Waynflete senior Milo Belleau is mobbed by his teammates after his buzzer-beating 3-pointer shocks Falmouth, 44-43, Friday night.
Mike Strout photos.
More photos below.
F- 10 9 11 13- 43
W- 16 6 8 14- 44
F- T. Coyne 6-5-19, Skop 5-2-12, C. Coyne 1-2-5, Walsh 1-0-3, J. Bryant 1-0-2, Wulhbrecht 1-0-2
W- Belleau 7-4-19, Nelligan 4-0-10, Brooks 3-0-6, Alemayo 2-0-5, Deng 2-0-4
F (4) T. Coyne 2, C. Coyne, Walsh 1
W (4) Nelligan 2, Alemayo, Belleau 1
PORTLAND—Waynflete’s boys’ basketball team has enjoyed its share of victories the past few seasons, but there have been none like this.
Flyers standout Milo Belleau has enjoyed many triumphant moments, especially during his senior year, but Friday evening, he trumped all of them with a shot that will live in program lore.
Waynflete, a Class C contender, hosted Falmouth, one of the best teams in Class A South, and all 1,920 seconds were needed to determine a winner.
On a shot that had to be seen to be believed.
The underdog Flyers got off to a fast start, leading, 16-10, after one quarter, but the Yachtsmen turned up the defense and pulled within 22-19 at halftime and forged a 30-30 tie entering the fourth period.
There, Falmouth, behind the excellence of the Coyne brothers, tried to pull away, but Waynflete kept answering.
When senior Thomas Coyne buried a 3-pointer with 2:09 to play, the Yachtsmen had a 41-38 lead and single free throws from junior Colin Coyne and Thomas Coyne made it 43-38 with 15.6 seconds to go, but as it turned out, the Flyers had plenty of time to respond.
With 9.3 seconds left, Belleau was fouled while shooting a 3 and he calmly sank all three shots to give Waynflete a pulse.
After a missed Falmouth free throw, the Flyers got one final possession and Belleau sent the partisan crowd home happy by taking a pass from sophomore Christian Brooks and banking home a 3 from a difficult angle as time expired and some how, some way, Waynflete was able to celebrate a 44-43 victory.
Belleau finished with 19 points, including the Flyers’ final seven, and Waynflete won its eighth game in a row, improved to 10-1 and dropped the Yachtsmen to 8-3 in the process.
“This was a perfect way to end the game,” Belleau said. “You don’t get many opportunities against these types of teams. We feel like we have to prove ourselves when we do have these situations. Everybody knew how big a game this was for Heal Points and to get us moving into playoffs.”
Falmouth is the hunt for the top spot in Class A South, while Waynflete is a top contender in Class C South.
The Yachtsmen had only stumbled twice, by a single point each time. After opening with a 75-52 win at Kennebunk, Falmouth downed visiting Cape Elizabeth (69-66), visiting Biddeford (71-41), visiting York (68-34) and host Brunswick (61-51). The first loss was a 57-56 heartbreaker at Greely, but the Yachtsmen responded by downing visiting Mt. Ararat (61-48). After letting a 16-point fourth quarter lead slip away in a 56-55 home loss to Lake Region, Falmouth won at Marshwood (43-32) and at home over Kennebunk (63-40).
Waynflete opened with wins over visiting Sacopee Valley (57-24) and at Freeport (63-23), then lost at home to Class B South power Yarmouth (58-44). The Flyers then hit their stride, winning at home over North Yarmouth Academy (72-30) and Wells (55-40) to end 2015, then starting the new year by defeating host Old Orchard Beach (44-37), visiting Freeport (63-54), host Fryeburg Academy (46-45), visiting Greater Portland Christian School (79-30) and host NYA (63-43).
Falmouth and Waynflete last met Dec. 16, 2011 (a 42-23 victory for the host Yachtsmen).
Friday, the Flyers beat the Yachtsmen for the first time in program history on a shot that came straight off a Hollywood set.
Colin Coyne broke the ice 65 seconds in with a free throw, but Waynflete answered as Belleau set up Brooks for a layup and junior Yai Deng scored on a putback for a 4-1 lead.
Falmouth pulled even when senior Sam Skop scored on a reverse layup while being fouled and added the free throw for the old-fashioned three-point play.
After Belleau finished a feed from Brooks with a layup to put the Flyers on top, Skop made a layup to tie the score.
