Yarmouth boys open in style; Murphy's 35 lead Clippers past Kennebunk
YARMOUTH—For one night at least, the phrase Murphy's Law didn't allude to anything that could go wrong doing so, but instead to Yarmouth senior David Murphy laying down the law in the Clippers' regular season opener against visiting Kennebunk Saturday evening.
Murphy scored 22 points in a first half which ended with Yarmouth on top, 44-34, but the Clippers had played far from their best defensively and on the boards.
They rectified that in the third period and ended all doubt, going on a 24-6 run to put the game out of reach. From there, Yarmouth put the finishing touches on an emphatic 89-52 triumph, it's seventh straight win in an opener.
Murphy led all scorers with a career-high 35 points and the Clippers served notice that they plan to be in the title hunt all season.
"It's early, but I feel pretty strongly about this group," Murphy said. "It's a great group of guys. Every year, we try to play Yarmouth basketball. Try to outwork the other team. Our defense was a little slow and sloppy at times, but overall, we're pretty happy."
Reason for optimism
After winning the 2011-12 Class B championship, its first in 44 seasons, Yarmouth wasn't as competitive last winter, going 10-8 in the regular season, then losing at Maranacook in the preliminary round.
This season, however, the Clippers like their chances and with defending champion Falmouth moving up to Class A for the playoffs, Yarmouth is viewed as one of the top contenders.
Kennebunk, for the first time in 11 years, is playing a Western Maine Conference regular season schedule, but the Rams, who went 1-17 last winter, will be in Class A for the postseason if they qualify.
Saturday, the teams met for the first time in a countable game since Jan. 10, 2003, when host Yarmouth prevailed, 75-46, and like they did then, the Clippers went on to an easy victory.
Yarmouth was its pressing, frenetic, opportunistic self from the opening tip and sophomore point guard Musseit M'Bareck set up Murphy for the game's first points, a 3-ball, just 28 seconds in.
The Clippers would never look back.
M'Bareck added a putback for a quick 5-0 lead, forcing Kennebunk coach John Dube to call timeout.
It worked momentarily as junior Jack Lapham finished a feed from senior Austin Sandler and made a layup, but M'Bareck set up Murphy for another 3 and junior Adam LaBrie made a layup after a steal for a quick 10-2 advantage.
The Rams answered with a Lapham putback, but Yarmouth pushed the lead back to eight when senior Jackson Bartlett made a jump shot.
Lapham scored again, this time on a layup, but after a jump stop, Murphy scored on a shot to make it 14-6.
Kennebunk got a layup from senior Nate Gilbert, but LaBrie stole the ball, made a layup while being fouled, then sank the and-one to complete an old fashioned three-point play. After Sandler made two free throws, M'Bareck set up Murphy for a layup, then, as time wound down, LaBrie spotted an open Murphy in the corner and Murphy hit another 3 for a 22-10 lead after eight minutes.
Yarmouth had a chance to completely put the game away by halftime, but to their credit, the Rams were tenacious on the boards, made shots and hung around.
A driving layup by M'Bareck and a putback by senior Ethan Gage started the second period auspiciously, but Sandler made two free throws, then hit a 3 to cut the deficit to 26-15.
Senior Nathaniel Shields-Auble sank a jumper, but Lapham scored on a putback and Gilbert sank a 3 to make it 28-20.
Murphy was then fouled on a 3-point shot and hit all three subsequent free throws, but Gilbert countered with another 3-ball. Murphy made two more foul shots, but Sandler made a 3 after a steal, then made two free throws with 3:11 showing to pull his team within five, 33-28.
Kennebunk would draw no closer.
M'Bareck countered with two foul shots and Murphy took a pass from senior Wyatt Jackson and made a layup. After Sandler made a free throw, Gage answered with one of his own.
Off an inbounds play, Rams senior Ben Wilson took a pass from senior Caleb Burpee and sank a jump shot. After Shields-Auble scored on a turnaround jumper, Sandler hit another 3 and with just over a minute to go before halftime, Kennebunk was down just six, 40-34.
Yarmouth finished the half strongly, however, getting a putback from Murphy and a leaner from M'Bareck to make the score 44-34, but in truth, the Clippers, who got 22 points from Murphy, forced 12 turnovers and made 9-of-10 free throws in the first 16 minutes of action, should have been up by more.
"Give Kennebunk credit for getting second chances," Murphy said.
"I thought we were pretty nervous out of the gate," Yarmouth coach Adam Smith said. "I was a little disappointed with our defense in that first half. I think it was an overanxious defense that allowed too many openings and got out of character for us. Part of being out of position is being late to getting back to where you're supposed to be rebounding-wise. Kennebunk, to their credit, took advantage of every opportunity they had. We talked at halftime about settling down defensively."
The Clippers upped their defensive intensity in the third period and behind the scoring of Murphy and LaBrie, put the game away.
After Shields-Auble started the second half with a jump shot, Murphy scored on a putback and Gage did the same, pushing the lead to 50-34 and forcing Dube to call timeout.
