Falmouth's rally falls just short in quarterfinal loss to York

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Falmouth senior Adelaide Cooke is smothered by York senior Reilly Smedley during the teams’ Class A South quarterfinal Monday afternoon. Despite a valiant rally, the Yachtsmen fell just short, 49-46.

Mike Strout photos.

More photos below.

PORTLAND—They just ran out of time.

Falmouth’s girls’ basketball team, making its first quarterfinal appearance in seven years, gave defending state champion York everything it could handle for 32 minutes in a Class A South quarterfinal round tilt Monday afternoon at the Portland Exposition Building, but ultimately, the Yachtsmen couldn’t quite catch up when it mattered most.

No. 3 York, which has undergone a major roster turnover and a coaching change since last year’s championship, took the lead for good early in the first quarter, but never truly got comfortable against sixth-ranked Falmouth.

Seven points from senior captain Reilly Smedley helped the Wildcats open up a 14-7 lead after one quarter and a 3-point shot from senior Sophia Remick made it 22-12 York at halftime.

The Yachtsmen came out with more energy and confidence in the second half and got six quick points from unheralded senior Hadley Wiggin to make things interesting, but the Wildcats restored a double-digit lead and eventually took a 30-23 advantage to the fourth quarter.

There, York went up by 12, 37-25, on a free throw from sophomore Martha McCaddin with 5:33 remaining, but back roared Falmouth behind 3-point shots from senior captain Abby Ryan and junior Grace Soucy to make it a four-point game, 41-37, with 1:33 to go.

The game would ultimately be decided at the charity stripe, where Wildcats senior captain Madigan Cogger drained eight straight free throws with the game hanging in the balance, the final two putting her team up by three and when Yachtsmen senior captain Adelaide Cooke’s desperation 3-pointer at the horn fell short, York survived and advanced with a 49-46 victory.

Wiggin had 15 points and Falmouth made 15 of 22 free throws, but the Wildcats got 15 points from freshman Nina Howe, 14 from Cogger and hit 24 of 32 foul shots as they improved to 13-6, ended the Yachtsmen’s season at 7-12 and advanced to battle No. 2 Brunswick (16-3) in a Class A South semifinal Wednesday at 1 p.m., across town at the Cross Insurance Arena.

“We fought hard,” said Falmouth first-year coach Dawn Armandi. “I’m proud of the girls. We were down 10 pretty much the whole game. We really wanted it and we fought. We’re not happy with the final, but I’m happy with the way we finished the game.” 

It’s been awhile

Falmouth has had a series of near-misses in regards to getting to the Expo in recent seasons, but the Yachtsmen turned the corner this season this winter under Armandi, who led the team to seven victories and the No. 6 seed in Class A South (see sidebar, below, for links to previous game stories).

York was a perfect Class A champion in 2016, but a new coach (Steve Freeman) and a lot of new faces brought the Wildcats back to the pack this season. Even so, York managed to win a dozen games and wind up third in the region.

The Yachtsmen lost two close games to the Wildcats this year, 49-48 in overtime Dec. 31 in Falmouth and 44-38 at York Jan. 12.

The Wildcats had won all three prior playoff meetings (see sidebar, below), including a 40-20 victory in the 2010 Western B quarterfinals, the most recent encounter.

Monday, York’s day began inauspiciously when its bus broke down en route to Portland and the start of the game was delayed 25 minutes, but the Wildcats still got celebrate a victory when all was said and done.

The Yachtsmen struggled early, turning the ball over the first three times they possessed it and the the Wildcats scored first on a pair of free throws from Howe.

A putback from Cooke tied the score, but with 5:24 to go in the first, Smedley’s jumper put York on top to stay.

Cooke countered with a free throw, but Howe made one of her own.

After junior Candice Powers made a foul shot for Falmouth, the Wildcats got a leaner from Smedley and a pair of free throws from Cogger for a 9-4 advantage.

Soucy countered with a 3 for the Yachtsmen, but Smedley hit one of her own and as time expired, senior Alana Lauersen scored on a putback to make it 14-7 after eight minutes.

Smedley had seven points in the frame and Falmouth committed five turnovers.

York extended its lead a little more in the second quarter.

After Howe made a free throw, Cogger added a pair.

With 5:02 remaining in the half, Wiggin made a free throw to snap the Wildcats’ 8-0 run, but after a block from senior Lily Posternak, Posternak set up Howe for a layup and a 19-8 lead.

Late in the half, the  Yachtsmen sandwiched a pair of baskets from junior Grace Dimick around a 3 from York Remick and that made the score 22-12 at halftime.

Smedley had seven points and Howe added six for York in the first half. Dimick had four points to pace Falmouth.

In the third quarter, the Yachtsmen came out with great energy and made a run.

Just 37 seconds in, off an inbounds set, senior captain Alaina Birkel fed Wiggin for a layup.

Less than a minute later, Falmouth pulled off the same play and Wiggin scored to cut the deficit to 22-16.

“I didn’t realize how good we were scoring off out of bounds plays, but it worked,” Armandi said. “That’s what they gave us. Hadley brought it today. She’s been quiet all year long, but she took advantage of them not paying attention to her.” 

With 6:02 to go in the half, Wiggin made another layup, this one from Soucy, and the Yachtsmen were within four, but Howe was fouled on an offensive rebound (Ryan’s third) and made both free throws, Smedley fed Cogger for a layup and Howe drove for a layup, restoring the lead to 10, 28-18.

After turning the ball over four straight times, Falmouth, out of a timeout, got a leaner from Cooke, but Cogger answered with two free throws.

