FALMOUTH – Unbeaten Falmouth won its 12th game, but not without some early struggles before finally outlasting Cape Elizabeth 53-41 in a Western Maine Conference boys’ basketball game Friday night.
The game matched the top two teams in the Western Class B Heal point standings.
The top-ranked Yachtsmen pulled away in the second half but were held to a season low in points by the Capers (9-3).
Falmouth, which beat the Capers 72-49 to open the season, came in averaging 70 points. After losing the opener, Cape reeled off seven wins before losing to Wells.
Cape led early. Falmouth spurted at the end of the first quarter to lead 17-14. The score was 19-19 with 4:45 left in the half when Tom Wilberg of Falmouth converted a three-point play, and the Yachtsmen never trailed again.
“We came out a little lethargic,” said Wilberg. “The way we beat them the first time, it was easy to think it would be the same Cape team, but they’ve gotten a lot better and we started to realize that. Coach Hilton told us at halftime that Cape was working twice as hard as we were. We collected ourselves at halftime and came out more organized in the second half.”
Wilberg keyed the second-half defense with a couple of steals. He finished with eight points.
Falmouth’s big men, Charlie Fay (16 points) and Jack Simonds (14 points), controlled the boards in the second half.
Cape seemed to get most of the loose balls in the first half. Still Falmouth led 27-21 at halftime.
Cape outscored the Yachtsmen 6-2 to open the third quarter and pull within 29-27.
Falmouth then went on a 10-2 run and Cape never got closer than seven points.
Wilberg started the spurt with a foul shot. Fay tipped in a basket in rebounding action inside. Fay then followed with a fastbreak layup off a nifty pass from freshman point guard Thomas Coyne.
Wilberg scored on a drive to make it seven straight points before Chris Robicheaw scored for Cape. Coyne followed with a 3-pointer to make it 39-29.
Assistant coach Jamie Hilton was the acting head coach for Falmouth. Head coach Dave Halligan was attending a National Soccer Coaches Association convention in Indiana where one of his soccer players, J.P. White, was being honored as an All-American.
“We played much better in the second half,” said Hilton. “We made some changes in the second half and fortunately they paid off. When Cape switched defenses, we went right to our offense and the kids did what they were supposed to do.”
Said Wilberg: “We knew our run was going to come. We had to play lock-down defense, which we did in the second half. Cape is well-coached and we knew they would have a strong game plan.”
Trailing by nine points entering the fourth quarter, Cape was by no means out of it. But Falmouth kept working the ball on offense to find the open man. Cape couldn’t respond.
“We gave them a little cushion when they went up by 10 in the third quarter, but it wasn’t unreasonable,” said Cape Elizabeth Coach Jim Ray.
“We started to press in our play and we really didn’t need to. I think we’ve made strides. There are a lot of little things we have control over that we have to do better.”
With the tournament approaching, there’s no question that Falmouth is the team to beat.
“They’ve very talented,” said Ray. “Falmouth is long. They rebound it, shoot it and can put the ball on the floor. Whoever beats them is going to have to play very well.”
Staff Writer Tom Chard can be contacted at 791-6419 or at: