FALMOUTH—Two weeks ago, Falmouth’s boys’ basketball team suffered through the ignominy of letting a huge lead slip away in an overtime loss at rival Yarmouth.
Tuesday, the teams squared off again, this time in Falmouth, and sure enough, the Yachtsmen erupted out of the gate behind the sharpshooting of sophomore Colin Coyne and senior Jack Simonds and took a 17-point, 31-14, advantage to the break.
When the Clippers turned up the intensity in the second half, it appeared to be a case of deja vu and when Yarmouth got as close as five points, 41-36, early in the fourth quarter, Falmouth was at a crossroads, but this time, the resurgent Yachtsmen wouldn’t be denied.
Two free throws and a highlight reel assist from senior Luke Velas helped re-establish order. Then, with just over four minutes to go, Simonds blocked a shot at the defensive end and Coyne buried a 3 on offense to stretch the lead back to double digits, 50-38, and put the Clippers on the ropes.
While Yarmouth never did throw in the towel, it never got any closer than 10 points the rest of the way and Falmouth went on to a 59-49 victory.
The Yachtsmen got 23 points from Coyne, 20 points and 14 rebounds from Simonds and soared all the way to the top of the Western Class A Heal Points standings with their fourth win in a row, as they improved to 8-3 and dropped the Clippers, who suffered their third setback in four outings, to 8-3 in the process.
“Yarmouth never quits,” said longtime Falmouth coach Dave Halligan. “That’s what we expected. It was a great game. It’s always nervewracking, but our defense was the difference. Our defense held when they made a run. We’ve gotten better since the last time.”
While Falmouth and Yarmouth are having good seasons as a whole, the teams had drastically different results last week.
The Clippers won their first seven games: at Kennebunk (75-49), at home over defending regional champion Poland (68-48), at Greely (57-53), at home over Fryeburg Academy (62-42), at Cape Elizabeth (59-46), at home over Falmouth in overtime (69-62) and at Gray New Gloucester (65-51). Last Tuesday, Yarmouth went to Waynflete and met its match, falling, 53-43. After a 67-39 home win over a Class C team, Traip, the Clippers hosted Cape Elizabeth Saturday and lost, 65-52.
The Yachtsmen opened by beating visiting York (52-43) and Wells (57-37). After falling at Poland (75-58), Falmouth prevailed at host Lake Region (54-46) and edged visiting rival Greely, 55-52. The Yachtsmen then dropped two in a row: 69-62 in overtime at Yarmouth and 50-45 at Cape Elizabeth. Falmouth turned it around last week with wins over host York (50-45), at home over Fryeburg Academy (63-39) and at Greely (60-51).
Heading into Tuesday’s meeting, the Yachtsmen had won four of the last five meetings. Since the start of the 2001-02 season, Falmouth held a 20-7 advantage (see sidebar, below).
This time around, Yarmouth hoped to win in Falmouth for the first time since Jan. 25, 2011 (63-58, in OT), but instead, the Yachtsmen kept their hot streak going.
It took all of 25 seconds for Coyne to put the hosts ahead to stay with a 3. A minute later, he drained another.
With 4:49 to go in the first quarter, Simonds buried a 3 and 43 seconds later, Simonds took a pass from senior John Shaw off an inbounds set and made a baseline jumper for an 11-0 lead, forcing Clippers coach Adam Smith to call timeout.
“We got off to a good start,” Halligan said. “We generated offense off our defense.”
Yarmouth finally got on the board with 3:47 left, when junior Musseit M’Bareck hit a nice runner off the glass. Junior Cody Cook followed with a layup after a steal, but Falmouth responded, as Velas passed to Simonds for a leaner.
After Clippers senior Jordan Brown put home his own miss, Simonds hit a leaner, then Simonds drained a baseline jumper for a 17-6 lead after eight minutes.
Simonds had 11 points and Coyne six in the first quarter surge.
The Yachtsmen didn’t let up in the second period and added to their lead.
After Falmouth junior Sam Skop made a free throw, Brown hit a fadeaway jumper, but Simonds made a free throw and Coyne sank a long 3 to make it 22-8.
“I was feeling good throughout the game,” Coyne said. “They gambled a little bit and I wanted to make them pay.”
After Cook and Coyne traded foul shots, Coyne made two more free throws for a 25-9 lead.
Yarmouth senior Adam LaBrie got his first points, on a bank shot, but Coyne answered with a fastbreak layup and freshman Jack Bryant made a free throw, making the score, 28-11.