The stoppage worked as Gilbert sank a 3 and after LaBrie made a free throw, Wilson made a layup, was fouled and hit the free throw for a three-point play which cut the Yarmouth lead to 51-40, but after a M'Bareck steal, Murphy made a layup. After another M'Bareck steal, LaBrie scored on a reverse layup and after a Murphy steal, junior Jackson Brown found LaBrie for another layup and a 57-40 advantage.
A 3 from LaBrie, a layup by Murphy after a LaBrie steal, two Murphy foul shots after an offensive rebound, a layup after a steal by Murphy and a Murphy layup (assisted by senior Ben Still) made the score 68-40 after three quarters.
Yarmouth had closed the period on a 17-0 run, as Murphy and LaBrie combined for 20 of the team's 24 points in the stanza.
"We just had to come out and play hard defense and box out," Murphy said.
"We had to take away a few things," Smith said. "You can't take away everything. We took away what we thought we could and had five guys work together on the defensive end. Kennebunk got a little frustrated and we started to knock down shots. Then, we were in position to rebound. They only got one shot and we got down the floor. Just a couple things makes a huge difference. These guys can make adjustments. I'm really pleased with how responsive they are."
Murphy scored his final point on a free throw 22 seconds into the fourth quarter. After Sandler ended the Clippers' 18-0 run with two foul shots, Shields-Auble scored on a putback. Lapham hit a leaner and senior Nicholas Emmons made one foul shot, but LaBrie drained a jumper after a dazzling crossover move and LaBrie made a layup after a steal to push the lead to 30, 75-45, with 4:15 to play.
That did it for the starters, but Yarmouth's reserves were equally impressive.
First, junior Sam Morris made a jumper in the lane. Senior Michael Salvesen made a free throw and sophomore Cody Cook drained a pair. Kennebunk junior Ryan Guevin countered with a bank shot and after a Salvesen free throw, sophomore Casey Pyle hit a jumper. Cook then sandwiched a couple baskets around a free throw from Rams junior Nick Bush. Cook scored two more points at the line and after freshman Justin Wiggins made a pair of foul shots, Morris hit a layup to bring the curtain down on the Clippers' 89-52 triumph.
Murphy finished with nine two-pointers, three 3's and eight free throws for his 35 points (his older brother, Johnny, who was on hand Saturday, once had 53 in a game).
Afterwards, Murphy refused to take credit for his offensive explosion, deflecting praise to those who made his life easier.
"It's all because of my teammates," he said. "My teammates did a great job moving the ball around and driving so I could have open shots. Kennebunk was a great defensive team. If it wasn't for my teammates, I wouldn't have been able to knock down open shots."
Smith stressed that Murphy does more than put the ball in the basket.
"David is also one of our leading rebounders," Smith said. "The guys look up to him not just because he's a scoring machine, but that he's a work ethic machine. He generates energy and I can use that as an example of not letting things limit you. He needs to score for us to be successful, but when he rebounds and defends, he makes us better. It's that senior year. There's a sense of urgency. A year of growth makes a difference in high school. He's playing better, but he has better guys around him. Having 'Muss' run the point, allows David to get down the floor and relax before he's on call in the offensive end. We saw what it looks like tonight when everything comes together for him."
LaBrie had 17 points, Cook, M'Bareck and Shields-Auble eight apiece, Gage five, Morris four and Bartlett and Salveson two each.
In total, nine different players scored and all 14 who took the court did something positive.
"We like to focus on everyone on the team being a varsity player," Murphy said. "We aren't seniors, juniors, first-year varsity players."
"It looked like practice looks, everybody contributing in some form," Smith said. "I'm not surprised. For us to be the best we can be, that will have to happen every night. I have to make sure I keep driving and pushing these guys to elevate their effort and their game. They're willing to do it. It's something we can feed off."
Yarmouth finished with a better than two-to-one (48-23) advantage on the glass, as Shields-Auble had a game-high eight rebounds. Still collected six off the bench and Murphy had five.
The Clippers also had a whopping 26 steals, paced by seven from LaBrie and four from M'Bareck. They forced 31 turnovers, while giving the ball away only 15 times and shot 19-of-28 from the free throw line.
Kennebunk was paced by Sandler's 18 points, eight rebounds and three steals. Gilbert (11) and Lapham (10) also finished in double digits. The Rams finished 14-of-22 from the charity stripe.
Yarmouth knows that there will be much tougher games awaiting, starting with perhaps the biggest of all Tuesday, when the Clippers visit defending Class B champion Falmouth, a veritable juggernaut which won both of last year's meetings by a total of 55 points.
Yarmouth figures to have a much better idea where it stands following that one.
"The Yarmouth-Falmouth rivalry is intense in any sport," Murphy said. "They're a great team. Even though they're in Class A, it's still as big as in year's past. It will be a huge benchmark for us. What happens in that game will really drive what we do in practice the rest of the year."
"I tell my guys a good showing is based on effort," Smith said. "We'll have a good effort on Tuesday. This is a long journey for us. Tuesday is just another game in that journey. It's big to people on the outside, but for us, it's a barometer at what we need to do to get better. It's another game for us. It just happens to be one of the best teams on our schedule. I hope when it's said and done, they can say that about us. Anytime we play there, or they play here, it's a donnybrook."