Waynflete then heated up from the outside, as senior Abel Alemayo and classmate Will Nelligan both canned 3-pointers for a 12-6 lead.
Thomas Coyne set up sophomore Jack Bryant for a layup, but a pullup jumper from Belleau gave the Flyers a 16-10 lead after one quarter.
“It was important to start like that against a good team,” Belleau said. “We haven’t done that the entirety of the season. It was significant and will help us going forward. We had a sense of urgency.”
“I was a little concerned because the guys were quiet at the beginning of the game, but they were really focused,” said Waynflete coach Rich Henry. “I was pleased with the 16 points, but was more pleased with the 10 points Falmouth had. I knew we had to stick with them early, or we’d get blown out. Our defensive intensity was there and that covers a lot of ills.”
Falmouth rallied in the second quarter.
After Thomas Coyne made two free throws, Belleau countered with a runner, but Coyne made a jumper, Skop scored on a putback and with 5:16 left in the half, Coyne drained a long 3 for a 19-18 Yachtsmen lead.
Belleau put the Flyers back on top with a putback and Nelligan scored on a floater and Waynflete’s defense shut Falmouth out the final three minutes of the half to take a 22-19 advantage to the break.
In the first half, Belleau had eight points, Alemayo and Nelligan added five apiece and that was enough to counter-balance Thomas Coyne’s nine points.
The game remained too close to call in the third period.
Thomas Coyne opened the second half scoring with a pair of free throws, then made a floater to put the Yachtsmen back on top.
The Flyers responded, as Belleau set up Deng for a layup and Nelligan banked home a finger roll to make it 26-23.
After Falmouth got a bank shot from Thomas Coyne, Brooks countered with a jumper. Coyne then set up senior Matt Wuhlbrecht for a layup and a 3 from junior Sean Walsh gave the Yachtsmen the lead, but a hook shot from Brooks tied the game, 30-30, heading for the final stanza.
There, Falmouth appeared poised to close out the victory, but Waynflete saved its best for last.
With 6:49 to go, Belleau banked home a shot for a 32-30 Flyers’ lead.
Skop then put the Yachtsmen on top with a three-point play and Thomas Coyne fed Skop for a layup and a 35-32 advantage.
Belleau got two points back with a jumper and with 4:31 left, Nelligan knocked down a 3-pointer for a 37-35 Waynflete advantage, but 43 seconds later, Colin Coyne buried a 3 for a 38-37 Falmouth lead.
With 3:24 to go, Belleau made one of two free throws to tie the score, but with 2:09 left, Thomas Coyne sank a clutch 3 and the Yachtsmen were on top, 41-38.
Colin Coyne then forced a held ball and the arrow gave Falmouth possession. Belleau then appeared to steal the ball away, but he stepped on the sideline and the Yachtsmen kept possession.
With 29.6 seconds showing, Colin Coyne sank the front end of a one-and-one and missed the second, but Falmouth was up, 42-38.
After Belleau missed a shot, Walsh got the rebound and with 15.6 seconds remaining, Thomas Coyne sank the front end of a one-and-one for a five-point lead.
Coyne missed the second shot, however, and Waynflete transitioned to offense.
With 9.3 seconds left, Belleau went up for a 3 and was fouled. With the clock stopped, he sank all three free throws and suddenly, the Flyers were very much alive, only trailing by two, 43-41.
“We have to have a better basketball IQ and understand time and score situations,” Falmouth coach Dave Halligan lamented. “The last thing we wanted to do in that situation was foul and they scored three points.”
On the ensuing inbounds pass, the Yachtsmen were unable to get the ball to either Coyne and senior Sean Bryant was fouled with 8.5 seconds to go.
“We talked about making them work on the inbounds and if they got it to one of the non-Coynes, we wanted to get a foul,” Henry said.
Bryant missed the front end of his one-and-one, Deng got the rebound and just like that, Waynflete had a chance to force overtime.
Or win it.
Belleau got the ball and drove for the basket, but just before he could go up for a tying shot, the whistle blew as Henry called timeout with 2.4 seconds remaining.
Belleau got the ball on the ensuing inbounds pass, but was fouled with 1.2 seconds left and the Flyers got one final opportunity to get the ball in play.