After Clippers junior Conor O’Donnell made a free throw, the Yachtsmen took their biggest lead, as Velas sank a jumper.
Brown countered with two foul shots, but in the final minute, Shaw made a free throw and it was 31-14 Falmouth at the break.
And no one on hand thought the lead was safe.
Yarmouth came out with much more intensity in the second half and got the pace to its liking, but couldn’t erase the deficit.
After LaBrie made a layup after a steal, Halligan called an immediate timeout and out of it, Simonds made a leaner.
After LaBrie made a layup after another steal, Coyne sank two foul shots.
Cook hit a 3, but Simonds made two free throws and the Yachtsmen’s lead was still 16, 37-21, midway through the frame.
Cook’s two free throws were countered by a Simonds leaner, but M’Bareck drove for a bank shot. Simonds answered with a putback, but late in the quarter, Cook hit a leaner, Cook drove for a layup and as time expired, M’Bareck rebounded a missed shot and with one hand, somehow managed to bank the ball into the basket to give the Clippers hope as they pulled within 10, 41-31.
Yarmouth continued to surge early in the fourth period, as Cook drove for a layup and Brown made a 3 from the corner, capping an 11-0 run and forcing Halligan to call timeout with seven long minutes to play.
Out of the timeout, after a Yachtsmen missed shot, LaBrie got the ball in the corner for an open 3 which could have really turned the tide, but it missed its target.
With 6:52 to go, Velas restored some order for the hosts with two free throws and the next time down the floor, after Brown missed a 3-ball, Velas penetrated, drew the defense and fed Skop for a layup and a 45-36 lead.
“Luke’s my boy,” Simonds said. “He always comes up big in clutch situations. He just gets it done.”
“Luke’s a senior leader,” Halligan said. “He’s a good athlete. You make mistakes, but you don’t let it affect what you do next.”
The visitors got a driving layup from senior Cote Sawyer, but Coyne made two free throws and after Simonds blocked a shot by M’Bareck on a drive, the ball came to Coyne at the other end and with 4:22 to play, Coyne calmly buried a 3 to make it a 12-point game again, 50-38.
“That was a big block by Jack,” Coyne said. “I leaked out for a 3. I only took one 3 in the second half. I saw an open look and I took it. Luckily, I made it.”
“Basketball’s a game of momentum,” Simonds said. “When you can make a big play, like we did there, you build on that momentum.”
“They can defend and they can shoot and they’ll make plays like that,” Smith lamented.
Coyne added two foul shots and Coyne set up Skop for a layup to make it 54-38 and essentially end of the competitive phase of the game, but Yarmouth refused to buckle.
After Cook ended the 9-0 run with two foul shots, LaBrie set up Cook for a layup. Velas answered with a layup, but with 2:24 to go, Clippers senior Sam Morris made a 3 to cut the deficit to 56-45.
Falmouth refused to fold this time, as Shaw made both ends of a 1-and-1 seven seconds later and after LaBrie somehow made an athletic play to save the ball, M’Bareck made a layup.
Velas made a free throw for the Yachtsmen’s final point and with 11.3 seconds to go, Cook scored on a putback, but that proved to be it as Falmouth went on to a 59-49 victory.
“Last time, we blew an 18-point lead and this time, we had a 17-point lead at half and they cut it to five,” Simonds said. “It was nervewracking, but our team has improved since last time we played them. We battled back. We were fired up. This is our homecourt. We wanted to defend it. We weren’t going to lose on our homecourt.”
“We knew they were capable of coming back,” Coyne said. “They made a run, but fortunately, we stayed tough and we shut them down. I think we had more experience this time. We took care of the ball better. We attacked the basket more.”
Coyne had a game-high 23 points, sparked by a game-high four 3-pointers. He also had four steals, three rebounds and a pair of assists.
Simonds finished with 20 points, 14 boards, three assists, two blocked shots and a steal. He was also a stalwart on the defensive end.
“My job was to try and take LaBrie out of his game,” Simonds said.
Velas had seven points, Skop five (to go with six rebounds and five blocks), Shaw three and Bryant one.
“Skop’s been playing much better,” Simonds said. “Colin’s getting better every day. Jack Bryant, Sean Walsh, everybody. They’re all really good shooters and drivers.”
“We’re getting better,” Halligan said. “We’re learning to play with each other. We’re making a commitment to younger players and getting them experience. Every night, it’s somebody different, which is nice.”
Falmouth had a 28-26 rebounding advantage and overcame 22 turnovers with 20 of 28 foul shooting.
