot different if we took care of the ball. We did a decent job in halfcourt defense, but they pressured and we made bad passes. We took Hickey out of the game in the first half. Mo did a great job on her, probably giving up five inches, but we were one-and-done with shots.”
The visitors hoped to get back in the game in the second half, but it never happened.
After scoring the final five points of the first half, Falmouth got the first seven of the second, as Vasconcelos finished a feed from Burton and made a layup, Burton took a pass from Cooke and made a layup, Burton hit a foul shot and Cooke made a fastbreak layup (from Hickey) for a 41-14 advantage.
Cape Elizabeth got a free throw from junior Maddie Bowe, but Vasconcelos answered with a jump shot.
Tinsman scored on a putback, but Birkel hit a jumper and Birkel set up Burton for a layup and a 47-17 advantage.
After a Sawyer 3-ball, Ryan hit two foul shots and Hickey added a 3 to stretch the lead to 32. A baseline jumper from Bridget Brett was answered in the final minute by two free throws from Burton and a jumper from Adams and the score was 56-22 with eight minutes to go.
Early in the fourth quarter, Sawyer made two free throws, but Hickey countered with a 3.
After Tinsman made two foul shots, Adams hit a baseline jumper.
Cape Elizabeth got a layup from Erin O’Rourke, but junior Jessica Collins made a jumper for the hosts’ final points. A Tinsman layup and a Bowe free throw accounted for the 63-31 final score.
“We kept us our same intensity when we heard two of their players weren’t coming,” Hickey said. “It was motivating for us. Preparing for Cape, we focused on fastbreaks. We practiced that all week.”
“It was a tough situation for Cape to be in,” Warner said. ” Despite their situation, we had to get our game where we wanted it to be. We’ve had two weeks off and we put in a new defense. We went from being a fast team at the beginning of the year to a slow team, so we’ve drilled the girls on transition defense and transition points. It was good for us. I was pleased with the intensity we had going into the game and throughout.”
Falmouth had a balanced attack, which featured 13 points from Burton (who added five boards and two blocks), 13 from Ryan, 12 from Hickey (who had six rebounds and five steals) and nine from Vasconcelos. Adams added six points, Birkel (five assists) and Cooke (four assists, four rebounds, three steals) had four each and Collins finished with two. Wiggin didn’t score, but had five rebounds, four steals and three assists.
The Yachtsmen had a 33-21 rebounding advantage, turned the ball over 15 times, but more than made up for that with 27 forced turnovers, and hit 6 of 13 free throws.
Cape Elizabeth was paced by 13 points from Sawyer (she also had four rebounds and three blocks). Tinsman added 10 points (to go with eight rebounds), while Bowe (six boards, five steals), Brett, Lavallee and O’Rourke each ended up with two. The Capers made 6 of 12 foul shots.
“I thought we had a game plan,” Casterella said. “We knew what we needed to do. We just made some unfortunate passes. We never got second chance looks. They played defense. They were all over us. We wanted to wipe the slate clean in the second half, but they made every shot it took, it seemed like. I knew they’d press all the time. It’s tough when you don’t have your number one and number two ballhandlers.”
Neither team will dwell on this one for long.
The Capers (currently 11th in the Western Class B Heal Points standings) hope to bounce back Tuesday, when they host Wells. After playing at undefeated Gray-New Gloucester Thursday, Cape Elizabeth welcomes Yarmouth Saturday.
“I hope a game like this is something we can put behind us,” Casterella said. “We’ll look ahead to try to learn from this. We can’t dwell on it.”
The Yachtsmen (sixth in Western A) are home against York Tuesday, go to Fryeburg Academy Thursday, then host Greely Saturday.
“We can still play better on defense,” Ryan said. “We’re hustling, going for loose balls and finding open shots. I think it’s going to be a really great year and I think we have a lot to look forward to.”
“I’m excited,” Hickey said. “We all get along on and off the court. We’ve really improved from last year. I think we’ll continue this and hopefully go far.”
“We have a difficult week,” added Warner. “We really focus on one game at a time.”
@ Cape Elizabeth 36 Falmouth 32
Cape Elizabeth 37 @ Falmouth 34
@ Falmouth 54 Cape Elizabeth 42
Falmouth 27 @ Cape Elizabeth 25
Falmouth 48 @ Cape Elizabeth 38
@ Falmouth 46 Cape Elizabeth 33
Cape Elizabeth 31 @ Falmouth 25
Falmouth 40 @ Cape Elizabeth 30
@ Cape Elizabeth 39 Falmouth 32
@ Falmouth 45 Cape Elizabeth 41
Western B preliminary round
@ Falmouth 46 Cape Elizabeth 41 (2 OT)
@ Falmouth 66 Cape Elizabeth 53
Falmouth 51 @ Cape Elizabeth 44
Falmouth 66 @ Cape Elizabeth 22
@ Falmouth 59 Cape Elizabeth 31
@ Falmouth 59 Cape Elizabeth 22
@ Falmouth 65 Cape Elizabeth 32
Falmouth 35 @ Cape Elizabeth 34
@ Falmouth 34 Cape Elizabeth 29
Falmouth 29 @ Cape Elizabeth 23
@ Falmouth 37 Cape Elizabeth 18
@ Falmouth 25 Cape Elizabeth 19
Falmouth 46 @ Cape Elizabeth 35
@ Cape Elizabeth 50 Falmouth 33
@ Falmouth 60 Cape Elizabeth 43
CE- 8 6 8 9- 31
F- 17 17 22 7- 63
CE- Sawyer 4-2-13, Tinsman 4-2-10, Bowe 0-2-2, Brett 1-0-2, Lavallee 1-0-2, O’Rourke 1-0-2
F- Burton 5-3-13, Ryan 4-2-13, Hickey 5-0-12, Vasconcelos 4-1-9, Adams 3-0-6, Birkel 2-0-4, Cooke 2-0-4, Collins 1-0-2
CE (3) Sawyer 3
F (5) Ryan 3, Hickey 2