Down the stretch, Dimick made a foul shot, then knocked down a jumper to cut the deficit to 30-23 heading for the final stanza.

There, York did enough to advance.

Posternak started the fourth with an old-fashioned three-point play (putback, foul and free throw).

Wiggin then made a bank shot while being fouled, but couldn’t complete the three-point play.

With 6:26 to go, Howe hit a 3 and McCaddin got the second of two free throws to bounce on the rim three times before it dropped, giving the Wildcats their biggest lead, 37-25.

With 5:19 left, Wiggin made two free throws and with 3:57 remaining, Birkel and Wiggin worked their inbounds magic again as Wiggins made a layup. Seventeen seconds later, Birkel’s two foul shots cut the deficit to 37-31.

After a miss, Falmouth had a chance to draw even closer, but it turned the ball over.

With 2:54 to go, off an inbounds, Cogger set up Howe for a layup, but at the other end, Ryan made a 3 to make it a 39-34 game.

Posternak hit two clutch free throws with 1:50 to play, but 17 seconds later, a Soucy 3 cut the deficit to 41-37. 

A Posternak foul shot made it a five-point game, but with 1:01 to go, Wiggin made two free throws to make it a one-possession contest and after a missed free throw, the Yachtsmen had the ball with a chance to tie.

Falmouth wouldn’t do that, but Soucy was fouled and hit both shots to make it 42-41.

Smedley got a point back with a free throw, but she missed the second and Cooke was fouled on the rebound.

With 25.3 seconds showing, Cooke had a chance to tie it, but she missed the first attempt. Cooke made the second, but Cogger was immediately fouled and hit both attempts to restore the lead to three, 45-42.

With 24 seconds to go, Cooke made two foul shots, but Cogger was again immediately fouled and again, sank both, making it 47-44 with 22.5 seconds left.

The Yachtsmen got a final chance to tie, but instead of shooting a 3, Birkel drove for a layup with 8.3 seconds to go.

Cogger was fouled again with 4.5 seconds showing and again, she came up clutch, making both.

In desperation mode, Falmouth got the ball ahead to Cooke, but Cooke’s prayer from beyond halfcourt at the horn was well short and York prevailed, 49-46.

“The goal this year was to make it to the Expo,” Armandi said. “We weren’t looking ahead. I don’t even know when the next game was. I’m proud we got here. Of course, we wanted to win. It just didn’t go our way.”

Falmouth was paced by Wiggin, who had 15 points. Cooke (10 rebounds) and Soucy had eight points apiece. Dimick added seven points, Birkel (four assists) had four, Ryan (five boards) three and Powers one. 

The Yachtsmen shot 14 of 34 from the floor (including 3 of 7 from 3-point range), enjoyed a 22-19 rebounding advantage and made 15 of 22 foul shots. They turned the ball over 17 times and missed some easy baskets during the course of the afternoon which could have turned the tide.

“Our inside game scored most of our points until the end,” Armandi said. “That was our game plan. We’re tough inside. It’s tough to defend that. If we made a couple more layups, the game would have been different.”

York was paced by 15 points from Howe and 14 from Cogger (who made all 12 of her free throw attempts). Smedley added eight points, Posternak had six, Remick three, Lauersen two and McCaddin one. 

The Wildcats made 11 of 37 shots (including 3 of 7 3-pointers) and won the game at the line, by sinking 24 of 32 attempts.

“We talked about it this week, tournament games come down to free throws,” said Armandi. “They mattered. They made 24 and we took 22 and made 15. That’s a big difference.”

York overcame 11 turnovers in advancing to the semifinals.

Look back, look ahead

Falmouth entered the season with modest goals and a new coach who had just become a mother for the first time and still managed to get to the Expo for the first time in seven years.

Despite the sting of Monday’s defeat, there was much to be proud of.

“It’s a testament to my coaching staff,” said Armandi. “There’s four of us. We’re all young. We all played college basketball. To have that knowledge really helped. Katie (Whittier Barnes) worked with the post players every day. She played Division I. Nicole (Pollock) and Luke (Pollock) were guards in college and worked with the guards every day. We did a lot of team bonding stuff. We had a lot of laughs. We focused on building them up.”

Falmouth has to part with Birkel, Cooke, Ryan, Wiggin and Maddie Rouhana, but the squad will contend next season behind the likes of Dimick, Powers and Soucy, as well as some other players who figure to make a quick impact.

“I’m proud of the five seniors, they did a lot for us this year, but I told the other girls coming back that (next season) starts now,” Armandi said. “I told them to get in the gym, shoot free throws, put in the extra effort. We have a lot of talent coming up that people don’t know about and I think we can get back here next year.”

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

Falmouth junior Grace Soucy gets a shot off in traffic.

Falmouth senior captains Abby Ryan (20) and Adelaide Cooke try to steal the ball from York senior Madigan Cogger.

Falmouth junior Candice Powers and York senior Reilly Smedley battle for a rebound.

Falmouth junior Shannon Birks is guarded by York senior Lily Posternak.

Falmouth senior captain Hadley Wiggin, who had a team-high 15 points, shoots over York senior Reilly Smedley.

Falmouth junior Grace Soucy is hugged by senior Alaina Birkel after a fourth quarter basket.

Falmouth first-year coach Dawn Armandi calls out a play.

Previous Falmouth stories

Season Preview

York 49 Falmouth 48 (OT)

Greely 64 Falmouth 45

Previous Falmouth-York playoff results

2010 Western B quarterfinals
York 40 Falmouth 20

2009 Western B semifinals
York 47 Falmouth 37

2004 Western B preliminary round
York 32 Falmouth 24 

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