Yarmouth was led by a tremendous effort from Cook (20 points, six rebounds, three steals and an assist). M’Bareck (eight points, seven boards, four steals) also played a key role in the Clippers’ hanging as tough as they did.
“I thought Muss and Cody Cook played their hearts out,” Smith said. “They played great tonight. They dug deep, but two or three guys won’t get it done against Falmouth.”
Brown had nine points, five rebounds and four steals, LaBrie was held to six points (he did have five steals), Morris added three, Sawyer two and O’Donnell one.
Yarmouth only committed 10 turnovers, but got to the foul line a mere dozen times, making eight.
“It was not a comeback,” Smith said. “We weren’t in the game. We just played poorly for four quarters. They might have let up a little bit and the score got closer, but we weren’t in the game.”
Both teams now have more games in their rearview mirror than games coming up, so it’s time to get serious.
Yarmouth (second to Morse in the Western Class B Heal Points standings) hopes to bounce back Friday, but it won’t be easy as dangerous Greely pays a visit. The Clippers are at Wells Tuesday. They also have to go to York and play host to Lake Region before the regular season concludes.
“We get out of it by getting ready for Greely Friday,” Smith said. “We have two practices. These guys have to want to get after it. I’ll find out tomorrow how hungry they’ll be. We have to be mentally tough and get ready for the next one. Wins weighed on us earlier in the year, now the losses are weighing on us.”
Falmouth is home against Lake Region Friday and goes to Fryeburg Academy Monday. The Yachtsmen still have a home showdown versus Cape Elizabeth looming late in the season. They also hope to enjoy the services of junior sharpshooter Thomas Coyne at some juncture.
“We’re a young team, but we’re getting better every week,” Simonds said. “We’ll be a lot better at the end of the season.”
“Everyone’s contributing and we’re building depth,” Colin Coyne said.
“We have to take care of the basketball,” Halligan added. “Most of our mistakes were passive mistakes. if we played as aggressive on offense as on defense, we’d have the whole package. We’re getting there.”
Falmouth freshman Jack Bryant makes a move on Yarmouth junior Cody Cook.
Yarmouth junior Cody Cook, who had a team-high 20 points, is fouled on a drive to the basket.
Falmouth sophomore Colin Coyne tries to corral a loose ball as Yarmouth seniors Jordan Brown (23) and Cote Sawyer give chase.
Yarmouth senior Adam LaBrie eyes the basket.
Yarmouth junior Musseit M’Bareck shoots over Falmouth sophomore Colin Coyne.
Falmouth senior standout Jack Simonds leans in for a shot. Simonds had a double-double, 20 points and 14 rebounds.
Falmouth junior Nick Wisseman defends Yarmouth senior Jordan Brown.
Falmouth’s cheering section was boisterous Tuesday evening.
@ Yarmouth 69 Falmouth 62 (OT)
Falmouth 55 @ Yarmouth 34
@ Falmouth 69 Yarmouth 35
@ Yarmouth 50 Falmouth 33
Yarmouth 63 @ Falmouth 58 (OT)
@ Falmouth 58 Yarmouth 41
Falmouth 54 @ Yarmouth 51
@ Falmouth 52 Yarmouth 33
Falmouth 65 Yarmouth 48
@ Yarmouth 42 Falmouth 36
Yarmouth 63 @ Falmouth 56
Falmouth 38 @ Yarmouth 37
Yarmouth 57 @ Falmouth 52
@ Falmouth 57 Yarmouth 34
Falmouth 48 @ Yarmouth 37
Falmouth 50 @ Yarmouth 34
@ Falmouth 62 Yarmouth 30
@ Falmouth 55 Yarmouth 36
Falmouth 54 @ Yarmouth 51
Western B quarterfinals
Falmouth 44 Yarmouth 31
Falmouth 57 @ Yarmouth 43
@ Falmouth 46 Yarmouth 43
Falmouth freshman Jack Bryant dives to keep the ball away from Yarmouth senior Jordan Brown during the Yachtsmen’s 59-49 win Tuesday night.
Ben McCanna photos.
More photos below.
Y- 6 8 17 18- 49
F- 17 14 10 18- 59
Y- Cook 7-5-20, Brown 3-2-9, M’Bareck 4-0-8, LaBrie 3-0-6, Morris 1-0-3, Sawyer 1-0-2, O’Donnell 0-1-1
F- Coyne 5-9-23, Simonds 8-3-20, Velas 2-3-7, Skop 2-1-5, Shaw 0-3-3, Bryant 0-1-1
Y (3) Brown, Cook, Morris 1
F (5) Coyne 4, Simonds 1