By Michael Hoffer
FALMOUTH-Not much went as expected when Falmouth hosted Greely in a basketball doubleheader Tuesday evening.
In the boys’ game, the visiting Rangers got off to a strong start and never let their foot off the throttle in avenging an Opening Night loss in emphatic fashion, 61-38.
The girls’ contest followed and early in the third period, it appeared as if Greely was on its way to a sweep before Falmouth awakened and closed the game with a stunning 36-9 run to win 58-40.
The Falmouth boys won at Greely on Opening Night, 54-49, behind 15 points from junior Stefano Mancini and 10 from junior Ryan Rogers. Junior Trevor Tierney had 22 for the Rangers.
Tuesday, it was clear early on that Greely had come to play and make a statement. The Rangers got a layup from junior Sam Thompson (who had great energy all night) to break the ice. The teams then went back and forth before Greely went ahead to stay on a rebound putback from sophomore Sam Johnston. With 2 seconds to go in the first, Mancini hit a runner to pull Falmouth within 15-12.
The Yachtsmen were hindered by the loss of senior Jack Wyman, who dislocated his shoulder 52 seconds into the contest, putting his team immediately behind the eight ball.
Mancini began the second period with a floater to make it 15-14, but that’s as close as the Yachtsmen would get. The Rangers slowly opened it up and junior Erik Thayer gave the visitors a 28-19 halftime advantage when he made a bank shot in the waning seconds.
The Rangers ended all doubt in the third with a 19-8 surge. Thompson had seven points in the quarter, including a three-point play. Falmouth got no closer than 23 the rest of the way and Greely cruised to the 61-38 decision.
“We came out with a huge fire,” said Thompson, who sparkled with a game-high 19 points and 13 rebounds. “They’re our rival. We wanted to get back at them. They’re worth a lot of Heal Points. It’s a great team effort. This is a confidence boost for us. Only good things can come from here.”
“I knew we were a more mature team that when we were at the beginning of the year,” added longtime Rangers’ coach Ken Marks. “Our game has turned around. To come over here and hold them to 38 points is not bad.
“Sam is a man. He’s left-handed. That makes a difference. He brought energy to the floor tonight. I’m proud of him.”
Johnston added 13 and Tierney had 12 points for Greely which improved to 13-2 and will likely leapfrog the Yachtsmen into first place in the Western Class B Heal Points standings. The Rangers go to Fryeburg Friday, host Gray-New Gloucester Tuesday and close the regular year at Cape Elizabeth Feb. 6.
“We’re probably first,” Marks said. “It’s going to be close.”
Falmouth, which was paced by 18 points from Mancini, fell to 13-2.
“(Greely) pounded us inside,” said Yachtsmen coach Dave Halligan. “You can’t punch with a puncher. They’re too big and strong. They just played better than we did tonight. We had four of five starters in foul trouble and the fifth one dislocated his shoulder.
“We have to avoid the high highs and low lows. We had a couple high highs at the beginning of the season which we handled well. Now we have to handle this low. It will be interesting to see how the kids respond.”
Falmouth has another huge home test Friday against Cape Elizabeth before going to York Tuesday and closing the regular season at home against Lake Region Feb. 6.
SUBHEAD-Coming to life
The girls’ game featured a Greely squad which had won 13 of its first 14 games against a Falmouth team which struggled much of the season before recently hitting its stride.
The Rangers took the first meeting, 62-59 at home on Dec. 5. Junior Karlee Biskup led the way with 22 points. Senior Andie Doyle had 18 points and classmate Haley Jordan added 17 for the Yachtsmen.
This time, Falmouth got the jump on a basket from Jordan. Greely answered on the first of three 3-pointers in the period, this one from junior Karlee Biskup. The Yachtsmen then scored seven in a row as senior Kelsey Graffam, Doyle and Jordan all made free throws and sophomore Jess DiPhillippo (get ready to read her name a lot) and Jordan made jumpers. The Rangers rose off the deck and scored the quarter’s final eight points as senior Danielle Slocum sandwiched 3-pointers around a layup from junior Abby Young.
Greely would also close the second period on a high note, but not until the teams went back and forth for awhile. Layups from Jordan and sophomore Caitlin Costello put Falmouth up 17-16, but Young made two foul shots for Greely. After Jordan put her team back in the lead with a rebound layup, junior Analise Keeler converted a three-point play for a 22-18 lead.
Greely then showed its closing strength again, getting a layup from Young, a 3-ball from Young and a leaner from junior Megan Grondin to take a 25-22 advantage into the half.
The third period was one of runs, but Falmouth had the final one.
The Rangers had the quarter’s first six points. The Yachtsmen ended the 13-0 run and a 4 minute, 36 second drought on a jumper from DiPhillippo. DiPhillippo then hit a free throw to make it 31-25. After Jordan made one of two free throws, DiPhillippo made a jump shot and Keeler scored on a rebound putback to pull the hosts within a point, 31-30.
Greely ended the 8-0 run and its 3 minute, 45 second drought on a Grondin foul shot, but Falmouth got the quarter’s final eight points as Graffam made a turnaround jumper, DiPhillippo made a layup and a jumper and Graffam scored on a rebound putback for a 38-32 advantage heading for the fourth.
The Yachtsmen then improbably blew it open down the stretch, winning the fourth period 20-8 as Greely went ice cold. Falmouth scored 15 of the game’s final 17 points (DiPhillippo had six of them) and rolled 58-40.
“I didn’t want to change anything,” Yachtsmen first-year coach Kristi Ouellette said. “I didn’t even want to call a timeout. I think when they’re playing with confidence in each other, you can tell. They stepped it up. We knew we’d give Greely a game no matter what. They executed the game plan. Every thing I did to prepare them, they did on the floor.”
DiPhillippo had a game to remember, scoring a career-high 19 points.
“That’s the highest I’ve had in forever,” she said. “The last few games I haven’t been confident. I had to tell myself I could do it. This will help. The team built this up all week. We wanted to beat them so badly. We were intense and worked together. The bench players brought a lot of energy.”
Jordan added 17. Doyle had six points and produced eight assists and five steals. Graffam had 10 rebounds to go with her five points. Keeler added nine points.
Falmouth improved to 9-6 and was eighth in the latest Heals, but will likely move up. The Yachtsmen go to Cape Elizabeth Friday, host undefeated and top-ranked York Tuesday and close the regular year at nemesis Lake Region Feb. 6.
Greely was led by nine points apiece from Grondin and Young. Junior Nicole Faietta and Slocum both had eight as the Rangers fell to 13-2.
“Falmouth played great,” said Greely first-year coach Billy Goodman. “All the credit to them. They wanted it. They outhustled and outworked us. Everything’s a learning experience. We’ll learn from it and move on. I have confidence in my girls. I have a feeling they’ll correct the mistakes. I’ll take these girls anyday. One bad night doesn’t make a season. We’ll bounce back.”
Greely (second to York in the latest Heals) is home with Fryeburg Friday, visits Gray-New Gloucester Monday and wraps up the regular season at home with Cape Elizabeth Feb. 6.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com