Belleau inbounded from under his basket and got it in to Brooks, who gave it right back to Belleau and Belleau, just behind the stripe in the corner, just in front of Waynflete’s student section, got the shot off just before the horn.
Off his hand, Belleau’s shot appeared off-target, but it kissed off the glass in the perfect spot and as the horn sounded, the ball dropped through the net for the game’s 11th and final lead change.
After a split second of disbelief, jubilation reigned as the Flyers had an impossible-to-believe 44-43 victory.
“We drew up a play with the two seconds we had,” Belleau said. “We ran the same play we run all the time and got the look we wanted. I saw the ball headed left and headed to the perfect corner of the box. I didn’t call bank. I’ve had great moments in soccer, but this might beat them all.”
“I have to say, Falmouth is a top echelon team,” Henry said. “We have the utmost respect for their team and Coach Halligan. The Coyne brothers are great players. We had a monumental task having to contain them. It’s a good thing it didn’t come down to coaching because we would’ve lost for sure. It just came down to a bounce of the ball and a bank shot 3. I was thinking of my moral victory speech and what I would say to the guys because I was proud of how we played. We’ve had that out of bounds play for a couple years. Milo’s been a superior player for us. We just hoped to get the ball in his hands and see what happened.”
Belleau led Waynflete with 19 points and also had seven rebounds, two blocked shots and a pair of assists.
“Milo’s always hung around the gym since second or third grade,” Henry said. “His sophomore year, he was a fun-loving, happy-go-lucky guy, His junior year, he was a little more serious. His transition to his senior year has been incredible. His maturity level on the court is superior. He doesn’t force shots and he executes.”
Nelligan also finished in double figures with 10 points, Brooks had six points (to go with seven boards), Alemayo five and Deng four (to go with eight rebounds and three blocks).
The Flyers enjoyed a 27-19 rebounding advantage. They committed 14 turnovers and made just 4 of 10 free throws, but found a way to prevail.
Falmouth was led by Thomas Coyne’s 19 points. He also had six assists, five rebounds and two steals. Skop had a solid performance with 12 points, three boards and two steals. Colin Coyne had five points and six steals, Walsh added three points and Jack Bryant and Wuhlbrecht both had two points.
The Yachtsmen only gave the ball away 10 times and hit 9 of 13 foul shots, but still left town in shock.
“We did have it, but we gave it away,” Halligan said. “They were opportunistic and they made the most of their opportunities. We had a foul we shouldn’t have had, we missed foul shots we should have made, we got the ball to the wrong person. Those things grab you. They’re a good team. Milo is a big-time player. We did everything we could to stop him, he just made a heck of a shot.”
Both teams return to action Monday, then have several tough tests down the stretch.
Falmouth (second behind Greely in Class A South) hopes to bounce back when it hosts South Portland in a playoff rematch Monday afternoon, then goes to Fryeburg Academy, Westbrook and York. After hosting Yarmouth, the Yachtsmen go to Cape Elizabeth, then close at home against Greely.
“This is the schedule we wanted,” Halligan said. “We wanted to play the toughest teams. That will help us out down the road. We’ll learn from our mistakes.”
Waynflete (now sixth in the Class C South Heal Points standings) welcomes Old Orchard Beach Monday. The Flyers then have three straight on the road, at Lake Region, Poland and Traip Academy, before hosting Gray-New Gloucester and Traip before closing at Sacopee Valley.
“We have to come out strong and maintain energy on the defensive end,” Belleau said. “We hope to go deep in the playoffs.”
“I’m hoping this does something for our Heal Points,” Henry said. “I’ve been mystified by the algorithmic progression of the Heal Points. I think psychologically this does something too. I can’t remember another game like this. To get a win like this is unbelievable.”
Falmouth senior Thomas Coyne scores two of his 19 points.
Waynflete senior Abel Alemayo grabs a loose ball and calls time out as Falmouth sophomore Jack Bryant arrives too late.
Falmouth senior Sam Skop finishes at the rim.
Falmouth junior Colin Coyne drives on Waynflete freshman Alex Saade.
Waynflete sophomore Christian Brooks shoots over Falmouth sophomore Jack Bryant, left, and senior Matt Wuhlbrecht.
Waynflete senior Milo Belleau skies over Falmouth senior Thomas Coyne.
As Falmouth senior Thomas Coyne looks on in disbelief, Waynflete celebrates its improbable win.